Coming your way: a toxic cloud of 2,4-D
3.Bad idea: Dow's 2,4-D seeds
1.Herbicide-resistant weeds mean harsher chemicals
Rachel Swick Mavity
Cape Gazette, July 11 2012 [extracts]
*Scientists develop corn to withstand Agent Orange chemical
Dr. Charles Benbrook, a scientist with The Organic Center, said farmers and scientists are in a race against the clock to find herbicides to target herbicide-resistant weeds while also creating genetically engineered crops that can withstand the harsher chemicals. He also said it is a race that will not be won.
In an April 2012 report, Benbrook found 16 species of weeds already resistant to 2,4-D.
"We could see a 73-fold increase in the pounds of 2,4-D applied to corn by 2019, compared to 4 percent of acres treated with 2,4-D in 2002," Benbrook said.
Concerns for drinking water
Benbrook of The Organic Center, a nonprofit research and education organization based in Colorado, said the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report on pesticides shows 85 percent of drinking water had residues of 2,4-D.
"This phenoxy herbicide is known to be a significant risk factor for a host of reproductive problems, birth defects and cancers," said Benbrook.
The EPA has listed 2,4-D under the Safe Drinking Water Act regulations since 1992. According to the regulations, the EPA reviewed 2,4-D as part of a six-year review and determined that it is safe in drinking water up to 70 parts per billion. Anything over that amount could cause those who regularly drink contaminated water for many years to experience kidney, liver or adrenal gland disorders.
"EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems," states the EPA in its drinking water regulations. If 2,4-D is found in public drinking water or private wells, the EPA recommends using granular activated carbon filters.
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network
July 12 2012
Imagine an invisible cloud of a cancer-causing weedkiller drifting slowly across your state. Well, one just blew 100 miles across California, from Merced County, nestled at the northern tip of the Central Valley, as far south as Kern County (one county stop before Los Angeles) according to farm press.
When drift happens (and it almost always does), farmers lose. Their crops are damaged, often severely. And in this case, a 1,000-acre application of 2,4-D on pastureland on a hot, windy day in June released the chemical onto its down-state journey, damaging 15,000 acres of cotton and a young pomegranate orchard along the way. If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves Dow Chemical’s suite of 2,4-D crops, we can expect a massive increase in the use of this hazardous chemical and more drift incidents are sure to follow.
2,4-D is an extremely effective plant-killer: It can destroy grapes, almonds, and just about any fruit, nut, timber, or vegetable crop that it comes in contact with. And while you'll hear about this kind of terrible destruction in the farm press, you won’t hear about the long-term damage it's causing to our own and our children's health. How much of that 2,4-D drifting across the Central Valley settled on play structures, parks, schoolyards, and clothes drying on the line on the hot summer day? This invisible threat puts us all at risk.
”¢ Our kids are at risk. More than 70 doctors and public health scientists wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency in late June, urging the agency to reject Dow’s application for new uses" of 2,4-D, citing fears of lasting harm to public health. 2,4-D causes birth defects, neurological damage, and lowered sperm counts. The chemical has been linked to various kinds of cancer including non-Hodgkins lymphoma and it disrupts hormone and reproductive function. 2,4-D is easily blown or tracked into homes; it sticks to carpets and house dust and ends up on children’s hands and in their bodies. Kids are particularly susceptible to its effects because their bodies aren’t as equipped to shed toxins as adults’ are.
”¢ Farmers are at risk. Dow’s plan to market its genetically engineered (GE) 2,4-D-resistant crops across the country as a solution to "super weeds" that are resistant to RoundUp is a monstrously bad idea. Ultimately, it’s just a way for the company to keep pesticide sales up, and it does so at the expense of the health and well-being of the farmers, workers, and children who will be exposed. If USDA approves Dow’s suite of 2,4-D cropsignoring the public outcrywe can expect a massive increase in the use of this hazardous chemical. Experts estimate that 2,4-D use in corn may rise 30-fold, from 3 to 4 million pounds today to more than 100 million pounds over the next decade. GE 2,4-D soybeans and cotton, if approved, would boost usage still more. With few options available, many farmers may be persuadedor forced by lack of alternatives in the seed marketplaceto plant 2,4-D corn, cotton, and soy. As 2,4-D usage soars throughout the summer, we’ll be seeing more and more cases of drift and crop damage like the one in the Central Valley. This will be disastrous for growers of highly vulnerable crops like grapes and almonds, among other fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
What You Can Do
There's no doubt about it: When Big 6 companies like Dow and Monsanto win, farmers lose. Communities lose. Our kids lose.
