USDA Approves New Monsanto Corn

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a new genetically modified type of corn produced by Monsanto Company. The announcement comes from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Reuters reports that APHIS conducted a review and concluded the product posed no significant threat to agricultural crops, other plants or the environment. Monsanto’s MON 87411 maize is designed to protect plants against corn rootworms and have a tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate. Glyphosate is not only recognized as the most widely-used herbicide, it is a key ingredient in Monsanto’s popular RoundUp products.

Before officially being allowed on the market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must conduct their own reviews. According to Reuters, the EPA’s scientific advisory panel has criticized the guidelines as “weak”. The panel is attempting to understand the potential impact on pollinators, such as the dwindling bee population.

APHIS also said it was extending the comment period for genetically-engineered corn developed by Syngenta Seeds Inc. Syngenta’s MZHG0JG corn is also resistant to glyphosate. Critics have long said that perpetual reliance on herbicides like glyphosate is leading to an increase in herbicide-resistant plants which itself leads to an increased use of the chemicals.

The USDA’s preliminary findings of Syngenta’s petition found 14 different glyphosate-resistant weed species as of 2014. The agency also stated the risk of herbicide-resistant weeds will be an ongoing problem as long as herbicides are used.

Fighting herbicide resistance is only one of Monsanto’s current problems, however. In March of this year, Truth In Media reported that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a report in The Lancet Oncology detailing evaluations of organophosphate pesticides and herbicides.

The report concluded that there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” The evidence for this conclusion was pulled from studies of exposure to the chemical in the US, Canada and Sweden published since 2001.

The researchers found “convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The report points out that the EPA had originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans in 1985.
The IARC Working Group evaluated the original EPA findings and more recent reports before concluding “there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” Despite the WHO’s findings, the EPA approved Monsanto’s use of glyphosate as recently as 2013.
Glyphosate is not the only one of Monsanto’s products that have been recently connected to cancer. In June the IARC also found that the weed killer 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, known as 2,4-D, “possibly” causes cancer in humans. 

Since the IARC’s rulings, Monsanto has faced a wave of lawsuits as personal injury lawyers are now looking for plaintiffs who have been harmed by the corporations products. 

Monsanto continues to deny the charges against its products. Company spokewoman Charla Lord told Reuters, “Glyphosate is not a carcinogen. The most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product contradict the claims in the suits.”

In 2013, Ben Swann examined several controversies surrounding Monsanto in a Truth in Media episode, seen below.