In Today’s Edition of Things We Will Buy That Will Kill Us

Like a lot of farmers, Handy’s seen an incredible uptick in “super”-weeds that just won’t die. They’re resistant to the chemical herbicides that used to work on them, like Roundup.

It’s an expensive proposition when you look after 1,500 acres. Handy says he spends about $25 an acre to kill weeds. …

Just how tough are the weeds to kill? So tough that a leading weapon in the fight against them is an herbicide made by Dow AgroSciences (part of the Dow Chemical Company) called 2,4-D, one of the components in Agent Orange, which was used by the U.S. military in Vietnam and has been notorious for links to cancer and birth defects.

Dow says the herbicide is perfectly safe, citing numerous government approvals.

But what has ecologists and food safety advocates worried is any idea that greater amounts of 2,4-D could be used on American crops due to a new innovation by Dow: corn that’s resistant to 2,4-D.

Right now, 2,4-D can only be used on crops very early or late in the growing season, or it kills the crops along with the weeds.

But, Dow has developed a genetically modified corn called “Enlist,” which is resistant to 2,4-D. That way, the herbicide could be used all season long.

—Which sounds yummier: “ENLIST CORN” or “AGENT ORANGE CORN.” “Enlist” makes me think of our military, which makes me think of protection, which makes me think: Numerous government approvals? That’s cool. I’m down. “Agent Orange Corn” reminds me of Vietnam and the girl on fire running from the jungle, obviously, but if you’re all, “Besides that,” I guess I think of secret agents and citrus fruits and Halloween, none of which are necessarily pejorative, but I don’t know that they form a cohesive brand message.

I think with a little bit more brand work, Dow can figure this out. This is not an insurmountable problem.



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