GMOs and Agent Orange

My husband was in the Vietnam War in 1969, and the herbicide Agent Orange, a.k.a. dioxin, was everywhere. The government told the Marines that it was harmless — it only killed plants.

by Liz Anderson — 

How is it that huge multinational chemical, pharmaceutical and agricultural corporations of the world can continue to produce genetically modified (GM) crops, without the normally required testing, supervision and impact reports regarding their effects on our health and their potential threat to our food supply and environment? Our Congressmen and health agencies continue to look the other way. Never in the history of our country have corporations been given such privileges.

In the U.S., scientists have expressed great concern about this lack of oversight by the FDA and the USDA, as well as the incredible conflicts of interest that occur when FDA senior officials are appointed to senior positions at Monsanto or when former Monsanto staff are appointed to high-level government positions. For example, Donald Rumsfeld was the Chairman and CEO of Monsanto, and Justice Clarence Thomas worked for Monsanto as a young lawyer.

Monsanto and other major players in agri-business have heavily endowed university agricultural departments, virtually assuring that research on the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would not occur. These schools expanded their departments and now are dependent on the funds they receive from the companies who create the seeds and furnish the herbicides and fertilizers required to grow these crops.

Within the U.S., Monsanto either created or distributed such products as saccharin, DDT, early nuclear weapons, PCBs, bovine growth hormones and, do not forget, Agent Orange. This deadly product, Agent Orange, caused horrendous injuries to the men who sprayed it and to the unsuspecting Vietnamese people who have experienced generations of deformities and cancers from exposure to it.

For me this is a personal issue. My husband was in the Vietnam War in 1969, and the herbicide Agent Orange, a.k.a. dioxin, was everywhere. The government told the Marines that it was harmless — it only killed plants. In fact, it causes many serious conditions and other horrific diseases, such as leukemia, several cancers and diabetes mellitus 2. Agent Orange can be passed on to children, causing serious defects and deformities. Both of my sons were born with deformities.

The Dow Chemical Company, another big player in the GMO market, recently petitioned the USDA to approve the use of dioxin, as they are developing a “dioxin-resistant hybrid.” The huge industrialized farms will be able to keep their crops pristine by sloshing the weeds with Agent Orange. To bring back this poison — called the most toxic substance on earth by some scientists — is shocking.

Although the EPA now claims that Agent Orange biodegrades, our government is currently spearheading a major cleanup of dioxin in Vietnam. In 1995, I was in Vietnam, and I can tell you that children with deformities were visible. There is no way for the people to avoid the dioxin as it is everywhere — in their water, in the food they eat and on the dirt paths that children walk on with their bare feet.

A related issue is the conversion of these mega-farms to chemically produced crops. Those farmers will be purchasing sterile seed from the chemical companies and then must buy the herbicides and pesticides that go with that package.

Since our government is not doing anything to stop the production and distribution of these genetically altered crops and use of dangerous chemicals, the onus is on us as consumers. We can make a difference with our wallets. Every time we purchase an organic vegetable or fruit, we are telling the market that we do not want GMO products. Eventually, if we all continue to resist the processed foods containing GMOs, this will change.


Liz Anderson is active with GMO Free Prescott, a group actively working to educate citizens about the potential dangers of these products. or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 1, February/March 2013.

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