The Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit advocate for the family-scale farming community, claims the USDA has approved Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn — Monsanto’s first commercial genetically altered and consumer-oriented vegetable product.
The new GE sweet corn will be sold on the ear in the produce section of grocery stores, used in canned and frozen foods, and will be indistinguishable from natural corn because the FDA does not require genetically altered food products to be labeled.
“Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food, especially when there is a pesticide in every bite,” said Charles Margulis of the Center for Environmental Health. “This whole, unprocessed corn has been spliced with genes that produce a risky, untested insecticide. Parents should be informed when food on supermarket shelves has been genetically altered.”
Despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments in opposition to this particular genetically engineered (GE) corn variety, The Cornucopia Institute warns that the Obama administration gave Monsanto the green light to release its newest GE corn into the environment and American food supply without any governmental oversight or safety tracking.
Additionally, a coalition which included the Center for Environmental Health, the Center for Food Safety, and Food & Water Watch, collected more than 264,000 petition signatures from consumers who do not approve, and will not purchase the GE corn.
“President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack just sent a clear message to the American public that they do not care about our concerns with genetically engineered food and their questionable safety, adverse environmental impacts, and detrimental effects on farmers, especially organic farmers,” says Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst with The Cornucopia Institute.
Kastel added that this is the latest in a string of approvals of genetically engineered crops, and it is clear that despite campaign promises of change from Obama, he has not had the courage to stand strong against the powerful agribusiness and biotechnology lobbies.
The USDA is now involved in the preliminary stages of approving Monsanto’s GE soybean with artificially added higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid. The agency is also holding a public comment period for a GMO corn from Dow engineered to resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D, which was used as a key ingredient in “Agent Orange” — a defoliate utilized in the Vietnam War.
The Cornucopia Institute explains that “EPA research determined babies born in counties with high rates of 2,4-D application to farm fields were significantly more likely to be born with birth defects of the respiratory and circulatory systems, as well as defects of the musculoskeletal system like clubfoot, fused digits and extra digits.
“These birth defects were 60% to 90% more likely in counties with higher 2,4-D application rates,” — along with a higher likelihood of birth defects in babies conceived in the spring, when herbicide application rates peak.”
2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide linked to increased cancer risks by scientists around the world, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. “Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”
The Toxic Treadmill
“The concern is that, just like Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn that is resistant to RoundUp™ (aka glyphosate) herbicide, the approval of a cultivar resistant to 2,4-D will cause an exponential increase in the use of this toxic agrichemical,” Kastel stated.
The introduction of glyphosate was Monsanto’s solution for a safer and less toxic alternative to herbicides like 2,4-D. Now the safety of glyphosate is in question.
“The concern that the use of GE crops, which are resistant to particular herbicides, leads to the creation of ‘superweeds’ is now shown to be valid and serious, as even the chemical companies now recognize and admit this is a problem,” says Kastel.
“In 2012 the USDA is proposing approving a new GE corn variety that is resistant to a different toxic herbicide, escalating the toxic treadmill in chemical-dependent agriculture,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides.
“This is nothing more than a band-aid solution to a serious problem, and will only give rise to more superweeds, more herbicide pollution in our environment, more herbicide poisoning, while likely leading to the need for even more toxic herbicides a couple of years down the line. This foolish circle has to end,” Feldman said.