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17:46 GMT, Feb 26, 2014


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Home / USA /
GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA
admits
A new report published by the United States
Department of Agriculture demonstrates that the vast
majority of corn and soybean crops grown in America are genetically-engineered variants
made to withstand certain conditions and chemicals.
But while GMO seeds have been sowed on US soil for 15 years now, the latest USDA
report reveals that Americans still have concerns about consuming custom-made,
laboratory-created products, albeit nowhere near as much as in Europe.
The report was released by the USDAs Economic Research Service and published on
their website Feb. 20. And though the paper takes into consideration the trends that
have shaped how scientists and agriculturists have approached genetically-modified
organisms since they were first introduced in the US a decade-and-a-half ago, the
consensus seems to be that no one is certain just yet about what toll the surge in GMOs
will truly have.
Published time: February 24, 2014 21:26
Edited time: February 26, 2014 16:36
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Between 1984 and 2002, the studys authors wrote, the number of GMO varieties
approved by the USDAs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, grew
exponentially. Today GMO crops are found in most of Americas biggest farms, they
continued, and scientists have in the last several years discovered groundbreaking new
ways to make situation-specific seeds that have traits more desirable than traditional
crops.
As of September 2013, about 7,800 releases were approved for GE corn, more than
2,200 for GE soybeans, more than 1,100 for GE cotton and about 900 for GE potatoes,
the USDA affirmed.
Just last year, the agency added, GMO crops were planted on about 169 million acres of
land in the US or about half of all farmland from coast-to-coast.
Around 93 percent of all soybean crops planted in the US last year involved GMO,
herbicide-tolerant (HT) variants, the USDA acknowledged, and HT corn and HT cotton
constituted about 85 and 82 percent of total acreage, respectively.
HT crops are able to tolerate certain highly effective herbicides, such as glyphosate,
allowing adopters of these varieties to control pervasive weeds more effectively, reads
an excerpt from the USDA report.
As those weed-killers are dumped into more and more fields containing HT crops,
however, USDA experts say it could have a major, as-yet-uncertain impact on the
environment.
Because glyphosate is significantly less toxic and less persistent than traditional
herbicides, a portion of the report reads, the net impact of HT crop adoption is an
improvement in environmental quality and a reduction in the health risks associated
with herbicide use (even if there are slight increases in the total pounds of herbicide
applied). However, glyphosate resistance among weed populations in recent years may
have induced farmers to raise application rates .Thus, weed resistance may be offsetting
some of the economic and environmental advantages of HT crop adoption regarding
herbicide use. Moreover, herbicide toxicity may soon be negatively affected (compared
to glyphosate) by the introduction (estimated for 2014) of crops tolerant to the
herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D.
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That chemical, as RT has reported on in the past, is a component in Agent Orange and
has been linked to health risks. Should the USDA give the go-ahead for GMO companies
to manufacture 2,4-D-resistant crops, then that agent could appear in alarming numbers
across Americas farmland. But while anti-GMO advocates consider that just one of the
reasons they oppose the influx of man-made crops being grown in exponentially large
numbers across the county, the USDA said activism along those lines has been
comparatively small in the US.
Some consumers, including those in the European Union, have indicated a reluctance
to consume GE products. In other countries, including the United States, expression of
consumer concern is less widespread, the report reads.
Despite the rapid increase in adoption rates for GE corn, soybean, and cotton varieties
by US farmers, some continue to raise questions regarding the potential benefits and
risks of GE crops.
But even if the jury is still out with regards to the risks of GE crops, the USDA said they
are being grown in record numbers, the likes of which has prompted herbicide
manufactures to experience a surge as well. Whether thats good or bad, however, has
yet to be determined.
"We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good. We are just providing
information," Michael Livingston, a government agricultural economist and one of the
authors of the report, told Reuters.
According to the report, herbicide use on GMO corn increased from around 1.5 pounds
per planted acre in 2001 to more than 2.0 pounds per planted acre in 2010.
Comments (23)
7.3k Like Like
NutZ 25.02.2014 20:01
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USA! USA! USA!
Kay 25.02.2014 19:28
Right you are Michael !! (24.02.2014 05:17)
Willie Champion 25.02.2014 19:08
This is what happens when citizens fail in their obligation to manage those
elected to manage "THEIR" government. There's the XL Pipeline, GMO's,
Fracking, Coal Fired Power Plants, Millions of Vehicles spewing CO2 along with
and EPA that's being throttled to do nothing by a congress owned and
controlled by corporations whose interest are only in profits caring little of
anything other and the fair citizens stand about with their mouths hanging
open...

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