The good news is that farmers, farmworkers, doctors and nurses, and ordinary people who don’t want a cloud of poison drifting overhead are coming together like never before to say enough is enough. Visit our 2,4-D campaign page for more information, including actions and news as it arises.
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman is a senior scientist and director of the Sustainable Food Systems Program at PAN. Before joining PAN in 1996, Marcia worked in Asia and Africa for 14 years. She developed farmer field schools in ecological pest management, sustainable agriculture, and community-based rural development projects in Southeast Asia, and women’s health, literacy, and resource conservation projects on the Thai-Cambodian and Somali-Ethiopian borders. Marcia holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a B.A. in Women’s Studies from Yale University. She has written extensively on the ecological, social, and political dimensions of food and agriculture and was a lead author of the UN-sponsored International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development.
3.Bad idea: Dow's 2,4-D seeds
Dow Chemical Company is asking USDA to approve its new "2,4-D resistant" corn seed, the first in a pipeline of next generation herbicide-tolerant crops that pesticide/biotech corporations are planning to bring to market over the next couple of years.
Simply put, 2,4-D resistant corn is a very bad idea.
It will drive a massive increase in pesticide use that threatens to destroy vulnerable crops, while placing the burden of increased costs and health risks on farmers and rural communities.
The big winners will be the Big 6 corporations Dow among them that control the pesticide and seed economy. This dangerous and antiquated herbicide shouldn't be on the market, and we certainly should not be giving Dow license to profit from driving up use.
High stakes for farmers & communities
Just as with Monsanto's RoundUp Ready corn and soy lines, Dow’s new 2,4-D ready corn will dramatically drive up use of the herbicide. Only this time, the fallout will be even worse. Here's why:
*2,4-D is a more toxic herbicide. It is a reproductive toxicant, suspected endocrine disruptor and probable carcinogen. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.
*2,4-D is much more harmful to plant life than RoundUp (glyphosate). Specialty crops (like grapes, tomatoes, beans and sweet corn) and non-GE soy and cotton are extremely sensitive to 2,4-D.
*2,4-D does and will drift off of target crops. Both spray drift and volatilization drift will devastate adjacent ecosystems and entire landscapes. Such damage poses a very real threat to rural economies and farmers growing non-2,4-D-resistant crops. Conventional farmers will lose crops, while organic farmers will lose both crops and certification, resulting in an economic unraveling of already-stressed rural communities.
*2,4-D-resistant "superweeds" will arise and spread. RoundUp-resistant "superweeds" have taken over farms and countryside in the Midwest and Southeast, and widespread use of 2,4-D will spur more of the same.
*Genetic material from 2,4-D corn will contaminate non-GE corn. Corn is wind-pollinated which means contamination is inevitable. You cannot put a GE genie back in the bottle.
In the pipeline: More of the same
Farmers from across the country have launched the Save Our Crops Coalition to sound the alarm and reject 2,4-D-resistant corn.As the disaster of RoundUp resistant superweeds sweeps our farmland, Monsanto is joining Dow in a futile and dangerous chemical arms race. The giant pesticide/biotech company is preparing to launch a new soybean engineered to be resistant to another old harmful herbicide the close cousin of 2,4-D, dicamba.
The dicamba-resistant seed which Monsanto plans to market in 2014 if approved will also come stacked with the company’s RoundUp Ready gene, designed to be used with Monsanto’s proprietary herbicide "premix" of dicamba and glyphosate.
More dicamba-tolerant crops (corn, cotton, canola) are all waiting in the wings. If this new generation of GE crops is approved, then dicamba use will surge, just as it did with RoundUp.
So industry's response to the widespread harms of RoundUp ready grains? More of the same.
To the Big 6, increasing pesticide sales at all costs is all part of the business plan. But there's too much at stake for farmers and rural communities not to take a stand.
Get involved » USDA is currently reviewing Dow's application, along with comments from more than 365,000 concerned citizens, farmers and health professionals opposing the approval of 2,4-D corn. Stay tuned for the latest news and opportunities to take action.