While the agrochemical and GMO giant Monsanto claims to be a “sustainable” company on its web page, the ongoing, persistent and potentially devastating problem of superweeds is just one of many reasons why its claims do not appear to hold water, as many grassroots activists have noted in light of recent events. In Texas, for example, millions of acres of genetically modified cotton are now at risk of being lost, with the use of heavy, harsh chemicals the only proposed solution yet again.
A petition was filed by the Texas Department of Agriculture with the EPA recently to allow the emergency use of the toxic herbicide propazine in order to save one of its major crops: genetically modified cotton, from the emerging growth of the farm chemical-resistant weeds, making life difficult for the state’s many farmers.
The request, which was filed on June 18, is now open for public comments until July 3, which the EPA says it will consider before making the decision of whether to grant the request.
According to the Center for Food Safety, Texas’ GMO cotton is under attack by a familiar foe that has been ravaging genetically modified crops in various spots across the country: a glyphosate-resistant type of Palmer amaranth, aka the pigweed, which is popping up across GMO fields en masse and forcing many to hire workers to chop them down by hand.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s ubiquitous Roundup herbicide; thus far, 14 different glyphosate resistant “superweeds” have been documented in GMO fields.
Ironically, the hearty, persistent “weed” is actually more nutritious than the GMO crops it has been infesting, including in the Midwest where a potentially “devastating” infestation is threatening genetically modified corn and soy.
“Three Million Acres of Poison” in Texas?
The Texas Department of Agriculture is requesting what would amount to a 10-fold increase in the use of the banned chemical (since 2010) according to the Center for Food Safety, “from just 20,000 to 50,000 lbs. in 2010 and 2011 to 280,000 pounds per year.”
“Herbicide-resistant crops lead to increased herbicide use and this is just the beginning,” said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety.
“Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and the other pesticide-seed giants have developed a host of genetically engineered crops that will trigger a huge spike in the use of toxic weed-killers. This is hazardous to farmers, to consumers and to the environment.”
Texas hopes to use the toxic chemical on up to three million acres of cotton, the vast majority of which is GMO, which amounts to “hundreds of thousands of pounds of the pesticide, a chemical solution that has been banned due to its toxicity by the European Union.
In the U.S., propazine is considered a “possible human carcinogen,” a category the EPA uses for particularly hazardous farming chemicals. It’s considered an endocrine disruptor that disrupts the hormonal system, much like the infamous chemical atrazine, and one that causes birth defects when fed to pregnant rats according to the Center for Food Safety.
Propazine also takes years to break down, and has been found in both ground and surface water samples.
The proposed amount of three million acres to be sprayed with the banned chemical represents about ¼ of the U.S.’ annual production of cotton, and about 90 percent of all U.S. cotton is GMO, although the number has been dropping.
Freese continued, calling on major governmental organizations to curb the use of agricultural poisons.
“USDA and EPA need to do their job of protecting American citizens and agriculture by rejecting this request. They should also stop these companies’ from introducing more pesticide-promoting, genetically engineered crops,” he said.
“This request clearly demonstrates that herbicide-resistant crops – by generating an epidemic of resistant weeds – lead directly to increased use of hazardous chemicals,” “EPA should reject this request.” ?