Learn the Risks of 2, 4-D Resistant Corn

Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D resistant corn has harmful endocrine and carcinogenic effects. The herbicide 2, 4-D is also very volatile and can easily drift onto nearby crops, vegetable and flowers.


| June 25, 2013


Reposted with permission from Food & Water Watch.

In the 15 years since herbicide-resistant crops were first introduced, weeds already have become resistant to herbicides affiliated with genetically engineered crops. In particular, application of Monsanto’s Roundup has spawned glyphosate-resistant weeds, a problem that is driving farmers to apply older, more toxic herbicides and to reduce conservation tilling to combat weeds. Now, to treat the problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds, biotechnology companies are simply creating crops resistant to a variety of chemicals.

Dow AgroScience’s variety of corn up for USDA approval, DAS-40278-9, is resistant to ACCase inhibitor herbicides (including quizalofop, which is not registered for use on corn) as well as 2,4-D. The chemical 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) once made up half of the herbicide mix known as Agent Orange. Corn with 2,4-D resistance could be dangerous to eat because a metabolite of 2,4-D is known to cause skin sores, liver damage and sometimes death in animals. 2,4-D is a potential endocrine disruptor and can affect development. Rats exposed to 2,4-D exhibited depressed thyroid hormone levels, which can affect normal metabolism and brain functioning.  Studies found that men who applied 2,4-D had lower sperm counts and more sperm abnormalities than those unexposed to the herbicide.

Not only is 2,4-D dangerous for human health, but it also spurs weed resistance. According to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, there have been 29 weeds found to be resistant to 2,4-D’s family of synthetic auxin herbicides. It is only a matter of time before Dow stacks this variety with glyphosate-resistance, which could lead to situations where Roundup and 2,4-D are sprayed on the same crop.

The chemical treadmill model cannot be continued indefinitely. Weed resistance to these chemicals will continue to abound and the application of more noxious herbicides will increase exponentially. This new corn variety is not only unsafe and inefficient, but it is a completely unsustainable solution to the broader problem of high-input production agriculture and associated environmental pressures.

Unsafe to Eat

Although FDA considers Dow’s 2,4-D corn, “as safe as conventional corn varieties…and not materially different” from corn currently grown and marketed in the United States, the FDA’s Biotechnology Consultation Note for 2,4-D-resistant corn lists several amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that differed from conventional corn and were statistically significant, including glutamic acid, oleic acid, vitamin C and zinc. A description of differences without data showing that these differences are “safe” is inadequate, especially when scientists from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research suggest that “following 2,4-D treatment, 2,4-D tolerant plants may not be acceptable for human consumption.”





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