October 16, 2018

USDA Prepares for Environmental Impact Statements on New GMO Crops

Last week the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced they are going to prepare two separate environmental impact statements (EIS) to “better inform decision-making regarding the regulatory status of crops genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicides known as 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and Dicamba. In other words, instead of simply approving these new crops, as expected, the government is going to investigate these new seeds further.

GMO TomatoThis comes as a shock to Dow, who expected the USDA to approved the crops last December. In January, the company said that “approvals will be in place for sale in late 2013”. This delay means the GE crops will not be available for planting in 2014 either.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), all agencies must perform an EIS if there’s a chance that a decision will affect the human environment. The Center for Food Safety has repeatedly sued the USDA to force them into completing EIS’s do so for GE and GMO crops, and the agency has repeatedly refused.

In a press release, the USDA stated it has “determined that its regulatory decisions may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. APHIS therefore believes it necessary under NEPA to prepare these two EIS’s to further assist the Agency in evaluating any potential environmental impacts before we make a final determination regarding the products’ regulatory status.”

One thing that may have factored into the USDA decision is several studies published this year that have shown that weeds resistant to glyphosate, the active compound in Roundup, has increased by 34% from 2011 to 2012.  Almost half of all U.S. farmers interviewed for that study said glyphosate-resistant weeds were on their farms in 2012. And the rate at which these resistant weeds are spreading is increasing. This happened after crops genetically engineered to be resistant to Roundup were widely used. Dicamba and 2,4-D resistant crops are being introduced to help manage glyphosate-resistant weeds.

In addition, a paper published by Purdue Extension states that volatility, which is the movement of the gas form of the herbicide after it has been deposited as a liquid, and drift, which is the physical movement of spray particles by wind, exist with 2,4-D and Dicamba. These herbicides will affect sensitive crops, organic farms, and rural homes gardens and landscapes near farm fields treated with those chemicals. In addition, 2,4-D resistant crops may be vulnerable to Dicamba, and Dicamba-resistant crops may be vulnerable to 2,4-D.

 

Comments

  1. Ella Baker says:

    This is a problem when you have already many plantation of organic crops.

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