Mainstream Scientists Finally Admit that GMOs are Environmentally Destructive

Andrew Pollack reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “Genetically engineered crops have provided ”˜substantial' environmental and economic benefits to American farmers, but overuse of the technology is threatening to erode the...

April 14, 2010 | Source: | by Keith Good, ed.

reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “Genetically
engineered crops have provided ‘substantial’ environmental and economic
benefits to American farmers, but overuse of the technology is
threatening to erode the gains, a national science advisory organization
said Tuesday in a report. [Full report available here,
additional information regarding the report is available here].

“The report is described as the first comprehensive assessment of the
impact of genetically modified crops on American farmers, who have
rapidly adopted them since their introduction in 1996. The study was
issued by the National Research Council, which is affiliated with the
National Academy of Sciences and provides advice to the nation under a
Congressional charter.

“The report found that the crops allowed farmers to either
reduce chemical spraying or to use less harmful chemicals. The crops
also had lower production costs, higher output or extra convenience,
benefits that generally outweighed the higher costs of the engineered

The Times article added that, “But Dr. Ervin [the chairman of the
committee that wrote the report], a professor of environmental
management and economics at Portland State University in Oregon, warned
that farmers were jeopardizing the benefits by planting too many
so-called Roundup Ready crops. These crops are genetically engineered to
be impervious to the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the
chemical to kill weeds while leaving the crops unscathed.

“Overuse of this seductively simple approach to weed control is
starting to backfire. Use of Roundup, or its generic equivalent,
glyphosate, has skyrocketed to the point that weeds are rapidly
becoming resistant to the chemical. That is rendering the
technology less useful, requiring farmers to start using additional
herbicides, some of them more toxic than glyphosate.”

reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Biotechnology
is controversial among environmental activists, who worry that pollen
from genetically modified crops can spread unwanted traits to organic
farms. But the independent scientific group concluded that
genetically modified crops on balance do less damage to the environment
than conventional crops.”

“The authors of the report warned, however, that farmers
would undermine the effectiveness of herbicide-tolerant crops if they
didn’t begin using them more prudently. Several weeds in the
Southern U.S. have already developed resistance to glyphosate,
apparently because of repeated applications,” the Journal article said.

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris
reported yesterday that, “The focus of the study was to
examine the effect of biotechnology on farm economics and
sustainability. Reducing runoff into waterways, ‘may be the
single-largest contribution of GE (genetically engineered) crops’ in
improving the environment and creating more sustainable production
practices, said one of the researchers, LaReesa Wolfenbarger, a
biology professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, at a press
conference broadcast over the internet.”

The DTN article added that, “Further, at least two pests have
developed resistance to bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt corn and cotton
varieties, though the economic and agronomic impacts of those resistant
pests have been minimal thus far.

“Researchers recommended stakeholder groups and companies more
aggressively examine the issues of increased weed resistance to
glyphosate and other herbicides that may have less impact on the

noted yesterday at The Des Moines Register Online that, “Last
year, farmers used biotech seed for 86 percent of the corn, 91 percent
of the soybeans and 88 percent of the cotton they planted nationwide
last year, according to the Agriculture Department.

“John Heisdorffer, who farms west of Washington, Ia., is typical of
many growers. He said saves on fuel and herbicide costs because he needs
less of both, because Roundup replaces several chemicals he used
previously and doesn’t have to be applied as frequently as they did. He
also gets a discount of as much as $4 an acre on crop insurance because
the biotech varieties are considered more reliable.”