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CFS Statement in Response to USDA’s Announcement of Measures to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts

October 16th, 2014
Center for Food Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 16, 2014 – Center for Food Safety scientists today issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking steps to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S. agricultural systems.

“While we welcome Secretary Vilsack’s recognition of the need to implement sustainable agricultural practices to address the increase of herbicide resistant weeds in U.S., USDA’s continuing approval of genetically engineered (GE) herbicide resistant crops will undermine this initiative. This is far too little and far too late to counteract the agency’s misguided approval and promotion of herbicide promoting GE crops,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, CFS’s director of sustainable agriculture.

“Of the proposed actions, only the EQIP program provides real incentives, and it is underfunded given the tens of millions of acres of corn and soybeans involved.

“Combined with toothless EPA recommendations for resistant weed management, which do not mandate ecologically-sound alternatives or otherwise restrict herbicide use, we are likely to see more of the same—dramatically increasing weed resistance and herbicide use.  This will greatly exacerbate harm to the environment and public health.”

Added CFS science policy analyst Bill Freese, “Any serious effort to address herbicide-resistant weeds must start with rejection of the dead-end, herbicide-promoting GE crop approach.  At the very least, strict limits must be placed on how frequently herbicides can be used with these crops.

“USDA’s own assessment of Dow’s 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans found that approval will accelerate the evolution of 2,4-D-resistant weeds.  Approval will also  ‘delay the adoption of non-chemical management strategies,’ while ‘the use of cover cropping and crop rotation, both of which have shown promise in reducing weed pressure,’ would increase more without 2,4-D-resistant crops.*"

USDA’s own analysis also concedes that 2,4-D-resistant corn and soybeans, just approved, will lead to an unprecedented 3 to 7 fold increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D by 2020, from 25.6 million to as much as 176 million lbs. per year.*  Similar predictions have been made for dicamba resistant crops, which are still awaiting final approval.

 

*USDA Final Environmental Impact Statement on 2,4-D-Resistant Crops, pp. 81, 134, 138, 139.

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