On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a pesticide known as Enlist Duo to be used on genetically engineered corn and soybean crops in six U.S. states. This action has invited condemnation from green groups who consider the pesticide a health threat to farm workers and children.
Planet Experts will now provide you with a brief FAQ to explain the situation:
Why Do Farmers Need Enlist Duo?
Enlist Duo is a combination of two pesticides, 2,4-D and glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide), and farmers need it because the weeds that 2,4-D and glyphosate were supposed to kill have now grown resistant to them. In other words, to fight these ‘superweeds,’ farmers now require super-pesticides.
What Is 2,4-D?
Don’t be fooled by the misinformation. 2,4-D is not Agent Orange. As the EPA explains in its own FAQ on Enlist Duo, 2,4-D is only one of the four ingredients used to make Agent Orange, the others being the herbicide 2,4,5-T as well as kerosene and diesel fuel.
2,4,5-T was discontinued in 1985 due to its high levels of dioxin, a known cancer-causing agent. 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Children are especially vulnerable to the poison because, compared to adults, their bodies absorb more of it relative to their body weight.
What Is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate was invented by the Stauffer Chemical Company in 1964. It was originally used as a descaling agent to clean mineral deposits from pipes. It was patented by Monsanto in the 1970s and later marketed as “Roundup.” It is today used in over 130 countries and on 100 different crops.
Glyphosate studies in rats show severe hepatic and kidney disturbances and scientists in Sri Lanka believe it may be contributing to kidney failure in farm laborers around the world. The use of glyphosate has also contributed to the decline in milkweed plants and, hence, the disappearance of monarch butterflies in America.
Tensions between Indian farmers and Monsanto’s encroaching monoculture farms have also led over 100,000 Indians to commit suicide by drinking Roundup.
What Do the Critics Say?
Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association said, “The EPA’s approval of this highly toxic herbicide flies in the face of scientific evidence that not only are these chemicals toxic to humans and the environment, but that the escalation of their use will only lead to the evolution of a whole new crop of herbicide-resistant superweeds.”
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of the Just Label It campaign, which is petitioning the FDA to require labeling on all genetically modified foods, said, “We are disappointed in the EPA’s complete disregard for the health of farmers, rural residents and especially children in its decision to deregulate this dangerous weed killer.”
How Has the EPA Responded to Its Critics?
On its website, the agency writes, “Dozens of other countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan and 26 European Union members have approved these pesticides for use on numerous crops and residential lawns. Last year, Canada approved the use of Enlist Duo for the same uses that EPA is authorizing.”
Why Are Green Groups Protesting Enlist Duo?