Fifty Members of Congress Press EPA and USDA to Reject New GE Crops

Thank you to everyone who wrote and called their U.S. Congress men and women to oppose the new use of the toxic herbicide 2,4-D. Click here to see our previous alert.

On August 1, 2014, fifty Members of Congress led by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01) wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing “grave concerns” over Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo™ herbicide and new varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy the herbicide mixture would be used with.

us_congress_02_16362“In the absence of leadership from the agencies tasked to protect our health, our food, and our environment, it is up to Congress to put pressure on the Obama Administration to do what’s right. On the cusp of the 5-week August recess, 50 Members of Congress sent a clear message to USDA and EPA: reject the next wave of pesticide promoting crops before it is too late,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs at Center for Food Safety.

“If either USDA or EPA had any surprises in store over the August recess, they’d better think again,” added O’Neil.

See the letter from Members of Congress here.

“We request that USDA and EPA fully review the facts, law, and science in this case. …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 to register Enlist Duo for use on 2,4-D crops and USDA maintain the regulated status for 2,4-D resistant crops,” write the Members of Congress.

USDA and EPA are currently reviewing applications from Dow Chemical for new varieties of GE corn and soybeans and seeking registration to use Enlist Duo™ — a mixture of 2,4-D and glyphosate — on the crops. USDA has granted preliminary approval for the crops, while EPA is reviewing the application for more extensive use of 2,4-D.

“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,” write Members of Congress.

Exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to multiple adverse health effects including 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.

The 50 signers of the letter are:
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Robert A. Brady (D-PA-01), Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), David Cicilline (D-RI-01), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09), Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI-13), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Keith Ellison (D-MN-05), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-18), Sam Farr (D-CA-20), Alan Grayson (D-FL-09), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-03), Mike Honda (D-CA-17), Jared Huffman,(D-CA-02), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH-02), James Langevin (D-RI-02), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47), Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), Stephen Lynch (D-MA-08), Betty McCollum (D-MN-04), James McGovern (D-MA-02), Michael Michaud (D-ME-02), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), James Moran (D-VA-08), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10), Grace Napolitano (D-CA-32), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-01), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-09), Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01), Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), Jared Polis (D-CO-02), Mike Quigley (D-IL-05), Charles Rangel, (D-MY-13), Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09), Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), Louise Slaughter (D-NY-25), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-01), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), Dina Titus (D-NV-01), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23), Maxine Waters (D-CA-43).