Picture of Marcia Ishii

Marcia Ishii

2,4-D corn: Another bad creation

Spring has sprung, and farmers across the country are preparing for planting season. One of their biggest headaches will be dealing with the millions of acres of cropland that have been infested with superweeds and new generations of superbugs.

These superpests have evolved as the direct — and inevitable — consequence of Monsanto’s aggressive promotion of its genetically engineered “RoundUp-Ready” and insecticidal seed packages over the past 15 years. 

I’d like to be able to say that help is on the horizon, and that USDA is preparing to launch a full-scale effort to enable farmers to transition off the failing pesticide-GE treadmill once and for all — onto cleaner, greener methods of farming more suited to the 21st century. But alas, the reverse is true.

Weed scientists call this chemical arms race a losing battle with evolution.

At this moment, USDA is on the verge of approving Dow Chemical's new 2,4-D resistant corn, the first in a pipeline of “next generation” herbicide-tolerant crops that the Big 6 pesticide/biotech companies — including Dow, Monsanto and BASF — are planning to bring to market over the next couple of years. This is industry’s response: more of the same. Except that the next generation is even worse: crops designed to be used with higher volumes of older and deadlier weedkillers.

Weed scientists are calling this chemical arms race a losing battle with evolution. And farmers too are up in arms; already 2,000 outraged farmers and food companies have joined the burgeoning new Save Our Crops Coalition to protest these unwanted products.

Growth engine of the pesticide industry

Simply put, 2,4-D resistant corn is a bad idea. It will drive a massive increase in pesticide use, placing the burden of increased costs and health risks on farmers and local communities. The big winners will be the pesticide/biotech companies. They stand to benefit from the sustained increase in herbicide sales that will coincide with the widespread adoption of these new herbicide-tolerant GE crops.

Imagine if we could have stopped Roundup Ready in its tracks 15 years ago. American agriculture now stands at another, equally important crossroads. Do we speed up the GE-powered pesticide treadmill, or do we transition off of it?

Take Action » We have just one more week to tell USDA that we want off the GE-pesticide treadmill. The dangerous and antiquated herbicide 2,4-D shouldn’t be on the market, and we certainly should not be giving Dow license to profit from driving up its use by introducing 2,4-D resistant corn.

This blog was originally posted on Rodale Voices.

Picture of Marcia Ishii

Marcia Ishii

Marcia Ishii is director of PAN’s Grassroots Science Program and a Senior Scientist with a background in insect ecology and pest management. Her campaign work focuses on supporting and strengthening agroecology movements and policies in the U.S. and globally, in addition to challenging corporate control of our food and seed systems. Follow @MarciaIshii

Share this post