The United States Department of Agriculture on Thursday approved Monsanto\u0026#039;s controversial herbicide-resistant genetically modified strains of soybean and cotton, in a move that critics say is a bow to the powerful biotechnology industry, at the expense of human and environmental health.The green-light is \u0022simply the latest example of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology industry and dependence upon chemical solutions,\u0022 Food \u0026amp; Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter declared in a press statement. \u0022This continues the disturbing trend of more herbicide-tolerant crop approvals taking place under President Obama’s watch.\u0022Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman of the Pesticide Action Network echoed Hauter\u0026#039;s concerns, calling the new genetically modified crops \u0022the latest in a slew of bad ideas\u0022 and a sign of the USDA\u0026#039;s \u0022allegiance to the largest pesticide corporations.\u0022The U.S. Department of Agriculture\u0026#039;s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Thursday granted \u0022nonregulated status for Monsanto Company’s (Monsanto) soybeans and cotton that are resistant to certain herbicides, including one known as dicamba.\u0022 The biotechnology giant still awaits the Environmental Protection Agency\u0026#039;s approval of the new herbicide, which contains both dicamba and glyphosate, designed to accompany the resistant strain.But food and environmental safety advocates warn that the corresponding increase in herbicide use is dangerous to the ecosystem. As the Center for Food Safety points out, dicamba has been linked in epidemiology studies to \u0022increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects in their male offspring.\u0022 First approved in 1967, dicamba seeps through the environment, causing damage to crops and flowering plants and polluting waterways.Furthermore, herbicides give rise to resistant weeds, leading the development of new herbicides, accompanied by resistant genetically engineered crop strains. Critics charge that, rather that embark on an endless cycle of pumping chemicals and genetically modified crops into the environment, fostering a \u0022pesticide treadmill,\u0022 regulators should take the long-term well-being of the ecosystem into account and change the status quo.The USDA\u0026#039;s green-light follows the Environmental Protection Agency\u0026#039;s approval in October of Dow AgroSciences\u0026#039; herbicide Enlist Duo, which farmers and scientists warn threatens human and environmental health.\u0022Monsanto’s genetically-engineered dicamba-resistant crops are yet another example of how pesticide firms are taking agriculture back to the dark days of heavy, indiscriminate use of hazardous pesticides, seriously endangering human health and the environment,\u0022 said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.