The Atlantic magazine is to host a livestreamed event entitled ‘Transforming The Food We Eat’ which purports to be a discussion of new food technologies. But, what might otherwise seem a worthwhile discussion, with an interesting selection of speakers, appears to be discredited by The Atlantic’s bizarre choice of sponsor… being none other than the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont.
Variously, divisions of the recently merged DowDuPont Co produce a range of the most nefarious chemical substances currently used in the production of food, including: the insecticide chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide known for its damaging effects on the human nervous system which has been linked to reduced IQ and autism in children(1); 1,3-dichloropropene, a carcinogenic pesticide used to grow strawberries, sweet potatoes and other crops (2); and Glyphosate which has been identified as a cancer-causing pesticide by the World Health Organization (3).
Over the last four decades, genetically engineered crops, designed to resist Glyphosate based broadleaf herbicides, were sprayed with the chemical as a weed control measure. But, so-called ‘super weeds’ eventually emerged with their own resistance to the toxins being sprayed on them. Dow’s response was to include an additional highly toxic chemical, 2,4-D, into the herbicide concoction in an effort to reinvigorate its efficacy. (4)
2,4-D was developed by Dow Chemical in the 1940s and was described by the Natural Resources Defense Council as ‘The Most Dangerous Pesticide You’ve Never Heard Of’ (5). 2,4-D is also known as one of the two main ingredients of Agent Orange and, despite concerns over health risks, in 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the combined use of 2,4-D and Glyphosate. This dangerous chemical combo, sold by Dow as ‘Enlist Duo’, is sprayed on genetically modified crops, such as Enlist soy and Enlist corn, engineered as resistant to this combination of poisons.
Since its development in the 1940’s, 2,4-D has been one of the most widely used herbicides in the world and, as of 2013, glyphosate was the world’s largest-selling herbicide. Given that the Enlist Duo’ system was effectively developed to usurp Monsanto’s ‘Roundup-Ready crops’, the market-leading glyphosate-based system, then it doesn’t take a genius to imagine how much is at stake for Dow, and now, DowDuPont.
Given DowDuPont’s sole sponsorship of The Atlantic’s event there must be a concern that issues pertaining to the use of these toxic chemical in the production of our food may not be pursued with the vigour they ought. The major chemical companies shamelessly exploit the media through the sponsorship of apparently benign events and institutions, with this kind of ‘greenwashing’ tactic being described as the kind of ‘coverage money can’t buy’(6), and what a pity that a respected publication such as The Atlantic should have fallen for it.