Oct 21, 2015 • 31M

Is the Intensive Use of Herbicides on Genetically Modified Food Crops Endangering the Public's Health? A Conversation with Charles Benbrook (October 20th)

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David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: •Implementation of the Affordable Care Act •Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues •Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA •Healthcare research •Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues •Public health issues including the social determinates of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
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Beyond numerous other benefits derived by genetically modifying foods is herbicide resistance. This allows farmers the ability to control for weed growth without killing their crop, for example, corn and soybeans.  While a foreseeable unintended consequence, the increasing or intensive use of the herbicides, specifically glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the widely used product Roundup, has caused weeds to develop resistance.   As a result glyphosate is now beginning to be used in combination with another herbicide, 2,4-D, a component of the defoliant Agent Orange, under the product name Enlist Duo.  The question begged is to what extent do these herbicides, used independently and in combination, pose a public health risk.

During this 30 minute discussion Dr. Benbrook discusses in part the evolution of the use of these herbicides, the federal governments efforts to risk assess their use, the IRAC's (International Agency for Research on Cancer) recent finding these products are probable or possible human carcinogens, the pending National Academy of Sciences' report (scheduled to be published next year) and his thoughts regarding what can be done to safeguard exposed populations.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting, is a recognized expert in pest management
sytsems, pesticide use and regulation and the environmental and  public health consequences of farming system choices.  Dr. Benbrook worked in Washington, D.C. on agricultural policy issues for nearly twenty years as the agricultural staff expert on the Council for Environmental Quality, as Executive Director of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research and Foreign Agriculture for the House of Representatives and as the Executive Director for the Board on Agriculture at the National Academy of Sciences.   He also served for six years as Chief Scientist of the Organic Center and for three years as a Research Professor at Washington State University.  Dr. Benbrook holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, an undergraduate degree from Harvard and is the author of nearly three dozen peer-reviewed articles.        

The New England Journal of Medicine essay noted during this conversation, co-authored by Dr. Benbrook and Dr. Philip Landrigan and titled "GMOs, Herbicides and Public Health," is at:  http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1505660