Monsanto Testing New GMO Crops

gmo, corn
Monsanto has been promoting its new genetically modified (GMO) seeds designed to be used with the herbicide dicamba, which is similar to the herbicide 2,4-D (of Agent Orange notoriety). The Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) reports that Monsanto field-tested the soybeans in Cass County, North Dakota, and has also planted them in other plots in North and South Dakota.

Dicamba resistant soy and 2,4-D resistant soy and corn are still waiting approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The comment period on the GMO crops closed in April. In May, the USDA announced that it plans to prepare environmental impact statements (EIS) on crops designed to tolerate both 2,4-D and dicamba after many people expressed concern about the environmental impact of the crops. The USDA states that it received more than 8,000 comments and petitions signed by more than 400,000 people about the approval of these crops.

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In a press release, the USDA states that both herbicides have been “safely and widely used across the country since the 1960s to control weeds on crop and non-crop sites.” A report on dicamba by PANNA paints a very different picture of the herbicide, which is widely used in the U.S. About 5.6 million pounds of dicamba are used every year in U.S. agriculture, and most of it is used on corn. In addition, about three million products with dicamba are used every year by U.S. households.

The PANNA report details the health problems associated with dicamba, which include the following:

  • Dicamba inhibits an enzyme found in the nervous system of most animals, acetylcholinesterase, which when inhibited, causes a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, to accumulate and prevents smooth transmission of nerve impulses.

  • Dicamba inhibits the activity of several enzymes in animals’ livers that detoxify and excrete foreign chemicals.

  • Acute exposure to dicamba causes skin irritation and severe eye irritation, and the eye damage can be irreversible.

  • Congested lungs, hemorrhages, poor digestion, inflamed kidneys and engorged livers occurred in sheep exposed to dicamba.

  • Neurological effects have been found in dogs and chickens.

  • Rats fed dicamba for 90 days suffered from weight loss and ate less. Increased dead cells and abnormal live cells were found in the rats’ livers.

  • Reproductive problems were found in rabbits exposed to dicamba.

In addition, dicamba might be a carcinogen. A 1992 study of farmers by the National Cancer Institute found that dicamba exposure doubled farmers’ risk of contracting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma two decades after exposure. Inadequate tests have been conducted on dicamba regarding its ability to cause cancer. “The quality of some of the tests appears to be seriously lacking,” the report states.

Read more about cancer prevention

Dicamba also causes environmental damage. Dicamba can drift and damage crops in other farmers’ fields. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, 2,4-D drifted 100 miles away from where it was applied and damaged 15,000 acres of cotton and a pomegranate orchard. Dicamba is also likely to contaminate ground and surface water. It’s been found in the drinking water supplies of Cincinnati, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Seattle. It’s also been found in rivers, ponds and lakes in the U.S. and Canada. A report by Beyond Pesticides points out that dicamba residues can remain in soil from two months to a year.

Photo Credit: brandoncripps

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman| August 30, 2013
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer armed with a passion for healthy living and a degree in journalism. Hailing from the dry, sunny Central San Joaquin Valley, she hasn't let the heat fry her brain!

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