Just in time for the New Year, the USDA has approved MON 87460, drought resistant corn. Approval discussions began last May upon fears that droughts could cripple the U.S. crop in a country where 40 percent of crop loss insurance is collected as a result of moderate to major drought.
Monsanto sees a high demand looming and dollar signs as a result, especially considering that corn growing regions lose 15 percent of their crops worldwide each year due to drought. Monsanto will begin crop trials in the Great Plains region of the U.S.
But tests have found Monsanto’s new genetically modified breed ineffective at its intended purpose. In fact, the USDA found that the crop didn’t perform well according to an article in The New York Times, which said that "[t]he reduced yield [trait] does not exceed the natural variation observed in regionally-adapted varieties of conventional corn."
Gambling on Monoculture Crops
But it’s not just an ineffective crop that creates a problem. It’s that the USDA is missing the ball entirely by deregulating another GM seed variety. Rather than continuing to approve monoculture crops for large scale production, we need to head back to our roots. The only way that farmers can adapt to drought conditions, which could occur more frequently as global warming looms, is by moving away from monoculture crops entirely. Just as you vary your investment portfolio, the same holds true for farming. Farmers are gambling on one or a few crops to remain intact even as our climate begins to change.
Depending on seeds of one or a few seed companies to feed the world is bad business and what’s more, these drought resistant seeds take farming out of the hands of the farmer entirely. Farmers can't even replant them because the seeds are patented. What happened to the intricacies of farming a wide variety of food crops?
Not Tested on Humans
This quick move toward deregulation isn’t just bad for our farming system, it’s also unclear what the health repercussions will be. And currently, the USDA has no standard for labeling GM crops, so you likely don’t even know when you’re eating them.