No ordinary orange
How do you like your corn? With a little butter? A sprinkle of salt?
Or do you prefer something less traditional? Like…Agent Orange.
Yes, I’m talking about THAT Agent Orange – the highly toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.
Crazy, right? Who would put Agent Orange on their corn? That would just be redundant if your corn was already sprayed with one of the active ingredients of Agent Orange.
I wish I were kidding, but it’s true. Superweeds have become such a persistent problem that farmers have started using 2,4-D, an Agent Orange component.
Horrifying? Absolutely. But brace yourself. It gets worse. MUCH worse.
Superweeds on steroids
Years ago, the agri-business giant Monsanto brought an evil spawn into the world. And if “evil spawn” sounds a little overdramatic, well…I’m sure we could find thousands of farmers who would agree.
Monsanto developed a soy seed called Roundup Ready (RR). It was genetically modified (GM) to survive Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. Farmers loved it. They drenched their crops with RR and solved all their weed problems.
After soy came RR cotton and corn seed. Most of that corn went to animal feed and production of high fructose corn syrup. But last year, Monsanto introduced RR seed for sweet corn. That’s the corn you buy in bins at your local supermarket. But this corn has a little something extra. Scientists modified the genes to include a trait called Bt. Bt kills insects.
That’s right. Sweet corn. On your dinner table. Genetically modified. Drenched in weed killer. Infused with insecticide.
Scary? Oh…I’m just getting warmed up…
With RR, Monsanto scientists believed they’d outsmarted Mother Nature. Have none of these guys seen horror movies? Mother Nature eats scientists for breakfast.
With the greatest of ease, Mother Nature responded with something new under the sun: RR-resistant superweeds. These sturdy, fast-growing weeds have turned into an overwhelming problem. Some farmers actually abandon their fields to these stubborn monsters.
That’s where the 2,4-D component of Agent Orange comes in. This poison kills superweeds. And now the story takes a very dark turn.
This Agent Orange chemical can only be used very early or very late in the growing season. Otherwise, it kills the corn. So Dow (the maker of 2,4-D) has developed a GM corn that’s 2,4-D-resistant. That means corn crops can be drenched in a potent superweed-killing toxin throughout the growing season.
This is beyond mind-boggling! Has nobody at Dow realized that this is the VERY SAME PLAN that created the superweed problem? The difference is that the next generation of superweeds will be superweeds on steroids. And what “solution” will Dow or Monsanto give us then? Napalm-resistant crops? Radiation-resistant crops?
Meanwhile, back at our dinner tables, traces of 2,4-D might affect us in any number of ways. But here’s a potential clue. After Vietnam, Agent Orange use was linked to cancer and birth defects. And if that’s a terrifying notion, then you might enjoy this quote from CBS News…
“Dow says the herbicide is perfectly safe, citing numerous government approvals.”
Perfectly safe! I don’t know whether to laugh or weep. Is there anyone naive enough to take comfort in that statement? And “government approvals?” That idea might have been reassuring 50 years ago. But not in 2012. No way.
This horror show keeps getting scarier and scarier. Wake up the neighbors! Killer corn is coming to get us!
“Controversy flares over ‘Agent Orange corn’” Sharyl Attkisson, CBS News, 6/12/12, cbsnews.com
“Why Monsanto Thought Weeds Would Never Defeat Roundup” Daniel Charles, NPR, 3/11/12, npr.org
“Monsanto enters into market for fresh sweet corn” P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times, 8/5/11, latimes.com