USDA’s Greenlighting Of ‘Agent Orange’ Crops Sparks 


Following widespread outcry, Dow's new genetically engineered corn and soybeans 
get approval.
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    Monsanto herbicide to be sprayed on food crops. (Photo from the USDA via Wikimedia Commons)
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision 
    this week to approve two new genetically 
    engineered crops is being denounced by 
    watchdog groups as a false solution to 
    herbicide-resistant weeds and a move 
    that threatens human and environment 
    safety alike.

    The crops are Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist corn and 
    soybeans, engineered to be resistant to its Duo 
    herbicide, which contains 2,4-D, a component 
    of the notorious Agent Orange. 2,4-D has 
    been linked to Parkinson’sbirth defects

    Dow states that the new system will address 
    the problem of weeds that have become 
    resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in 
    Monsanto’s widely-used Roundup.

    Food and environmental safety groups, however, 
    say that it speaks to the failure of the genetically 
    engineered crops strategy that fosters herbicide
    expansion—profitable for the chemical companies—
    and ignores the paradigm shifted needed in the 
    industrial agriculture system.

    “With this approval comes millions of more pounds 
    of toxic herbicides dumped onto our land; it’s an 
    unacceptable outcome,” said Andrew Kimbrell, 
    executive director for Center for Food Safety

    His group noted that the USDA analysis acknowledges 
    that the crops could lead to as much as a 7-fold 
    increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D by 2020, 
    and this, Kimbrell stated, “will only spur the 
    evolution of yet more herbicide-resistant weeds.”

    Ronnie Cummins, international director 
    of the Organic Consumers Association and its 
    Mexico affiliate, Vía Orgánica, issued a similar 
    warning, stating, “The USDA’s approval of 
    these crops is proof that today’s destructive, 
    industrial agriculture model, based on a system 
    of genetically engineered mono-crops, is a failure.”

    “Farmers have been sold the lie that they can 
    increase yields and prevent crop failure from 
    weeds by buying Monsanto’s and Dow’s GMO 
    seeds and dousing them in toxic poisons, also 
    manufactured and sold by Monsanto and Dow,” 
    Cummins continued. “But just as scientists 
    predicted, these ‘miracle’ crops are evolving 
    to resist the poisons thrown on them, causing 
    the USDA and the EPA to approve increasingly 
    toxic poisons to fight increasingly resistant 
    weeds. Where does the escalation end?”

    “We need a new direction for our agricultural 
    system, not increased reliance on chemicals.” 
    Kimbrell added.

    The Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide 
    Action Network added that their groups would 
    pursue legal options to stop the crops’ threats to 

    The Enlist Duo herbicide meant to be used in 
    combination with the new crops is still 
    waiting for approval from the EPA.  Despite 
    widespread outcry, Dow said in a press 
    statement that the approval “is expected in the 
    near future.”