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January 10, 2016

The EPA Fights For 2,4-D and Dioxin

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Since the 1970s the EPA has been an ardent booster of maximal poison spraying and the application of poisons to ever new frontiers. One of the expanded corporate welfare programs was government contracts for herbicide spraying in national forests. Private companies also receive subsidies for massive spraying of 2,4,5-T, and 2,4-D, and glyphosate. This is a direct handout to the timber companies and ultimately a laundered handout to the poison manufacturers.
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By the late 1970s EPA was aware of huge spikes in birth defects and miscarriages in the timber regions where this spraying was most intense. Alsea, Oregon was stricken with a local epidemic of miscarriages and birth defects including babies being born with fatal brain defects or being stillborn without brains. EPA investigators found dioxin in local creek sediments and accumulating in the bodies of local people. By the early 1980s EPA was tracking similar outbreaks in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. Internal EPA memos make clear that EPA quickly zeroed in on the dioxins contained in 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D as the likely cause of the outbreaks. A 1981 memo called the dioxin TCDD “the most toxic chemical ever known”, cancer-causing and acutely lethal at “exceedingly low doses”.
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By the late 70s 2,4,5-T had such a bad reputation for its toxicity, and was relatively less important to the Poisoners than other herbicides such as 2,4-D and the triazines, that the US government decided it was expendable and banned it. EPA took the opportunity to blame the epidemics of birth defects and miscarriages on 2,4,5-T while letting 2,4-D off the hook. This was in spite of the fact that at least as early as 1983 EPA was aware that 2,4-D also contains dioxin.
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This information is from a piece by Evaggelos Vallianatos, one of many he’s written presenting information from his recent book Poison Spring. This is a whistle-blowing story based on Vallianatos’s 25 years as an EPA science analyst. Poison Spring describes the EPA’s systematic cover-ups and its lies to the people and Congress on behalf of the corporations that distribute poison. It’s a Nuremburg brief.
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Vallianatos says the information on the birth defect and miscarriage epidemics has been purged from EPA files and databases. This is part of the standard pattern of cover-ups, false science, and lies at EPA. There’s nothing new about the recent exposure of EPA’s manipulation of Dow’s own data in order to whitewash the adverse safety evidence on Enlist Duo. At least since the mid-seventies EPA has sought to cover up the systematic laboratory fraud uncovered by its own auditors.
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It’s always been an insult to common sense that regulators allow the corporations to police themselves and accept the corporation’s own product safety submissions as valid evidence. Simple rationality knows a priori that the fox can’t be allowed to guard the henhouse, and if reason’s not enough for you (ironically, it’s precisely those who exalt a cult of “Reason” who are the most contemptuous of rationality in day to day practice), we have the evidence record of history, which proves that the corporation will always lie about its own products. There are no exceptions to this. It’s as certain as that the sun will rise in the morning.
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Therefore, the fact that regulators like the EPA continue to accept corporate lies at face value and then propagate these lies whitewashed with the agencies’ own stamp of approval is an ongoing scandal and crime against humanity. There is no innocence about any of this. It’s impossible to make an honest mistake about the actions and “studies” of the likes of Monsanto and Dow.
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Then the corporate media takes up the laundered lies and gives them its own embellishment along with its own vote of confidence in the integrity of the regulators, and sometimes of the corporations as well. The goal, always, is to try to prop up “public confidence” in the technology, the poison, the corporation, and in the regulators themselves. That’s why the phrase “public confidence” has such an Orwellian ring these days. It’s a confidence game indeed, played by confidence men.
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As Vallianatos points out, even the rare times the media interrogates a regulator like the EPA, as in the recent Chicago Tribune piece exposing the EPA’s methodological fraud regarding Enlist Duo, the questioning is usually done within the framework of how well policy tallies with the establishment scientific literature. Seldom does anyone question the validity of this literature in the first place. But this literature was compiled largely under corporate direction and, as damning as it often is, still represents only what the corporations were willing to make public. It obscures the even more damning data which the corporations keep secret, and the greater range of scientific research which is never performed in the first place because the corporations and government live in terror of what such research would reveal about the health and environmental destruction wrought by their profitable and ideological products. If Dow’s own tendentious studies of Enlist found such organ toxicity and endocrine disruption, and Monsanto’s own studies (manipulated as they were) proved that glyphosate causes cancer, we can be sure that more rigorous tests would reveal even more horrific results.
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The epidemics of birth defects and miscarriages localized to US regions heavily sprayed with herbicides mirrors the vastly greater epidemics in Vietnam where the US waged vicious chemical warfare, devastating vast landscapes and whole communities with Agent Orange. Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T. Monsanto and Dow were its main manufacturers. Today Dow expects that “Enlist Duo” herbicide, a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate, will be shipped and sprayed on a mass basis in 2016. “Enlist” corn and soybeans, first planted on a pilot basis in 2015 but slated for general mass plantings in 2016, are engineered to be resistant to this carcinogenic tandem. So Dow and the EPA are counting on a massive escalation of the spraying and drift of this primary Agent Orange ingredient, 2,4-D, and a massive escalation in the dioxin which will suffuse the environment, including our soil and food.
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2,4-D in its own right causes cancer, birth defects, reproductive problems such as miscarriages, Parkinson’s disease and other afflictions. Just as with glyphosate, 2,4-D is genotoxic, an endocrine disruptor, and causes oxidative stress. All three of these are mechanisms which cause cancer. As an endocrine disruptor it’s carcinogenic at very low doses and therefore has no safe level of application. If we want to significantly lower the cancer rate, we have no option other than to ban glyphosate, 2,4-D, neonicotinoids, and all other endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). 2,4-D is extremely drift prone, commonly destroying other crops. Pro-poison activists often claim that the manufacture of 2,4-D doesn’t automatically produce dioxin as a byproduct the way 2,4,5-T does, but that 2,4-D will be laced with dioxin only if the manufacturer cuts corners. But as Poison Spring documents, at least since the early 1980s EPA has had strong evidence that dioxin is a common byproduct of 2,4-D’s regular manufacture.
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Dow swears up and down its Enlist brand is “clean”, and in 2015 the EPA required that the pilot programs for the Enlist maize and soy varieties use only Dow’s brand of the poison. But if the 2,4-D expansion project goes forward, we can be sure that many farmers will use cheaper, more dangerous mixes. Of course we can’t trust Dow and the EPA either where it comes to the dioxin content of Enlist Duo. 2,4-D as such threatens to turn vast swathes of US arable land into the equivalent of Times Beach.
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And to repeat, even “clean” 2,4-D causes cancer, birth defects, and many other afflictions. Dicamba, the herbicide Monsanto is banking upon for its financial future, has the same severe effects. These herbicides, the same that just yesterday Monsanto and the USDA were calling extremely toxic and fraudulently promising would be rendered obsolete by the allegedly less toxic* Roundup Ready system, must be banned. We must dedicate relentless campaigns to strangling these retrograde, luddite poison crop systems before they become entrenched.
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[*Contrary to the standard lie about glyphosate, it’s impossible to know which is “more” toxic out of glyphosate, 2,4-D, or dicamba, and it’s irrelevant. The fact is that all three are far too toxic to be used. All three must be banned completely.]
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We have the EPA to thank most for allowing 2,4-D based herbicides in the first place. The FDA punts even though 1. it’s legally required to consider these endemic herbicide residues to be food additives, 2. to recognize them as carcinogenic (the EPA also connives on this point), 3. to ban foods which contain suffused glyphosate or 2,4-D, which would mean all food ingredients which came from herbicide tolerant GMOs. The FDA in fact violates the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with this dereliction, as it has violated the law in many other ways in the course of its rubberstamping and cheerleading for GMOs. The EPA also is used to breaking the de jure law wherever the Poisoner imperative makes it necessary.
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But like I said above about the official “scientific literature”, so it is with “the law”. As the official law has been narrowed and denuded in order to legalize most corporate crimes (and in fact the main purpose of the corporate form itself is to bestow personal legal immunity on criminals by allowing their crimes legally to be laundered through “the corporation”), so the scope of the crimes explodes massively beyond the bounds of the de jure law. As I mentioned at the start of this piece, we’re in the kind of criminal territory where only a Nuremburg-style proceeding would be equal to the character and magnitude of the crimes.
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What to do? The EPA and other regulatory bureaucracies are inherently anti-democratic and inherently secretive. That’s why, even leaving aside mundane corruption motives, all bureaucracies automatically have a close affinity and empathy with Monsanto and its projects, including such notions as the corporation policing itself, “secret science”, and the corporate science paradigm in general.
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We who oppose the poisoning of our food, water, soil, and bodies by dioxin, 2,4-D and glyphosate must not only directly counterattack Monsanto and Dow, but analyze and critique regulatory bureaucracies like the EPA and systematically propagate this analysis and criticism in weaponized form toward the goal of demolishing their credibility and legitimacy. Just as we must do against mercenary establishment “science”.
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6 Comments

