Genetically altered seeds, and massive herbicide and pesticide application on acres of soybeans, wheat and corn are now the norm.
Agriculture giants such as Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and Dow AgroSciences have developed seeds resistant to things like pesticides and herbicides. When these seeds are planted and grow, farmers can then spray them with all the pesticides and herbicides they like without killing the plant. In return, farmers get a more bountiful crop of corn, beans or wheat.
This is what happens when farming becomes big, BIG business.
What also happens is weeds become resistant to the herbicides, and the crops are so very altered that they have little resemblance to the nutrient-rich, pesticide-free grains of our past.
In fact, many farmers have talked about how deer, squirrels and other wildlife won’t even touch the grain. While that’s good in terms of crop yield, they are wondering how if the animals won’t eat it, why should humans?
And what does the slight overspray of the chemicals do to nearby waterways and neighborhoods?
Now the USDA has opened the door to yet another genetically-altered seed that is of great concern. This one will resist 2,4-D, a chemical that was included in Agent Orange of the Vietnam era. Yes, the same Agent Orange that cleared swaths of vegetation in Vietnam, and caused cancer in veterans and deformities in children.
Keep in mind that the USDA doesn’t approve the use of the pesticide 2,4-D, just the use of the seeds. The EPA is charged with considering the mass application of 2,4-D on farm fields. This is a two-step, two-agency process.
If these seeds are deregulated, and the EPA clears the use of this particular herbicide, Dow stands to make a whole lot of money. Big money.
But at what cost?
Perhaps that cost will never be tallied. But that doesn’t mean we should blindly accept that our government knows best. Clearly it does not, as evidenced by many other debacles – DDT, anyone? Agent Orange, anyone?
The USDA has a public commenting period of 45 days before it could deregulate this most recent set of seeds. We the People could potentially put a halt to this most recent science experiment if we speak up. We urge you to do so.
Check out this website — aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/fr_notices.shtml — for a list of all genetically altered, pesticide- and herbicide-resistant seeds that are working their way toward our fields via the USDA. These are all open for public comment, and there’s a link to submit a public comment on each item. The 2,4-D proposal will be included on the list soon.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.