What was Senator Klobuchar thinking?

March 14, 2016 email to Senator Klobuchar:

Dear Senator Klobuchar,

I was astonished to read about your GMO vote.

Minnesotans don’t like to be patronized. They do not want food businesses to tell them that food businesses know what is best for them.

Minnesotans understand that GMO crops were developed so that pesticides can be applied without killing the crop.

Concerns about pesticide use have grown exponentially in the last few years. That is not surprising. Minnesotans have read story after story about monarchs. They have read story after story about bee kills. And fish kills. And now we are hearing about the near extinction of two iconic prairie butterflies. The working assumption is, if we are losing Minnesota butterflies, it is very likely we are also losing native bees, moths and other pollinators.

Minnesotans are starting to take action. A rapidly expanding number of jurisdictions have adopted pollinator friendly resolutions for their communities. Legislators are holding pollinator forums and the attendance has been outstanding. Minnesotans are asking their elected official to do more to protect pollinators. Your GMO vote is going in the exact opposite direction.

Pesticides are getting in our drinking water. Just before Governor Dayton’s water summit, PCA issued a statement saying in part:

“(n)itrate is one of the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater and comes from sources like agricultural fertilizer and animal manure. Up to 60 percent of the groundwater samples from monitoring wells in central Minnesota are contaminated with nitrate well beyond the safe drinking water standard.”

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s own data show that where there is nitrogen in groundwater, there very likely will be pesticides. And, if there is a lot of nitrogen, then it is very likely that there will be a lot of pesticides. Nitrogen is not a perfect marker for pesticides; pesticides have been found in groundwater even when there is no nitrogen present.

The Department of Health may be able to tell us what might be a safe level of one pesticide, but where there are multiple pesticides, current science can’t tell us about the cumulative or compounding effect of pesticides even when individually some or all may be at very low levels.

This linked article provides a good summary of the known impacts and likely human risks of glyphosate. http://civileats.com/2016/03/10/the-battle-over-the-glyphosate-herbicide-heats-up-as-nearly-100-scientists-weigh-in/

The bigger problem, especially for children, is not nitrogen, it is pesticides. It must be solved. It won’t be solved by ignoring the reason that industry developed GMOs.

Jean Wagenius