Does the president of Colombia care more about the health of coca cultivators than President Obama cares about the health of U.S. farmworkers?
The toxic weed killer glyphosate will no longer be used to combat coca production in Colombia, according to President Juan Manuel Santos. His concern stems from the World Health Organization’s characterization of glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
But in the U.S., the overwhelming majority of GMO crop farmers are still welcome to blanket their fields with increasing amounts of glyphosate. The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of reregistering glyphosate for widespread use, and could make a decision as soon as this year to curtail or to allow this upward trend to continue. In addition to allowing glyphosate to be used on GMO crops, the EPA recently green-lighted 2,4-D to be sprayed on GMOs — a move that will more than triple the amount a defoliant linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems.
Farmworkers, their families and nearby communities are at greater risk of exposure to these toxic herbicides than those farther away from GMO crops engineered to withstand their blasts. Kids in these communities are especially vulnerable to harm from exposure. A recent EWG analysis showed that more than 3,000 elementary schools are within 1,000 feet of a likely GMO corn or soybean field sprayed with glyphosate.
The connection between GMO crops and increased use of toxic herbicides is one reason many people want to know whether the products they buy contain GMOs. Polls show that more than 90 percent of consumers favor labeling GMOs, but without a mandatory labeling law, they have no way to know for sure.
If glyphosate is too dangerous to use to disrupt the production of illegal coca, used to make cocaine, shouldn’t American consumers have the right to know if the perfectly legal food they’re purchasing was produced with the help of this toxic weed killer?