  1. Great article! Should add a correction though – Alsea is in Oregon, not Washington. Alsea is in Benton County where I am. The genocide from aerial spraying there continues to this day. As well as throughout Oregon. The cancer clusters are alarming. We have formed the Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) that is writing local laws based on our right to govern to ban corporate harms like aerial spraying and the poisoning of the humans, animals, soils, forests, and ecosystems. Josephine County put the first community rights based one on the ballot in May of 2014 lead by the efforts of Audrey Moore. She brought Villianatos to Oregon for a book tour put on by the ORCRN. She died from what she was trying to ban in April of 2015. Villinatos called it carcinogenic murder and wrote an article on her death in Truthout ( http://www.truth-out.org/speakout/item/30414-the-carcinogenic-murder-of-audrey-moore )

    Lincoln and Lane County have got community rights aerial spray bans going to the ballot this year. It’s really bad here in Oregon because of the political power of the ag and forestry industries here. And the lack of power of our rural folks that are in the direct aim of all these poisons. We have the worst, most lax laws/regulations of pesticides of any state in the union. Everything is being polluted and killed all for the profits of the industrial ag and forestry corporations, our lackey political hacks and lobbyists in
    Salem, along with sundry front groups for the corporations that fund all this against the people and the environment. And you gotta love ALEC that wrote the original Right to Farm & Forestry Acts across the U.S.

    I could go on about all this forever, but I’ll stop for now. Thanks for all the work you do!

    Comment by Dana Allen — January 12, 2016 @ 12:37 am

    • Thanks for the good words Dana, and for the correction. Thanks also for filling in more details. Sounds like the people of the timber zones are under the same poison siege as the people of the soy zones of Argentina. Do you have public interest doctors documenting this the way they do down there? I’ll definitely write more about this and will welcome any more information you can give me.

      I can see why the community rights idea is so strong out there. It seems like moist people need to have these things literally rammed down their throats before they REALLY start to doubt the legitimacy and good will of “the authorities” (as opposed to just mouthing sentiments about it; the response to Campbell’s transparent ploy has revealed a lot). When are the Lane and Lincoln votes?

      Thanks for the work you all are doing too!

      Comment by Russ — January 12, 2016 @ 5:17 am

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