Concerns are mounting over the federal government's proposal to eliminate restrictions on genetically engineered corn and soybeans.
The issue that some individuals and groups have is that the corn and soybeans are genetically engineered to resist a common weed killer known as 2,4-D. That happens to be an ingredient in Agent Orange, a herbicide that was used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War until it was stopped amid major, documented health concerns including cancer.
Allowing the new corn and soybeans to be commercially developed could lead to greater use of the herbicide.
As The Associated Press points out, the herbicide has had limited use in corn and soybean farming because it becomes toxic to the plants early in their growth. The new seeds would allow farmers to use the weed killer throughout the plants' lives. As a result, many people have taken to social media to voice their opposition.
An example from Zoe Schlanger of Talking Points Memo says "Corn and soybeans doused in weed killer 2, 4-D (aka part of Agent Orange) coming to a cereal box near you!"
Julie Gunlock, senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, takes a different approach. Gunlock has written her own article entitled, "Everyone calm down…it isn't Agent Orange."
"It is when this herbicide was combined with another herbicide and other things that it created this toxic mix (Agent Orange). The one that is going to be used, 2,4-D, is safe. It has an incredible safety record. But, again, this very loaded term, this very emotional phrase Agent Orange, which carries with it tragedy and a terrible history, is being used by anti-GMO activists to scare the American public."
Farmers have been eager for a new generation of herbicide-resistant seeds, as weeds have become immune to Monsanto's Roundup. Meanwhile, 2,4-D is the third most-used weed-killer in the nation.