By David R. Schubert
One would expect the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have the best interests of the public in mind, but its recent decisions have cast serious doubt on this assumption.
One in particular could have a dramatic impact on the security of America's food supply: It is the EPA's mandate to regulate the use of agrochemicals such as insecticides and herbicides, as well as to determine their allowable limits in food and water. potable.
Herbicides (to kill weeds) are mixtures of chemicals designed to be sprayed on weeds, settle inside plants, and inhibit the enzymes necessary for the plant to stop living. The active ingredient in the most widely used herbicide is glyphosate, while some herbicides contain 2,4D. 2,4D is best known as a component of Agent Orange, a defoliant used extensively during the Vietnam War. Until the introduction of transgenic crops some 20 years ago, they applied herbicides in the fields before planting, and then they used it only sparingly around crops. The food we ate from plants was free of these chemicals.
In stark contrast, with genetically modified herbicide resistant plants, herbicides and a mixture of other chemicals (surfactants) that are required to obtain the active ingredient in the plant are sprayed directly on the crops and then taken up by the plant. The surrounding weeds die while the GM plant is designed to resist the herbicide. Therefore, the food crop itself contains the herbicide, as well as a mixture of surfactants.
To accommodate the fact that weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate, more herbicide use is required, the EPA has steadily increased its allowable concentration limit in food, and has essentially ignored our exposure to the other chemicals that they are found in their commercial formulation.
As a result, the amount of glyphosate-based herbicide introduced into our food has increased tremendously since the introduction of GM crops. Multiple studies have shown that glyphosate-based herbicides are dangerous to public health.
Equally important in terms of health is the fact that herbicides are now used to rapidly kill non-GM cereal crops at the end of their growing cycle in order to speed up harvesting. Thus, a product can be labeled GM-free, but still contain high levels of herbicide.
The fact that agricultural chemicals are now inside the food crops we eat is a fundamental change in our food production system and human exposure to toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, it is about to get even worse.
2,4D has been used for more than 50 years, its toxicity to farm workers and neighboring populations is well documented. EPA-sponsored studies have shown that people frequently exposed to 2,4D have an increased risk of disease, cancer, and Parkinson's birth. Its non-agricultural use is prohibited in some European countries.
Despite this information, and the warnings of many knowledgeable organizations, scientists, and physicians, the EPA has recently concluded that marketing corn and soybeans genetically modified to be resistant to both 2,4D and glyphosate will have no adverse effects on the human health and has allowed the introduction of these crops in many states. The summary statements used to justify this decision are on the EPA website, but the scientific data and supporting discussion are not publicly available.
Some predict that due to these transgenic crops and the inevitable increase in herbicide resistance by weeds, the amount of 2,4D in our environment could soon increase up to 30 times from 2010 levels.
As a medical research scientist, I consider this grant from the EPA to be a serious mistake and I believe that it will ultimately lead to a public health disaster.
This conclusion is based on the following considerations:
1) The 2,4D, glyphosate, and surfactants are inside the plant and cannot be washed off. Recently soy shipments to Asia have contained 50 times the amount of glyphosate allowed in Europe, with high levels found in US GM soybeans, while none is detected in conventional and organic beans.
2) 2,4D is toxic, and glyphosate formulations have been shown in safety tests to be endocrine disruptors and cause liver and kidney damage. Furthermore, it appears that the specific formulation of 2,4D and glyphosate that will be applied to the new GM crops has not been tested for health safety. Because soy and corn-derived foods will contain these chemicals, they should be considered food additives, and they are under the jurisdiction of the FDA, which would require extensive safety testing. Currently none are mandatory.
3) Glyphosate and 2,4D accumulate in the environment, and the amounts will increase in our food and drinking water, and their combined use becomes widespread and weeds become more resistant. Glyphosate is already found in the blood and urine of people, and in a nutrient-rich mixture of soy given to infants.
4) While the growers of the new doubly herbicide resistant crops and regulatory agencies in the United States have some control over the production and use of herbicides in this country, they cannot control those manufactured or used abroad. The relatively uncontrolled use of glyphosate-based herbicides in South and Central America has led to a significant increase in birth defects, kidney toxicity, and cancer. It will be much worse if 2,4D is produced in the mix.
What does this all mean? Consumers should consider purchasing certified organic corn and soy products until EPA withdraws its allocation of food crops containing herbicides, and every effort should be made to avoid the introduction of additional herbicide resistant crops. These food additives are not good for you or your children.