Want some 2,4-D with that drifting Roundup and Paraquat?

Got enough Roundup and Paraquat drifting onto you? Want some 2,4-D with that? If not, you can send your comments to USDA now. Hey, what if we all plowed under the mutant pigweed instead of breeding more with poison soup!

Tom Philpott wrote for Mother Jones 18 July 2012, USDA Prepares To Greenlight Gnarliest GMO Soy Yet,

In early July, on the sleepy Friday after Independence Day, the USDA quietly signaled its intention to greenlight a new genetically engineered soybean seed from Dow AgroSciences. The product is designed to produce soy plants that withstand 2,4-D, a highly toxic herbicide (and, famously, the less toxic component in the notorious Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange).

Readers may remember that during an even-sleepier period—the week between Christmas and the New Year—the USDA made a similar move on Dow’s 2,4-D-ready corn.

If the USDA deregulates the two products—as it has telegraphed its intention to do—Dow will enjoy a massive profit opportunity. Every year, about half of all US farmland is planted in corn and soy. Currently, Dow’s rival Monsanto has a tight grip on weed management in corn-and-soy country. Upwards of 90 percent of soy and 70 percent of corn is engineered to withstand another herbicide called glyphosate through highly profitable Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seed lines. And after so many years of lashing so much land with the same herbicide, glyphosate-resistant superweeds are now vexing farmers and “alarming” weed-control experts throughout the midwest.

And that’s where Dow’s 2,4-D-ready corn and soy seeds come in. Dow’s novel products will be engineered to withstand glyphosate and 2,4-D, so farmers can douse their fields with both herbicides; the 2,4-D will kill the weeds that glyphosate no longer can. That’s the marketing pitch, anyway.

There’s more in the article.

It can also get into your well water, and then, according to EPA:

Some people who drink water containing 2,4-D well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience problems with their kidneys, liver, or adrenal glands.

Effects of direct exposure to 2,4-D, according to Pesticide Action Network UK:

Acute toxicity

2,4-D is a WHO Class II ‘moderately hazardous’ pesticide. This places it in the same class as endosulfan, lindane, paraquat and toxaphene. It has an LD50 of 375 mg/kg in the rat with evidence suggesting a similar level of toxicity in humans(9).

Occupational exposure to 2,4-D has produced serious eye and skin irritation. Other symptoms of 2,4-D poisoning include nausea, weakness and fatigue, and in some cases neurotoxic effects including inflammation of nerve endings(10). Some medical reports from practitioners who have treated victims of acute exposure to 2,4-D mention severe and sometimes long lasting or even permanent symptoms. These include, as well as those listed above, diarrhoea, temporary loss of vision, respiratory tract irritation, confusion, numbness and tingling, bleeding and chemical hypersensitivity(11).

Your occupation may be living next door or driving down a road while spraying drifts onto you.

USDA is accepting comments through 11 September 2012 on approval of 2,4-D for soy beans.