A volatile weed killer linked to cancer and endocrine issues will likely be sprayed on millions more acres of soybeans and cotton across the Midwest and South starting this year.
In January, China approved imports of a new genetically modified soybean variety – Enlist E3 soybeans jointly made by Corteva Agriscience, a division of DowDupont and seed company MS Technologies– that can withstand the herbicide 2,4-D.
“This is great news for U.S. soybean growers,” said Joseph Merschman, president of MS Technologies in a February press release. “This announcement clears the way for even more soybean growers to experience the high-yielding elite genetics and exceptional weed control offered by the Enlist E3™ soybean system.”
DowAgrosciences declined to comment for this story.
The herbicide – 2,4-D – was one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange and has been shown to drift miles away from where it’s applied. The U.S. used Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to eliminate crops and forest covers for enemy troops.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer named the weed killer a possible human carcinogen. Studies have also linked 2,4-D to endocrine disruption, disturbing estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormones.
Over the past two decades, a growing number of weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, the most popular weed killer in the world, sold as Monsanto’s Roundup.