Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

GMO Pesticide-Resistant Crops Prompt Widespread Backlash Due to Environmental and Health Risks

Food
GMO Pesticide-Resistant Crops Prompt Widespread Backlash Due to Environmental and Health Risks

Nearly 400,000 farmers, health professionals and concerned Americans joined together on Tuesday and submitted public comments urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reject Dow AgroSciences’ application that seeks approval of genetically-engineered (GE) corn and soybean crops that are resistant to the hazardous herbicide 2,4-D.

As the USDA itself has conceded, approval of 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans would lead to an unprecedented 200 percent to nearly 600 percent increase in agricultural use of the toxic herbicide by 2020.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Additionally, more than 800 U.S. farmers petitioned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reject the pesticide-promoting seeds, warning that they would directly harm their crops, farm businesses, livelihoods and health, according to Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

The comments were submitted on the final day of the USDA’s public comment period on its draft Environmental Impact Statement—a report that was supposed to assess possible harms associated with release of the new seed varieties.

Thousands of additional criticisms of the GE seeds are expected to be submitted before the midnight deadline.

As the USDA itself has conceded, approval of 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans would lead to an unprecedented 200 percent to 600 percent increase (from 26 million to as much as 176 million pounds) in agricultural use of the toxic herbicide by 2020.

Even at current usage levels, 2,4-D drift is responsible for more episodes of crop destruction than any other herbicide.

“Farmers are on the front lines of this potential chemical disaster,” said Lisa Griffith of the National Family Farm Coalition. “Losing crops means they lose wages, seeds for future plantings and markets, which also stresses their communities.”

Karri Stroh, executive director of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society explains, “Our farmer members raise a variety of certified crops, including organic soybeans, fruit and vegetables, that are highly sensitive to 2,4-D. If Dow’s new 2,4-D seeds are approved and planted, and 2,4-D use surges across the country, those crops and the markets that depend on them will suffer tremendous losses. Those of us who live in farm country know that drift happens.”

Critics point out that the beneficiaries of the pesticide-promoting seeds are, not surprisingly, the pesticide manufacturers.

“The new GE herbicide-resistant seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to facilitate increased, indiscriminate herbicide use and pump up chemical sales,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network. “These GE seeds are the growth engine of the pesticide industry’s marketing strategy. That’s why Dow itself describes weed resistance to herbicides as a ‘great opportunity for chemical companies."

Public Safety at Risk

The health of people living in rural communities, particularly children, is also at stake. 70 medical and public health professionals submitted a letter to the USDA in 2012 warning of the severe health risks that would likely accompany the expected massive increase in 2,4-D. 

“Many studies show that 2,4 D exposure is associated with various forms of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, hormone disruption and birth defects. Children are especially susceptible,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “USDA must take these significant risks seriously and reject approval of this crop.”

Groups submitting public comments to the USDA include the Center for Food Safety, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Food & Water Watch, National Family Farm Coalition, National Organic Coalition, Organic Consumer Alliance, Organic Seed Alliance and Pesticide Action Network.

Visit EcoWatch’s GMO page for more related news on this topic.

Producing avocado and almond crops is having a detrimental effect on bees. Molly Aaker / Getty Images

At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An oblique (left) and dorsal (right) photo of a female Pharohylaeus lactiferous. J.B. Dorey / Journal of Hymenoptera Research

Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Scientists believe sharks use bioluminescence to camouflage themselves. Jérôme Mallefet

Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.

Read More Show Less
A FedEx truck travels along Interstate 10 by the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near Palm Springs, California on Feb. 27, 2019. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.

Read More Show Less
Empty freeways, such as this one in LA, were a common sight during COVID-19 lockdowns in spring 2020. vlvart / Getty Images

Lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic had the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around seven percent, or 2.6 billion metric tons, in 2020.

Read More Show Less