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Intro: "In a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation's two leading producers of agro-chemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2, 4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America's corn belt during the next decade."

A test tube containing genetically modified corn. (photo: Sipa Press/Rex Features)
A test tube containing genetically modified corn. (photo: Sipa Press/Rex Features)



Dow and Monsanto Join Forces to Poison America's Heartland

By Richard Schiffman, OpEdNews

27 February 12

 

n a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation's two leading producers of agro-chemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2, 4-D, one half of the infamous defoliantAgent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America's corn belt during the next decade.

The problem for corn farmers is that "superweeds" have been developing resistance to America's best-selling herbicide Roundup, which is being sprayed on millions of acres in the Midwest and elsewhere. Dow Agrosciences has developed a strain of corn that it says will solve the problem. The new genetically modified variety can tolerate 2, 4-D, which will kill off the Roundupresistant weeds, but leave the corn standing. Farmers who opt into this system will be required to double-dose their fields with a deadly cocktail of Roundup plus 2, 4-D, both of which are manufactured by Monsanto.

But this plan has alarmed environmentalists and also many farmers, who are reluctant to reintroduce a chemical whose toxicity has been well established. The use of 2, 4-D is banned in several European countries and provinces of Canada. The substance is a suspected carcinogen which has been shown to double the incidence of birth defects in the children of pesticide applicators in a study conducted by University of Minnesota pathologist Vincent Garry.

Researchers say that the effect of 2,4-D on human health is still not fully understood. But it may be a risk factor for conditions like non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which was often found in Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The EPA has stated that the chemical has "endocrine disruption potential" and interferes with the human hormonal system. It has also been shown to be toxic to honeybees, birds and fish according to research conducted by the US Forest Service and others.

In 2004, a coalition of groups spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network, wrote a letter to the EPA taking it to task for underestimating the health and environmental impacts of 2,4-D. America's agriculture department, the USDA, however, may soon sign off on the pesticide's use, and is accepting final public comments on the matter until the 27th of this month.

Large scale industrial farming has grown dependent on ever-increasing applications of agrochemicals. Some have compared this to a drug addict who requires larger and larger fixes to stay high. Herbicide use has increased steadily over time as weeds develop resistance and need to be doused with more and deadlier chemicals to kill them. This in turn requires more aggressive genetic engineering of crops that can withstand the escalating chemical assault.

Agricultural scientists warn that this growing addiction to agrochemicals is unsustainable in the long run. The fertility of the soil decreases as earthworms and vital microorganisms are killed off by pesticides and herbicides. They also pollute the groundwater, and may compromise the health of farm animals that are fed with the chemical-infused grain.

These impacts are poised to grow. US Department of Agriculture figures reveal that herbicide use rose by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008. Significantly, nearly half of this increase (46 percent) took place between 2007 and 2008 as a result of the hawking of new herbicide resistant crops like the new corn hybrid developed by Dow.

Nobody knows what effect introducing this hybrid would have on the health of American consumers. Corn laced with high levels of 2,4-D could taint everything from breakfast cereals to the beef of corn-fed cattle. Given that corn and high-fructose corn syrup are key elements in so many processed foods, some public health experts warn that all Americans will soon be guinea pigs in an ill-conceived mass experiment with one of the staples of our food supply.

Until recently, genetically engineered herbicide resistant crops were popular with farmers who benefited from higher yields and nearly effortless management of weeds. But now that the weed problem is coming back with a vengeance, some are reconsidering the wisdom of this chemical-intensive mode of farming. Dow biotech corn costs nearly three times more than conventional seed. And the projected doubling of pesticide use in the years ahead will be expensive, as well as destructive to farmland and ecosystems.

There are viable alternatives to chemical intensive farming, time tested methods like crop rotation, use of cover crops and other practices which allow farmers to compete naturally with weeds. The time has come for farmers to revive the knowledge of their ancestors in this regard.

Some agricultural scientists advocate developing a system of Integrated Weed Management to replace the unsustainable use of chemicals. But the big agrochemical companies have no interest in supporting the sustainable agriculture that would put them out of business. So long as there are billions of dollars to be made in selling herbicide and herbicide-resistant genetically-modified seed, there won't be much research money available to explore the natural alternatives to the destruction of our nation's heartland.

 

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+14 # amye 2012-02-27 13:09
So our government is allowing criminal corporate America to kill us all for profit!!! Wonder how much we will be worth when we are dead from this poison??? Thats right, nothing! Can't make a profit from a dead person!
 
 
+7 # BradFromSalem 2012-02-27 13:57
Can everyone involved be indicted for First Degree Homicide? Give them a choice, stand trial or eat/drink a bucket of whatever shit they are injecting into our food supply.

How much poison can the planet take? Poison in our food, water and air? This sounds crass, but lets drop all regulation just like the right wing idiots want. Replace it with real pricing. Instead of outlawing items, the government takes on the job of determining the additional cost to society of putting the poison in our food suppply. That additional cost is added to the retail price as a tax. Real Pricing. oh yeah the aditional cost of actually determing the cost is also added to the price. And of course, if you are willing to buy the poisoned food, it also has to be labelled. Real Pricing.
 
 
+6 # Tippitc 2012-02-27 16:00
Between Monsanto and their partners in crime and the fiasco called fracking which uses and pollutes humungous amounts of potable water do I see wide-spread hunger and starvation in our not to distant future?! Talk about a "food fight"!!
And the politicians in DC are arresting Amish farmers for selling raw milk to keep the food system safe!!
Sanity would certainly be a breathe of fresh air!!!!!!
 
 
+2 # Valleyboy 2012-02-28 07:43
Good article, except that GM Corn DOES NOT have higher yields.
 
 
+2 # WFO 2012-02-28 09:40
http://planetark.org/wen/64807

Monsanto Prevails In Suit Brought By Organic Growers

"Federal judge has ruled in favor of global seed giant Monsanto Co, dismissing a lawsuit brought by a consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers who said their industry is at risk from Monsanto's growing market strength.

U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald, for the Southern District of New York, threw out the case brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and dozens of other plaintiff growers and organizations, criticizing the groups for a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists."

When the Courts, Congress, and Executive branches are all in cahoots with monopoly food control corporations, and have no regard for organic and traditional farming, or the protection of heirloom seed-stocks, or the contamination of the entire Eco-system - what can the people do?

In Iraq, it is now illegal to save seeds - this is what they want here. Everything that is being done to the indigenous people in the ME will be done to us - including predator drones (30,000 drones will surveil Americans by 2015 - hundreds this year).

Who the hell are these demons and why do they want total control of us?
 
 
+1 # head out the window 2012-02-28 18:26
people drive across the south looking at cottonfields unknowingly are looking at a wasteland. the ground is sterilized, planted, sprayed for weeds, sprayed for weevils, sprayed with defliant and of course sprayed with chemical fertilizers. you are actually looking at thousands of acres that are almost totally barren of all animal and plant life except cotton.
 

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