USDA researcher raises GE alarm

by Trudy Bialic, Editor

This article was originally published in June 2010

(June 2010) — It’s one thing for environmentalists to say genetically engineered crops are dangerous but now scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are sounding the alarm, too.

Microbiologist Robert Kremer has analyzed farm soil for 20 years, the last several studying soil quality and genetically engineered (GE) plant growth. Kremer and his group say they found worrisome problems with glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup®.

Kremer says Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” (RR) plants sprayed with the Roundup herbicide (glyphosate) appear — on the surface — to be impervious to the pesticide. But Kremer says ravaged roots below ground tell a different story. Glyphosate apparently affects root growth and necessary microbes.

Kremer’s colleagues report that glyphosate exudes from roots into soil, where it persists and accumulates. It’s toxic to soil organisms facilitating absorption of nutrients and it’s not ”biodegradable.” It accumulates in roots, stems and seeds — parts that animals and people eat.

Research shows about 3/4 of applied glyphosate stays in a plant and about 1/4 of it is exuded over time. There’s an accumulation every time glyphosate is applied.

Reuters news service quotes Kremer as saying, “This could be something big. We might be setting up a huge problem,” and that Kremer expressed alarm that federal regulators are not paying enough attention to the risks of GE technology on farms. He says, “Science is not being considered in policy setting and deregulation.”

The first RR seed, soy, hit the market in 1996. At the time, the tolerance for Roundup residues was three parts per million. After RR seeds were introduced, residues reportedly increased up to 20 ppm, indicating farmers used Roundup more liberally since it didn’t hurt their GE crops.

Instead of holding the line on residues, the Environmental Protection Agency raised the tolerance to 20 ppm — after Monsanto asked for the increase.

This is why GMO foods will contain higher concentrations of chemicals.

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Letters to the editor, June 2010

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News bites, June 2010

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