As decision time approaches, over 387,000 farmers, farmworkers, health professionals, and concerned individuals from across the country joined to pressure the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to approve the latest horrific GMO.
This one, from Dow AgroSciences, is for GMO corn and
soybeans that can resist the toxic herbicide 2,4-D, a known neurotoxin and key ingredient in Agent Orange! It is called "Enlist."
Is there no end to the madness?
800-plus farmers filed an official petition with USDA, warning that if this GMO is introduced to the environment it will directly harm their crops, livelihoods and health. This chemical arms race with weeds must stop, says one commenter.
"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," says Karri Stroh, Executive Director of Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.
"The new GMO herbicide-resistant seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to facilitate increased, indiscriminate herbicide use and pump up chemical sales," states 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.'"
Instead of solving the superweed problem as they are
supposedly intended to do, clearly they will keep the cycle going of having to use ever more hazardous chemicals on the next generation of herbicide-resistant weeds.
The problem obviously goes beyond farms to rural communities as a whole. "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," says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "USDA must take these significant risks seriously and reject approval of this crop."
Spraying these pesticides are heavily implicated in the collapse of pollinator populations, such as bees and butterflies.
GMO Acreage Around the World
Last year, an estimated 173 million acres of US farmland was plant with GMO corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa and other crops, according to the biotech industry association, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications.
They say that was less than a 1% rise from the previous year and shows that GMO plantings in the US have hit a plateau. Growth markets are in Brazil, where almost 100 million acres of GMO soy, corn and cotton were planted last year, 10% more than 2012. China has 10 million acres, with plantings of GMO corn and rice rising 5% last year.
Even in Europe - the biotech industry's toughest market - five countries planted a record 365,000 acres of GMO corn last year, up 15%. Plantings are down 7% in Canada and holding steady
or in South Africa, Australia and Mexico.
Last month in Europe, the European Commission approved DuPont's GMO corn, even though 19 of the EU's 28 countries are against it.
Not everyone buys the industry's figures however, and accuses them of inflating them to show widespread adoption. "The numbers are incredibly doubtful... totally doctored," Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the agricultural think tank Oakland Institute, told Reuters.
"It is an industry publication and they use fake numbers to show a groundswell of use of GMO crops," she told Reuters. "But the evidence is coming in around the world that shows the crops are
failing and farmers are turning away."
GMO Food Labels
Meanwhile, biotech proponents are working to permanently squash efforts to get GMO labels on foods, currently moving through some 30 states.
They want to get a weak, national law passed that promotes voluntary labeling and which would make it illegal for states to pass mandatory laws. It would require the FDA to include it as a "natural" ingredient on food labels.
"Voluntary labeling of GE foods is already permitted under the law, but no company has ever chosen to do so because GMO foods offer consumers no benefits and only potential risk," says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety.
At the helm of a new coalition to push the law is the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which poured millions of
dollars into defeating GMO labeling referendums in California and Washington State. Another leader is the 29-member Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (sounds nice?) which consists of such industry players as the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), National Corn Growers Association and American
This approach, says the coalition, would "protect consumers" by "removing confusion" created by different state labeling laws, and would "affirm the FDA as the nation's authority for the use and labeling of genetically modified food ingredients." The FDA has been petitioned over and over again to label GMO foods and has refused.
The groups say GMOs "are safe" and are necessary to address the food needed for the growing human population. Among their "Facts about GMOs," is that they require fewer pesticides.
The coalition is ramping up Google ads and social media marketing, directing people to GMOAnswers.com, where people can "get their questions answered." BIO is helping out through a series of "salon dinners" for organizations across the country where they talk about the benefits of GMOs.
In response, this month, consumer groups launched a national campaign, holding events in 16 states, to push supermarket chains to label GMOs on their private label products.
Monsanto's Roundup - the most widely used pesticide on GMOs - is found in 75% of air and rainfall test samples, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study, which focused on Mississippi's Delta agricultural region. Accumulated research connects Roundup with many diseases from Parkinson's to cancer.
Even worse, additives included in commercial products - which increase its ability to kill insects or weeds - make the product up to 1000 times more toxic than the active ingredient: