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Apr 18, 2012

USDA & EPA Review 2,4-D HT Technology and Dow AgroSciences Application for 2,4-D GM Corn and GM Soybeans

Dow AgroSciences 2,4-D herbicide tolerant (HT) gene-modified (GM) technology for soybean and corn is currently under regulatory review by the USDA.  Industry experts expect that deregulation may occur in the near future.  At this time, USDA draft assessments have found that HT 2,4-D technology "is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and would have minimal or non-existent effects on public health or the environment."  

2,4-D is an abbreviation for 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid.  Dow's 2,4-D technology inserts incorporates a gene from Sphingobium herbicidovorans, a soil bacteria that is tolerant to the 2,4-D herbicide.  Dow has noted that a switch to HT plants that are resistant to 2,4-D poses a solution to growing weed resistance to the herbicide glysophate (trademark name RoundUp).  In addressing concerns that 2,4-D residues may have negative health effects in humans,  Dow's spokesman Garry Hamlin notes that 2,4-D "has been used safely in the U.S. for six decades and has evoked little concern among regulatory agencies about adverse health effects. ... Pesticide residues would be below levels required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)."

Anti-GM biotechnology critics do not believe that 2,4-D technology is an answer to weed resistance.  According to Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, it is simply "going to lead to another round of herbicide resistance."  He is also concerned about "residues from 2,4-D entering the food and water supplies or harming farm workers, as the chemical has been linked to cancer, hormone disruptions and Parkinson's disease."  Save Our Crops, a recently organized coalition of anti-GM activists filed separate petitions with the EPA and the USDA on 18 April 2012 requesting further assessments of 2,4-D technology.  This followed a 16 April 2012 decision by the EPA to deny a request by Natural Resources Defense Council to cancel out all reviews of 2,4-D.  

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About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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