Hide this

Story at-a-glance +

  • One of the active ingredients in Agent Orange, 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), a broadleaf herbicide, may be introduced directly into our food supply, as a result of weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), which is used in massive quantities on all genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops. The answer, according to Dow AgriScience, is a triple-resistant crop that can survive being sprayed with this Agent Orange herbicide in addition to glyphosate and glufosinate
  • Researchers have linked 2,4-D to increased cancer risks, especially soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma, and higher rates of birth defects primarily involving the respiratory and circulatory systems, and musculoskeletal defects such as clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. Many other health hazards have been identified and are listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Switching to organic foods helps you bypass all the concerns about processed food ingredients, chemical residues on conventionally-grown fresh produce, and the multi-layered hazards related to genetically engineered foods, whether fresh or processed, and is the easiest way to help protect the health of your family
  • Important action items include Cornucopia’s Say No to Dow AgroScience’s GE Corn Petition

Do This - or You Could Soon be Eating an "Agent Orange" for Dinner

March 11, 2012 | 175,468 views
Share This Article Share

By Dr. Mercola

Mark Kastel, founder of the farm policy research group Cornucopia, is deeply dedicated to making sure we have high-quality food and that we're not being deceived about what we're eating.

Here, we discuss Agent Orange, and one of its active ingredients, which is now creeping into our food supply.

As described by Kastel, Cornucopia's mission is:

"To empower farmers, consumers, and wholesale buyers with information, so that they can make good, discerning purchasing decisions in the marketplace.

Among other things, we act as an organic industry watchdog to preserve the integrity and authenticity of the organic label and products to make sure that it remains to be a true marketplace alternative for people who want safer and more nutritious food."

Agent Orange Ingredient Headed Toward Your Plate?

To most people, "Agent Orange" is synonymous with the Vietnam war.

Many veterans suffered permanent side effects from their exposure to this potent defoliant, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese children have been born with serious birth defects as a result of its use during the war.

Now, one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange, 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), a broadleaf herbicide, may be introduced directly into our food supply, because weeds are becoming increasingly resistant to Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, which is used in massive quantities on all genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and they're showing no signs of stopping. In fact, the situation is getting progressively worse.

"Agent Orange was an herbicide used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam and South East Asia, which also include a myriad of other incredibly toxic chemicals that we know had profound deleterious effect on the health of the indigenous people who lived in South East Asia and to our veterans who served there," Kastel says. Now we see one of these ingredients, 2,4-D, introduced [into our food supply] because the Dow Company... is introducing a new genetically engineered corn plant that "will be resistant to 2,4-D."

Yes, Dow AgroSciences (a subsidiary of Dow Chemicals), which was one of the original manufacturers of Agent Orange, has developed a new generation of genetically modified (GM) crops called "Enlist", designed to resist not just one, but THREE different herbicides: glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), glufosinate, and  2,4-D, in the same way that Monsanto's Roundup-Ready crops are resistant to glyphosate.

After a mere 15 years' worth of consistent use on Roundup Ready crops, vast areas are now overrun with glyphosate-resistant superweeds that can't be destroyed. What makes them think triple-resistant crops are going to be any better, or produce different end results?

Why "Agent Orange"-Resistant Crops are a BAD Idea

Interestingly enough, the use of 2,4-D is not new, as it is actually one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. What is new is that once staple crops like soy and corn that are engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D begin to flourish, the herbicide will be applied to U.S. farm land on an unprecedented scale -- not unlike its indiscriminate application during Vietnam.

There are also some other unanswered questions relating to this new breed of 2,4-D-resistant crops.

"The curious part about this – we had to do some research to understand, and I don't know if we fully understand it yet – is that corn is naturally resistant to 2,4-D, and that 2,4-D has been used as a corn herbicide, a post-emergent herbicide for decades," Kastel says.

"This is legal, perfectly legal; even though we know that there are profound negative impacts to human health, and that this chemical residue ends up in our food system, in our soil and water, and ends up creating serious occupational exposures and risks for the people who produce our food; it's still licensed by the EPA and approved for use by the USDA on our food crops.

The curious part is, if corn is already resistant to 2,4-D, why are they injecting that genetically engineered cultivar?

The answer seems to be that there might be some incremental level of benefit in that. Right now there are application windows, certain times during crop growth, that it would probably not kill the plant but stunt its growth. [With approval] the restrictions on the spraying will be relieved.

If this takes off—if Dow can convince agronomists, extension services, extension agents, universities (where they spend a lot of money), and farmers that this is a better seed with a potential for higher yields, we're going to see really large increases in the application of 2,4-D in our countryside."

Of course, the whole point of engineering resistance to an herbicide within a plant is so that you can "carpet bomb" an entire field, leaving only your GM crop standing. If 2,4-D resistant crops receive approval and eventually replace Monsanto's failing Roundup-resistant crops as Dow intends, it is likely that billions of pounds of 2,4-D will be needed, on top of the already insane levels of Roundup being used (1.6 billion lbs were used in 2007 in the US alone!).

