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Thursday, January 9, 2014

USDA Expects to Approve Agent Orange GMOs

by Russ, Volatility, January 5, 2014

The USDA has issued an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and announced that following a 45-day public comment period it expects to approve Dow’s line of GMO crops resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D. This poison is one of the two main constituents of the infamous chemical weapon Agent Orange. Up for approval are one maize variety and two varieties of soybeans. This impetuous approval process, taking less than eight months to draw up such an allegedly rigorous EIS, is part of the Obama administration’s drive to “streamline,” i.e., accelerate, what was already the USDA’s rubber-stamp procedure for deregulating GMOs. As always, we see how Obama is the most aggressively pro-Monsanto president yet.
This approval and the huge surge in 2,4-D use that will follow comprise a major escalation of an already insane and failed policy.
(Here’s the USDA’s request for public comments. Apparently the comment form isn’t up yet, but I’ll post a link to it when it’s available.)
These GMOs, manufactured by Dow and called the “Enlist” series, are part of what’s being touted as “second generation” herbicide resistant GMOs. There are similar dicamba-resistant types in the pipeline. “Second generation” is a marketing term meant to obscure the fact that these are the same highly toxic and environmentally reckless herbicides which cartel and government propaganda originally promised would be rendered obsolete by glyphosate-resistant GMOs.
What happened instead? Every knowledgeable and honest commenter predicted it from the start: The massive deployment of glyphosate-tolerant crops resulted in a tremendous increase in glyphosate use. Like clockwork, this unrelenting, unabated slathering of one poison encouraged the target weeds themselves to become resistant to glyphosate. Today glyphosate-resistant superweeds are a major, chronic, spreading problemunsolvable by the industrial agriculture methods which created it. The Roundup regime is in ruins. Industrial growers must spray ever greater amounts of glyphosate to attain continually diminishing results. Monsanto no longer legally warrants that Roundup will actually suppress weeds.
Now we’ve come full circle. 2,4-D and dicamba, originally relegated by GMO propaganda to history’s garbage heap, are now touted as the solution to the artificial problem of glyphosate’s collapse. (I should note that glyphosate itself isn’t being phased out. No one in cartel or government wants to end or diminish the distribution and application of any type of profitable poison, no matter how useless it is. The Enlist crops are “stacked” varieties, resistant to both 2,4-D and glyphosate. So when the Agent Orange crops are grown, they’ll still be drivers of the escalating use of glyphosate, and will add a massive surge in 2,4-D application on top of the massive glyphosate use.)
What will the specific results be? 2,4-D is a viciously poisonous substance. It’s an endocrine disruptor and causes birth defects and cancer, as well as being linked to Parkinson’s disease and other health detriments. It’s more volatile than glyphosate and causes far more problems with drift, trespass, and the destruction of other farmers’ crops. This is why the Agent Orange GMOs originally generated an unusual coalition of industrial opponents, including many specialty crop farmers and processors. (These have since dropped their opposition, claiming to believe Dow’s lies about “special formulations” which will reduce drift. In other words, the leaders made some kind of deal to sell out the farmers.) Meanwhile, in the past the Center for Food Safety and a coalition of organic farmers said they may file suit once the USDA’s phony review procedure was concluded.
(For those who are interested in legal actions, I think that now would be a good time to start compiling a dossier of poison trespass, crop and other plant destruction, soil poisoning, and other torts. Every victim of drift, genetic contamination, soil toxification, well or water poisoning, should be invited to report and register his loss and place the blame. This can be for lawsuits right now, and for a future New Nuremburg. We abolitionists recognize the strict liability of anyone who produces, plants, cultivates, sprays, any GMO or other agricultural poison, for all damage caused by that poison. I emphasize that there’s no longer any doubt at all about the inexpediency and destructiveness of the agricultural poison regime.)
The USDA itself expects 2,4-D use will increase two- to sixfold. Other more independent assessments predict it’ll go up as much as fiftyfold. The only thing it will do is escalate the chemical/bioweapons arms race which, as we knew from day one, the weeds will inevitably win. They’ve already routed glyphosate. Meanwhile there are already many documented instances of weeds resistant to 2,4-D. These have already developed because any kind of evolved resistance to one herbicide (or antibiotic) may simultaneously manifest as a resistance to a whole genre. Thus for example waterhemp, one of the most bothersome weeds afflicting corn and soy growers, has been developing resistance to glyphosate for a long time now. And today, before Agent Orange corn and soy have even been deployed, 2,4-D resistant waterhemp is already out there in the fields issuing the taunt, ”Bring it on!”
All this proves the fundamental lie at the core of the whole GMO regime. Herbicide tolerant GMOs as a genre already comprise a proven failure from any reality-based point of view, in the same way that corporate agriculture has long since been proven to be unable and unwilling to “feed the world”. If there was ever any doubt, there no longer is. Both of these now qualify as Big Lies, repeatable only by conscious liars and by those with a willful, reckless disregard and contempt for the truth.
What’s more, humanity is sustaining a world-historical disaster with the overwhelming poisoning of the earth by nearly twenty years of massive glyphosate use, all for no purpose at all but to amass profits and power for a handful of corporate gangsters, and for the benefit of the glyphosate-tolerant weeds. We’ve given ourselves nothing but a legacy of accelerated landgrabbing, sprawling shantytowns, the intensified debt enslavement of farmers, and the wholesale poisoning of our soil, water, and bodies. All this has gone for NOTHING. That we’re now planning to respond to this by building this most insane Tower of Babel even higher, to inflict upon ourselves an even worse scourge and destruction, is insane in the most profound sense of the term. And those who understand it and support it embody a radical evil seldom seen in history.
This proves the fundamental insanity of a civilization which has subordinated the production of our very food to the production of poisons for profit.
It’s difficult to find words, and the attempt to do so will be my main occupation, to convey the evil and insanity of this. Humanity has always started by seeking its bread. Now we’re shackled to a system which starts by producing poison, wants to force this poison upon us, and is doing so by hijacking our food and using it as the delivery mechanism.

