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Toxic Chemicals on GMO Crops

Story at-a-glance -

  • There are two major categories of GMO crops: those engineered to withstand high amounts of a specific herbicide, and those engineered to produce their own internal insecticide (Bt crops)
  • GMOs were initially foisted upon us with promises of increased efficiency and reduced requirements for toxic pesticides, but the truth has turned out to be the complete converse
  • Widespread use of GMOs has led to an exponential resistance problem. Superweeds and resistant pests are rapidly spreading across farmlands. As a result, ever more toxic chemicals are being deployed
  • USDA recently deregulated Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops, which are not only resistant to glyphosate, but also carry resistance to toxins like the Agent Orange ingredient 2, 4-D and Dicamba
  • USDA data reveals that glyphosate use has increased 12-fold since 1996, with the advent of GE crops. Meanwhile, weed resistance has been documented on 60 million farm acres across the US
 

Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Is Skyrocketing, and Rubber-Stamped Approvals Now Usher in Next-Gen GMOs

October 12, 2014 | 70,956 views
| Available in EspañolDisponible en Español

By Dr. Mercola

A recent Huffington Post1 article penned by David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, highlights the dire problems we face as pesticide use on genetically engineered crops continue to rise.

It’s quite shocking to realize that the way we grow food in the US, as well as many other regions of the world, is producing a toxic legacy that our descendants will undoubtedly struggle with as time goes on.

Land, waterways, and food itself is becoming increasingly toxic, thanks to the seemingly unlimited greed of chemical technology companies.

Mr. Bronner offers a summary of Dr. Ramon J. Seidler’s paper “Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops.”2 Dr. Seidler, Ph.D. is a former Senior Scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he doesn’t toe the line when discussing the hazards of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs).

According to Bronner, Dr. Seidler’s paper “should be required reading for all journalists covering GMOs, as well as for citizens generally to understand why their right to know if food is genetically engineered is so important. “

Use of Toxic Chemicals on GMO Crops Is Skyrocketing

There are two major categories of genetically engineered (GE) crops: those engineered to withstand high amounts of herbicide, such as Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties, and those engineered to produce their own internal insecticide (Bt crops).

These two categories account for more than 99 percent of all acreage dedicated to GE crops in the US. Their widespread use has led to a phenomenal resistance problem—so-called “super weeds” and increasingly resistant pests are rapidly spreading and wreaking havoc across American farmland.

From the very beginning, this seemed like an inevitable outcome even for non-scientists, yet for the longest time the chemical technology industry insisted that resistance would not occur.

Well, we now know they either didn’t know what they were talking about, or they purposely fashioned a lie to keep their business growing...

Regardless, the end result is that farmers have been forced to apply even more, and more toxic, chemicals to their crops just to keep pace with growing chemical resistance. As Bronner notes:3

“[T]he use of systemic insecticides, which coat GMO corn and soy seeds and are incorporated and expressed inside the entire plant, has skyrocketed in the last 10 years.

This includes use of neonicotinoids (neonics) which are extremely powerful neurotoxins that contaminate our food and water and destroy non-target pollinators and wildlife such as bees, butterflies and birds...  

Mainstream pro-GMO media also fail to discuss the ever-increasing amount of older much more toxic herbicides like 2,4 D and Dicamba being sprayed along with huge volumes of glyphosate to deal with superweeds.

Most importantly and egregiously, this biased reporting does not mention the imminent approval of the pesticide industry's next generation herbicide-tolerant crops that are resistant not only to glyphosate, but also high doses of 2,4 D and Dicamba, that will lead to huge increases of these toxic chemicals sprayed on our food and farming communities.”

Next-Generation GMO Nightmare to Be Unleashed...

The United States uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year,4, 5 and there’s little doubt that the current pesticide load is taking a very real toll, as mounting research has linked pesticides to a vast array of serious health problems.

