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Julie J. Gold jgold at escape.ca
Thu May 2 23:40:40 EST 1996

I am new to newsgroups, and am attempting to respond to a note which I read 
about the herbicide 2,4-d (commercially common as Roundup). The compound is 
one of a class of phenoxychlorides (I probably am not remembering the absolute 
correct spelling, and my books are unavailable, so forgive me please). These 
molecules are essentially phenol rings connected by oxygen atoms, with 
chloride radicals on the rings. They are very reactive. In plants, as pointed 
out, they act much as growth hormone auxin, and in effect the plant grows 
itself to death. Hence, the gnarled leaves which form on treated plants. I 
believe that at least one effect of the compound is to interfere with the 
photosynthetically driven electron transport chain. 
These herbicides were commonly used in forestry applications, a notorious 
example being 2,4,5-t, Agent Orange used in Vietnam, and a molecule related to 
2,4-d. The numbers refer to the positions of chloride around the rings. An 
unfortunate side-effect in forestry applications is the destruction of stream 
life. It is true the compounds have a fairly rapid breakdown in soil (because 
they are reactive!), but I certainly look for alternate control measures. I 
find the smell of the stuff repugnant, especially on a lovely afternoon 
pedalling my way home past a sea of chemically treated sod. 
Personally, I don't trust data relative to the safety of 2,4-d. But 
professionally I suppose I must reserve judgement. At least treat the stuff 
respectfully if you need to use it, reading ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS, and 
following proper disposal methods.

Thanks for listening to a "newbie",

(Dr.) Julie Gold
Winnipeg, MB

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