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Sign the Petition to

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

I urge you to reject Dow’s application for cotton that is genetically engineered to survive repeated spraying of the herbicide 2,4-D.

Putting this crop on the market will drive up use of a dangerous herbicide that is associated with serious health harms. 2,4-D has been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption.

The dramatic rise in glyphosate use in conjunction with Roundup Ready crops tells us that widespread planting of 2,4-D cotton will create a surge in the application of this hazardous herbicide.

Since 2,4-D is known to drift—directly and through volatilization—increased use poses a very real threat to rural economies and farmers growing crops not engineered to withstand application of this potent chemical. Conventional farmers could lose crops, while organic farmers could lose both crops and certification, resulting in an economic unraveling of already-stressed rural communities.

Dow’s 2,4-D-resistant crops are engineered to follow the same shortsighted approach to farming taken by Monsanto with its Roundup Ready seed line. The Roundup Ready seed line is responsible for a dramatic rise in glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” that have afflicted millions of acres of farmland across the Midwest and South. Please don't make the same mistake in approving a new generation of herbicide-resistant crops that will lead to more superweeds, placing even more burden on farmers.

We urge USDA to reject Dow’s petition for approval of its 2,4-D-tolerant cotton, and we call on your Agency to instead devote more attention to research and development of safe and smart 21st century ecological approaches to weed management. These approaches can protect public health, conserve the environment and assure sustainable crop production by America’s farmers for generations to come.


Organic Consumers Association

This petition closed over 1 year ago

How this will help

Cotton is already the world's "dirtiest" crop, due to its heavy use of pesticides. Now Dow wants to make cotton even more toxic, by unleashing a new genetically engineered cotton that resists...

Cotton is already the world's "dirtiest" crop, due to its heavy use of pesticides. Now Dow wants to make cotton even more toxic, by unleashing a new genetically engineered cotton that resists the deadly 2,-4-D herbicide.

Dow's 2,4-D is one of the two toxins used to make Agent Orange, the deadly chemical sprayed in Vietnam during the 1960s and known to be responsible for a host of severe illnesses and birth defects.

If the USDA approves Dow's new 2,4-D-resistant cotton, farmers will start spraying massive amounts of 2,4-D herbicide on a crop that already accounts for more than its fair share of the global use of pesticides and herbicides.

The deadline to tell the USDA you don't want 'Agent Orange' cotton is midnight on May 19.


Cotton is the world's dirtiest crop. Only 2.4 percent of the world's cropland is planted with cotton, yet cotton crops account for 24 percent and 11 percent of global sales of insecticides and pesticides respectively.

One of the toxins that isn't yet sprayed on cotton is 2,4-D. Why? Because 2,4-D kills cotton.

Farmers use 2,4-D to control weeds on soybeans, rice, corn, wheat and several other crops. But when 2,4-D drifts onto cotton fields, it can kill hundreds of thousands of acres of cotton.

That's a big problem for cotton farmers because 2,4-D, which is used on soybeans, rice, corn, wheat and other crops, is the third most widely sprayed herbicide/pesticide in the world.  In fact, 2,4-D drift is the top cause of pesticide-related crop damage episodes investigated by state departments of agriculture in the U.S.

Losses from 2,4-D drift have caused some cotton farmers to call for ban on the herbicide.

But Dow thinks it has a better idea: genetically engineered cotton that resists 2,4-D. According to Dow, if cotton farmers would only plant Dow's genetically engineered 2,4-D-resistant cotton, they could solve their weed problems and the problem of crop loss from 2,4-D drift.

Penn State University researchers disagree, at least when it comes to 2,4-D's ability to solve cotton farmers' weed problems. Their 2012 study concluded that Dow's 2,4-D-tolerant crops will only generate new generations of superweeds, which will require yet another round of new and more toxic chemical cocktails.

Of course the chemical companies have known all along that weeds would quickly adopt resistant traits and evolve into superweeds. According to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, there are already 30 weeds that are resistant to 2,4-D.

Still, Dow is nearing approval of two other new 2,4-D-resistant crops—its Enlist brand corn and soy. Approval of those two crops means the use of 2,4-D could increase fifty-fold. Add 2,4-D-resistant cotton, and 2,4-D may be competing with Monsanto's Roundup for most-used toxin in the world.

2,4-D is highly toxic. Some formulations are contaminated with dioxins. According to the World Health Organization, dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

After investigative journalists ran a television documentary revealing dangerous levels of dioxin had been found in common brands of 2,4-D, the Australian government cancelled the registrations of some forms of 2,4-D and began reviewing the rest.

Even discounting dioxin contamination, 2,4-D ranks among the world's most dangerous herbicides. The Natural Resources Defense Council has pressed EPA for a ban. But the EPA is ignoring studies that show exposure to 2,4-D could cause cancer, hormone disruption, genetic mutations and neurotoxicity. Instead, EPA points to studies, financed by the 2,4-D manufacturers and conducted by Dow, that minimize health risks.

In Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, researchers have found higher rates of certain birth defects in areas with the highest use of 2,4-D.

Over the past 40 years, dozens of studies have been published linking 2,4-D and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 2010, approximately 65,540 people in the United States were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, nearly double diagnosed in the 1970s.

The more farmers use 2,4-D—or any herbicide or pesticide—the more these toxins end up on our food—and in our bodies.

Cotton might be hard to place into one of the four food groups, but it's a staple of the American diet, both as an animal feed and an ingredient in processed foods. Just look at the ingredients on a box of Ritz crackers. Cottonseed is there, and in many other foods, as a "trans fat," partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.


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