2,4-D—Do You Really Want to Feed this to Your Kids?

Ironically, while Dow's new crops would seriously escalate the use of 2,4-D, Monsanto is currently facing a class-action lawsuit involving another Agent Orange ingredient: 2,4,5-Ti. The suit alleges that homes and schools near one of its 2,4,5-T chemical plants are now contaminated with cancer-causing dioxin, a byproduct of the manufacturing process.

This should be a wake-up call to those considering widespread application of any toxic Agent Orange ingredient.

And let's be clear. The EPA acknowledges that 2,4-D is far from a benign chemical.

Researchers have linked it to increased cancer risks, especially soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. No less than four American studies have found an association between chlorophenoxy herbicide use (such as 2,4-D) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. EPA researchers have also discovered higher rates of birth defects in countries with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields. In fact, birth defects were 60 to 90 percent more likely in such countries, and birth defects were also found to peak in babies conceived in the spring, when fields were being sprayed the most. The most common birth defects included defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, and musculoskeletal defects such as clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits.

If that's not bad enough, consider this EPA summary of 2,4-Dii

"Health effects of chronic or acute 2,4-D exposure reported for adults included blood, liver, and kidney toxicity. Specific effects included a reduction in hemoglobin and red blood cell numbers, decreased liver enzyme activity, and increased kidney weight. Acute exposure can result in skin and eye irritation. Acute exposure to very high concentrations of 2,4-D can cause the following clinical symptoms: stupor; coma; coughing; burning sensations in lungs; loss of muscular coordination; nausea; vomiting; or dizziness.

Experimental animal studies of chronic oral exposure have reported adverse effects on the eye, thyroid, kidney, adrenals, adrenals, and ovaries/testes. In addition, some experimental animal studies have reported teratogenic effects (birth defects) at high doses, including increased fetal death, urinary tract malformation, and extra ribs.

When adult female experimental animals were exposed to 2,4-D during their pregnancy and lactation periods, their exposed offspring exhibited neurological effects, including delayed neurobehavioral development and changes in several neurotransmitter levels or binding activities and ganglioside levels in the brain. Delayed neurobehavioral development was manifested as delays in acquisition of certain motor skills such as the righting reflex."

The EASIEST Way to Protect the Health of Your Family...

So, what can you do to protect your health and the health of your family from the ever growing threats posed by genetically engineered foods and mounting herbicide use? Kastel says it well:

"Don't panic. Go organic."

Yes, it's getting increasingly difficult to keep tabs of what's being added to the food supply, and trying to keep track of everything to avoid can be a daunting task. It's much easier to simply switch to organic foods; bypassing all the concerns about processed food ingredients, chemical residues on conventionally-grown fresh produce, and the multi-layered hazards related to genetically engineered foods, whether fresh or processed.

By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use GM organisms, must be produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and come from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed, although now that GM alfalfa is approved, grass-fed will not always mean GMO free.

"There aren't that many things that we can totally take control over in terms of our health and our future health and the health of our offspring, but pure food and pure water is one of those," Kastel says.

"We know that there has been peer-reviewed research that indicates a demonstratively lower level of any kind of contamination in organic food... Peer-reviewed literature clearly illustrates its nutritional superiority. On a micro basis, we need to protect ourselves and our families. It really contributes to the richness and quality of life, because organic food tastes better. And in terms of an investment, what could be a better investment than the health and well-being of your family?

We should also become politically involved, because what's so insidious is that these novel genes permeate our environment. They can even contaminate organic food. We need to be activists."

Now's the Time to Take Action!

Cornucopia.org has a "Say No to Dow AgroScience's GE Corn Petition" on their website. Please sign this petition, which will automatically send a letter to USDA secretary Tom Vilsack and President Obama, voicing your concerns. Part of this petition also asks for labeling of genetically engineered foods.

"The industry is vehemently resisting that, because they know very well that given a choice – just like in Europe where they do have a choice because of mandatory labeling – consumers will not vote to subject their children to become, in essence, human guinea pigs, because there's been virtually no human health testing on any of these novel genetically mutated life forms," Kastel says.

What Are GMOs?

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Recently, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) has reintroduced a bill (HR 1599) that would preempt states' rights to enact GMO labeling laws. This bill would create a federal government program to oversee guidelines for voluntary labeling of products that do not contain GMOs. It would specifically prohibit Congress or individual states from requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods or ingredients. It would also allow food manufacturers to use the word "natural" on products that contain GMOs. TAKE ACTION NOW! Your local representatives need to hear from you! Please contact them today by CLICKING HERE

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Non-GMO Food Resources by Country

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.

Donate Today!

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico