Quantcast
Food

GMO Crops Accelerate Herbicide and Insecticide Use While Mainstream Media Gets It Wrong

Michael Specter’s recent articles bashing Vandana Shiva and the labeling of genetically engineered foods in the New Yorker (Seeds of Doubt and The Problem with G.M.O. Labels) are the latest high-profile pro-GMO articles that fail to engage with the fundamental critique of genetically engineered food crops in U.S. today. Rather than reduce pesticide inputs, GMOs are causing them to skyrocket in amount and toxicity.

Predictably, we now have huge swaths of the country infested with “superweeds” and “superbugs” resistant to glyphosate and Bt, meaning more volume of more toxic pesticides are being applied.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Setting the record straight, Dr. Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., former Senior Scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has recently published a well-researched article documenting the devastating facts, Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops, in Environmental Working Group’s online AgMag. Dr. Seidler’s article cites and links recent scientific literature and media reports, and should be required reading for all journalists covering GMOs, as well as for citizens generally to understand why their right to know if food is genetically engineered is so important. The short discussion below summarizes the major points of his five-page article.

More than 99 percent of GMO acreage is engineered by chemical companies to tolerate heavy herbicide (glyphosate) use and/or produce insecticide (Bt) in every cell of every plant over the entire growing season. The result is massive selection pressure that has rapidly created pest resistance—the opposite of integrated pest management where judicious use of chemical controls is applied only as necessary. Predictably, just like overuse of antibiotics in confined factory farms has created resistant “supergerms” leading to animals being overdosed with ever more powerful antibiotics, we now have huge swaths of the country infested with “superweeds” and “superbugs” resistant to glyphosate and Bt, meaning more volume of more toxic pesticides are being applied.

For example, the use of systemic insecticides, which coat GMO corn and soy seeds and are incorporated and expressed inside the entire plant, has skyrocketed in the last ten years. This includes use of neonicotinoids (neonics) which are extremely powerful neurotoxins that contaminate our food and water and destroy non-target pollinators and wildlife such as bees, butterflies and birds. In fact, two neonics in widespread use in the US are currently banned in the EU because of their suspected link to Colony Collapse Disorder in bees.

Mainstream pro-GMO media also fail to discuss the ever-increasing amount of older much more toxic herbicides like 2,4 D and Dicamba being sprayed along with huge volumes of Glyphosate to deal with superweeds. Most importantly and egregiously, this biased reporting does not mention the imminent approval of the pesticide industry’s next generation herbicide-tolerant crops that are resistant not only to glyphosate, but also high doses of 2,4 D and Dicamba, that will lead to huge increases of these toxic chemicals sprayed on our food and farming communities.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA are in the process of rubber-stamping these into our farming communities (and unlabeled onto our dinner plates) this fall, yet pro-GMO media consistently fails to discuss their imminent approval even as the lower-toxicity profile of glyphosate is touted. Such reporting gives a pass to the chemical pesticide industry that pours millions into lobbying government and media elites and defeating voter ballot initiatives to require labeling of GMO foods.

Hopefully Dr. Seidler’s article will be widely read and disseminated, so reporters can learn the facts and check their biases against industry-fed distortions.  Citizens and consumers need to hear the fundamental concern that GMOs are doubling down on, not freeing us from, the pesticide treadmill that contaminates our food and water while lining the pockets of the chemical companies that make both the GMOs and the pesticides used on them.

David Bronner is president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the top-selling brand of natural soaps in North America. He graduated with a degree (B.A.) in Biology from Harvard University in 1995. A leader in the fight to label GMO foods in the U.S., Dr. Bronner’s dedicates resources to progressive issues on behalf of the company’s mission to use profits to help make a better world.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Häagen-Dazs Says No to ‘Extreme’ Genetic Engineering Techniques

Protecting Organic Seeds From GMO Contamination

Why Mark Bittman Needs to Reconsider His Opinion Piece on GMOs in the NY Times

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Hurricane Harvey, seen from the International Space Station. Elements of this image are furnished by NASA. Irina Dmitrienko / Alamy

Climate Change ‘Tripled Chances’ of Hurricane Harvey’s Record Rain

By Daisy Dunne

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas on Aug. 25, the state was hit by catastrophic flooding caused by record rainfall. In just three days, up to 40 inches (100 cm) of rain fell on Houston and its surrounding towns, leaving 80 dead and more than 100,000 homeless.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
WAVY-TV

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Opponents Down But Not Out After Conditional Approval

A Virginia panel of regulators granted a conditional approval for a controversial gas pipeline Tuesday, saying that more information on environmental impact is needed before the project can proceed.

The Virginia State Water Board voted 4-3 to approve water permits for the pipeline in one of the project's last remaining hurdles, but delayed the start of construction until several additional environmental studies are reviewed and approved.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Dawn on the S rim of the Grand Canyon. Murray Foubister / Flickr

Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Ban Upheld by Appeals Court

The Havasupai Tribe and a coalition of conservation groups praised the decision Tuesday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Department of the Interior's 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

The court ruled that the ban, adopted in 2012, complies with the Constitution and federal environmental laws, and that the protected area was not too large, as plaintiff mining companies had argued. The ban protects the aquifers and streams that feed the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon from toxic uranium-mining waste pollution and water depletion.

Keep reading... Show less
Union of Concerned Scientists

Arctic Report Card 2017: Ice Cover Is Shrinking Faster Compared With Prior 1,500 Years

By Brenda Ekwurzel

The 2017 Arctic Report Card reflects contributions from 85 scientists representing 12 countries. The pace of sea ice area (hereafter extent) decrease is unprecedented over the past 1,500 years, according to Emily Osborne's et al. 2017 contribution to the Arctic Report Card released Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

20 Companies Pledge to Phase Out Coal

Twenty companies including Unilever and the Virgin Group announced on Tuesday that they will phase out usage of coal in order to combat climate change.

The companies announced their decision at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Coming a month after the COP23 in Bonn, Germany, the announcement puts the companies in a position similar to the "Powering Past Coal Alliance," a partnership of 26 nations founded in Bonn by Britain, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Costa Rica and the Marshall Islands.

Keep reading... Show less
World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim at One Planet Summmit: "We're working with partners to put the right policies in place, get market forces moving in the right direction, put money on the table, and accelerate climate action." World Bank / Twitter

One Planet Summit: World Bank to Stop Financing Oil, Gas Projects

In effort to bolster a global shift to clean energy, the World Bank—which provides financial, advisory and technical support to developing countries—announced it will “no longer finance upstream oil and gas, after 2019."

The announcement was made Tuesday at the international One Planet climate summit called by French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Your Food Has a Climate Footprint: Here’s What You Can Do About It

By Bruno Vander Velde

Our diets are—to put it bluntly—a problem for the planet.

About a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to food in some way. So what you put on your plate actually matters a lot more than you think.

Keep reading... Show less
Prescribed fire in Tulare, California. USDA Forest Service

Record 129 Million Dead Trees in California

By U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Monday announced that an additional 27 million trees, mostly conifers, died throughout California since November 2016, bringing the total number of trees that have died due to drought and bark beetles to an historic 129 million on 8.9 million acres. The dead trees continue to pose a hazard to people and critical infrastructure, mostly centered in the central and southern Sierra Nevada region of the state.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!