Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Debate Brews over "Agent Orange Corn"

By Victoria Ahlers

          According to CBS News, a chemical company called Dow has announced that it is on the verge of getting approval for a new genetically engineered corn that is supposedly immune to 2,4-D, which is a primary component of Agent Orange. However, public health and environmental groups have been expressing concern about the product, worried that the chemical may be a carcinogen that is linked to a number of birth defects. They are calling the proposed product “Agent Orange Corn.”
          Meanwhile, the U.S Department of Veteran’s Affairs  has once again spoken up about the dangers of Agent Orange and associated chemicals, saying that the exposure to the chemicals of soldiers in the war has been directly linked to various diseases. Among the most common are: amyloidosis, Hodgkin’s, leukemia, type 2 diabetes, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer, and a number of respiratory cancers. In addition, and of high concern to parents, is the direct link of Agent Orange exposure to birth defects such as spina bifida.
          There is, however, a great deal of debate about the actual harm caused by the chemical 2,4-D, because it is believed that the harm from Agent Orange is caused primarily from dioxin in another ingredient, 2,4,5-T, which has been off the market for years. The Environmental Protection Agency rejected a petition to take the latest weed killer off the market, stating that it was safe.
          Activist groups such as Food & Water Watch and the Natural Resources Defense Council.disagree. The issue was recently discussed at New York City’s first “Green Festival.”. There are currently nine genetically modified food crops with corn and soybeans. At the festival, a number of alternatives were discussed, and also ways to enable more sustainable farming methods.
          In addition, consumers and law makers are pushing for mandatory labeling laws that would mention when foods contain genetically modified organisms. Currently, more than 20 states have introduced bills for the mandatory labeling, but none have passed.

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