Surprise—the next generation of GMO crops will be resistant to far higher amounts of pesticides and herbicides, which will then be sprayed on our crops. Poison on the dinner table!
A recent article written by Dr. Jonathan Latham of the Bioscience Resource Project looks at the future of GMOs and argues that GMOs will become more unpopular as the technology takes them in a dramatically more toxic direction.
He points to the recent approval of crops resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and Dicamba. The reason they need to resist these toxic sprays is because the overuse of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup is actually breeding Roundup-resistant “superweeds” that require more and more toxic chemicals to kill. Here’s how it works:
- Monsanto creates the herbicide Roundup. Unfortunately, it sometimes kills the crops along with the weeds.
- Monsanto creates “Roundup-ready” crops that can withstand the toxic spray, which allows farmers to use even more Roundup to kill all the weeds.
- Weeds increasingly become resistant to Roundup, becoming “superweeds” that require more toxic chemicals to kill them.
- The biotech industry creates new crops that are resistant to other herbicides.
- Inevitably, the weeds will become resistant to these new herbicides as well—a vicious cycle that threatens both our environment and our food supply.
The whole biotech industry is involved, introducing crops that are resistant to multiple herbicides. Monsanto’s Xtend line of products will be resistant to Roundup and Dicamba; Dow’s Enlist products will be resistant to Roundup and 2,4-D. We have discussed 2,4-D in earlier articles and readers will recall that it is an ingredient in what used to be called Agent Orange when used in the Vietnam War.
This, of course, is great news for herbicide manufacturers, but terrible news for just about everyone else whose food will now contain potentially unsafe levels of three different herbicides—at least one of which, regular readers will remember, was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization. Dr. Latham argues that the public will not stand for it, which will force food distributors to rethink the use of GMOs in their products along the lines of Chipotle’s decision to remove GMOs from their menu items.
Dr. Latham’s hypothesis is intriguing, but the impending influx of toxic herbicides into our food makes the case for labeling GMOs more urgent than ever—if you haven’t already, you can go to the first article in today’s Pulse to send a message to your representatives to oppose bad voluntary labeling legislation that’s on the move in the House. This legislation is an attempt by industry to avoid mandatory labeling and circumvent state laws requiring this.
But industry-friendly labeling legislation isn’t the only action in Washington, DC, concerning GMOs. Recently, the White House issued an executive memorandum ordering a multi-agency reevaluation and update of the current regulatory regime governing GMOs, which is now decades old.
Details on what exactly this regulatory overhaul will entail are still scarce. There are, however, some concerning themes that recur throughout the document, crystallized in one sentence in the introduction:
The objectives are to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system and to prevent unnecessary barriers to future innovation and competitiveness by improving the transparency, coordination, predictability, and efficiency of the regulation of biotechnology products while continuing to protect health and the environment [emphasis added].
The order of terms here is telling: the government’s first objective is to instill confidence in the public that the GMO regulations in place are adequate—much like the government’s initiative to ensure public confidence in vaccines.
The next objective is to prevent barriers to innovation in the biotech sector. In other places the White House refers to its desire to “[avoid] unjustifiably inhibiting innovation” and “stigmatizing new technologies.” So the government, it appears, wants to revamp its regulations, but not in a way that will upset the Monsantos of the world.
Only at the end is the need to protect consumer health and the environment mentioned.
It’s still too early to jump to any concrete conclusions about the outcome of this initiative. We will certainly be monitoring the process as it unfolds. What’s clear is that a robust system for protecting the health and safety of Americans—and not the profit margins of biotech giants—is sorely needed, especially given the troubling new trends in GMO technology.