Story by M.L. JOHNSON / AP
Posted by Scott T. Smith / CBS12 NewsMILWAUKEE
-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture opened the door Friday to
commercial sales of corn and soybean seeds genetically engineered to
resist the weed killer 2,4-D, which is best known as an ingredient in
the Vietnam War-era herbicide Agent Orange.
The U.S. military
stopped using Agent Orange in 1971, and it has not been produced since
the 1970s. Scientists don't believe 2,4-D, which is legal and commonly
used by gardeners and some farmers, was responsible for the health
problems linked to Agent Orange.
The USDA's Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service published a draft environmental impact
statement Friday as part of the process for potential deregulation of
the seeds, which can now be used only in tightly controlled field
trials. Deregulation would allow commercial development of the seeds and
presumably lead to greater use of the herbicide.
The USDA has oversight over the seeds, not the herbicide.
public has 45 days to comment on its report. The Environmental
Protection Agency is conducting a separate review of 2,4-D, although it
previously found it safe to use.
Some corn and soybean farmers
have eagerly anticipated a next generation of herbicide-resistant seeds
as weeds immune to Monsanto's Roundup, known generically as glyphosate,
become more common. Most corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are
genetically engineered, usually with the Roundup resistant trait.
some scientists and environmentalists regard the development with
alarm, noting 2,4-D can easily drift beyond the area where it is
sprayed, threatening neighboring crops and wild plants.
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