Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) require more pesticide use on crops, say the authors of a 16-year study published in Environmental Sciences Europe. According to the researchers, 527 million pounds of a toxic herbicide have inundated farmlands since 1996. What’s more, this abhorrent amount is much greater than that promised by Monsanto, which claims that GM crops require smaller doses of herbicides like the company’s best-selling Roundup Ready.
This study found, however, that although farmers did reduce Roundup Ready use by 2 percent between 1996 and 1999, herbicide use resurged with a vengeance thereafter. This was a result of the emergence of “superweeds” that resist herbicides, requiring farmers to use more of it with each application.
Herbicide and Pesticide Use Damage Humans, Environment
These “superweeds” have become resistant to glyphosate, a chemical found in Roundup Ready. Rootworms, too, may be becoming resistant according to ongoing research by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Additionally, a recent French study by the University of Caen found glyphosate and herbicides like Roundup to be actively toxic to human cells—findings which led to Russia’s suspension of Monsanto crop imports. Earth Open Source, a nonprofit organization with volunteers as well as several international scientists and researchers, has linked glyphosate with birth defects. Worse (but predictable) is that in 1993 Monsanto knew “visceral anomalies such as dilation of the heart could occur in rabbits at low and medium-sized doses,” but did nothing to curb the chemical’s or Roundup’s use in agriculture.
Glyphosate also causes moderate to severe liver damage in fish and aquatic life, since herbicide runoff can reach both groundwater and seawater. This water pollution has been found to affect even city dwellers, in whose urine researchers have found glyphosate.
Farm Bill to Deregulate GMOs
Meanwhile, there is a provision lurking in the new Farm Bill which would further deregulate genetically modified (GM) foods in America. Monsanto has spent millions (over six, in fact) of dollars winning friends in Washington, DC. With the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already deep in Monsanto’s pockets, we can only hope members of Congress take note of these studies and of recent anti-GMO activity in Europe and Russia.