In a pressing plea to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Beyond Pesticides is asking the agency to reject an emergency request by Texas cotton growers to use a controversial pesticide on genetically engineered cotton to control super weeds that are taking over their 3 million acres of fields.
Beyond Pesticides is a public interest group which represents a variety of environmental and organic farming interests. The agency bases its request on environmental and health hazards as well as a failed GMO crop system.
The super weeds are growing because the GM cotton crops have already gown resistant to previous chemicals sold by biotech companies, namely RoundUp, produced by Monsanto, with the main ingredient, glyphosate. Almost 90% of cotton growing in Texas now is genetically modified, and reliant (although a better word would be addicted) to GM chemicals.
The solution is not to spray more pesticides, but to dig up the GM cotton, remedy the soil, and start anew with organic cotton and more sustainable farming methods. With the right conditions, and almost any kind of soil – clay subsoil, limestone, and sandstone rich; even sandy soil will grow organic cotton. By preparing the soil with a cover-crop like crimson clover in cotton’s off-season, it will grow better and resist pests naturally.
It comes as no surprise that the request to spray more chemicals comes through the Texas Department of Agriculture. They seek an allowance on 3 million acres for the highly toxic pesticide propazine, not registered for use on cotton.
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Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, which filed comments opposing emergency status for propazine use said:
“In the true sense, this is not an emergency because the weed resistance is predictable since it has been known for many years that GE cotton sprayed with the weedkiller glyphosate (Roundup) would create resistant superweeds. It is an abuse of the law for EPA to prop up failed GE cropping systems with toxic chemicals when the crop can be grown with organic methods not reliant on toxic pesticides and [be] just as productive and profitable.”
Propazine, along with 2, 4-D, which is likely to be approved for use soon, are toxic herbicides. Propazine is in the triazine class of chemicals that can cause reproductive failure. This is in the same class as the controversial atrazine, Syngenta’s best-selling chemical which causes frogs to switch genders and become sterile.
If approved, the pesticide would likely pollute the waterways as well since it is highly soluble, potentially threatening the safety of Texas’ surface and drinking water.