USDA Ignores Risks for Farmers; Approves Dow’s Controversial Genetically Engineered Corn and Soybean SeedsSeptember 18th, 2014
Pesticide Action Network
by Paul Towers
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.”
Paul Towers, PAN North America, (916) 216-1082, [email protected]