Friday, February 21, 2014

One More Day* to Reject "Agent Orange" Corn & Soy!

Alicia* The USDA has extended the comment period until March 11. Please take action today!

The chemical 2,4-D is better known for making up half of the infamous Vietnam-era chemical weapon known as Agent Orange. A potent defoliant, 2,4-D is associated with a number of human health and environmental problems. It's also poised to replace Monsanto's Roundup as the herbicide of choice for GMO agriculture, as superweeds and pests that have developed resistance to Roundup spread across the countryside.

As I type, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in its final set of deliberations for approval of Dow's controversial 2,4-D resistant corn and soy, new genetically engineered (GE) crop varieties that are designed to resist heightened applications of Dow's 2,4-D.

What will it mean if more of this Agent Orange chemical is out in the fields? It's bad news for farmers, eaters and our environment and would open a new chapter of the seemingly endless chemical war against pests.

The good news is we still have time to act. USDA's comment period on this matter closes this Monday. Hundreds of thousands of farmers, eaters and public health officials are writing to USDA and voicing strong concern because:

  • 2,4-D is a very toxic herbicide. It's a reproductive toxicant, suspected endocrine disruptor and probable carcinogen.
  • 2,4-D will drift. 2,4-D is known to drift to non-target crops, and broadleaf plants like tomatoes, grapes, beans, cotton and non-GE soy are particularly at risk. Conventional and organic farmers alike could lose crops and income as a result.

  • 2,4-D-resistant "superweeds" will spread, just as Roundup-resistant weeds have taken over farms and countryside across the U.S.
  • 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.

Join farmers and eaters in telling the USDA to reject 2,4-D corn and soy. You can submit your comments here on Regulations.gov. Here are some tips for submitting comments:

  • Not sure what to say? Use the sample letter below and personalize it.
  • Write your comment ahead of time — there is a time limit and you may get timed out if you write your comment from scratch.
  • If your comment is less than one page, you can copy and paste it into the comment box. Otherwise, write "See Attached" and upload a separate document with your comments.
  • Remember to click "Submit comment" at the end of the process. You should be taken to a new screen with a confirmation number — if you don't see one, then your comment has not been submitted to the USDA.

As always, we encourage you to read up and learn more about this issue! Check out HuffPo's recent article detailing more about Dow Chemical and its new GE crop varieties. And visit the National Organic Coalition and Pesticide Action Network for more ways to get involved.

Sample Letter:

Secretary Thomas Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 200-A
Washington, DC 20250

Re: Docket #APHIS-2013-0042

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

I am writing to urge you to reject applications for Dow's new genetically engineered "Enlist" crops designed to survive repeated spraying of the herbicide 2,4-D. Your agency's draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) indicates USDA's "preferred" determination that 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy need not be regulated under the Plant Pest Act.

Simply put, deregulating these crops is a very bad idea. Allowing them on the market will drive up use of 2,4-D, an antiquated and dangerous herbicide known to drift off target crops and linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption.

[Add your personal comments about why this issue is important to you. Are you a farmer whose crops would be put at risk by 2,4-D drift? An eater concerned about 2,4-D residues on your food? Just a few sentences make a difference!]

Farmers are deeply concerned that Dow's Enlist corn will threaten their crops. 2,4-D is known to drift — directly and through volatilization — which poses a very real threat to rural economies and farmers growing crops not engineered to withstand application of these potent chemicals. 2,4-D drift is already responsible for more episodes of crop injury than any other herbicide, and its vastly increased use promises still more damage to crops like soybeans, cotton, vegetables and fruit.

Dow's 2,4-D-resistant crops follow the same short-sighted approach to farming taken by Monsanto's RoundUp Ready seed line — which is responsible for a dramatic rise in glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" that have afflicted millions of acres of farmland across the Midwest and South.

At a time when farmers, citizens and government have worked hard to limit our use of, and exposure to, toxic chemicals like 2,4-D and dioxins, approving this crop would take us dramatically backwards, endangering human health and the environment. I urge you to heed the warnings of the scientific and environmental communities and deny approval of 2,4-D resistant GE soy.

At the very least, USDA must conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement that carefully examines the human health, environmental and agricultural harms that will be triggered by 2,4-D soy, including a cumulative assessment that considers the compounded harms from additional deregulation of Dow's 2,4-D resistant corn.

Thank you,

Your Name

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