The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently approved of GMOs that are resistant to new herbicides, and will thus unleash new deadly toxic herbicides across the nation’s agricultural land.
Previously, nearly all GMO crops approved for planting were engineered for resistance to a single herbicide: Monsanto’s Top Selling product Roundup (glyphosate). The widespread adoption of these crops led to an explosion in Roundup use, which in turn spurred the evolution of Roundup resistance in agricultural weeds.
In response to the proliferation of Roundup-resistant “superweeds,” GMO companies have turned to engineering multi-herbicide resistance into their crops. Specifically, GMO crops are now available resistant to both Roundup and the Dow herbicide 2,4-D, or Roundup and another herbicide, Dicamba.
But as critics of biotechnology have repeatedly noted, the adoption of these new GMOs will merely exacerbate the problem – encouraging still more herbicide use and the evolution of ever-tougher superweeds. In a recent article, Dr. Jonathan Latham of the Bioscience Resource Project referred to the process as “a vicious cycle that threatens both our environment and our food supply.”
Poisonous to plants and people
The adoption of herbicide-resistant GMOs always leads to an increase in herbicide use, because farmers feel free to spray poison in higher concentrations to kill off more weeds, no longer worried about harming their crop. As weeds start to develop resistance (within a few generations), the herbicide doses needed to kill them begin to increase. Inevitably, residue from these herbicides makes its way into the food supply.
Unsurprisingly, chemicals designed to poison plants are not benign for animals, either. Roundup has been linked with endocrine disruption, birth defects and organ failure. An ingredient in the infamous Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange – 2,4-D – has been linked with hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, reproductive problems and suppressed immune function. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared both chemicals “probable carcinogens.”
According to government documents, Dicamba can cause neurological damage in mammals and is also classified as a “developmental toxin.” This latter effect is particularly troubling given that a recent Environmental Working Group report counted more than 5,600 schools within 200 feet of agricultural fields likely to be planted with the new GMO crops.
Both Dicamba and 2,4-D are considered at high risk for environmental contamination, the former in the soil and the latter by drifting through the air.