The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is deregulating two more strains of genetically engineered corn by determining they are not plant pests. The move to greenlight the use of GE, genetically engineered, pesticide-resistant corn strains comes on the heels of the agency’s proposal in September to implement a stricter permitting process for GE wheat strains due to incidents of non-GE crops being contaminated by GE strains. The agency’s comparative laxity in deregulating the GE corn strains is in stark contrast to increasing worldwide concern over GE crops and the increased pesticide use they reportedly bring.
In the two notices published Tuesday, APHIS determined Monsanto’s rootworm- and glyphosate-resistant strain, MON 87411, merited a non-regulated status, and the agency issued a preliminary determination for a non-regulated status for Syngenta’s glyphosate-resistant strain, MZHGOJG. The USDA’s APHIS is tasked with overseeing the development of GE or GM, genetically modified, organisms. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for overseeing the use of pesticides and herbicides.
The use of glyphosate, a pesticide marketed by Monsanto as the well-known brand Roundup, has risen in the U.S. from approximately 10 million pounds per year in 1992, to almost 300 million pounds in 2012, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. About a third of that total is sprayed on corn.