cropped corn

Genetically modified foods are a hot topic in the food world as of late. Are they safe? Are they healthy? Do they kill pollinators? The experts disagree. But there’s one inarguable fact: the amount of acres devoted to GMOs is on the rise and GMO corn crops specifically, have doubled in the last ten years, according to USDA data.

 

The recent data confirms that now more than 90 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified and 94 percent of soybeans are GMO. Ninety-six percent of all cotton grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified. Cotton is already a resource-intensive crop linked to high numbers of farmer suicides in India. Musician Neil Young recently took a stand against conventional cotton, giving away organic cotton T-shirts to his fans and urging them to boycott non-organic cotton.

 

While the land devoted to GMO crops continues to rise, so does pest and weed resistance, which has paved the way for more pesticides and herbicides. The USDA is set to approve new strains of corn and soy resistant to a combination of herbicides including 2,4-D, half of the Agent Orange defoliant used during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was responsible for serious health issues and birth defects in approximately 3 million people in Vietnam.

 

Recent studies have also found that glyphosate, the best-selling herbicide marketed as Monsanto’s Roundup, contains “inert” ingredients more potent than previously believed.

 

Currently, there are no federal regulations on the labeling or distribution of genetically modified foods. Several states including Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have recently passed GMO labeling laws. Vermont’s would go into effect in 2016, but the biotech industry has filed a lawsuit in an effort to reverse the law. Connecticut and Maine would enforce their labeling laws if several criteria were met, including neighboring states adopting similar laws.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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