U.S. Close to Approving New Wave of GE Herbicide-Resistant Crops
THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
July 8 2014
The major genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant crops approved in the United States currently are Roundup Ready crops, resistant to glyphosate. However, the widespread use of glyphosate with the GE crops has resulted in the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds, with more than 61 million acres now infested, affecting more than half of U.S. farmers.
In response to this problem, Dow AgroSciences has developed a herbicide-resistant crop system called “Enlist Duo”, made resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D (one of the ingredients of Agent Orange) and has applied for its approval. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called for public comment while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given provisional approval for Enlist Duo by way of a corn plant and two types of soybean.
Civil society groups have opposed the application, raising health and environmental concerns. 2,4-D has been linked to increased incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson's disease, and birth defects in humans and harm to endangered species. Herbicide use in the country is estimated to jump by more than six-fold to about 176 million pounds per year with the approval of Enlist Duo.
"The Dow proposal …..(is) advertised as a solution to the problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds, but in fact the weeds will rapidly evolve resistance and become more difficult to control, leading to what we call the pesticide treadmill,” says Bill Freese, a senior policy analyst with the Centre for Food Safety.
This warning is echoed by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which pinpoints that herbicide-resistant weeds are a symptom of a weak agricultural system and recommends agroecology as the best way to drastically reduce or eliminate the need for herbicides.