- Alternet -
More genetically engineered crops means less pesticides are needed, right? That's what the big agricultural biotech companies, like Monsanto, promised. But, a report proves they're wrong. Really wrong.
First, the report was funded by a coalition of non-governmental organizations including the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Center for Food Safety, the Cornerstone Campaign, Californians for GE-Free Agriculture, Greenpeace International and Rural Advancement Fund International USA.
They found that GE corn, soybean, and cotton crops have increased the use of weed-killing herbicides in the U.S. by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008. Why? Because the idea behind many of the big GE crops is to make them resistant to herbicides, for instance Roundup Ready Soybeans won't be killed if you spray the herbicide Roundup on them. Roundup instead is suppose to kill the weeds around the plant. But, crafty little nature has outsmarted biotech again and now we've got weeds that have become resistant as well. Woops.
So, maybe the biotech industry shouldn't be making farmers pay through the nose for these seeds, eh? Here's some more info from the report about the pickle farmers are in now, thanks to GE crops:
All of us that support organic farmers could just chuckle and have the last laugh, but Big Ag still dominates the food world and they're also trying to position themselves as the solution to the world's hunger problems (which is of course crap since GE crops also don't increase yields). Of course there are other environmental and health reasons to be wary of increased herbicide use, too. So we need to push back and make sure they don't have the opportunity to prove themselves wrong again, and screw more farmers (and eaters) on the way.
The price of GE seeds has risen precipitously in recent years, and the need to make additional herbicide applications in an effort to keep up with resistant weeds is also increasing cash production costs. As an example, corn farmers planting "SmartStax" hybrids in 2010 will spend around $124 per acre for seed, almost three times the cost of conventional corn seed. In addition, new-generation "Roundup Ready" (RR) 2 soybean seed, to be introduced on a widespread basis next year, will cost 42 percent more than the original RR seeds they are displacing.
"The drastic increase in pesticide use with genetically engineered crops is due primarily to the rapid emergence of weeds resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide," said Dr. Charles Benbrook, report author and chief scientist of The Organic Center. "With glyphosate-resistant weeds now infesting millions of acres, farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses, and the environmental impact of weed management systems will surely rise."