NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- An extensively used Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) - Get Report weed killer, 2,4-D, was added to a list of potential carcinogens by the World Health Organization.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC), a branch of WHO, released a statement today saying that it has evaluated the cancer causing potential of the insecticides gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane (lindane) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).

"The herbicide 2,4-D was classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on inadequate evidence in humans and limited evidence in experimental animals. There is strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress, a mechanism that can operate in humans, and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in vivo and in vitro studies," the agency said. 

2,4-D has been used for more than 70-years in order to control weeds in wheat, corn, and soybean fields and even gardens and lawns, Bloomberg reports, adding that the U.S. sprayed close to 36 million pounds of the chemical in 2012.

The weed killer is a major part of Dow's chemical business, Dow AgroSciences, Bloomberg noted.

"The classification of the herbicide 2,4-D by the International Agency for Research on Cancer is inconsistent with government findings in nearly 100 countries," Dow AgroSciences said in a statement.

The company said that countries including the U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany, Canada, Brazil, and China have "for decades affirmed the safety of 2,4-D when used according to approved labeling."

Shares of Dow Chemical are up by 0.28% to $53.59 in late afternoon trading on Tuesday.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates DOW CHEMICAL as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate DOW CHEMICAL (DOW) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Chemicals industry. The net income increased by 40.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $1,049.00 million to $1,478.00 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.89, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.21, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 118.78% to $1,258.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 101.57%.
  • DOW CHEMICAL has improved earnings per share by 49.4% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, DOW CHEMICAL reported lower earnings of $2.86 versus $3.61 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.00 versus $2.86).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: DOW Ratings Report