by Traci Knight – Staff Writer
A debate rages over the approval and safety of 2, 4-D resistant crops, dubbed by environmentalist “agent orange crops”. The agribusiness industry sits poised for USDA approval, as has been granted in Canada already. These crops, primarily corn at this time, are genetically engineered to be resistant to 2, 4-D which was 50% of the chemical makeup of infamous Vietnam era defoliant, agent orange.
As predicted, glyphosate resistance has occurred in the fields of 1st generation Roundup Ready crops, which were genetically altered to withstand regular dousing of glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller. The future of this next generation of engineered crops hinges on EPA approval of Dow AgroSciences’ controversial Enlist Duo herbicide. Enlist Duo is a mix of 2, 4-D and glyphosate.
Increased Pesticide Use
According to a Washington State University study that tracked the effects of pesticide use from 1995-2008, genetically engineered crops have been directly responsible for an increase of 383 million pounds of herbicide use in the first thirteen years alone. Roundup resistant super weeds are spurring megalith farms to apply a variety of incredibly toxic herbicides to combat weeds and to employ unsustainable tilling methods.
Always seeking a quick and profitable fix, agribusiness has come up with agent orange varieties of engineered crops. Big companies profit from the sales of their patented seeds as well as the millions of pounds of herbicides promised to be sprayed on them. The human health impact of herbicide use is well documented, let alone the environmental consequence to plant and animal life in the regions where these toxic chemicals are being used.
Health and Environmental Safety of Genetically Engineered Crops
Studies have been provided by a coalition of 144 farming, fishing, public health, and environmental groups, citing dire consequences to both human and environmental health if Enlist Duo is approved. There have been over half a million comments from concerned citizens submitted to the EPA. Some of the most vocal concerns have been voiced by doctors, nurses, and children’s advocates, who warn of reproductive hazards and cancers caused by herbicides and pesticides.
The Future of Sustainable Farming
Unfortunately, the USDA and EPA have a precedent for approving toxic agricultural chemicals and questionable genetically engineered crops. These government organizations are firmly entrenched in the revolving door of business and politics and seem to care little about human or environmental health in this regard. The only viable solution is to seek out and buy from small, local, organic farms who employ soil building techniques and steer clear of industrial herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and genetically engineered crops. There is a growing movement toward organic and sustainable farming principles and now more than ever it is crucial for consumers to make informed choices about what they eat and where they get their food.