Twitter icon
Facebook icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon

Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

50 Members of Congress Sound Alarm Over Toxic Weed-Killer

Aug 1, 2014
Press Release
‘Agent Orange’ crops linked to damaging health and environmental effects

Washington, DC- With just weeks before a final decision is to be made, 50 members of Congress, led by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reject new GE herbicide-resistant crops and the subsequent use of extraordinarily potent weed-killer designed to kill the “superweeds” that have adapted to withstand Monsanto’s RoundUp. The herbicide, Dow’s Enlist Duo, contains 2, 4-D, the same compound used in Agent Orange that sickened many Vietnam veterans.

Members are concerned EPA and USDA have failed to properly analyze the potentially devastating health and environmental effects of allowing the use of this next generation of herbicide-resistant crops. As the letter to the EPA and the USDA states, the scientific community warned about the dangers of exposure to 2, 4-D for decades. 2, 4-D is linked to cancer, decreased sperm count liver disease and Parkinson’s disease.  A recent report shows thousands of schools would be next to spray zones.

“Right now, we are witnessing agribusiness attempt to wield its powerful influence over federal regulators. They want EPA and USDA to rubberstamp another set of genetically engineered crops rather than listen to the scientific community,” DeFazio said. “We must stop this toxic treadmill because the health of our children and our environment is at stake.”

"The introduction of Roundup Ready GE crops in the 90s sparked a frightening increase in the amount of herbicides in this country.  There's no reason to think that the deregulation of 2,4-D resistant plants will be any different," said Pingree. "The overuse of these powerful herbicides has led to superweeds that require an even stronger cocktail of toxic chemicals to control.  When will it end?  Today, it's Enlist 'Duo.'  Tomorrow, it could be 'Triple' or 'Quintet.'  The federal government needs to take a hard look at ending this destructive cycle."

The full letter to EPA and USDA is below.

 

 

 

July 31, 2014

 

 

The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack

Secretary, Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

 

The Honorable Gina McCarthy

Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Administrator McCarthy,

 

We write to you to express our grave concerns regarding your agencies’ proposed decisions to register the Enlist Duo herbicide as well as deregulate new varieties of genetically engineered (GE) crops engineered to withstand exposure to the active ingredients glyphosate and 2,4-D.  We believe that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have failed to thoroughly analyze and address the risks of Enlist Duo and the multiple adverse human health, environmental, agronomic, and socioeconomic harms that approval of 2,4-D crops will likely cause.

 

We currently stand at an agricultural crossroads. The first generation of “Roundup Ready” GE crops increased herbicide use by 527 million pounds between 1996 and 2011, triggering an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” which now infest over 61 million acres across 36 states. 2,4-D crops are among the “next-generation” of GE crops engineered to withstand applications of older, more toxic herbicides. While they are often touted as a solution to herbicide-resistant weeds, even the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recognizes in its draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that deregulating 2,4-D crops will spur the further evolution of  2,4-D resistant weeds and cause a three to seven fold increase in 2,4-D use.

 

The scientific community has sounded alarms about exposure to 2,4-D for decades. 2,4-D has been linked to multiple adverse health effects including cancer (especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), decreased sperm count, liver disease and Parkinson’s disease. Further, exposure has also been shown to negatively impact the hormonal, reproductive, neurological and immune systems. In addition, EPA has reported that 2,4-D is the seventh largest source of dioxins in the United States. Dioxins are extremely toxic chemicals, and their bioaccumulation in the food chain may potentially lead to dangerous levels of exposure.

 

We are also concerned that EPA failed to thoroughly examine all of the significant health and environmental risks of 2,4-D including that of inhalation and aggregate exposure; the risks of 2,4-D exposure to threatened and endangered species; and the risks posed by shifts in use patterns of 2,4-D as a result of the GE cropping systems. Most alarming is EPA’s failure to apply the additional safety factor of 10x, as mandated under the Food Quality Protection Act, to protect children, who are especially susceptible to harm from pesticide exposure. The 10-fold safety factor is required by law to safeguard against the potential health risks for young children and infants that would result from the widespread use of 2,4-D on GE crops.

 

In deciding to prepare a DEIS before proceeding, USDA APHIS recognized that its proposed approval of Dow’s 2,4-D crops will likely cause significant environmental, agronomic and socioeconomic harms. 

 

Despite acknowledging these significant harms, in the DEIS, APHIS alleges it “must” approve the proposed crops pursuant to the Plant Protection Act (PPA), because they do not create “plant pest” harms. However in so doing APHIS has narrowly constrained its interpretation of its regulation. This overly narrow and arbitrary interpretation of APHIS’s authority is contrary to common sense and good governance principles, as well as contradicts prior acknowledgments by APHIS that its GE crop review is “considerably broader” than its review of “traditional” plant pests. Rather, APHIS has authority over broadly defined harms to agriculture and the environment that it must apply to Dow’s crops and their acknowledged adverse impacts. 

 

Surveys of state pesticide regulators establish that 2,4-D drift is already responsible for more episodes of crop damage than any other pesticide. Vastly increased use with approval of 2,4-D crops would correspondingly increase crop damage, putting farmers of sensitive crops at grave risk. Wild plants, waterways and wildlife – including pollinator – habitat would also be threatened.  2,4-D is a quite potent plant-killer, even at levels typical of drift.  EPA tests show that 2,4-D is over 400 times more toxic to emerging seedlings and 12 times more toxic to growing plants than glyphosate.

 

While APHIS admits that transgenic contamination because of its proposed action is possible, even likely, it refuses to analyze it. We believe that contamination will occur and it will result in significant economic harm to conventional, organic and even some growers of the first generation of glyphosate-resistant GE crops. Yet, the agency wrongly puts the entire burden on non-2,4-D crop farmers to attempt to avoid contamination.

 

We request that USDA and EPA fully review the facts, law, and science in this case. As the over 400,000 public comments indicate, the risks of approving 2,4-D crops are simply too great and benefits too few to jeopardize public health, the environment and the long-term sustainability of our food supply. We therefore request EPA not register Enlist Duo for use on 2,4-D crops and USDA maintain the regulated status for 2,4-D resistant crops.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Peter DeFazio                                                              Chellie Pingree

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

John Conyers Jr.                                                           Marcy Kaptur

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Louise Slaughter                                                           Nita Lowey

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Rosa DeLauro                                                              James Moran

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Maxine Waters                                                 Sam Farr

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Betty McCollum                                                           Michael Michaud

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Jerrold Nadler                                                              Anna G. Eshoo

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Bobby Rush                                                                 Zoe Lofgren

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Earl Blumenauer                                                           James P. McGovern

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Eleanor Holmes Norton                                                Bill Pascrell Jr.

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Barbara Lee                                                                 Grace Napolitano

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Jan Schakowsky                                                           Mike Honda

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

James Langevin                                                            Adam Schiff

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Stephen Lynch                                                  Raul Grijalva

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Tim Ryan                                                                      Gwen Moore

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Debbie Wasserman Schultz                                           Yvette D. Clarke

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Keith Ellison                                                                 Jackie Speier

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Charles Rangel                                                 Carol Shea-Porter

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Ann McLane Kuster                                                     Gerald Connolly

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Jared Polis                                                                    Paul Tonko

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Mike Quigley                                                                Judy Chu

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

David Cicilline                                                  Alan Grayson

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Dina Titus                                                                     Matt Cartwright

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                   ___________________________

Jared Huffman                                                              Alan Lowenthal

Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress

 

 

 

__________________________                                                  

Mark Pocan                                                                

Member of Congress                                                   

 

 

 

 

###