Joining the debate between food safety groups and agricultural advocacy groups, the Farm Bureau Federation recently urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve 2,4-D resistant corn crops.
The debate over the crops revolves around the use of 2,4-D, a controversial and powerful herbicide used to control weeds. Food safety and environmental advocates argue that the herbicide is dangerous and potentially carcinogenic. 2,4-D, they argue, was part of the controversial Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange, which has been linked to cancer among people exposed to it.
Supporters of the herbicide, however, argue that 2,4-D was not the carcinogenic ingredient in Agent Orange and that the chemical has been used commercially and agriculturally for the past 60 years. Responding to concerns from health organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency conducted several scientific investigations and, in 2005, reassessed 2,4-D and approved it for use in corn crops.
The recent controversy, however, is not just about 2,4-D, but about a new strain of resistant corn about to be approved by the USDA. Currently, farmers across the country rely on the herbicide Roundup to manage weed populations. However, excessive use has created a resistance to Roundup, creating a need for stronger herbicides. Opponents of the new crop argue that use of 2,4-D could lead to the creation of more resistant weeds, requiring stronger and stronger herbicide use that could damage the environment and pose a significant threat to consumers.
The Farm Bureau, however, points out that these resistant crops are necessary to maintain U.S. agriculture’s innovative status. “Farm Bureau members have a strong interest in maintaining and improving access to new input technologies, such as herbicide-tolerant seed, while preserving and enhancing the coexistence of diverse crops and cropping systems,” Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer