Thursday, October 20, 2011

GM Crops Have not Delivered on Promised Benefits

A new report by 20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups, representing millions of people, shows that Genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop but has vastly increased the use of chemicals and the growth of "superweeds".  According to a video posted by the UK Guardian, in an article about the Global Citizen's Report on the State of GMOs, the only entity that GMOs actually benefit is the biotech industry.  GM crops were originally marketed as a solution to world hunger, climate change, and soil erosion, but have only proven thus far to exacerbate those problems.  Not only have GM crops failed to provide benefits like drought resistance and salt tolerance like originally proposed, but they have also contributed to the increased used of synthetic chemicals to control pests and weeds.  Ironically, biotech companies had originally justified that these same crops would ultimately decrease global dependence on pesticides.

The Guardian sites two examples of GM crops' failures globally: "In China, where insect-resistant Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of pests that previously posed only minor problems have increased 12-fold since 1997. A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology found that any benefits of planting Bt cotton have been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat them.  Additionally, soya growers in Argentina and Brazil have been found to use twice as much herbicide on their GM as they do on conventional crops, and a survey by Navdanya International, in India, showed that pesticide use increased 13-fold since Bt cotton was introduced."

Biotech companies were able to successfully market their GM crops to farmers through a combination of heavy government lobbying, buying up local seed companies, and removing conventional seed from the market.  As a result, the three largest GM companies own 70% of the global seed market.  Through patenting and intellectual property laws, these companies can legally own and sell their seed for a premium price.  As Vandana Shiva, director of the Indian organisation Navdanya International, which co-ordinated the report, so eloquently put it, "Choice is being undermined as food systems are increasingly controlled by giant corporations and as chemical and genetic pollution spread. GM companies have put a noose round the neck of farmers. They are destroying alternatives in the pursuit of profit."

To read the full Guardian article, and to watch a video on the subject, check here.  To visit Navdanya International, check here.

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