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Hawai'i CFS

Center for Food Safety Welcomes USDA Decision to Expand Review of Controversial GMO Crops

May 10, 2013
Center for Food Safety

Voluntary Regulatory Action Demonstrates Increasing Clout of Food Movement

Center for Food Safety (CFS) welcomes the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) decision to undertake Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) to properly assess the health and environmental risks posed by genetically engineered (GE) crops resistant to the toxic herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba.  Among other harmful impacts, these crops will lead to sharply increased use of and dependence on pesticides.

In 2007 and 2009, in lawsuits brought by Center for Food Safety, federal courts found that by not conducting an EIS, APHIS had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in their approvals of GE alfalfa and GE sugar beets, respectively.  Remarkably, those were the first two EISs the agency had ever completed, after 15 years of granting largely “rubber stamp” approvals of GE crops. 

“Our past legal challenges have forced APHIS to perform EIS’s on GE alfalfa and GE sugar beets.  The agency knows that failure to prepare EIS’s on these controversial new crops would not survive future court challenges,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “While we welcome this decision, it remains to be seen whether the agency will undertake the required hard-look analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of these crops.”

GE crops resistant to 2,4-D and dicamba would dramatically increase the use of these toxic herbicides, posing serious risks to human health, the environment, farmers, and U.S. agriculture as a whole.

  • 2,4-D and dicamba have been linked in epidemiology studies to a number of serious harms in exposed farmers and their families, including increased incidence of cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • 2,4-D and dicamba are extremely volatile and drift-prone. Both drift to damage neighboring crops as well as wild plants, posing serious risks to both neighboring farmers as well as natural ecosystems, including threatened and endangered species     

  • The use of 2,4-D and dicamba on these GE crops will trigger rapid evolution of weeds resistant to these herbicides, leading to a toxic spiral of increasing use of additional herbicides and weed resistance

“CFS is convinced that a thorough and objective assessment will lead to rejection of the petitions,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for CFS.  “CFS urges APHIS to enlist the help of other agencies with expertise, including the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Close collaboration is absolutely essential for competent assessments.”

While the decision to conduct the EIS’s is a positive step, it remains to be seen how APHIS will use the findings to inform its eventual decision on whether to approve the crops.

“In the past, APHIS has gone through the motions of NEPA analysis, but then ignored the findings as irrelevant to its decision.  This approach is wrong on several counts.  It is unlawful, represents a tremendous waste of resources, and deceives the public,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at CFS.

Over 500,000 thousand people submitted comments to APHIS objecting to the approval of 2,4-D and dicamba crops. CFS submitted extensive comments detailing their harmful human and environmental health impacts (see our policy comments here or available upon request).

The crops to be reviewed in the proposed EIS’s are:

2,4-D resistant plants (one corn and two soybean varieties)

Dow Corn DAS-40278-9: 2,4-D and ACCase-Inhibitor Tolerant
For CFS comments, see here.

Dow Soybean DAS-44406-6: 2, 4-D, Glyphosate and Glufosinate Tolerant

Dow Soybean DAS-68416-4: 2,4-D and Glufosinate Tolerant
For CFS comments, see here

Dicamba-resistant plants (one soybean and one cotton variety)

Monsanto Cotton MON-88701-3: Dicamba and Glufosinate Tolerant

Monsanto Soybean MON 87708: Dicamba Tolerant

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