By: Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network –
Today the US Department of Agriculture granted Dow AgroSciences approval of its controversial new herbicide-resistant, genetically engineered corn and soybean seeds known as Enlist. The seeds have been engineered to withstand applications of the toxic herbicide, 2,4-D. Using Dow AgroScience’s projections in its final report, USDA predicts 2,4-D use in corn and soybean production to increase between 500% and 1,400% from 2011 to 2020, depending on farmers’ practices and changes in Dow’s share of corn and soybean seed markets.
Dow’s proposed introduction of the 2,4-D-resistant seeds two years ago immediately unleashed a firestorm of protest, with nearly half a million farmers, farmworkers, health professionals and concerned individuals from across the country voicing opposition. Fruit and vegetable farmers are particularly concerned that 2,4-D drift will lead to frequent and extensive crop damage. However, USDA continues to ignore the crop damage likely to accompany the projected increase in 2,4-D use. Instead, the agency is focused exclusively on whether the seeds themselves—but not the herbicides that go with them—might pose a threat to other crop plants.
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network, released the following statement:
“The USDA approval of Enlist after such a fundamentally flawed review process is a slap in the face to farmers. Thousands of farmers have warned USDA of the crop damage, economic losses and health risks they will face from pesticide drift, if these 2,4-D resistant seeds hit the market. Instead of taking farmers’ concerns seriously, and evaluating the entire suite of harms that these pesticide-GE seed combinations pose, USDA focused its approval process on questions that were sure to result in an easy approval for Dow’s new money maker – showing once and for all where Secretary Vilsack’s loyalties lie. It’s time for a change: we need a USDA that serves farmers, not Dow and Monsanto. PAN will pursue all available legal options to protect American farmers and rural residents.”