The USDA has done it again, approving two more GMO crops from Monsanto – one for soybeans and another for cotton.
They are on a roll after approving Dow’s Enlist Duo (known as Agent Orange) a few months ago.
This is "simply the latest example of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology [pesticide] industry and dependence upon chemical solutions," says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. "This continues the disturbing trend of more herbicide-tolerant crop approvals taking place under President Obama’s watch."
Both crops will be resistant to an herbicide called "dicamba," linked in epidemiology studies to "increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects in their male offspring." First approved in 1967, it seeps through the environment, causing damage to crops and flowering plants, while polluting waterways.
As always the EPA has to approve the herbicide – a combination of dicamba and glyphosate – but they always do.
Europe Passes GMO Legislation
This month, the European Parliament passed legislation that allows member states to decide whether they will allow GMO crops that have been approved by the EU.
Countries can’t outright ban all GMO crops, but they can reject specific crops approved by the EU.
Nine EU countries have completely banned planting Monsanto’s MON810 maize – the only GMO crop that’s been approved in Europe. It is banned in Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg. Six other GMO crops that are in the authorization process.
While this is good news for the majority of the population that doesn’t want them, many groups believe it doesn’t go far enough to protect countries against litigation-happy Monsanto.
"Environment ministers say they want to give countries the right to ban GM crop cultivation on their territory, but the text they have agreed does not give governments a legally solid right, thus exposing them to legal attacks by the biotech industry," explains Marco Contiero, agriculture policy director for Greenpeace EU.
Another flaw is that biotech companies can negotiate with governments and excludes the strongest legal argument to ban GMO crops – evidence of environmental harm, he says. In countries where GMO crops are allowed, it opens the door to even more kinds of crops being approved. There’s also nothing in the law that protects organic farmers from GMO drift.
What’s really needed is a stronger risk assessment process for GMOs in the EU, says Bart Staes, a food safety spokesperson for the Green Party.
It also shows how Monsanto can win if the US-EU trade deal passes – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. They could take advantage of "legal weaknesses" to challenge national bans at the World Trade Organization.