Wellness Wednesday - Agent Orange: Out of the Jungle and Into Our Fields

This week's Wellness Wednesday is brought to you by BioStar Performance Whole Food. Remember Agent Orange? The potent chemical cocktail was released into the jungles of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia to defoliate and destroy crops. Agent Orange contained dioxins, a by-product of 2,4-D; dioxins are classified as a human carcinogen; they build up and persist in human tissues for years, even decades. Now the USDA has a request from Dow Chemical to approve their new “Enlist” brand corn, genetically engineered to withstand massive doses of the herbicide: 2,4- D. One of the reasons companies like Monsanto and Dow are developing GMO seeds to resist 2,4-D is because common weeds have become resistant to the dominant herbicide: glyphosate (Round Up).

So now non-organic farmers need stronger herbicides to fight the weeds; stronger chemicals like 2,4-D. Like glyphosate, 2,4-D is known to drift - directly and through volatilization, which poses a real threat to neighboring farms, horse farms, and organic farms.  When an herbicide volatilizes it changes form from a liquid to a vapor (gas).  The vapor can then move long distances with the wind currents. It can also affect ground water and streams.

This is an escalating war in conventional farming: from 2007 to 2008 herbicide usage increased by a staggering 191 million pounds (95,500 tons).

2,4-D has been used as herbicide treatment for lawns, and golf courses. It is banned in several provinces in Canada.

Herbicides like Round Up and 2,4-D are forbidden for use on organic farms.Crop rotation, maintaining soil fertility have been some of the keys to organic farms’ success in weed control without toxic chemicals.

Some scientists point to the fact that weeds will become resistant to 2,4-D as they have with Round Up and the conventional response will be to come up with another potent chemical cocktail; rather than change farming methods to reduce reliance on chemicals.

The good news is that each one of us can take steps to protect our horses, and pets, and ourselves including: 1) making sure what we use on our pastures and lawns does not contain 2,4-D, or Glyphosates  2) request voluntary labeling of GMOs by companies we purchase food and feed from  3) feeding ourselves and our animals for healthy, balanced GI tracts and immune systems.