The USDA is asking for comments on a GM corn that is resistant to 2-4,D.
2,4-D works against broadleaf weeds, which makes it useful in many agricultural operations and also in home lawns. It’s used to control broadleaf weeds in corn, rice, soybeans, alfalfa, orchards, and many other crops.
It is the most widely used herbicide in the United States and it’s used in more than one hundred countries.
Reasons to Say No to 2,4-D Resistant Corn
The biggest reason is that it’s completely unnecessary. Corn is not a broadleaf plant, so it’s already resistant to 2,4-D. Farmers currently spray corn with the herbicide to get at weeds growing among the crop and the corn grows just fine.
Instructions for using 2,4-D indicate that it can be used from the first sprout until tasseling. By the time corn has formed tassels, the growth is thick enough to shade out any weeds sprouting underneath. Even so, allowing spraying with 2,4-D between tasseling and harvest will only add two or three weeks to the two or three month timespan when farmers can spray with 2,4-D.
Genetic modification would increase the use of 2,4-D, just as glyphosate (RoundUp) use has increased in genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crops. Increased use of 2,4-D would lead to a quicker development of resistance to 2,4-D in the weeds.
This would be economically disastrous for the more than 80% of conventional farmers who depend on 2,4-D to control weeds in their fields.
Studies have found reproductive damage at moderate levels in rats and many other animals, which indicates that it likely causes reproductive problems in humans.
Studies have also found that 2,4-D at low doses causes cancer in rats, but studies in humans give inconclusive results.
Increasing the number of herbicide applications is never good for the farmworkers. More applications mean more opportunity for slipups and accidents. 2,4-D has caused serious eye and skin irritation among agricultural workers.
What Can You Do?
The USDA is accepting comments on the proposed deregulation of 2,4-D resistant GM corn until mid-February. Commenting online is easy. You can also read others’ comments.
The Cornucopia Institute has a petition to “Just Say No” to Dow’s 2,4-D corn.
If you haven’t already, ask your representative to co-sponsor legislation already in the House that would require labeling of genetically engineered crops. The more co-sponsors, the more likely the legislation is to pass.
Farmer spraying fields via Shutterstock.