John Harrington calls on USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to stop pretending he can’t do anything about the rise in the use of toxic, cancer-causing and environment-wrecking pesticides. It’s time the USDA stood up to the million-dollar Big AG/GMO lobbyists in DC and takes responsibility for stopping the poisoning of people and our country’s natural resources.

Toxic Pesticides

Flickr: Courtesy of Valley_Photographs

March 10, 2014
Secretary Tom Vilsack
United States Department of Agriculture

Re: Docket #APHIS-2013-0042

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

I am joining the more than half a million individuals and organizations, including medical doctors and public health scientists, farmers, food and health experts, consumers, environmental organizations and many others, asking you to reject the applications for non-regulation of Dow AgroScience’s “Enlist” 2,4-D resistant corn and soybean crops.

The inability, or unwillingness, of the USDA to fulfill its moral and legal obligations to develop rules implementing policies adopted by the U.S. Congress is becoming an embarrassment and a breach of trust, if not duty.  Additionally, pushing off responsibilities to another agency, namely the EPA, and lack of meaningful coordination with the EPA and other agencies, now appears to be bringing direct harm to the health and well being of people, the environment, and the economy.

This past January, when family farmer Margot McMillen made a presentation on my behalf to the Monsanto Board of Directors, she addressed the devastating impacts brought about through the USDA’s non-regulation of products whose lifecycle demands the use of extremely toxic, cancer-causing poisons.  And now the USDA is poised to unleash the next round of even more dangerous, more toxic chemicals into the fields of our famers and their neighbors, and into the air and water.  The EIS, evaluating the Enlist petitions before you directly states:

If APHIS approves the three petitions for nonregulated status for Enlist™ corn and soybean, it is reasonably foreseeable that EPA will independently approve registration of Enlist Duo™ herbicide for use on these GE plant varieties.

In other words, if you say “go,” then so will they.

While the USDA pretends to have no choice but to set the wheels in motion, many people know better.  As documented by numerous scientists, farmers, and health professionals, the USDA seems to be utilizing internally developed definitions and guidelines of what may or may not be considered and regulated by your agency.

Further, the Plant Protection Act of 2000 specifically identifies the Secretary of the USDA as bearing ultimate responsibility for “the detection, control, eradication, suppression, prevention, or retardation” of the kind of noxious, super-weeds your non-regulation of genetically modified crops has already produced.

It is time for leadership by the USDA, as it is necessary to take responsibility for stopping the poisoning of people and our country’s natural resources.  I implore you to act immediately.




John C. Harrington
President and CEO, Harrington Investments, Inc.