The Environmental Working Group is "deeply disappointed" that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to approve a toxic weed killer known as Enlist Duo, despite overwhelming opposition from the scientific and public health community, EWG said in a statement today.
Enlist Duo, manufactured by Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company, is a toxic combination of the herbicide 2,4-D and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. The EPA's decision means Dow can sell Enlist Duo in conjunction with its new genetically engineered products, 2,4-D-tolerant corn and soybean seeds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved Dow's application to market these seeds.
Dow has announced plans to start marketing Enlist Duo in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
"The EPA ignored science pointing to the serious health risks –– especially to children –– associated with 2,4-D," said Mary Ellen Kustin, EWG's senior policy analyst. "Giving a chemical company the green light to bring a known harmful weed killer to market for use on millions of acres of crops puts public health and the environment in danger."
Last summer, 35 doctors and scientists warned the EPA against expanding the use of 2,4-D, highlighting links between pesticide exposure and health problems such as suppressed immune function and greater risk of Parkinson's disease. Later, 50 members of Congress asked EPA and USDA to reconsider their approval of the 2,4-D-tolerant seeds and weed killer.
The USDA estimates that use of 2,4-D will triple by 2020, compared to current usage. EWG research shows that more than 480 elementary schools nationwide are within 200 feet of corn and soybean fields that could be sprayed with 2,4-D.
"Children who are most vulnerable and susceptible to these toxic weed killers will have an increased risk of being exposed to a defoliant linked to cancer and Parkinson's disease," added Kustin.
In addition to toxicity concerns, increasing the use of weed killers could further escalate the evolution of "superweeds" resistant to known herbicides.
"This continued arms race between chemical companies and superweeds is a threat to sustainable farming and public health," added Kustin. "EPA's decision to up the ante of Roundup by approving Enlist Duo is unconscionable."