The uprising against GMOs has grown loud, while government approval for GMO use has grown ever so…quiet. USDA approval of second-generation GMOs snuck by without so much as a sound. Bayer CropScience, the second largest agrichemical company, got the USDA stamp of approval on its new GMO soybean plant, designed to resist a toxic herbicide called isoxaflutole (IFT). IFT has been labeled “a probable carcinogen” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its increased use will, without a doubt, cause widespread damage to human health, as well as irreparable environmental consequences.
IFT and Cancer Risk
Here’s what the EPA had to say about IFT in its Pesticide Fact Sheet from 1998:
“Based upon a battery of acute toxicity studies, Balance Herbicide is classified as Toxicity Category III. Isoxaflutole demonstrates developmental toxicity and has been classified as a Group B2 carcinogen (probable human carcinogen). The data available at this time indicate that isoxaflutole is very phytotoxic. Isoxaflutole is persistent and mobile, and may leach and accumulate in groundwater and through surface water.”
IFT has been proven to cause liver and thyroid tumors in rats and to run off into surface waters, damaging not only our land and groundwater, but also spelling death for aquatic organisms, wild plants, and crops.
And yet, even while knowing the cancer risk carried by IFT, Bayer has developed a “food” that can be specifically sprayed with this dangerous toxin. And let’s not kid ourselves, eating organic won’t protect us. IFT contaminates everything around it! It’s so toxic that three states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota—refuse to use the Bayer-EPA label.
IFT Versus Glyphosate
How does IFT compare to glyphosate? Immeasurably worse! Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup Ready, the premier herbicide sprayed on first-generation GMO crops. Numerous studies have demonstrated glyphosate’s toxic impact, especially its estrogenic properties that trigger breast cancer development and growth. Glyphosate has effectively destroyed biological diversity in the fields. A prime example is the destruction of milkweed and the subsequent decline in the Monarch butterfly population. Farmers’ fields are now subject to an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, speaks out against these second generation GMO crops, explaining, “Bayer and other biotech companies are now poised to introduce a host of ‘next-generation’ GE crops resistant to more toxic herbicides as a false ‘solution’ to massive weed resistance. But their effect will be to generate still more intractable weeds resistant to multiple herbicides.”
The Center for Food Safety estimates a four-fold increase in the use of IFT based on this new round of GMO crops. The increase in cancer rates? Well, they’re likely to increase ten-fold.
What’s Monsanto and Dow Been Up To?
Meanwhile, Monsanto has been working on its own second generation GMO crops, developing new varieties of GMO corn and cotton. The biotech firm Dow has on hand 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans. 2,4-D is an herbicide developed in the 1940s and used as part of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War!
While we can’t eliminate our exposure to GMOs entirely, we can reduce our risk by eating organic produce free of toxic herbicides. In the meantime, keep being loud in the fight against GMO use. Hopefully the agencies designed to protect us—the USDA and EPA—will start to listen.