Thanks to Civil Eats, I just read this fantastic piece from Tom Laskawy that was originally posted to Grist. In it, he details growing opposition to Dow AgroScience’s efforts to win USDA approval for a new pesticide-resistant variety of genetically modified corn. This latest product is being introduced as a growing number of farmers are encountering “superweeds” in their fields of GMO plants resistant glyphosate (AKA Roundup). As Laskawy writes,
Of course, this is a problem of the industry’s own making. It was overuse of glyphosate caused by the market dominance of Monsanto’s set of glyphosate-resistant genetically engineered seeds that put farmers in this fix in the first place. One of the older herbicides, 2,4-D is a pretty nasty chemical [yet] the basis of [opponents’] concern isn’t so much the health effects, but the fact that their farms may end up as collateral damage from the increase in the use of 2,4-D that will occur if Dow’s seed is approved….. The problem has to do with pesticide drift — an issue with many pesticides, but a particular problem with 2,4-D, which unlike glyphosate is highly volatile…. [T]he real fight appears to be between commodity farms who want a simple answer to the growing problem of superweeds and fruit and vegetable growers who don’t want to see their crops damaged as a consequence. The latter are often treated by the USDA as step-children while growers of the Big Five commodities — corn, soy, wheat, rice, and cotton — receive the overwhelming majority of federal farm subsidies.
Laskawy’s piece provides plenty more information, including the alarming details on why some farmers are especially worried about pesticide drift when it comes to 2,4-D. The story also features lots of great links — like this recent story in The New York Times — so check it out for yourself.