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The Next Generation of GM Crops Has Arrived—And So Has the Controversy


corn field
A corn field is not a lovely place, unless you love raw corn

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

The first of a new generation of genetically modified crops is poised to win government approval in the United States, igniting a controversy that may continue for years, and foreshadowing the future of genetically modified crops.

The agribusiness industry says the plants-soy and corn engineered to tolerate two herbicides, rather than one-are a safe, necessary tool to help farmers fight so-called superweeds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture appear to agree.

However, many health and environmental groups say the crops represent yet another step on what they call a pesticide treadmill: an approach to farming that relies on ever-larger amounts of chemical use, threatening to create even more superweeds and flood America's landscapes with potentially harmful compounds.

Public comments on the Environmental Protection Agency's draft review of the crops will be accepted until June 30. As of now, both the EPA and USDA's reviews favor approval. Their final decisions are expected later this summer.

"We're at a crossroads here," said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group. "With these, we're dramatically increasing farmer dependence on herbicides." In a letter to the USDA, the Center and 143 other public-interest and environmental groups warned of a "chemical arms race with weeds," in which the new crops offer "at best temporary relief."    

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