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August 30th, 2012

Can We Defuse Next Time Bomb of Herbicide-Laced GE Crops?

By Genna Reed

weeds and tractor steering wheel

herbicide-resistant weeds take over tractor

Like a ticking time bomb, the USDA’s GE crop “rocket docket” is on track for approval, which will result in an explosion of new genetically engineered crops. Once the public comment period ends on Sept. 11, the USDA could decide to approve three new GE seeds and advance nine others through to the final step of the process. The most concerning of the bunch – with evidence of adverse agricultural and environmental impacts mounting – are two 2,4-D tolerant soybean, and Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant soybean. 2,4-D, short for 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, was a primary ingredient in Agent Orange, which continues to wreak havoc on human health nearly four decades after it was used in the Vietnam War. 

This month, a study done by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) showed that waterhemp in Nebraska has become resistant to 2,4-D. Waterhemp notoriously is one of the most difficult weeds to eradicate in corn and soybean fields in the Midwest. Some individual waterhemp plants have developed resistance to up to four different herbicide families. WSSA’s results indicated that after 10 years of treatment with 2,4-D, even the highest doses of the chemical were unable to control half of the resistant waterhemp plants from one native-grass seed field.

Could 2,4-D become the next Roundup – Monsanto’s disgraced herbicide infamous for generating impossible-to-kill superweeds? Unfortunately, that seems to be exactly what’s happening. Pretty soon, 2,4-D applications will increase in an attempt to combat the new, resistant weeds, resulting in more cases of resistance, environmental damage through pesticide drift and the need for a new chemical tool to deal with all of the relentless resistant weeds.

The introduction of 2,4-D tolerant crops, and the slew of other herbicide-resistant crops on deck for the USDA’s approval, only perpetuates large-scale agriculture’s reliance on chemicals as the end-all be-all solution to weed and insect management, while it instigates the rise of superweeds and threatens critical habitat for wildlife in the process. When it comes to human health, there is really no such thing as being too careful, especially when we’re dealing with incredibly powerful and potentially lethal chemicals. The speed with which the biotech industry is trying to push their products through the USDA approval process is indicative of just one thing: they are much more concerned with their bottom line than with our safety.

Join us in telling the USDA to stop this mad race for the deadliest herbicide-resistant GE crops before the comment period ends Sept. 11.

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