Bad idea: New GE seeds

Corporate control Syngenta 2, 4-D

Dow Chemical Company is asking USDA to approve its new “2,4-D resistant” corn and soy seed, two in the pipeline of next generation herbicide-tolerant crops that pesticide/biotech corporations are planning to bring to market in the coming years.

Simply put, 2,4-D resistant crops are a very bad idea. They will drive a massive increase in pesticide use that threatens to destroy vulnerable crops, while placing the burden of both increased costs and health risks on farmers and rural communities.

The big winners will be the Big 6 corporations — Dow among them — that control the pesticide and seed economy. 2,4-D is a dangerous and antiquated herbicide that shouldn’t be on the market, and approving genetically modified seeds that will dramatically drive up its use just doesn't make sense.

High stakes for farmers & communities

Just as with Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready corn and soy lines, Dow’s new 2,4-D ready seed line will increase use of the herbicide. And this time, the fallout will be even worse. Here’s why:

  • 2,4-D is a very toxic herbicide. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor and has been linked to cancer and reproductive harm. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.
  • 2,4-D is much more harmful to plant life than RoundUp (glyphosate). Specialty crops (like grapes, tomatoes, beans and sweet corn) and non-GE soy and cotton are extremely sensitive to 2,4-D.
  • 2,4-D does and will drift off of target crops. Both spray drift and volatilization drift can devastate adjacent ecosystems and entire landscapes. Such damage poses a very real threat to rural economies and farmers growing non-2,4-D-resistant crops. Conventional farmers will lose crops, while organic farmers will lose both crops and certification, resulting in an economic unraveling of already-stressed rural communities.
  • 2,4-D-resistant “superweeds” will arise and spread. RoundUp-resistant “superweeds” have taken over farms and countryside in the Midwest and Southeast, and widespread use of 2,4-D will spur more of the same.
  • Genetic material from 2,4-D corn will contaminate non-GE corn. Corn is wind-pollinated which means contamination is inevitable. You cannot put a GE genie back in the bottle.

In the pipeline: More of the same

Scientists say widespread planting of 2,4-D corn could trigger as much as a 25-fold increase in 2,4-D use on corn by the end of the decade.As the disaster of RoundUp resistant superweeds sweeps our farmland, Monsanto and Dow are launching a chemical arms race. Monsanto is now preparing to launch a new soybean engineered to resist yet another old harmful herbicide — the close cousin of 2,4-D, dicamba.

The dicamba-resistant seed — which Monsanto plans to market in 2015 if approved — will also come stacked with the company’s RoundUp Ready gene, and is designed to be used with Monsanto’s proprietary herbicide “premix” of dicamba and glyphosate.

More dicamba-tolerant crops (corn, cotton, canola) are all waiting in the wings. If this new generation of GE crops is approved, then dicamba use will surge, just as did RoundUp.

So industry’s response to the widespread harms of RoundUp Ready grains? More of the same.

To the Big 6, increasing pesticide sales is part of the business plan. But there's too much at stake for farmers and rural communities. We need to take a stand.