Jul 11, 2014

Dow Chemical wants to use Agent Orange to kill invasive, nearly indestructible superweeds

Agent Orange could soon be coming to a farm near you. "Dow Chemical is seeking federal approval for an herbicide containing one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange" to be sprayed on superweeds that can't be killed by traditional herbicides and choke crops, Clare Foran reports for the National Journal. "The Environmental Protection Agency, which is tasked with reviewing Dow's application, says that if the chemical, known as 2,4-D, is used in fields, trace amounts could end up in food and drinking water." (Getty Images by Sean Gallup)

Critics say Agent Orange could damage the environment and create health concerns, but EPA appears to be leaning towards siding with the chemical company, Foran writes. "The agency has already unveiled a proposal to greenlight the chemical compound, and is expected to make a final decision as early as this summer. The debate hinges on two questions: Does Dow's weed whacker carry any of the health risks of the wartime weapon? And, long term, would the pesticide create a bigger problem: a new generation of stronger, even harder-to-kill superweeds?"

Dow says its product won't be tainted with the cancer-causing contaminant like the Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War, Foran writes. "But testing conducted by an Agriculture Department researcher using samples collected in the mid-1990s showed that the chemical that plays a starring role in Dow's product can still contain contaminants similar to those found in Agent Orange. The study concluded that there was a 'need for more investigation into possible human health effects.'" (Read more) // The Rural Blog