In the National Journal, Clare Foran reports that Dow Chemical is seeking federal approval for a herbicide containing a chemical which was one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange.
In March Reuters named the product as Enlist, in full, the Enlist Weed Control System, and said that U.S. regulators indicated they are ready to grant approvals, after more than two years of scrutiny.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which is reviewing Dow’s application, says that the chemical, known as 2,4-D, drifts easily through the air and sometimes kills not just weeds but also crops beyond the fields where it is sprayed. It is banned in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and some areas of Canada.
Drift ‘improved’ not eliminated
If sprayed in fields, the EPA says that trace amounts could end up in food and drinking water – but in such small quantities that it would not pose a threat to public health. Enlist combines this component with glyphosate, the chief ingredient in long-used Roundup.
Dow: its product bears little resemblance to the Vietnam War-era weapon
Garry Hamlin, a spokesman for Dow, said. “The idea that this product is anything like Agent Orange just doesn’t hold up. That had a unique contaminant, and it was phased out of use in the U.S. in the 1980s because of those concerns.”
But, critics argue, Dow has made false safety claims in the past
Dow’s Dursban insecticide was a widely used household pesticide for decades until numerous health concerns led the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to phase out certain uses in 2000 because of risks found with the active ingredient, chlorpyrifos. In 2010 an Indiana family was awarded more than $23 million for medical problems their children suffered after pesticides, including Dursban, were applied to their apartment.
An Agriculture Department researcher made tests using samples collected in the mid-1990s which found that a chemical in Dow’s product could still contain contaminants similar to those found in Agent Orange.
The study concluded that there was a “need for more investigation into possible human health effects.”
“Dow has not yet won China’s approval for import of Enlist crops, and Dow officials said they may go ahead with commercialization in the United States even without Chinese approval. Such an approach could jeopardize some U.S. grain sales to the world’s second-largest economy. A similar scenario involving a biotech corn developed by Syngenta has caused shipments of U.S. corn to be rejected by Chinese importers”.
We thank Ian Panton of GM free Cymru for bringing this news to our attention.