GMOs were initially foisted upon us with promises of increased efficiency and reduced requirements for toxic pesticides, but the truth has turned out to be the complete converse. We’re now stuck in a vicious circle that demands ever more toxic remedies just to keep up with the resistance that develops from chemical overuse.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently decided to deregulate Dow Chemical’s next-generation GE crops, which are not only resistant to glyphosate, but also carry resistance to toxins like the Agent Orange ingredient 2, 4-D and Dicamba.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also appears poised to rubber-stamp the new herbicide for Dow Chemical’s Enlist 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans. This herbicide contains both 2,4-D and glyphosate. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety states in a September 17 press release:6

“2,4-D resistant crops pose a monumental threat to our nation’s agricultural, environmental and human health. With this approval comes millions of more pounds of toxic herbicides dumped onto our land; it’s an unacceptable outcome. Center for Food Safety will pursue all available legal options to stop the commercialization of these dangerous crops.”

2,4-D Resistant Crops—A Solution More Dangerous Than the Original Problem

As discussed in previous articles, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) was one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, which was used with devastating effect during the Vietnam war. 2,4-D and similar herbicides have since been linked to:

  • Immune system cancers
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Reproductive problems

Dow Chemical developed 2,4-D resistant crops as “the answer” to glyphosate resistance. According to the USDA’s own analysis, the approval of Dow’s 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans will result in a two to seven-fold increase in 2,4-D use by 2020—from our current use of 26 million pounds to an estimated 176 million pounds per year. And that’s just in the US.

That’s some “answer”! Especially since bugs will undoubtedly develop resistance against these toxins within a decade or so as well. Then what? In addition to 2,4-D and Dicamba-resistant crops, a number of other herbicide-resistant varieties are also awaiting federal approval, including the following. Each and every one of these will eventually cause resistance, and probably multi-chemical resistance, just as we’ve seen among antibiotic-resistant bacteria with multiple-drug resistance:

  • ALS-tolerant crops (Pioneer Hi-Bred)
  • Bromoxynil-tolerant crops (Calgene)
  • Imidazolinone-tolerant crops (BASF)
  • Isoxaflutole-tolerant crops (Bayer)
  • Sulfonylurea-tolerant crops (DuPont)

As noted by Kimbrell: “This is not the solution to our superweed problem and will only spur the evolution of yet more herbicide-resistant weeds. We need a new direction for our agricultural system, not increased reliance on chemicals.”

Former EPA Scientist Sets the Record Straight

Who profits from the non-stop madness of this “chemical treadmill,” to use Dr. Seidler’s term? The pesticide companies, of course. And they’re the very same companies that develop these genetically engineered and highly profitable patented seeds. Dr. Seidler writes:7

“Chemical companies that historically have produced DDT, PCBs, bovine growth hormone, Agent Orange, glyphosate products and, more recently, neonicotinoids have inserted themselves squarely into the seed crop production component of the world’s food supplies. These corporations have a clear conflict of interest when it comes to reducing the numbers and concentrations of chemicals on crops, because any such reduction has an immediate impact on their financial bottom line.

There is also a clear conflict of interest when it comes to altering farm management to avoid insect and weed resistance if it results in using fewer chemicals... More gene traits and greater chemical use mean more profits. Through enforcement of intellectual patent rights, industry has also prohibited independent scientists from investigating emerging insect resistance problems...”

According to Dr. Seidler, USDA data reveals that glyphosate use has increased 12-fold since 1996, with the advent of GE crops. Overall, annual herbicide use has risen by more than 500 million pounds. Meanwhile, weed resistance has been documented on 60 million farm acres across the US. He chides the media for using USDA data showing that insecticide used on Bt corn had substantially decreased prior to 2010; ignoring the latest data showing that  insecticide use has dramatically increased ever since 2010. So to suggest that Bt crops led to a decrease in insecticide use is patently false. Bt resistant rootworm is also being reported in both the US and Brazil, showing the abject failure of this chemical technology.

“Furthermore, the use of seeds coated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides has skyrocketed in the past 10 years, but this is generally ignored,” he writes. “Recently, US government scientists found that the use of clothianidin on corn in Iowa alone almost doubled between 2011 and 2013, with widespread contamination of waterways and harmful effects on non-target wildlife...

Scientists report that only 5-40 parts per billion (ppb) of these neurotoxins are lethal to pollinators. An amount of neonicotinoid powder the size of a standard pencil eraser may contain 50-100,000 lethal bee doses. The killing power of the 350 tons (770,000 pounds) of neonicotinoids used on Iowa farms last year is incalculable.”

