Strain of GM Corn Approved by USDA, Agent Orange Resistant Waiting in the Wings

By B. McPherson



While Americans were celebrating the end of 2011 and the beginning of a new year, the USDA quietly approved a new strain of genetically altered corn developed by Monsanto in coordination with the large chemical corporation BASF. According to Monsanto’s press release, the corn will be able to better able resist drought conditions as well as stand up to Roundup and the predations of insects.

“For the 2012 trials, Monsanto plans to have Genuity® VT Triple PRO® and Genuity® VT Double PRO® technology serve as the agronomic trait platform to be used with the drought-tolerant trait. These technologies offer growers excellent insect protection and tolerance to Roundup® agricultural herbicides.” Monsanto Press Release

Corn varieties that have these characteristics are ‘stacked’ in that they have multiple non-corn genes inserted into their DNA.  There is little to no independent research done on the possible synergistic effect of multiple alien genes inserted into an organism that is harvested for food.

Because plants like corn are promiscuous with their pollen, which is distributed by the wind, it may land on non-target fields adjacent to the genetically engineered plants. Farmers who have errant GM corn growing in their fields may be harassed and prosecuted by the seed company for ‘stealing’ their genes. Organic farmers stand the very real danger of having their fields contaminated.

Dow AgroSciences is waiting for approval of its newly engineered corn that carries a gene resisting the effects of the herbicide 2,4-D. 

“2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, 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.” Cornucopia Institute

2,4-D gained notoriety in the 1960s and 70s when it was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam conflict. It was considered a safe chemical at the time, but experience has shown the tragic health effects of Agent Orange.

As part of its pitch to gain approval for the Dow AgroSciences corn, they are pointing out that because Roundup has been used for many years, weeds have developed a resistance to it and ever more herbicides must be applied to the food crops and farmers need to turn to 2,4-D to battle weeds.

Roundup(glyphosate) has its own suspect list of bad health effects.

There are two main issues that the public should be aware of in the debate about GMO food.

1.      There is no assurance that GMO foods are safe to eat. Labelling of GMO foodstuffs is not done in N. America so the public may be unaware they are eating genetically engineered food. So no tracking of health issues, if there were any, is possible.

2.      These altered organisms allow for the use of harmful chemicals sprayed on foodcrops which endanger the farm worker and may leave a toxic residue on the food sent to market.

There are more issues.

For those who wish to protest the approval of the 2, 4-D resistant corn, there is a petition that you may sign, courtesy of the Cornucopia organization.
An online petition opposing Dow’s 2,4-D corn variety, which will be sent to President Obama and Secretary Vilsack, can be signed here.

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