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Dear Colleague Letter to USDA and EPA: Don't Approve Dow's Duo Enlist Herbicide and 2,4-D-Resistant Crops

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

Dear Colleague :

It has long been the belief among public health experts, the scientific community, agricultural groups and many in Congress that the U.S. should be working to reduce the amount of toxic pesticides used on American farmland. That is why we are deeply concerned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are now considering approving a new suite of genetically engineered (GE) crops that USDA itself has said could cause an alarming 7 - fold increase in the use of 2,4 - D - a toxic herbicide which has been linked to cancer, liver disease and Parkinson's disease.

Recent history provides an important lesson. The first generation of "Roundup Ready" GE crops, engineered to withstand exposure to the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has increased herbicide use by 527 million pounds between 1996 and 2011. This has triggered an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" which now infest over 61 million acres across 36 states - an area the size of Wyoming. In response, farmers are forced to spray older, more toxic herbicide mixtures to kill resistant weeds, return to the use of intensive and soil-eroding tillage, and in some cases even abandon farmland.

It is in this context that USDA and EPA are now considering the approval of another generation of GE crops that have been engineered to withstand exposure to a mixture of glyphosate and the herbicide 2,4-D called Enlist Duo.

Scientists and experts have warned that 2,4-D - resistant crops pose significant threats to farmers through genetic contamination and herbicide drift, which can damage neighboring crops, wild plants and pollinator habitat. 2,4-D vapor injures most broadleaf (i.e. non - grass) plants at extremely low levels, and can seriously damage particularly sensitive crops like grapes, tomatoes, cotton, sunflower and lettuce. Surveys of state pesticide regulators establish that 2,4 - D drift is already responsible for more episodes of crop damage than any other pesticide. USDA's own draft Environmental Impact Statement says that if 2,4 - D crops are allowed on the market, 2,4 - D use in agriculture would increase from 26 million lbs/year at present to anywhere from 7 8 to 176 million lbs./year by 2020 .

The chemical treadmill will not end with 2,4 - D. USDA also found that 2,4-D crops would lead to 2,4-D-resistance- in weeds already resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides. Approval of Enlist Duo and 2,4-D-resistant crops will only speed up the chemical treadmill and accelerate the need for another toxic herbicide.

The risks of approving 2,4 - D crops are simply too great to jeopardize public health, the environment and the long - term health and safety of our food supply. Please join us in writing to Secretary Vilsack and Administrator McCarthy urging them not to approve the Duo Enlist herbicide and 2,4-D resistant crops.

If you have any questions or would like to sign onto the letter please contact Megan DeBates in my office at (5 - 6416) .

Sincerely ,

Peter DeFazio                 Chellie Pingree

Member of Congress         Member of Congress