US farmers are on the front lines of the GMO debate, and while they may have seen some benefits from using GMO corn, soy, and sugar beets in the beginning, those ‘benefits’ are dwindling. Dwindling so much so that numerous other nations and communities have banned GMOs altogether, Now, even the U.S. Department of Agriculture admits that one of the herbicides in use to support GM farming is an ‘ongoing cause for concern.’
The report prepared by the Economic Research Services (ERS) arm of the USDA, states, “We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good. We are just providing information.” That ‘information’ is mounting, and it looks as if even US government agencies can no longer ignore it.
Financial and Legal Liability isn’t Enough: GMO Dangers
This report, released online February 20th, comes at a pivotal time in the genetically modified crop debate. Mandatory labeling would force corporations who ruin our food supply to be liable for the damage they cause. But even beyond legal and monetary liability- can you really replace millions of butterflies, or repopulate bee colonies? Can you undo the cross-pollination of organic crops once they’ve been polluted with GM seed? Or can we undo the bodily damage we’ve induced on animals and ourselves?
Weeds are becoming more resistant, not less, creating super weeds, and insects are following the same pattern – becoming super-mutated super-bugs. Biotech’s tactic of trying to kill everything is coming back to haunt us like a bad sci-fi blockbuster. Our over-sterilization of Mother Nature is causing the ‘pests’ to become worse. There are deep ramifications for allowing this juggernaut to keep crushing our voices, and ruining our planet.
Fortunately, the collective cries for food justice have forced authorities to look more closely at GM, Big Ag, and Biotech. If you ask the right questions, you can get the right answers. If you ask nothing at all – well – you just stay ignorant and uniformed. At least the new USDA report admits genetically modified crops should be examined more closely. It seems that the scientific reports proving GM crops are linked to increased disease and illness are helping.
The USDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have also released this report as they are trying to approve the commercialization of a new GMO crop and chemical product created by Dow AgroScience, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical – as if unleashing more toxic stuff on our plants and animals would be an intelligent thing to do. It is notable to observe the word ‘chemical’ in Dow’s company name. It isn’t a true farmer’s, or food-grower’s company. It is a business that makes millions off of polluting everything they touch – just like Monsanto. These companies have a long history of global irresponsibility, yet they lie – outright – to us all, and have been for years:
“All our Environment, Health and Safety activities are driven by the `Vision of Zero’–no harm to the environment, to our people or to anyone we touch in the value chain. Why? Because it is the only acceptable objective.” –The Dow Global Public Report, 2001.
GMOs are Failing
Since the mid-1990s, through Monsanto’s propaganda campaign to farmers promising higher yields and insect-resistant crops, RoundUp Ready soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and other crops have been sewn across our nation.
About half the total land in the United States was planted with GMO crops just last year – about 169 million acres, according to the USDA report. Patented seeds were sewn the most often – that is, seeds with planned obsolescence – so that farmers have to keep buying more seed, and more RoundUp chemicals to grow them. The price for these seeds – those which cannot be saved for future plantings, have risen in price by more than 50% in the last decade. The report points out one glaringly obvious fact – GMO seeds have not increased potential crop yields:
“. . .in fact the yields of herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant seeds may be occasionally lower than the yields of conventional varieties.” Many researchers have found no difference between the yield from a GMO herbicide tolerant farm and an organic one. Some researchers have even proven that organic farms are not only higher yielding, but also more bio-diverse and less environmentally damaging.
The report also states that while insecticide use is down, herbicide use is through the roof. Our over-reliance on Monsanto’s favorite poison – glyphosate, has actually caused us to become dependent upon them for any ‘food,’ though it shouldn’t be called that in the least. It makes crop production harder, not easier, and much more expensive. Along with causing monetary insolvency, it causes absolute havoc on our ecosystem. We now have 14 different weed species that are supposedly ‘glyphosate resistant,’ but what of all the super weeds that are still becoming apparent? I guess quadrupling our herbicide use from 100 million to over 400 million pounds annually isn’t helping – it is only making problems worse.
The ERS reports thousands of possible new strains of GMO crops. Tests are already under way for: 7,800 approved releases for genetically engineered (GE) corn, more than 2,200 for GE soybeans, more than 1,100 for GE cotton, and about 900 for GE potatoes. Of those releases, 6772 were for GE varieties with herbicide tolerance, 4,809 for insect resistance, and 4,896 for product quality such as flavor or nutrition, and 5,190 for drought resistance.
Monsanto has the most authorized field releases with 6,782, followed by DuPont Pioneer, with 1,405.
What the report failed to say is that this obvious disregard for public health and environmental vigor will be stopped. It is you who has forced the USDA, FDA and Grocery Manufacturer’s Association to step up their game.
Don’t stop. We will succeed if we stand and win together.
||Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.