Today, a popular television show, The Dr. Oz Show is scheduled to air a piece titled “New GMO Pesticide Doctors Are Warning Against today, Monday, Sept. 22, 2015 and will focus on the pending decision by EPA on registration of Dow AgroSciences Enlist Duo. For a sneak peak video of today’s Dr. Oz show, go to http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/new-gmo-pesticide-doctors-are-warning-against. Enlist Duo is an herbicide containing glyphosate and 2,4-D developed to aid agriculture against weeds resistant to the glyphosate alone. In order for this combined chemistry to be effective crop plants must have genetic resistance to both glyphosate and 2,4-D.
Common media concern with registration of this new product line often refers to Agent Orange and 2, 4-D as an active ingredient thus inferring that 2,4-D is the cause of the illness and ultimately the cessation of all herbicide use in Vietnam in October, 1971. The major compound associated with human health issues in Agent Orange was dioxin not 2,4-D. Agent orange was a 50/50 mixture of 2, 4-D and 2,4,5-T, however, dioxin was a residual contaminant that came in from the 2,4,5-T manufacturing process.
A second compounding issue with human health and Agent Orange use was exposure. It has been reported that the rate of application in Vietnam was extremely high compared with agricultural label rate (estimated at 20-55 times). The comparison of military use in the 1970’s simply does not connect with agricultural label rate use and questions of safety here.
A second area of concern expressed in the media is the fear of a sudden increase in volume of 2,4-D applied as an agricultural chemical. When EPA went through re-registration of 2,4-D in 2005 (EPA reevaluates labeled herbicides every 15 years to determine if it should continue allowing use) they released a Reregistration Eligibility Decisions fact sheet. http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/24d_fs.htm
In the fact sheet, the use profile of 2,4-D is reported by percent where total 2,4-D usage by pounds is reported as 24% for pasture/rangeland and the sum of 25% for lawn care by homeowners with and without fertilizer and by the lawn care industry. Only 6% of the total pounds of 2,4-D was used on corn and 4% on soybean acres in this 2005 RED report. Any increased use of 2,4-D on cropland as a result of Enlist Duo registration, while important to consider, will still be balanced by its continued use on grassland and via lawn care.
Finally, in terms of human health, EXTONET (Extension Toxicology Network) reported in 1996 that 2,4-D had no mutagenic effect in multiple laboratory studies http://extoxnet.orst.edu/pips/24-D.htm. The report also looked at multiple studies for carcinogenic effects and noted that while two studies reported increased non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma associated with spraying 2,4-D, five other studies showed no connection, leaving them to conclude that any carcinogenic effect of 2,4-D remained unclear.
The USDA has recently released Enlist Duo tolerant crops as safe to produce and EPA closed the public comment period on Enlist Duo herbicide on June 30, 2014, and will release their decision on the safety of the herbicide early this fall. Sound agricultural practice involving human health, environmental health and continued safe productivity are all Minnesota soybean farmer concerns. As in all discussions concerning the crops you produce, use factual information when defending the way your farm and the safe manner in which you do it. Even though it is a busy season, read as much as you can and let the published scientific truth continue to establish and defend the methods Minnesota soybean farmers use to produce their crops.
Dr. Paul Meints Joe Smentek Tom Slunecka
MN Soybean MN Soybean MN Soybean
Research Director Director of Environmental Affairs Chief Executive Officer