The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) stated recently that it would deregulate Monsanto’s MON 87411 maize. According to the USDA, the new corn variety would protect against worms that damage roots and resist the herbicide glyphosate.
The biotech company genetically engineered its seeds to tolerate Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready herbicide, which has the active ingredient glyphosate, when applied to crop yields as a weed killer.
Glyphosate was deemed “probably carcinogenic” to human health by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this year. Monsanto faced a host of lawsuits over the link between glyphosate and cancer. As would be expected, the biotech giant strongly objected to WHO’s classification of the herbicide.
Furthermore, the use of glyphosate has skyrocketed over the decades, which has caused weeds to become more resistant to the herbicide, thereby breeding superweeds.
Monsanto plans to launch its product called SmartStax PRO, a line of items promoting MON 87411 maize, by the end of the decade. The genetically engineered corn still needs to be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration and other regulators abroad.
New genetically modified corn raises red flags
The EPA has raised red flags on the matter, stating they need stronger guidelines about the risks this biotechnology poses. Specifically, a better understanding about the corn’s impact on the pollinators, such as bees and other insects is needed, according to the agency.
Bee populations have been in decline in recent years, and alarmingly so. These insects are the ones primarily responsible for the pollination of plants, and in turn, seed production. The collapse of the bee colony would definitely have a rippling effect upon the entire ecosystem.
Studies have linked the increased use of herbicide over the last decade with the decline of the bee population. Beekeepers in the U.S. have reported an annual beehive loss of 30 percent or more a year within the last ten years; whereas others have experienced a loss of 50 percent or more. It’s for this reason that many European countries have banned GM crops.
Separately, the USDA has extended its review of a variety of genetically engineered corn from Swiss company Syngenta due to concerns about chemical-resistant weeds. Syngenta’s genetically engineered MZHG0JG corn is resistant to glyphosate and glufosinate. The company claims that the herbicide combination will provide an alternative option for farmers trying to tackle weed resistance, but one critic says it will merely exacerbate the problem.
There were approximately 14 different glyphosate resistant species in 2014, one being resistant to glufosinate, according to the USDA’s preliminary findings of the Syngenta petition. The risk of herbicide weed development will exist wherever the herbicide is used.
Greed, weeds and seeds
APHIS found that MON 87411 maize did not pose a significant threat to the environment. Never mind the fact that in 2005, London-based Independent told of a secret report prepared by Monsanto, which found rats that ate genetically modified corn had smaller kidneys and higher blood counts, suggesting their immune systems had been compromised.
Meanwhile, Monsanto is currently trying to combat a plan by California environmental officials who want to list glyphosate as a cancer-causing herbicide. The biotech company threatened state regulators that such actions could be deemed illegal, given that they lack scientific bases. Furthermore, the biotech giant is facing a host of lawsuits issued by law firms representing farmers, claiming the company has known about the dangers of glyphosate for decades.
Genetically modified corn has a history of damaging crops and human health. Don’t buy into into Monsanto’s greed, weeds or seeds.