USDA Ignores Harms from Genetically Engineered Crops

Agency overlooks threats of new “Agent Orange” crops engineered to resist potent toxic herbicide


Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice, (808) 599-2436, ext. 6612

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service released its draft Environmental Impact Statement that dismisses the significant harms of a new class of genetically engineered crops and the powerful and toxic herbicide they were manufactured to resist: Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D resistant “Enlist” corn and soy. The draft EIS will be available for public review and comment for 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on January 10, 2014.

The following is a statement from Paul Achitoff, Managing Attorney at Earthjustice:

“Most of the first generation of genetically engineered crops were designed to be immune to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a chemical that includes the active ingredient glyphosate. These crops allowed farmers to douse their fields with the chemical, hoping to kill every plant except the crop. Use of Roundup skyrocketed as a result. And, as scientists warned, some naturally immune weeds survived and reproduced, and now millions of acres of farmland are infested with Roundup-resistant weeds. The industry’s response? They genetically engineered a new generation of crops to be immune to a more toxic herbicide, 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange, the notorious defoliant manufactured by Monsanto and Dow.

“The potent and toxic 2,4-D has been linked to many human health problems. It also is likely to harm non-genetically engineered crops in neighboring fields, threaten endangered species, and ultimately lead to the development of weeds that are resistant to it, leading to even more problems. The USDA is doing the industry’s bidding and gravely mishandling the threats of these herbicides and the genetically engineered crops designed to resist them.

“In its just-released Environmental Impact Statement, USDA proposes to allow farmers to plant 2,4-D resistant corn and soy wherever they please without any government oversight, and predictably downplays any and all impacts. These crops will, like their predecessors, lead to much greater use of even more dangerous chemicals, the development of more herbicide-resistant weeds, destruction and genetic contamination of neighboring crops, and severe economic impacts on other farmers. The EIS fails entirely to even assess many of these impacts. The USDA is perpetuating a vicious cycle of greater and greater toxic chemical use on farmland. It’s a disastrous path for the USDA to go down, one the American public should have serious concerns about, and an issue we hope Americans come out in droves to comment on.”

A copy of the draft EIS provided to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be reviewed at:

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