Aug 08, 2014
Despite its own admission that it will cause an up to 7-fold increase in chemical pesticide use, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is poised to approve a new type of genetically engineered seed built to resist one of the most toxic weedkillers on the market.
Now, total approval hinges on the Environmental Protection Agency. If that federal body approves the new GMO, farmers will be free to plant corn and soy seeds genetically manipulated to live through sprayings of Dow's Enlist Duo, a chemical cocktail containing both glyphosate and the antiquated, toxic chemical 2,4-D. Ironically, chemical companies said the development of GMOs in the 90s would eliminate to need to use older, more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. But as GMO use ramped up over the last few decades, chemical use increased, and many weeds are no longer responding to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, and the current chemical of choice for GMO farmer. This has created a "superweed" crisis, creating millions of acres of U.S. fields infested with hard-to-kill weeds.
With this week's USDA final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) suggesting approval of the new GMO, many public food and safety experts say the American public faces unprecedented risks. After all, current chemical use is so high that foods now actually contain concerning levels of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. Because it's systemic, it actually winds up inside of food. Adding 2,4-D to the mix is even more concerning, given it's ties to cancer.
"USDA's announcement is an outrageous abdication of USDA’s responsibility to protect our health and our food supply. The Obama Administration has ignored the interests and demands of millions of Americans, Members of Congress, and scientists, farmers and health professionals,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.
The approval comes despite USDA’s acknowledgment that Dow's crops will trigger a three- to seven-fold increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D, foster 2,4-D resistance in weeds, and inhibit farmers' use of non-chemical weed control methods. "USDA's decision represents a huge setback for farmers and sustainable agriculture. Independent scientists have linked 2,4-D to cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other maladies. Introduction of 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans will dramatically increase use of this toxic herbicide, leading to more disease, environmental harm, and increasingly intractable weeds for farmers," says Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety.
The adoption of this new generation of GMOs also threatens farmer's market favorites like tomatoes, peppers, grapes (and wine!), and potaotes. Any 2,4-D drift could cause these crops to become mangled and deformed, or even outright kill them.
Source: LEAH ZERBE