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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Huge Victory! The EPA rejects “Agent Orange Corn”


Max Goldberg,  November 25, 2015

Crop Dusting

In phenomenal news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that it is revoking the registration of the controversial chemical Enlist Duo, effectively ending for good all prospects for Agent Orange Corn.

Enlist Duo is the super-toxic herbicide (a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D) to be sprayed on Dow Chemical’s genetically-engineered corn (and soy), widely referred to in the organic industry as Agent Orange Corn.

2,4-D was the primary ingredient in Agent Orange, the herbicidal warfare program in Vietnam that resulted in 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children being born with birth defects. Despite the carnage that this chemical caused, the EPA had previously said that Enlist Duo, which contains 2,4-D, was perfectly safe.

By changing course and revoking the approval of Enlist Duo, the herbicide to be sprayed on Agent Orange Corn, the EPA has effectively killed these genetically-engineered corn and soy crops as well. Why?

Because these crops have been specifically designed to be resistant to Enlist Duo. So, if Enlist Duo is no longer available, there is no point in farmers buying these new GE-crops.

The reason that the EPA decided to pull the plug on Enlist Duo is that it said that it discovered new information that the combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D is likely to be significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

Before the EPA decided to take this action, there had been a lawsuit against the EPA from the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, on behalf of many other groups, for improperly approving this chemical. One can assume that that lawsuit will now be dismissed.

WHAT NOW?

As an organic advocate, I am thrilled about the EPA’s decision but worry about whether this is just a temporary measure and if Agent Orange Corn could eventually resurface.

So, this morning I spoke with Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety, to get his take on the matter. After all, the EPA revoking Enlist Duo is an absolute disaster for Dow Chemical and the company may not give up so easily.

“Dow would have to re-register crops, and we don’t know if it would do that. Similarly, Dow may try to sue the EPA for illegally rescinding Enlist Duo, but I doubt that the company would take that road either. It could take years. In layman’s terms, the EPA’s decision is the end of Agent Orange Crops,” he said.

As I talked about on a recent Persicope, organic consumers are lucky to have so many amazing non-profit groups fighting on our behalf. The work that the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and many others did on this case meant that a super-toxic herbicide and two risky genetically-engineered crops will not be harming humans or the environment any time soon, if at all.

This is a victory that we should be very thankful for.



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