If you haven't heard—and you probably haven't, because it was announced during the week between Christmas and New Year's—a new strain of genetically engineered corn, developed by Monsanto, has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
According to a press release from The Cornucopia Institute, a public interest group that "engage[s] in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture":
"Despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments in opposition to this particular genetically engineered (GE) corn variety (and only 23 comments in favor), the Obama administration gave Monsanto the green light to release its newest GE corn variety freely into the environment and American food supply, without any governmental oversight or safety tracking."But that's not the worst of it!
The USDA also announced a 60-day public comment period (through February 27) for two other petitions: one for a new GE soybean from Monsanto and the other for a new GE corn from Dow "that has been genetically engineered to better resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D."
Yes, for all you Vietnam War buffs, that 2,4-D. I'll let the press release explain the details.
(This post is a little longer than usual, but it is vital that we know the process of our government and food system. If the following gets you mad enough to want to sign a petition—to be sent to President Obama and the USDA—click here. And if you are positively fuming and want to comment on the proposed approval of Dow's corn, click here.)
"While the USDA attempts to assure the public that 2,4-D is safe, scientists have raised serious concerns about the safety of this herbicide, which was used as a key ingredient in 'Agent Orange,' used to defoliate forests and croplands in the Vietnam War.
"2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“'The concern is that, just like Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn that is resistant to RoundUp™ (glyphosate) herbicide, the approval of a cultivar resistant to 2,4-D will cause an exponential increase in the use of this toxic agrichemical,' [Mark A.] Kastel, [Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute] stated.
"Research by the EPA found that babies born in counties with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields were significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits. These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates.
"The results also showed a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.
"In its petition, Dow AgroSciences states that 2,4-D is increasingly important for chemical farmers because of the presence of weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate, as a result of the widespread use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant crops.
"When Monsanto introduced glyphosate, it was touted as a safer and less toxic alternative to herbicides like 2,4-D. Now, an emerging body of scientific literature is raising serious concerns about the safety of glyphosate as well.
“'The concern that the use of GE crops, which are resistant to particular herbicides, leads to the creation of ‘superweeds’ is now shown to be valid and serious, as even the chemical companies now recognize and admit this is a problem,' says Kastel."