Non-Organic Grains are Grown in a Chemical Soup...

Most of us simply do not understand just how many chemicals are used to grow the food on our plates. To combat pest and weed resistance, farmers are strongly encouraged to employ what is called an “integrated resistance management scenario.” This includes:

  • Using “stacked” genetically engineered seeds with Bt traits of up to eight different genes
  • Injecting insecticides into the soil prior to crop germination
  • Using seeds coated with up to four systemic insecticides plus a fungicide
  • Using an annual crop rotation schedule in which at least two different GE crops are rotated to avoid “corn after corn” cycles

Basically, toxic chemicals form the very basis of GE agriculture. Chemicals are added at every turn—in the soil, on the seed, on the plant, and on some crops herbicides are also added right at harvest, to increase seed release. This technique is called desiccating. For example, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came in vogue about 15 years ago, and Dr. Stephanie Seneff suspects this practice may be the reason why we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in celiac disease since then.

Celiac disease is a severe reaction to gluten that primarily affects your gastrointestinal system. Glyphosate has been shown to severely damage your gut flora and cause chronic diseases rooted in gut dysfunction. What happens is that the villi in your gut get destroyed by the glyphosate, which reduces your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Also, wheat contains gliadin, which is difficult to break down.

Normally, a reaction takes place that builds connections between different proteins in the wheat. But glyphosate gets right in the middle of that process, resulting in wheat that is highly indigestible. Toxic, indigestible, disease-promoting... These are the call words of much of our conventional food supply these days. How could such a tragedy occur? As noted by Dr. Seidler:

“Pesticide overuse in agriculture is analogous to the overuse of antibiotics in intensive commercial livestock production systems, which has given rise to new germs that can withstand multiple antibiotics, requiring even more antibiotics at higher concentrations. These ‘supergerms’ are like the ‘superweeds’ and now ‘superinsects’ that resist standard treatment options. Scientists warn that without non-chemical management procedures, weed and insect resistances will grow and require still higher concentrations of more toxic chemicals in our food production system.”

GMO Labeling Threatens the ‘Chemical Treadmill’ Business

Adding insult to injury, chemical technology companies, including Monsanto, Dow, and BASF, just to name a few of the most notable ones, are spending tens of millions of dollars each year on lobbying and PR efforts to prevent you from knowing these toxin-stuffed crops are in the foods you eat on a regular basis.

Some 65 nations around the world require GE foods to be labeled, while here in “the land of the free” we’re still fighting tooth and nail for the same right to know. Opponents of GMO labeling spent more than $27 million on lobbying in the first six months of this year alone. This is about three times more than they spent during all of 2013, when they shelled out $9.3 million.8

“A recent international report9 by some 60 scientists warned that current agricultural practices in developed nations cannot be maintained... The energy inputs, environmental destruction, habitat loss and loss of natural biodiversity are all too severe. Rapid and significant changes in the management of agricultural production systems are essential,” Dr.Seidler writes.

“What is recommended are agricultural practices (aka ‘sustainable, agroecological, or biological practices’) that replace the resources consumed by intense commercial agriculture through the use of various cover-cropping strategies, ecosystem-friendly crop rotations and less use of toxic chemicals.”

The way off this out-of-control chemical treadmill spells the death of unlimited profits for the chemical technology industry, and THAT is why they do not want you to know which foods contain GMOs. The American processed food market is just too big. If Americans started making wildly different food choices, it could quickly revolutionize the US agricultural system because farmers will grow that which sells. And if people want uncontaminated organic foods, that’s what farmers will grow—and there’s already evidence that biodynamic farming can be done even on the large scale. In fact, using biodynamic principles, you can grow a lot more food on fewer acres.

The solutions are there. We just need to overcome or circumvent the chemical technology industry’s iron grip on our food supply, and that begins in the home of each and every one of us, with the food choices we make each and every day. Your money either goes to support this unsustainable chemical-based system that threatens the survival of the earth and your descendants, or it supports a system that can regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment so that healthy food and healthy people can thrive. But to make conscious choices, we need information, and that is why GMO labeling is so crucial.

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