Op Ed: The Problem With GMOs

(Written by David Bronner, President, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Reproduced with permission from Organically Grown Company.)

Non-GMOMichael Specter’s pro-GMO articles bashing Vandana Shiva and labeling genetically engineered foods (Seeds of Doubt and The Problem with G.M.O. Labels, 8/20/14) fails to engage with the fundamental critique of genetically engineered food crops in US soil today: rather than reduce pesticide inputs GMOs are causing them to skyrocket in amount and toxicity.

Over 99% of GMO acreage is engineered to tolerate heavy herbicide (glyphosate) use and/or express insecticide (Bt) in every cell of every plant over the entire growing season. The result is massive selection pressure that has rapidly created pest resistance, the opposite of integrated pest management where judicious use of chemical controls is applied only as necessary.

Predictably, just like overuse of antibiotics in confined factory farms has created resistant supergerms leading to animals being overdosed with ever more powerful antibiotics, we now have huge swaths of the country infested with “superweeds” and “superbugs” resistant to glyphosate and Bt, meaning more volume of more toxic pesticides are being applied. For example, the use of systemic insecticides that coat GMO corn and soy seeds that are expressed inside the entire plant, has skyrocketed in the last ten years. These include neonicinitoids which are extremely powerful neurotoxins that contaminate our food and water and destroy non-target pollinators and wildlife.

Two neonics in widespread use in the US are currently banned in the EU because of suspected link to Colony Collapse Disorder in bees. Spraying of insecticide on GMO Bt corn crops has also skyrocketed in the last five years. Specter also fails to discuss the ever-increasing amount of older much more toxic herbicides like 2,4 D and Diacamba being sprayed along with huge volumes of glyphosate to deal with superweeds. Most importantly and egregiously, he makes no mention whatsoever of 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.

USDA and EPA are in the process of rubber stamping these into our farming communities (and unlabeled onto our dinner plates) this fall, yet Specter fails to mention their imminent approval even as he touts the lower-toxicity profile of glyphosate. Hopefully New Yorker can find a less-biased journalist who can accurately convey the fundamental concern that GMOs are doubling down on, not freeing us from, the pesticide treadmill that contaminates our food and water while lining the pockets of the chemical companies that make both the GMOs and the pesticides sprayed on them.

Learn more about GMOs in your food and in your pantry from Ina Denburg, our Healthy Living Correspondent, in the following video series: Welcome to Your GMOcery!