New exposé finds that the US EPA discounted safety data for 2,4-D, a pesticide linked to cancer and other health problems, smoothing the path for Dow’s new GM crops

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) changed normal safety rules in order to claim it is safe to allow 41 times more of the herbicide 2,4-D into the American diet than before, an important new exposé in the Chicago Tribune shows.

To reach that conclusion, EPA scientists changed their analysis of a pivotal rat feeding study, tossing aside signs of kidney problems that Dow’s own researchers said were due to 2,4-D.

This was a victory for Dow because the EPA’s re-think made it easier for the agency to approve the new uses of 2,4-D that the company needed in order to market its new GM crops, which are engineered to tolerate a mixture of glyphosate and 2,4-D herbicides marketed as Enlist Duo. The agency could now tell consumers these new uses wouldn't be harmful.

2,4-D has been linked in studies to cancer and other health problems.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that is suing the EPA for approving Enlist Duo, concluded that agency officials had ”contradicted standard scientific practice" in choosing as their no-adverse-effect level – a crucial level used to set safety limits – a dose at which rats actually suffered multiple toxic effects. These included kidney lesions as well as thyroid and reproductive organ changes.

If 2,4-D-tolerant GM crops are adopted, US children could consume levels of 2,4-D that the WHO, Russia, Australia, Korea, Canada Brazil and China consider unsafe.

Pediatrician Dr Philip Landrigan is so alarmed by the potential spike in children's exposure to 2,4-D that for the last year he has urged the EPA to reject the “notoriously toxic herbicide”.

Source: Chicago Tribune (register to read the article):