(NaturalNews) The USDA has recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), suggesting the deregulation of 2,4-D-resistant soybean and corn seeds. Dow AgroSciences, in direct competition with Monsanto Company, made the request and plans to fully unleash the seeds within the US by 2015, pending acceptance by various federal agencies. While some farmers have come out in favor of the seed deregulation, concerned scientists have expressed fears over the potential dangers associated with the increased use of the 2,4-D herbicide.
At this stage in the deregulation process, the public is in the midst of a 45-day open comment session with the USDA, which began on January 3, 2014. It is during this time period that scientists and concerned citizens have the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding the potential deregulation of the seeds.
2,4-D, a key component of the once weaponized defoliant known as Agent Orange, has been declared a non-threat, as various scientist believe it is not the chemical responsible for the horrendous health effects attributed to Agent Orange.
Currently, the 2,4-D herbicide has had limited use in crops, as it is very toxic to plants early on in their lifespan, thus the deregulation of resistant seeds carries the implication of major profits for Dow AgroSciences. The use of such 2,4-D-resistant seeds directly infers a future increase in the use of 2,4-D, as rampant use of the chemical Roundup has fostered the development of hyper-resistant superweeds.
What are the health risks associated with 2,4-D?
The herbicide 2,4-D has been linked in studies to a series of serious health conditions, several of which are mentioned below.
Studies conducted on crop workers from Europe and Kansas in the 1970s suggested an association between the chemical and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In the 1990s, a University of Minnesota study found that birth defects in children doubled when conceived by crop workers during times when 2,4-D was being sprayed on crops. A study conducted at the University of Saskatchewan showed 2,4-D to have negative health effects on the endocrine system, primarily regarding the thyroid and gonads. Various other independent studies have shown 2,4-D to have links with breast cancer, Parkinson's disease, low sperm counts and the increase of abnormal sperm.
As a result of these and further studies, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and areas of Canada have moved to ban usage of the chemical all together.
In the US, however, a consortium of scientist, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contend that the chemical is relatively safe for use around humans. Other scientist have decried such statements as inaccurate and insufficiently supported. The main criticism of studies purporting the safety of 2,4-D use around humans is that the pure form of 2,4-D used in testing is not the same as the powered up version of the chemical being used in the herbicide products themselves.
As of now, several petitions have been formed in an attempt to stop the USDA from deregulating the seeds.