Landrigan and Benbrook get it wrong on GMOs in New England Journal of Medicine

| | August 21, 2015
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In an opinion piece was published on August 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine, written by Dr. Philip Landrigan (M.D.) and Dr. Charles Benbrook (PhD), the authors cite concerns with two herbicides (glyphosate and 2,4-D), and use those concerns … to support a call for labeling of GMO foods. But the herbicide 2,4-D can already be used on a vast number of crops that are not GMO (including corn, wheat, barley, and oats), so the GMO label would provide no indication about use of this herbicide. If the authors are truly concerned about the use of herbicides, their focus here on GMO crops seems misplaced. Some GMO crops significantly reduce pesticide use, so citing herbicide use concerns for a broad “GMO” label is counterproductive.

Dr. Landrigan and Dr. Benbrook make several misleading statements, including that the Enlist Duo registration decision by EPA “failed to consider ecologic impact, such as effects on the monarch butterfly and other pollinators.” The EPA provides all relevant regulatory decision information on its website, including the environmental risk assessment documents. Just one of the risk assessment documents for Enlist Duo contains over 100 pages of ‘ecologic impact’ data and interpretation, including environmental fate, degradation, aquatic and terrestrial organism toxicity and exposure estimates. The EPA also explicitly addresses how Enlist Duo will affect pollinators on an FAQ page dedicated to the Enlist Duo registration. 

Another misleading statement is that the “risk assessment gave little consideration to potential health effects in infants and children, thus contravening federal pesticide law.” This claim was also addressed explicitly by EPA in their FAQ document. EPA concluded that after incorporating a 10X safety factor for children, and based on a “complete and very robust” data set, that the “risks were still acceptable for all age groups ….

There is nothing new presented here. And in fact, the information that is presented doesn’t really support the actions Dr. Landrigan and Dr. Benbrook are proposing.

Read full, original post: GMOs, Herbicides, and the New England Journal of Medicine

Related article:  Viewpoint: Blame activist social media for Europe's anti-science crusade against glyphosate
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