Genetically Modified Crops: Are the Herbicides Used on these Crops Harmful?

Genetically modified crops began being released in the American market in the mid-1990s. Genetically engineered crops have been with us for more than 20 years but do not seem by themselves to have any negative effects on human health. However, the herbicides used on GMCs could be an ignored health hazard.


One of the main ideas put forward for the creation of GMCs was the need to reduce the chemicals (herbicide and pesticide) used by farmers. Proponents of genetically modified crops argue that GMCs make farms more eco-friendly. Additionally, they argue that GMO seeds allow farmers to make high profits since they spend less on “inputs” (chemicals).


But according to a study that was released by Food & Water Watch, the objective of decreased chemical reliance has not come to fruition as planned. GMCs are now the number one agricultural products that are heavily treated with herbicides. In fact, the use of herbicide by farmers has substantially increased over the past years.


According to an article published in the opinions section of the New England Journal of Medicine, two of the herbicides used to treat GM crops may pose a health risk. Most of the soybeans and corn grown in the U.S. are genetically modified; this implies that all the products resulting from these crops (e.g. bean curd and soda) are also GM foods.


The two authors of the opinion article (Charles Benbrook and Dr. Philip Landrigan) argued that several studies have associated cancer risk to the herbicides (particularly, glyphosate) used on genetically modified crops. They also added that they believe that further studies should be done on the Enlist Duo. However, other experts have disagreed with the opinion citing that glyphosate is safer than other chemicals used in the past.