History Will Repeat Itself With New Herbicide-Tolerant Crops
By Genna Reed
Working against the advice of consumer, environmental, public health and family farm groups, the USDA has released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Dow’s controversial “Enlist” varieties of corn and soybeans, genetically engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D and glyphosate (Roundup). This statement is the final step in the agency’s regulatory process for GE crops before issuing a formal approval.
USDA’s analysis did not deviate from the draft version released in January, and recommends approving all three varieties (one for corn and two for soybeans). A quick review of the final version of the EIS and its appendices reveals that the agency did not address the risks we flagged during the comment period, including the increased likelihood of 2,4-D drift that will negatively impact plant health and the livelihoods of farmers. It also failed to account for the impacts of increased 2,4-D on superweeds that will certainly become even more difficult to manage once they are resistant to multiple herbicides.
The comments on the draft EIS overwhelmingly called for the agency to deny approval of these genetically engineered crops. The USDA received over 10,000 comments, 90 percent of which opposed the approval of “Enlist” corn and soybeans. There were also over 600,000 petition signatures from a variety of organizations, including 61,132 Food & Water Watch members. Not only does the public disapprove of Dow’s “Enlist” crops, but fifty members of Congress agree, having signed onto a letter asking USDA and EPA to reject “Enlist.”
The USDA is planning on moving forward with the approval of 2,4-D corn and soybeans in the next few months. This decision will go down in history as one of the worst for agriculture as a whole, and certainly a terrible one for GE crops. While weed resistance continues to get worse every day for farmers due to past reliance on Roundup, the USDA is suffering from some seriously short-term memory loss. Like the saying goes, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Unfortunately, the unfair reality is that the weed resistance explosion and increased spraying of 2,4-D that will occur once these crops are approved will have the greatest effect on those farmers who aren’t even growing GMOs or using 2,4-D.
Fortunately, there’s still time to help. Take action today and tell USDA that approving 2,4-D tolerant crops is a shortsighted plan for weed management.