water droplets on wood surface

It’s a fact that 80-90% of all the corn and soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified to withstand heavy applications of herbicides. The exponential growth of GMO crops has produced a host of super weeds that have evolved to withstand the chemical onslaughts. To combat this cycle, more super-herbicides are applied each year to eliminate the super-weeds. Conventional farmers are now spraying more of these dangerous brews, cooked up by DuPont, Syngenta and Monsanto. The run off flows into our streams and watersheds and is affecting animal and human health. GMO crops have conquered the fields and now their bi-products compromise our water. 

I think about my family in the Midwest, living near this yearly toxic downpour. I wonder, should they drink the water?  

Roundup Ready corn and soy have been injected with a foreign DNA that causes these plants to resist heavy applications of glyphosate, so nothing but the plant can grow. The latest EPA figures show that agricultural use of glyphosate has increased from less than 11,000 tons in 1992 to more than 88,000 tons in 2007, and now it’s showing up in our streams and rivers. According to a USGS technical announcement in 2011, Monsanto’s Glyphosate, is commonly found in rain, streams and rivers in agricultural areas in the Mississippi River watershed. Is this a safe environment?  A review of hundreds of scientific studies surrounding glyphosate displays the ill effects on humans. The health problems associated include diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease– all available in the purling brook down the road.

In 2010, the NRDC analyzed results of surface water and drinking water monitoring data for the herbicide atrazine. They found pervasive atrazine contamination of watersheds and drinking water systems across the Midwest and Southern United States. Atrazine is banned in the EU and studies have linked it to harmful effects in both wildlife and humans. I wondered why the EPA had not banned it in this country and had to look no farther than my weekly New Yorker to learn more about the safety studies. When one of Syngenta’s hired scientists didn’t come up with the results they wanted he was essentially stalked, harassed and discredited. The companies who create these chemicals apparently can’t let anything get in the way of their profit margins.

All the waterways and streams ultimately lead to our oceans. A  study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin found glyphosate persistent in every sample they took from the Great Barrier Reef.  Because glyphosate degrades slowly in dark waters, Monsanto and Roundup ready crops may be contributing to the decline of the oceans’ coral reefs.

The effects and dangers of GMO crops are not limited to genetic contamination or dietary concerns. The ramifications of GMO crops are manifested in the increased use of the chemicals they are bred to withstand. Producing 90% of our food using an ever increasing toxic arsenal will only further degrade our environment and affect our health.  You can say no to this unsustainable system by always purchasing organic food and clothing. If those aren’t available, then select a certified non GMO option. Let’s heal the planet one purchase at a time so the waters can run clear again.

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About The Author

Melody Meyer's picture

Melody is the Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods (UNFI). In this role she is responsible for communicating and educating all stakeholders on critical organic issues. Her Blog www.organicmattersblog.com covers a range of organic and sustainable food issues.

She is the executive director of the UNFI Foundation which is dedicated to funding non-profit organizations that promote organic agriculture  www.unfifoundation.org. Melody serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Organic Trade Association www.ota.com.

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