  • not good…it’s virtually impossible to manufacture 2,4-D without the 2,3,7,8-T contaminent, aka tetradioxin, which was responsible for most of the cancers and birth defects associated with agent orange…tetradioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals out there…
    Comment by rjs — January 5, 2014 @ 10:35 am
    • If these companies told the USDA and FDA that in order to keep their profits up they needed to lace the food with cyanide, the government bureaucracies might be upset, but they’d have to make a real effort to make themselves think they ought to say No. It’s the simple, literal truth that this sector is in the business of manufacturing and selling poison, not food, which is incidental, and the USDA sees itself as in the business of helping sell this poison.
      We’re confronting institutionalized psychopathy here. Everyone involved should be institutionalized, in a different sense.
      Comment by Russ — January 5, 2014 @ 12:14 pm
    • ris, have you got a link to info to the dioxin connection with 2,4D manufacture?
      Comment by Dana Allen — January 6, 2014 @ 2:41 am
      • Here’s the only non-technical piece I found.
        It says that dioxins are bound to occur in 2,4-D, but that the ad hoc measurements which have been taken always found levels well below internationally recognized (WHO,FAO) maximums. This begs the question of how valid those maximums are, and the author acknowledges that testing has been sporadic and rare, so that we don’t really have a good picture of how much tetradioxin is in 2,4-D and other herbicides.
        Looking up Wikipedia I found the following.
        “TCDD has never been produced commercially except as a pure chemical for scientific research. It is, however, formed as a synthesis side product when producing certain chlorophenols or chlorophenoxy acid herbicides.”
        It’s the most carcinogenic of the dioxins.
        “First introduced in 1946, these herbicides were in widespread use in agriculture by the middle of the 1950s. The best known phenoxy herbicides are MCPA,[1] 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T). 2,4,5-T was later found to be inherently contaminated with the dioxin 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD), and has since been banned in most countries. 2,4-D may also contain dioxin impurities, depending on the production method.”
        So according to Wikipedia 2,4-D may contain the TCDD contaminant, but doesn’t necessarily. But “depending on the production method” may be a euphemism for “the production methods actually used”. Plus, given how the pro-poison hacks are more systematic in patrolling Wikipedia than the anti-poison people, we can take it as a rule that the reality will tend to be worse than what Wikipedia says.
        That 1946 date makes me suspect that such herbicides are yet another residual product of WWII, as explosives factories had to be refurbished to produce a different kind of weaponry. Thus Vandana Shiva points out how the massive post-war production surge and government boosting of synthetic fertilizers was really WWII continuing to be waged by other means.
        Comment by Russ — January 6, 2014 @ 4:06 am
      • dana, i wrote about this during the 70s (post Nam) and only occasionally returned to the dead tree library sections since; but i’m sure the information is online..
        here’s something from Dow via google: PDF]2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, and 2,3,7,8-TCDD: An Overview – The Dow Chemical … precursors, and contaminants, particularly 2,3,7, … required US manufacturers and suppliers to ana- lyze 2,4-D for 2,3,7,8-TCDD at a limit of detec- tion of 0.1 …
        here’s from the CDC on 2,3,7,8-T contamination of the agent orange sister chemical 2,4,5-T, more commonly known as Silvex:
        another paper from the NIH on 2,3,7,8-T: [PDF]2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin – National Toxicology Program
        “Because TCDD is a by-product of the manufacture of polychlo-… oxyacetic acid [2,4-D]) used as a defoliant in the Vietnam War”
        google turns up pages of this stuff, those should give you a start..
        Comment by rjs — January 6, 2014 @ 4:18 am
      • Thanks rjs. No surprise that Dow’s assertions on tetradioxin presence were contradicted by both previous and subsequent findings. Nor that they’ve always been telling the standard lies about toxicity and carcinogenicity.
        And today we’re supposed to believe they have a new magic formulation which won’t be as volatile and prone to drift.
        Comment by Russ — January 6, 2014 @ 4:51 am
      • russ, i’m guessing that Dow argued that the dioxin contaminents are below a certain threshhold (parts per billion) and the USDA bought it…
        but tetradioxin does not degrade in normal environments…even in Florida “results indicate that more than 94% of the TCDD observed in surface soils will remain after a 70-year period”
        so we could easily see a substantial buildup of TCDD after repeated applications, even as the 2,4-D degrades rapidly…
        Comment by rjs — January 6, 2014 @ 5:30 am
      • Another good point. I’ll be adding it to my argument.
        Comment by Russ — January 6, 2014 @ 8:24 am
  • Nice one Russ. For those interested in a more personal report of the effect of 2-4D read this small report from Margot McMillien:
    Comment by Dana Allen — January 6, 2014 @ 2:12 am
  • PS I posted this all over Facebook with McMillen’s report too. Boy, is that getting peoples’ blood pressure up.
    Comment by Dana Allen — January 6, 2014 @ 2:37 am
    • Thanks Dana. That’s a harrowing account. I feel the same anger.
      There have been so many cases like that with the current (relatively low) level of 2,4-D use. Imagine how commonplace, even systematic, this trespass and destruction is going to be once this line of GMOs is commercialized.
      Comment by Russ — January 6, 2014 @ 4:05 am
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