The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), released last Friday, essentially gives approval to the marketing, sale and planting of new varieties of corn and soybeans that have been genetically modified to be resistant to 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
(2,4-D), an ingredient of Agent Orange that has been associated with the following health effects:
- Aggressive or bizarre behavior
- Renal failure
- Sometimes permanent neuromuscular effects including muscle twitching, weakness and loss of tendon reflexes
- Possible endocrine disruption
Additional concerns about 2,4-D include reproductive effects, birth defects, gene damage and carcinogenicity. It has also been observed to accumulate in plants exposed to it.
The agency's EIS establishes that 2,4-D corn and soy do not need to be regulated under the Plant Pest Act, despite the fact that, over the past two years, farmers, over 400,000 other individuals and more than 150 farm, fishery, public health, consumer and environmental groups and private businesses have intensely opposed the introduction of these new, hazardous GMOs.
These new GM crops are Dow's (Dow AgroSciences, subsidiary of Dow Chemicals) response to the growing superweeds problem, which was caused primarily by previously released GMOs such as "RoundUp-Ready" corn and soy.
"American farmers and our families are at risk," said Iowa corn and soybean farmer, George Naylor. "When Dow and Monsanto first brought out these GE crops, they assured us their new, expensive seeds would clean up our environment and reduce pesticide use. That didn't happen. Today weeds are resistant to RoundUp, so farmers are using older, more deadly herbicides. 2,4-D corn is a giant step backwards; it's just a terrible idea."
While the USDA continues to approve GMOs, farmers are forced to use more and more pesticides, at the benefit of chemical companies and detriment of our health and environment. The agency's draft EIS release opens a 45-day period for public comments ending February 27.