Pro-GMO Senators in Weaker Position Than Ever Before
The Vermont labeling bill passed 28-2. Now, the senators who lost want to modify the bill before it goes into effect, threatening to open the bill up to a fight on the floor unless the deadline gets extended to 2018. But even if that would occur, they hardly stand a chance of winning.
This is because, they’re actually in a weaker position today than when the bill was originally passed two years ago.
For starters, in March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is a Class 2A “probable human carcinogen.”
This determination was based on evidence showing the popular weed killer can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, along with “convincing evidence” it can also cause cancer in animals.
We also know that glyphosate use has dramatically increased as a direct result of GE crops, and that alone is a significant health concern that cannot be overlooked when discussing GMOs and GMO labeling.
Glyphosate Toxicity Is an Important Part of the GMO Labeling Discussion
Before GE crops, glyphosate was used sparingly, as it kills any plant it touches. This meant farmers could not apply it near their crops, lest they risk killing off their crops as well. It was only used where farmers wanted to kill all vegetation, such as between the rows in orchards or in industrial yards.
This all changed in 1996, when Monsanto’s so-called “Roundup Ready,” GE glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced.
Since these crops are impervious to glyphosate’s toxic effects, farmers can spray the chemical onto their crops with abandon. And due to mounting weed resistance, that’s exactly what they’ve had to do. Since 1996, glyphosate use has risen nearly 15-fold.
11 Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974, 1.8 million tons have been applied to U.S. fields, and two-thirds of that volume has been sprayed in the last 10 years.
Monsanto has also successfully promoted the use of Roundup on non-GE crops as a desiccant.
12 Basically, the chemical is sprayed on crops right before harvesting to dry out the crop and allow farmers to harvest earlier — a technique that results in a higher profits as earlier harvest yields higher prices.
Contrary to the U.S., the EU Parliament is calling on the Commission to severely restrict the permitted usage of glyphosate, and to ban pre-harvest dessication in order to protect human health.
13 Glyphosate use is in fact so excessive at this point that even organic farms are now plagued by glyphosate residues in their produce, even though it’s not actually sprayed on their farms. It drifts over from other farms.
In Vermont, herbicide use on corn increased by 39 percent since the advent of GE corn. Nitrogen fertilizer use has also increased by 17 percent. Moreover, nearly all — 99.4 percent to be exact — of the chemicals used on GE corn grown in Vermont are suspected hormone disruptors, capable of promoting cancer and birth defects.
All of these facts have a bearing on the GMO discussion, and add weight to the call for clear labeling. Vermont is the first state to pass a no-strings-attached GMO labeling law, and it needs to be implemented as planned.