January 24th, 2012
In the brave new world of bio-tech agriculture, the big pesticide/herbicide makers have argued for years that their genetic seed inventions would reduce the use of chemicals.
It made sense, to argue for that. Almost everyone agrees that our health and the environment would benefit from reduced pesticide use. And Americans react strongly when they find their food has been compromised by chemicals. Think of the Alar apple scare, or the more recent outcry over strawberries doused with methyl iodide, a fumigant suspected of causing cancer.
Chemical companies tapped into citizen concern about pesticides by promising they could engineer corn and soybeans to resist certain “safer” chemicals, such as Monsanto’s Roundup. That would reduce environmental harm and give farmers a break, because they could use Roundup whenever they wanted without fear of harming their crops. They’d get higher yields with little downside, because the Roundup would biodegrade, and America would feed the world….