Debate Fumes Over 'Agent Orange Corn' as Dow Awaits Federal Approval of the Genetically Engineered Seed
Critics of a new genetically modified corn created by Dow AgroScience, a division of The Dow Chemical Company, are voicing fears that the crop could pose serious threats to human health and the environment, reported CBSNews.com.
The corn called "Enlist," though widely known as "Agent Orange Corn," awaits federal approval. It was genetically engineered to be resistant to the chemical 2,4-D, an ingredient being carpet-bombed over American crops to kill "super weeds," which have become resistant to traditional herbicides. The powerful chemical is linked to the infamous "Agent Orange" sprayed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. The pesticide was originally created to destroy crops and forests that concealed enemy troops and supply lines. But the chemical concoction was even more powerful than its intention, killing or maiming roughly 400,000 people and causing birth defects in approximately 500,000 children, estimates the Vietnam government, reported The Globe and Mail.
And despite the Environmental Protection Agency's rejection in April of environmentalists' petition to pull 2,4-D from the market, and Dow's insistence that the herbicide is safe to use, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified 2,4-D as a class 2B carcinogen—considered possibly carcinogenic to humans. In May, the group Vietnam Veterans of America wrote President Barack Obama, imploring the United States Food & Drug Administration (USDA) to examine how increased use of 2,4-D might harm people's health.
Health advocates' concerns are rising that greater amounts of 2,4-D could be used due to Dow's recent invention, leading to even more use of toxic chemicals. Until now, 2,4-D could only be doused on crops very early or late in the growing season. Otherwise, it kills the crops along with the weeds. But Enlist allows the herbicide to be sprayed year-round.
"Many studies show that 2,4-D exposure is associated with various forms of cancer, Parkinson's Disease, nerve damage, hormone disruption and birth defects," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, in a statement. "USDA must take these significant risks seriously and reject approval of this crop."
Natural News has warned that Enlist, if approved, may begin to incorporate 2,4-D into its own structures and grain kernels. Thus, humans would consume “corn laced with 2,4-D”—even when they ate corn-based breakfast cereals or corn tortillas.
The food industry, however, remains at odds over the use of the controversial herbicide. Those in favor of 2,4-D tout its ability to stamp out super weeds. They first sprouted in Delaware before spreading like wildfire across the country, dumbfounding and bankrupting farmers who scrambled to find new weapons to combat invading weeds and, in turn, defend their livelihoods.
Delaware corn and soy farmer Irvin Handy, 72, describes this year's attack of weeds as "terrible ... the worst I've ever seen."