Tags: GMO | genetically modified organisms | super-weeds | Enlist Weed Control System

GMO Products Remain Source of Controversy, Heated Debate

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 03:39 PM

On Sept. 17, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted approval to use genetically modified corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to several herbicides, a decision almost certain to reignite the debate over genetically modified organisms, reports Thomson Reuters Foundation.

After five years, the USDA finally gave the go-ahead for Dow AgroSciences to sell the Enlist Weed Control System, which is new herbicide product and new herbicide-tolerant crops that would allow farmers to spray both herbicides on their fields while the crops are already growing.

Farmers view the system as a low-cost way to combat the rise of so-called "super-weeds" that have become resistant to some herbicides, but challenges remain because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also needs to grant approval.

"We sure are aware of the concerns that have been expressed," said Dow AgroSciences President Tim Hassinger in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"At the same time, we've been really pleased with how the farm community and the broader agricultural community have come forward in support," he said.

Others, however, do have concerns about safety of genetically altered products and also question whether they are needed.

"We don't need pesticide-resistant GMOs to control weeds. There are natural ways to fight them," Bill Freese, a science policy expert at the Center for Food Safety, told NBC News.

"The GMO industry likes to put a warm fuzzy glow on GMOs but we don't see much use for them at all," he added.

The debate over the efficacy and safety of these specific seeds reflects a larger battle over GMOs that is taking place across the nation.

Last May, Vermont became the first state in the nation to require the labeling of genetically modified ingredients, but on June 13 the Grocery Manufacturers Association filed a lawsuit challenging the law.

The lawsuit contends the mandatory labeling law "is a costly and misguided measure that will set the nation on a path toward a 50-state patchwork of GMO labeling policies that do nothing to advance the health and safety of consumers."

The Association, which filed the lawsuit in conjunction with the Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, also asserts that Vermont "effectively conceded this law has no basis in health, safety, or science" because it provides an exemption for milk, meat, restaurant items and alcohol.

The Food and Drug Administration has determined that genetically-engineered (GE) foods are not materially different from non-GE foods, therefore does not require the labeling of products with GMOs.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Twenty-eight other states have had GMO labeling legislation pending in 2014, but none have passed to date.

GMOs also will be on the November ballot in Oregon and in Colorado, where both sides have launched aggressive campaigns in support of their positions, reports The Denver Post.

Coloradans will consider whether genetically-modified foods should be labeled "Produced with Genetic Engineering" starting July 1, 2016.

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On Sept. 17, the Department of Agriculture granted an OK to use genetically modified corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to several herbicides, a decision almost certain to reignite the debate over genetically modified organisms, reports Thomson Reuters Foundation.
GMO, genetically modified organisms, super-weeds, Enlist Weed Control System
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2014-39-01
Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 03:39 PM
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