The Crazy New GMO About to Land on Your Plate


by Leah Zerbe, online editor for

Decades ago, corporations went out on a limb trying to convince farmers and the general public to buy into a new way of farming. The sell was a hard one: They had to gain the trust of growers, persuading them to buy into the package deal to grow genetically engineered seeds and spray them with the chemical pesticides the plants had been genetically altered to survive.

It was an obvious win for the companies selling the seed/herbicide package; after all, Monsanto designed the GMO seeds and the Roundup chemical sprayed on the crops. But with slick marketing tactics, salesmen also convinced the majority of nonorganic farmers growing corn and soy to buy into this system. One of the major selling points? They said it would drastically lower farmers’ reliance on the amount of older, more dangerous chemicals they’d need to use. Chemicals like 2,4-D.

Guess what? They lied.

Fast-forward 30 years, and GMO technology is falling flat on its face. Not to any weed scientist’s surprise, weeds have quickly adapted and developed resistance to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. The result? Sixty million U.S. acres are infested with nearly-impossible-to-kill superweeds. (Hmm, this wasn’t mentioned in the original GMO sales pitch!)

And the scariest part is yet to come. Despite its own admission that it will cause up to a sevenfold increase in chemical pesticide use, the United States Department of Agriculture is poised to approve a new type of genetically engineered corn and soy seed—Dow’s Enlist Duo. These seeds are designed to resist glyphosate and one of the most dangerous agricultural chemicals on the market—2,4-D. (Yep, the same chemical Monsanto vowed GMO technology would help farmers avoid.)

Like glyphosate, 2,4-D (the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War) is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an immune system cancer.  If the Environmental Protection Agency also gives this crop the green light, it could be in U.S. fields during the next growing season. It could be sprayed near your home and dangerously close to your child’s school.

2,4-D also threatens people growing the healthiest foods—produce like tomatoes, grapes, potatoes, and other farmer’s market favorites. Studies have shown 2,4-D drift can easily travel a half mile, where it outright kills or mangles many of these other cash crops (crops decidedly healthier than the corn and soy ingredients often found in processed foods or used as an unnatural feed for farm animals).

Want more reasons to kick your GMO habit? Check out these 5 Disgusting Facts About Roundup, along with the Biggest GMO Myths, Busted.

It’s time to start waving your organic flag, and waving it proudly! To save money on organic food, buy in-season food in bulk and learn how to preserve it, ask for seconds at the farmer’s market, and start your own organic garden. If you want to keep your air, water, soil, and body healthy, organic is the only answer—no excuses!  Elect officials who care about this, educate your friends and family, and support state and national efforts to label GMOs. Knowledge is power, and each and every one of us is part of the solution.

If there’s no market demand for these pesticide-laced foods, farmers will answer by growing cleaner food. I have faith in that—and in all of you!

Leah_2014_Head_Shot_5Leah Zerbe is online editor for Prior to working at Rodale, she was the senior online editor at, where she headed up the station’s online “Going Green” initiative, wrote about center-city crime and traffic jams, and blogged about her beloved Philadelphia Phillies. She and her husband run a sustainable organic farm in Schuylkill County, where they grow vegetables, strawberries, herbs, and flowers and raise heritage-breed chickens.


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3 Responses to The Crazy New GMO About to Land on Your Plate

  1. Alice Green August 19, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Yes to every word you say. I have been fighting Monsanto and GMO’s for years now and they just seem to get stronger. Of course, it doesn’t help that they have many in Congress on their payroll and get their own former workers into top positions in the government. And in those positions they can make rules that allow Monsanto to completely destroy our food system and drive many farmers out of business. I only eat organic food and I don’t vote for anyone on the ballot who supports Monsanto and/or is against having our food with labels telling us if the food has GMO’s in it or not. It is a crime the way these people are destroying our food and our farmers, just to become even richer than they already are. I will bet you anything that none of them or their families eat anything but pure organic food. They do know what they are doing and they know it’s wrong.

  2. Betty Nickels August 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    I I totally agree that the Monsanto group is completely a greedy lot. I have a difficult time buying groceries and will shortly join an organic food supplier as soon as I am assured that they are 100% organic. Monsanto crossed over the red line when they started with corn and included all corn products. Little did I realize the enormity of this decision until I started investigating via my computer. I will stick to my decision to go organic. I will do everything possible to pass the word. I do feel remorse for Senior Centers that serve meals and their economic situation prevents them from buying organic. I am 87 yrs and am a vitamin addict but with careful research. I do not take any meds! Before I became serious about my health in 2001, I had a 5-way bypass surgery and a few months later a pacemaker because the surgery did not help. Later the Drs. were found guilty of unnecessary procedures and lost their license. I threw out all meds and never looked back. — Betty

  3. Lorne Goodale February 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    I am constantly reading about grapes being one fruit with the most pesticides applied and yet you include it in your selection of healthy foods. You also included tomatoes. I was a tomato lover from birth and find the changes in tomatoes nothing less than disgusting. I no longer buy tomatoes for a number of reasons. They have less flavor, less juice, they are not completely developed inside and are as hard as rocks.Whether they are healthy or not is something that I dont know but I do know that they are not at all what tomatoes used to be.

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