Despite a formal letter by the U.S. congress requesting that this combination not be approved citing public health concerns, the USDA has announced its intent to approve the genetically modified cotton and soybean plants and the herbicide combining these two products.The Enlist Duo application is being considered by the USDA and the EPA that would allow the marketing of Enlist Duo; a new generation herbicide consisting of a mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate marketed as RoundupXtend.
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, (APHIS), claimed that it has reviewed and analyzed the 10,140 comments it received and has addressed them in the final environmental impact statemen (EIS) available here: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/biotechnology/2014/faq_brs_eis.pdf
APHIS also issued a final environmental impact statement for genetically altered corn and soybean plants developed by Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, stating that the products should be approved.
Widespread consumer protest and concern in the scientific consumer has been made public. Indeed a group of scientists, doctors and business leaders spoke at a congressional hearing and advised Congress to petition the U.S. government to reject an application. Fifty members of congress as a result petitioned the USDA not to approve these products.
The medical experts advised Congress that the herbicide and the corresponding herbicide genetically resistant engineered crops would constitute a pubic health risk and cause an environmental catastrophe.
Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co, has submitted application for both the 2,4-D and glyphosate herbicide and genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds genetically engineered to be resistant to the 2,4-D/glyphosate combination.
The following excerpts are briefings made to the U.S. congress by prominent scientific and medical experts.
“Exposures to herbicides in early life can lead to disease in childhood or disease later on in adult life or even old age,” said Dr. Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Herbicide chemicals can also cross from mother to child during pregnancy and prenatal exposures that occur during the nine months of pregnancy are especially dangerous.”
“Physicians are very concerned about exposure to the combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate because of the potential lifelong and irreversible effects on the health of vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and farm workers,” said Dr. Thomasson, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Policy decisions should take into account the costs that can result from failure to act on the available data on toxic herbicides.”
“2,4-D already is permitted by EPA to remain as residues on over 300 different forms of food,” said John P. Wargo, Ph.D., professor of environmental health and politics at Yale University. “Spraying millions of additional acres with these chemicals will increase their contamination of soils, surface and groundwater and foods bearing their residues. If applied by aircraft, sprays will drift to adjacent lands, potentially endangering those who reside, go to school or work nearby.”
“The biotech industry is about to repeat the same mistakes that got us into this predicament,” said Doug Gurian Sherman, Ph.D, senior scientist with Center for Food Safety. “The public must demand policies and research that help farmers adopt proven, ecologically-based farming systems with minimal pesticide use that are productive, profitable and better for society.”
“The toxic herbicide mix is being proposed because glyphosate alone is no longer working, since its overuse has led to the development of herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield Farm and Just Label It. “This ‘chemical treadmill’ benefits the GE patent holders at the expense of farmers, human health and the environment.”
In June, 35 doctors, scientists and researchers, including Dr. Chensheng (Alex) Lu of Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Raymond Richard Neutra, a retired division chief of the California Department of Public Health, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to deny Dow’s application.
“The risks of approving a new 2,4-D mixture are clear,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, senior policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group. “If approved, the use of 2,4-D would increase three-to-sevenfold by 2020, according to the USDA. The risks are too great and benefits too few to jeopardize public health and the environment.”
Center for Food Safety Press Release