Tuesday, January 20, 2015

USDA approves Monsanto's genetically modified soybeans, cotton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week gave Monsanto final approval for genetically engineered "herbicide-tolerant crops to be used with a new herbicide the company says will fight problematic weed resistance on farm fields," Carey Gillam reports for Reuters. The genetically modified cotton and soybean plants have been granted non-regulated status. Monsanto is still waiting for final approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Monsanto is also "awaiting approval from Chinese regulators to allow imports of the new soybeans," Gillam writes. "China is a key buyer of U.S. soybeans, but the country has shown reluctance to approve imports of new GMO crops recently. Last week, Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley told analysts the company expects to have Chinese approval in time for a commercial launch in 2016."

Consumer, environmental and farmer groups have criticized the GMO crops, saying that "using more herbicides on weeds will only increase weed resistance over the long term," while also posing health and environmental risks, Gillam writes. Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right to Know, a food issue research group, told Gillam, "The pesticide treadmill spins on, and that's great news for Monsanto. This is just the latest in a endless string of favors from our federal government to Monsanto." (Read more)

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