Monday, November 12 , 2018, 11:19 am | Smoke 68º

 
 
 
 

Jim Hightower: Making Chemical Giants Happy at Our Expense

America's agribusiness giants reach for the quick, high-tech fix in a futile effort to overpower nature

Thanks to the blessings of nature and good farmers, you and I can enjoy such scrumptious delights as fresh corn-on-the-cob, popcorn and many other variations of this truly great grain. And now, thanks to Dow Chemical and federal regulators, we can look forward to “Agent Orange Corn.”

The chemical giant is in line to gain approval for putting a genetically altered corn seed on the market that will produce corn plants that won’t die when doused with high levels of 2,4-D.

This potent pesticide was an ingredient in Dow’s notorious Agent Orange defoliant, which did such extensive and horrific damage to soldiers and civilians in the Vietnam War. However, the corporation and the feds claim that 2,4-D was not the deadliest ingredient of the killer defoliant and has not yet been proven to cause cancer in humans, so they’re pressing ahead to let this corporate-constructed seed be planted across America.

Dow now sells 2,4-D to help kill various weeds, but the herbicide is so strong that it also kills nature’s own version of corn plants. Thus, Dow’s genetic engineers went into the corporate lab and manufactured a new corn that’s immune to the weed killer. This would let the chemical maker profit from selling the patented seed, plus enjoying a huge increase in sales of its 2,4-D herbicide. How happy for Dow!

Not so happy, though, for consumers worried about the untested long-term health consequences of the altered corn and the carcinogenic possibilities of ingesting more 2,4- D. Also, when sprayed, this herbicide can vaporize and spread for miles, killing crops that are not immune, poisoning the surrounding environment, and endangering the health of farmers and townspeople throughout the area.

Dow is hardly alone in pursuing its happiness at the expense of others. Indeed, rather than finding ways to cooperate with the natural world, America’s agribusiness giants generally reach for the quick, high-tech fix in a futile effort to overpower nature.

Their attitude is that if brute force isn’t working, they’re probably not using enough of it.

Monsanto, for example, has banked a fortune by selling a corn seed that it genetically manipulated to produce corn plants that won’t die when sprayed with a toxic weed killer called “Roundup.” Not coincidentally, Monsanto also happens to be the maker of Roundup, so it has profited from the seed and from the surge in Roundup sales that the seed generated. Slick.

But Mother Nature, damn her, has rebelled. So much of Monsanto’s poison was spread across America in the past decade that weeds naturally and rather rapidly developed a resistance to it. As a Dow Chemical agronomist put it, “The real need here is to diversify our weed management systems.”

Exactly right! We need non-chemical, non-GMO, sustainable systems that work with nature.

But, no, the Dow man didn’t mean that at all. He was calling for more brute force in the form of his corporation’s altered corn seed — the one that can withstand being doused with Dow’s super-potent 2,4-D weedkiller. Use this, he promises, and this time nature will surely be defeated.

Wrong. Nature doesn’t quit. The weeds will keep evolving and will adapt to Dow’s high-tech fix, too. By pushing the same old thing relentlessly, says an independent crop scientist, agribusiness interests “ratchet up (America’s) dependence on the use of herbicides, which is very much a treadmill.”

So much unhappiness for so many just to make one corporation happy by getting much richer at our expense.

It’s time to start listening to the weeds — and cooperating with Mother Nature. To advance this common sense approach, a national coalition is backing a California “Right to Know” initiative requiring GMO-altered foods to be labeled. To help, click here for the Organic Consumers Association and get involved in the coalition’s Money Bomb Monsanto Campaign.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him.

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