GMO Labeling Gets on California Ballot as Agent Orange Corn Nears Approval

Today, volunteers are delivering the signatures needed to put a proposition on California’s ballot that requires mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GMO) foods.

If the California Right to Know proposition passes this November, the state will join over 40 countries including all of Europe, Japan and even China that have mandatory GMO labeling laws.

Vermont is hesitating to pass the same bill – which has the support of 90% of residents – because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if legislators pass H.722.

A coalition of nearly 400 businesses and organizations filed a legal petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require mandatory labeling of GMOs. Last month, the Just Label It campaign delivered over one million comments in support of labeling to the FDA. It hasn’t budged. 

Worldwide opposition to Monsanto and "the agro-industrial model it represents" is growing, with recent actions in France, India, Haiti, South Africa and the US.

Agent Orange corn

On a national level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) received comments from 140 farm, environmental, health, fisheries groups groups and more than 365,000 citizens urging them to reject Dow Chemical’s GMO corn, which is resistant to the hazardous herbicide 2,4-D.

The product is entering the final stages of regulatory approval and could be sprayed on fields in 2013.

Although it’s well know that 2,4-D causes cancer, hormone disruption, genetic mutations, neurotoxicity, Parkinson’s Disease, and birth defects, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose not to ban or limit its use, paving the way for USDA approval. Instead of relying on independent research, the EPA relied on contradictory evidence submitted by the herbicide’s manufacturer, Dow Chemical. 

If this Agent Orange corn is approved, it will increase the use of 2,4-D 50 times over. The manufacture and use of 2,4-D is the 7th largest source of dioxin pollution. Dioxin is the most toxic compound synthesized by man.

A coalition of more than 2,000 U.S. farmers and food companies is taking legal action against the USDA to force it to analyze the environmental ramifications of using this toxic herbicide. They are also demanding the EPA conduct a Scientific Advisory Panel meeting and appoint advisors to the panel to address herbicide spray drift.

‘Enlist,’ is a genetically modified corn able to withstand being doused with 2,4-D – one of the components of Agent Orange – so that farmers can spray the herbicide to kill weeds without killing the crop.

Agent Orange was used to defoliate forests and croplands during the Vietnam War and is widely associated with increased cancer risks.

It’s intended to kill resistant superweeds that have become immune to spraying of Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready. The rapidly spreading herbicide-resistant weeds are choking millions of acres of US farmland.

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the prestigious journal Bioscience shows using Enlist is likely to lead to even more intractable weeds, however.

For decades now, Monsanto has sold its Roundup-Ready seeds as a way to reduce pesticide use, but the opposite has occurred. Farmers have used way more Roundup to kill the ever-increasing, resistant weeds. Now that’s no longer working and even more hazardous, potent herbicides are needed – Dow’s Enlist is the first of in a planned series of new herbicide-tolerant crops.

Monsanto has sold farmers and regulators a bill of goods – their Roundup-Ready GMO seeds now comprise 90% of soy, 95% of cotton and 75% of corn crops in the US.

They also sold Roundup as "benign," which research increasingly shows it’s not. This most commonly used herbicide in the world is linked to serious human health effects, including birth defects, increased cancer risk and neurotoxicity, and it disrupts the hormones in amphibians, causing deformity.

And the pesticides don’t go only on the crops they’re intended for – wind, heat and humidity moves them miles away, damaging gardens, crops, trees, streams, fish and animals. If an organic farm is nearby, it lands there too, nullifying organic certification.

"American agriculture stands at a crossroads. One path leads to more intensive use of toxic pesticides, litigious disputes in farm country over drift-related crop injury, less crop diversity, increasingly intractable weeds, and sharply rising farmer production costs," says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. "This is the path American agriculture will take with approval of Dow’s 2,4-D resistant corn, soybeans and the host of other new herbicide-resistant crops in the pipeline. Another path is possible, but embarking upon it will take enlightened leadership from USDA."

"It’s clear that this new generation of GE herbicide-resistant seeds is the growth engine of the pesticide industry’s sales and marketing strategy," says Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist at Pesticide Action Network. "These seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to facilitate increased, indiscriminate herbicide use and pump up chemical sales."

Learn more about these GMO crops and the role of the GMO industry in the Obama Administration:

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Comments on “GMO Labeling Gets on California Ballot as Agent Orange Corn Nears Approval”

  1. D

    I wrote a High school term paper on 2,4 D and dioxin in 1970. I learned by reading Science articles then how dangerous it was. I can hardly believe Agent Orange is still around. Oh, and why is FDA stalling on petitions, etc? Guess who the head of the FDA is … a former Monsanto VP!

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