Target: Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture
Goal: Demand that regulators protect the public’s best interests and stop approving dangerous, genetically modified crops for human consumption
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supposed to serve the public’s best interests. “We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, [and] the best available science,” the agency proclaims in its mission statement. Yet in mid-September the USDA approved sale of Dow AgroSciences’ genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans, despite intense opposition from consumer safety and environmental groups.
Common Dreams describes watchdogs’ critique of the decision, which the news outlet describes as a “false solution to herbicide-resistant weeds and a move that threatens human and environment safety alike.” These GM crops were engineered to increase their resistance to Dow’s “Duo” herbicide (no doubt intended to fuel a substantial increase in farmers’ use of the chemical). A key component in Duo was also present in Agent Orange, an infamous defoliant/chemical weapon used by the United States during the Vietnam War. This active ingredient has been linked to reproductive issues, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption and birth defects–hardly an appetizing association.
International protests in recent years show increasing public rejection of GM technology. Many countries already have bans on the cultivation and import of GM crops and products, yet officials continue to safeguard profits moreso than they do the public. Companies marketing GM crops then actively fight any attempts to regulate and label their products. Demand that the USDA protect the public from unscrupulous chemical companies, and keep toxic GM crops out of the food supply.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
I respect the mission of the USDA, which emphasizes the importance of “sound public policy” and the “best available science” in protecting Americans’ food supply. Yet science has uncovered disturbing links between exposure to pesticides like Duo and increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and birth defects. How can the USDA defend its decision to approve GM crops intended promote further dependence on such dangerous chemicals?
Dow AgroScience created these particular herbicide-resistant crops to address a truly disturbing trend: that of weeds (and insects, and crop and livestock diseases) to rapidly develop resistance to the chemicals and antibiotics used to control them. Many weeds now have an increased resistance to Monsanto’s “Roundup” herbicide after farmers have depended heavily on it, and GM strains resistant to it; now Dow is banking on the crisis by marketing GM crops and herbicides that have not built up the same level of resistance elsewhere in the food chain–at least, not yet.
Clearly, addressing problems created by GM crops with yet more of the same toxic technology is not the answer. Mr. Secretary, I urge you and your colleagues at the USDA to immediately end this practice of approving GM food products for human consumption.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rosalee Yagihara via Wikimedia Commons