A new GMO corn that is immune to 2,4-D, one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, is close to being approved for use in agriculture by the USDA.
If Dow AgroSciences’ new GMO corn is approved, it will allow for widespread spraying of 2,4-D without damaging crops.
“The scientific community has sounded alarms about the dangers of 2,4-D for decades. Numerous studies link 2,4-D exposure to major health problems such as cancer, lowered sperm counts, liver toxicity, and Parkinson’s disease. Lab studies show that 2,4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and immunosuppression,” opponents to the GMO wrote in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The argument being used to support the approval is that it is now necessary because of the weeds that are becoming resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup, which was approved for a similar reason not that long ago.
The main ingredient in Roundup, Glyphosate, has itself recently been found in scientific studies to cause birth defects in animals.
Health professionals say that 2,4-D poses its own risks. In a 1990 study of farmers in Nebraska, researchers found that exposure to it significantly increased the risk of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
In another study, it was found that occupational exposure caused male reproductive problems, including dead and malformed sperm. Concerns of neurotoxicity have also been raised by scientists.
2,4-D is already used as an herbicide. It’s been detected in the groundwater supplies of five states and Canada, and in surface waters throughout the United States.
Thirty five medical and public health professionals have signed onto a letter to the USDA warning of the health threats that will accompany the approval of the GMO, and the huge increase in use of 2,4-D that will accompany it.
Farmers have also raised concerns.
“Farmers are on the front lines of this potential chemical disaster. I’m also very concerned about the further pollution of the air and water in my community,” George Naylor, a conventional corn and soybean farmer in Iowa is quoted as saying.
The public comment period for Dow AgroSciences application ends on April 27, after that the USDA will make its decision.