Quantcast

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

Food

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less