USDA Approves More GE Crops, Chemical Treadmill Continues

Statement by Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator

September 19, 2014
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Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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“This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a decision to fully deregulate Dow Chemical’s Enlist corn and soybeans. These seeds are genetically engineered (GE) to withstand the Enlist Duo herbicide, which is a blend of 2,4-D and glyphosate,  not yet been approved by the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA).

In the same way that the overuse of antibiotics has created antibiotic-resistant super germs, the pervasive use of Roundup Ready crops and Roundup has created superweeds resistant to glyphosate, including pigweed, horseweed, and giant ragweed. According to Dow, resistant weeds have more than doubled since 2009 and infest approximately 70 million acres of U.S. farmland.

Now, Dow claims these new crops are the solution to this weed resistance. But they are simply the beginning of a new superweed problem, setting the stage for still more superweeds resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D. We must stop this dangerous chemical treadmill.

This decision flies in the face of the vast majority of consumers who have serious concerns about GE crops. And with good reason. GE crops encourage the use of ever more toxic herbicides on our farmland and threaten our environment, public health, and the future of agriculture.

Although Dow has assured farmers that this version of 2,4-D is less volatile, growers are at risk from the chemical drifting into their fields. If contaminated, organic farmers’ certifications would be jeopardized, and 2,4-D is highly toxic to fruits and vegetables.

Despite promises that GE crops would help feed a hungry world, any yield gains attributable to biotechnology have been modest at best. And while we’re seeing little benefit in the short-term, we’re damaging our soil, water, and air and jeopardizing the future of U.S. food production.

There is an alternative. Organic and sustainable farming safeguards water quality, builds soil organic matter and nutrients, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, eliminates antibiotic use, protects biodiversity, supports small and mid-scale family farms, and reduces exposure to pesticides—all without GE crops and herbicides.

Our future depends squarely on our good stewardship of the natural resources on which we all depend. Rather than treating the symptoms of a broken agricultural system, sustainable farming offers a long-term solution for nourishing our farming communities, feeding our families, and protecting our environment.

The EPA should act to protect the environment and public health by denying registration of the Enlist Duo herbicide.”