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MassLive

New England Journal of Medicine article calls for GMO labels on foods

roundup.jpg
Roundup is a product of Monsanto. (Republican file)

on August 20, 2015 at 11:33 AM, updated August 20, 2015 at 11:48 AM

A Perspective article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine calls for the labeling of genetically modified foods.

“We believe the time has come to revisit the United States’ reluctance to label GM foods,” writes Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, co-author with Charles Benbrook, of the article entitled “GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health.”

The two write that such labeling “is essential for tracking emergence of novel food allergies and assessing effects of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops.”

“It would respect the wishes of a growing number of consumers who insist they have a right to know what foods they are buying and how they were produced,” the two write.

“And the argument that there is nothing new about genetic rearrangement misses the point that GM crops are now the agricultural products most heavily treated with herbicides and that two of these herbicides may pose risks of cancer.”

The article also calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to delay its permit to allow the use of Enlist Duo, what the article refers to as “a new combination herbicide” that has been “formulated to combat herbicide resistance” to such agents as glyphosate (Roundup).

 

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Environmental Working Group

Citing GMO-Herbicide Link, Renowned Children’s Health Expert Calls for GMO Labeling

Thursday, August 20, 2015

 

An article published today in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine by two of the nation’s most respected experts on pesticides and children’s environmental health calls for the Food and Drug Administration to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) food.

This comes after the House of Representatives passed a bill last month that would block states from enacting their own labeling laws and make it nearly impossible for the FDA ever to implement national mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Titled “GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health,” the paper by Philip J. Landrigan, M.D. and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D. focuses on the widespread adoption of GMO crops across the U.S. and the resulting explosion in the use of toxic herbicides – some of them, like Monsanto’s glyphosate, linked to cancer – and argues that labeling these foods is a matter of protecting public health.

Landrigan and Benbrook write that since being introduced in the mid-1990s, 90 percent of U.S.-grown corn and soy has been engineered to tolerate being doused with weed-killing herbicides, resulting in an enormous increase in the use of herbicides:

Widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops has led to overreliance on herbicides and, in particular, on glyphosate. In the United States, glyphosate use has increased by a factor of more than 250 – from 0.4 million kg [kilograms] in 1974 to 113 million kg in 2014.

As a result of the overreliance on glyphosate, weeds have increasingly become resistant to the weed killer, forcing growers to add other herbicides, including 2,4-D, to control them. The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the sale of Enlist Duo, a new weed-killer made by Dow AgroSciences that combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. Landrigan and Benbrook argue that the agency’s risk assessment of the product relied on flawed science:

The science consisted solely of toxicologic studies commissioned by the herbicide manufacturers in the 1980s and 1990s and never published, not an uncommon practice in U.S. pesticide regulation. These studies predated current knowledge of low-dose, endocrine-mediated, and epigenetic effects and were not designed to detect them. The risk assessment gave little consideration to potential health effects in infants and children, thus contravening federal pesticide law.

 

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