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Originally published August 9 2014

Bad to worse: Texas seeks to unleash dangerous banned pesticides to kill GMO super weeds infesting cotton

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Is the state of Texas about ready to make a bad situation worse regarding GMO-created super weeds? It would seem so, based on recent reports.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently requesting comments regarding a petition filed by the Texas Department of Agriculture, which is seeking permission to use the very hazardous herbicide propazine to kill herbicide-resistant weeds that have become an infestation for cotton grown in the state.

The state department of agriculture has declared the infestation an emergency and as such is requesting to use hundreds of thousands of pounds of the toxic chemical on up to three million acres of farmland being used to grow cotton crops.

"This request clearly demonstrates that herbicide-resistant crops - by generating an epidemic of resistant weeds - lead directly to increased use of hazardous chemicals," said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety. "EPA should reject this request."

A persistent compound

The problem is that Texas agriculture officials are making a trade-off: one bad product for a bad outgrowth of badly utilized GMO crops.

Propazine is a human carcinogen, according to studies, and thus its use as a pesticide is very restricted. In fact, it is listed on the EPA's list of particularly hazardous agricultural chemicals. EPA has found that propazine, like atrazine, is an endocrine disruptor, which means it disrupts hormonal systems; as prior research has shown, when fed to pregnant rats, it causes their young to be born with defects.

What's more, propazine is a persistent compound; it takes years to break down, and it has been detected in both surface and ground waters. Indeed, because of these hazards, the European Union has banned it.

According to the website Organic Connections which reported on the petition:

Granting the emergency request to use propazine to kill glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed, would lead to a 10-fold increase in the use of the toxic herbicide, from just 20,000 to 50,000 lbs. in 2010 and 2011 to 280,000 pounds per year.

"Herbicide-resistant crops lead to increased herbicide use and this is just the beginning," added Freese. "Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and the other pesticide-seed giants have developed a host of genetically engineered crops that will trigger a huge spike in the use of toxic weed-killers. This is hazardous to farmers, to consumers and to the environment."

Atrazine is also toxic

Continuing, Freese said: "USDA and EPA need to do their job of protecting American citizens and agriculture by rejecting this request. They should also stop these companies' from introducing more pesticide-promoting, genetically engineered crops."

Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, which is also known as pigweed, is one of 14 glyphosate-resistant weed species that have been generated by intensive use of glyphosate with Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically engineered to withstand repeated dousing with the herbicide.

The state of Texas' three million acres of cotton represent about one-quarter of the United States' annual production.

For more than a half-century, North American farmers have been spraying atrazine, an herbicide, on their crops -- most notably corn -- in the millions of pounds per year.

This widespread use of the weed killer has also created no small amount of runoff, ensuring that atrazine winds up in lakes, streams and, on occasion, even drinking water, according to a recent report by Global News.

"Atrazine is the number one contaminant found in drinking water in the U.S. and probably globally[,] probably in the world," University of California-Berkeley scientist Tyrone Hayes told the news organization.

"In areas where atrazine is used extensively, it (or its dealkylated metabolites) is one of the most frequently detected pesticides in surface and well water. Atrazine contamination has been reported in British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan," adds Health Canada.

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