Scare tactics

To the Editor:

Dick Atlee in his Community Forum “Dark Act is a threat to health” makes a number of statements concerning genetically modified organism (GMO) foods that I would like to understand better before I toss away my GMOs. His focus seems to be on glyphosate, a major ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. According to Ronald Baily in “The End of Doom,” “In 1996, farmers planted 4.2 million acres of biotech crops. In 2013, 18 million farmers in 27 countries planted 433 million acres, a hundredfold increase in 18 years. Some 16.5 million of the farmers growing biotech crops are resource-poor farmers living in developing countries. Between 1996 and 2012, economic gains to farmers amounted to nearly $120 billion, 58 percent from saved inputs such as less pesticide, less plowing and less labor.”

Further, I should like to understand the claims by Atlee on “the toxicity and health risks of glyphosate.” My sources indicate “Glyphosate has very low toxicity, breaks down quickly in the environment and enables farmers to practice conservation tillage, which reduces topsoil erosion by 90 percent.

Further, according to an article in “Agricultural Outlook” in August of 2000, “planting herbicide-resistant biotech crops enables farmers to substitute the more environmentally benign herbicide glyphosate for other synthetic herbicides that are at least three times as toxic and that persist in the environment nearly twice as long as glyphosate.”

As to Atlee’s comment on glyphosate being “declared a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, I would question the evidence of that, as “even as Americans have chowed down on billions of biotech meals, the age-adjusted cancer incidence rate has been going down. In fact, research shows that “biotech corn engineered to resist insects is much lower in potent cancer-causing mycotoxins,” according to published materials.

So, bring on my GMO foods.

A 2004 report from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” The World Health Organization states, “no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

Don’t mess with the Dark Act. We don’t need more scare tactics on our food labels.

Tom Rolfes


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