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Tell USDA Agent Orange Belongs in the Past, Not in Our Air and Water!

February 15, 2012 | Amy VanHaren

Agent orange belongs in the past!

What do you get with thousands and thousands of acres planted with genetically engineered crops designed to be either herbicide resistant, insect resistant, or both? Thousands of acres of super weeds that have evolved to stand up to the ever-increasing spray levels needed to grow these crops. What’s a company to do once its pest problem silver bullet doesn’t pay farmers promised dividends? Why, invent a new one!

In response to the emergence of herbicide resistant weeds, Dow Chemical has developed a new corn variety that is genetically engineered to tolerate applications of the herbicide 2,4-D. 2,4-D is one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, the herbicide renowned for causing widespread birth defects after it was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam war. 2,4-D is a highly toxic herbicide on its own, and exposure to drift from this herbicide has been proven to cause birth defects.

Approval of Dow’s 2,4-D corn will surely lead to massive increases in the use of this incredibly toxic herbicide. It will only be a matter of time before we start to see the consequences for public health. Despite this threat, USDA has proposed approving this new genetically engineered crop for planting. USDA will accept comments until February 27th and they need to hear from as many people as possible to reverse their decision. Join our friends at the Center for Food Safety in telling the USDA to reject Agent Orange Corn.

If legalized, exposure to this toxic chemical through the air and water will increase rates of birth defects, developmental problems and, certain types of cancer in rural residents.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Take action today to protect our country’s farmers and the food they grow from this harmful chemical. Join us in making your voice heard!


1-The most convincing evidence came from a series of EPA-funded studies at birth centers in the Midwest and Great Plains states in the 1980s and early 1990s. Scientists observed consistent spikes in reproductive problems (e.g., spontaneous abortions, failure to conceive) among women living in heavily sprayed rural areas, as well as birth defects in babies born six to nine months after the spring herbicide spray season. No similar increase in birth defects was ever found in women living in urban areas in the same state, which were not at risk for pesticide drift. V.F. Garry et al., 1996. “Pesticide appliers, biocides, and birth defects in rural Minnesota,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 104, No. 4: 394-399.

T.E. Arbuckle et al., 2001. “An exploratory analysis of the effect of pesticide exposure on the risk of spontaneous abortion in an Ontario farm population,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 109, No. 8: 851-857.

M. Weselak, et al., 2008. “Pre- and post-conception pesticide exposure and the risk of birth defects in an Ontario farm population,” Reproductive Toxicology, Vol. 25, No. 4: 472-480.

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