Corn Biotech: Environmentalists Warn Against Newly Engineered Plant

The latest development in bio technology and genetically modified foods (GMO) is a strain of corn produced by Dow Chemical. It is resistant to an herbicide made by the same company, which they state reduces weeds among corn by 90%.

So, if it will help the corn grow better, why are environmentalists to worried about it? Simple. The herbicide used can be deadly to other crops, as well as flowers in nearby gardens.

Protesters warn that the chemical, called 2,4-D would wipe out other crops and make them inedible. They also believe that the weeds that grow in farmer’s fields will not be affected by the herbicide.

While Dow touts the chemical as a fantastic invention against so-called super weeds, which farmers have had issues with recently, opposers believe that the chemical will simply increase the weeds’ tolerance for pesticides.

John Bode, a lawyer for a coalition of farmers and food companies seeking regulatory restrictions or rejection of Dow’s plans, stated:

“Massive amounts of 2,4-D… can cause major changes, threatening specialty crops miles away.”

Bode believes that farmers should take a close look at the creation of super weeds, and also the test studies of the herbicide, before taking their chances on the corn product, called “Enlist.”

Dow’s herbicide, which contains the chemical glyphosate, has performed admirably in trials against the super weeds that plague farmers. But the chemical does not always work. Further research suggests that even heavy use of the chemical glyphosate now fails to keel weeds that used to be decimated by Round-up.

Bryan Young, weed scientist at Southern Illinois University, is supportive of Enlist. In a letter to the FDA supporting Dow Chemical’s application for Enlist. He wrote that:

“The de-regulation of Enlist herbicide-tolerant corn will expand grower options for controlling problematic weeds and has proven in my research to be effective as such.”

“Drift” is another issue that Environmentalists worry about with the corn. This is where the herbicide meant for the corn could actually be found in other crops, which are not resistant to it. Dow’s answer is that the bio-engineered corn and pesticide, when used properly together, has “ultra-low volatility” and only a 10 percent chance of drifting.

Tom Wiltrout, Global Strategy Leader for Seeds and Traits at Dow, stated that:

“I don’t think you can ever guarantee [farmers will follow these directions], but we are doing all we can to try to incentivize people and educate people. We were worried too. That was one of the big debates we had. Chemistry is the key. We think we’ve got an answer.”

Check out more information about GMO (Genetically Modified) foods here: