Global attempts by Dow AgroSciences to gain approval for new genetically-modified soybean varieties resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D have become particularly aggressive in recent months. Simultaneous applications have been filed in several of the countries where genetically engineered crops (GE or transgenic crops or GMOs) were introduced in the 1990s.
The push for approval of new transgenics is part of a broader strategy by agribusiness to make the world’s farms increasingly dependent on its toxic herbicides, thus increasing the profits it derives from selling these chemicals. The current situation is a rerun of the 1990s’ introduction of Roundup Ready (glyphosate-resistant) crops, only this time the herbicides in question are much more toxic. These weed-killers have been around for a longer time and the case for their hazardousness to human health and the environment has been well documented.
The public pretext for these new GE crops is that they are necessary to counter the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds, popularly known as “superweeds.” But superweeds only exist because they have adapted to survive repeated sprayings of Roundup! In other words, they are a serious problem caused by a technology that was designed as a solution to a lesser problem (offering farmers a convenient way to kill weeds without killing the crop). Only 18 years after their introduction, Roundup Ready seeds are an utter failure.
Applications are now before the regulatory agencies of the United States, Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa for approval of a new genetically engineered soybean resistant to 2,4-D. The four countries are moving in parallel towards the granting of commercial growing permits. This dynamic shows how these corporations operate on a global scale with the confidence that they can have their way with our public institutions — which have been colonised, they know full well, by corporate power and ideology.