A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) calls on lawmakers to label genetically modified foods.
The authors begin by pointing out the well-established fact that genetic modifications to make plants resistant to herbicides and pesticides have tremendously increased the amount of toxic chemicals dumped on crops. Between 1974 and 2014, glyphosate use alone has increased by a factor of more than 250.
This stands to become much worse. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided in 2014 to approve Enlist Duo, a new herbicide made by Dow Chemical that combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. This will lead to substantially more chemicals in our food: according to the EPA’s own projections, 2,4-D use will increase by as much as seven times as a result. (You can read our coverage of the new generation of combination herbicides here.)
The authors point out what many of us have realized for a long time: these are very nasty chemicals. 2,4-D is an ingredient in what used to be called Agent Orange when used in the Vietnam War. The World Health Organization’s ultra-cautious International Agency for Research on Cancer recently classified 2,4-D as a “possible human carcinogen” and glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” Both herbicides were linked to increases in malignant tumors at multiple sites in animals. Glyphosate was also linked to an increased incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans.
These new developments cause the authors to conclude, “The time has therefore come to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the safety of plant biotechnology….We believe the time has come to revisit the United States’ reluctance to label GM foods.”…