After World War II chemical companies didn’t know where their next market was going to come from. Once that war ended, they decided to turn the very chemicals developed for war time towards a peaceful application called agriculture. The very compounds used to fight wars and kill flora and fauna would now be applied to kill the insects and plants (and people) of our planet. This would disrupt the ecological balance forever.
With more recent military conflicts came even more powerful chemicals, such as Agent Orange, which was responsible for the defoliation of Vietnamese rain-forests. This chemical now has a new incarnation wreaking havoc on our own verdant fields of grain: 2, 4-D, the agricultural version of this toxic compound.
Agent Orange was used to defoliate forests and jungles so “the enemy” could be more easily identified in war. Agent Orange caused much physical pain and suffering to indigenous people in Southeast Asia and is now linked to nerve damage and cancer. Taking no heed to these warnings, the chemical companies decided to follow suit and apply the compound in agricultural settings. And, so, 2, 4-D was born.
Fast track to this century, and those same companies now want to develop genetically modified (GMO) crops that withstand heavy applications of 2, 4-D. This herbicide has already been associated with deadly immune system cancers, birth defects, Parkinson’s disease, liver and nerve damage, hormonal disruption and reproductive problems, including low sperm counts in farmers (no wonder farmers are declining). The USDA is ready to approve three genetically engineered corn and soy varieties that are resistant to the highly toxic herbicide, 2, 4-D. In my previous blog, At least we have Cheerio’s, I promised to tell you, dear reader, how and when you could comment on this decision.
The USDA has released its draft Environmental Impact Statement, concluding these crops do not pose an agricultural or environmental risk. The authors of this report actually want to deregulate GMO corn and soybean seeds! This will only intensify the use of 2, 4-D in our fields. It has been proven this will lead to the rise of “super weeds” that modify to withstand increased applications. One noted scientist predicts widespread planting of this GMO corn could trigger a 25-fold increase in the use of 2, 4-D from the current 4.2 million pounds annually to over 100 million pounds applied each year by 2019. I once lived in Iowa and know the people there deserve to live in an environment that isn’t a battle field!
What can you do?
The USDA opened public comment period on January 4, 2014, and will be holding a virtual public meeting on January 29, 2014, from 5 to 8pm EST, to receive comments on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the three petitions for non-regulated status. Their statement analyzes the potential environmental impacts of one corn and two soybean varieties genetically engineered (GE) by Dow AgroSciences, LLC (Dow) to be resistant to the herbicide known as 2, 4-D.
Participation instructions for the virtual meeting and all associated documents can be found online at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/APHISVirtualMeetings .
To provide written comments through February 24, 2014, visit: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0042.
I know this sounds scary because it is. Buying organic as the delicious and healthy way to eat benefits ourselves and the planet, this is the right message! But we also need to know what the guys who brought us the chemical weapons of WWII are up to. I think it’s time we got the battle out of the field. Make a comment. It’s easy and worth the effort. Let’s say goodbye to Agent Orange and its offspring.