Two controversial genetically modified crops have received USDA approval: Monsanto’s glyphosate and dicamba-resistant cotton and soybean seeds.
The seeds have been engineered to tolerate a wider range of herbicides after weeds began to show resistance to glyphosate, the herbicide best known as Monsanto’s Roundup. These “superweeds” as they’ve been called can suffocate crops and damage farm equipment, costing the nation’s farmers millions of dollars in damages.
Last year the agency approved genetically modified seeds that are also resistant to 2,4-D, a strong herbicide known as half of the Vietnam War defoliant Agent Orange, in order to offer farmers a stronger alternative to glyphosate resistance.
Despite assertions from the seed and chemical companies that the new seeds are safe, environmentalists have been highly critical of the new GMO seeds and use of stronger chemicals, suggesting that the new weed killers “pose threats to public health and risk triggering the emergence of even more-resilient weeds that could infect more farms,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Once again, the USDA has neglected to look at the full range of impacts associated with these GMO herbicide-tolerant crops. Instead the agency has opted for a short-term solution to superweeds that have become resistant to herbicides because of previous approvals of GMOs, thereby perpetuating and escalating chemical use,” Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement.
“There are currently at least 70 million acres in the United States afflicted with Roundup-resistant weeds,” Hauter said. “It is only a matter of time before those weeds become resistant not just to Roundup, but to a mix of other herbicides, as their associated herbicide-tolerant crops are being planted and sprayed with chemical cocktails. Instead of taking action to address the long-term superweed problem in agriculture, the USDA has chosen the status quo.”
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Related on Organic Authority
Herbicide sprayer image via Shutterstock