Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst, wasn’t buying claims made during the hearing that herbicide-tolerant crops would lessen world hunger and boost crop productivity.

“Actually, Roundup Ready crops do not have higher yields,” testified Freese. “Basically, they are designed to save time, labor and help farmers get bigger. And there is also an increase in the use of pesticides with these crops rather than a decrease. As for the conservation tillage benefits mentioned, conservation tillage was mostly adopted before the introduction of Roundup Ready crops.”

Freese reminded the subcommittee that in 1997, just as Roundup Ready crops were being introduced, “Monsanto scientists published a paper in which they presented all the many reasons weeds were not likely to evolve resistance to glyphosate. That wasn’t the first time they’ve been wrong and, of course, they turned out to be disastrously wrong.”

Now, companies involved with crops tolerant to multiple herbicides “assure us” the technology “is the solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds. DuPont, for instance, envisions a single crop resistant to seven or more different classes of herbicides. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in resistance genes to about every herbicide imaginable, including paraquat. About half of the genetically engineered (GE) crops pending deregulation at USDA are herbicide-resistant.

“We shouldn’t let ourselves be misled once again. These new herbicide-resistant crops are the wrong response to glyphosate-resistant weeds. One reason: they simply won’t work. At best, we’ll get a short-term reprieve until nature cleverly evolves resistance to the new, multiple herbicides deployed against them.”

Freese, backing up Kucinich’s obvious leanings towards increased oversight, said, “It’s very clear that the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic is a symptom of regulatory breakdown. We have a USDA, which regulates an herbicide resistant crop and the EPA that (regulates) the herbicide. But no one regulates the combination. … It is the system — the continual use of glyphosate on Roundup Ready crops — that is responsible for the growing epidemic of resistant weeds.

“This system has been presented to farmers as self-contained, two component: seed and Roundup. And that’s the way it has been used. I’m tired of people blaming farmers for this.”

For written testimonies and more of the hearing, see hearing