Roundup + Agent Orange: Dr. Oz calls out EPA over glyphosate, 2,4-D combo herbicide Enlist Duo
On Monday’s show, the well known Dr. Oz called out the US Environmental Protection Agency over the proposed approval of Enlist Duo, a new herbicide mix primarily made of glyphosate (known as Roundup) and a new form of 2,4-D (Agent Orange).
This is not the first time that Doctor Oz has given susbstantial air time to GMO concerns. He has reached out mainly to parents who are discovering the health effects in their children.
Dow Chemical, a lesser known participant in GMO crops, is poised to change the environmental dynamic of corporate farming again with its new combination herbicide.
Selling farmers on a new method of fighting weeds is a two-part proposition: The herbicide is sold along with genetically modified seeds designed to survive the spraying. Now, Dow Chemical (DOW) is getting ready to challenge Monsanto’s (MON) widely used Roundup Ready crop-and-herbicide combo, with each part of its new product following separate regulatory tracks.
The seeds in Dow’s Enlist system—genetically modified corn and soybeans—won approval for commercial use last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fate of the product lies with the Environmental Protection Agency, which must approve Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide before the system can be successfully marketed.
Dow has been working on the product for about 10 years, during which weeds have become resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup, an herbicide based on a compound called glyphosate. The Enlist Duo herbicide will contain glyphosate as well as a new form of 2,4-D, which is already used on other crops like wheat and on pastureland, lawns, and golf courses. Enlist seeds are resistant to both compounds.
Dr. Oz also highighted a letter to the EPA signed by well respected scientists and medical professionals.
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
We the undersigned scientists, medical professionals, and researchers are writing to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to register a double herbicide mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate (the “Enlist Duo” weedkiller) for farm field spraying in combination with a new breed of genetically engineered corn and soybeans.
This 2,4-Dichlorophe noxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and glyphosate herbicide system developed by Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, would put public health at risk if sprayed on millions of acres of cropland. Dow Chemical Company promotes 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans to be used in conjunction with Enlist Duo because the widespread planting of the glyphosate-tolerant Roundup Ready corn and soybeans has resulted in accelerated herbicide resistance in numerous weed species.
Now, instead of re-evaluating the genetically engineered crop strategy in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA are close
to approving the 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans despite the risks that the increased use of 2,4-D would pose to human health and the environment. 2,4-D is a notorious herbicide that has been linked with adverse health effects to the thyroid and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in human epidemiological studies. Although studies of pesticide exposure among farmers and their families are confounded by exposure to multiple pesticides, there is a large and compelling body of data that demonstrates the link between occupational exposure to herbicides and insecticidesand non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Studies of farmers who worked with 2,4-D found a link between exposure to this herbicide and suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.
An Environmental Working Group article discussed some of the problems in the current process.
“If EPA approves Enlist Duo for use on genetically engineered corn and soy, it would result in the largest expansion of a known toxic herbicide use in more than three decades,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, a senior policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group, which launched a campaign earlier this month to expose the major flaws in EPA’s risk assessment of the new herbicide combination. “We need to do everything we can to make sure the agency keeps this harmful weed killer away from our food and out of our environment.”
The signed letter calls out the EPA for disregarding toxicity tests in its risk assessment of Enlist Duo, even though the agency acknowledged “there could be additional toxicological effects (synergistic or additive) because of the presence of two herbicides.” The agency also failed to apply a key safety factor required by federal law when a chemical poses potential risks specific to young children. In particular, EPA’s assessment omitted the possibility of inhaling 2,4-D – even though that’s one of the primary routes of exposure. Risks would be much higher for children in residential communities, schools and daycare centers near sprayed fields.
Dr. Oz also highlighted some alarming stats related to pesticides, noting that the current usage rate is approximately 1.1 BILLION pounds per year and the impact of GMO and related practices will lead to an increase of possibly 170 million additional pounds.
Of course Monsanto has a response, but at least it is not a secret if Bloomberg reporters are compelled to mention it.
Monsanto has no intent to quietly let go of its hold on the U.S. soybean crop. It’s working on a solution called Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, which will be tolerant to not only glyphosate herbicides but also dicamba herbicides. “[We] look forward to the USDA reaching this same milestone in the review of Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant products for cotton and soy,” says Monsanto spokeswoman Sara Miller.