Genetic modification reduces crop productivity

I haven’t posted anything about GM foods for a while, which is surprising considering that it’s one of my pet topics. I was a little disappointed at the lack of interest in my poll on whether people are happy to eat GM foods or not. The number of responses was only about 30% of the number of responses to the poll on evolution vs creation. This demonstrated to me that people don’t have strong opinions about GM foods, which is quite disappointing. The results however, matched the results from other surveys which are quoted in articles on this topic. 60% of people said that they would not eat GM foods if they had a choice. 15% said they were not sure, which left only 25% of people who were happy to consume GM foods.

People who are pro-GM argue that GM crops are necessary because they have higher yields and we will need the food to feed the ever growing world population. One might forget that GM crops have not been developed to have higher yields, they have been developed to be resistant to herbicides. In addition, GM crops need to be grown in perfect conditions. In other words they need plenty of water and the right weather conditions. When they conditions are not optimal, the yield are far below the conventionaly bred, drough resistant crops.

Some new and very interesting information had been published regarding GM crop yields. This is an extract from the article:

He grew a Monsanto GM soybean and an almost identical conventional variety in the same field. The modified crop produced only 70 bushels of grain per acre, compared with 77 bushels from the non-GM one. The GM crop – engineered to resist Monsanto’s own weedkiller, Roundup – recovered only when he added extra manganese, leading to suggestions that the modification hindered the crop’s take-up of the essential element from the soil. Even with the addition it brought the GM soya’s yield to equal that of the conventional one, rather than surpassing it. The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.

The rest of the article is packed with more interesting information. It ends off with a reference to another important study, the results of which were recently released. This study was performed by the IAASTD, a panel of independent experts and scientists convened by the UN to look at the global problems of hunger and food:

Last week the biggest study of its kind ever conducted – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development – concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger. Professor Bob Watson, the director of the study and chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when asked if GM could solve world hunger, said: “The simple answer is no.”

I have appended the relevant links below.


4 responses to “Genetic modification reduces crop productivity”

  1. Thanks for that link JP, it’s a very good article which tackles some important questions regarding this whole ‘green living’ trend, including why we should even bother to do our little bit.

    Whilst the idea of growing your own food is really a small part of the article, there is no denying that it is the most effective carbon footprint reducing action in our arsenal.

    I believe that apart from reducing our carbon footprint, growing your own food has many other benefits not only to your health but also to your mental and spiritual well being. I think that being separated by many degrees from the source of our food has a profound impact on our perspective of our world.

  2. Coincidentally, Urban Sprout just posted an article on GM foods which is worth checking out.

  3. Thanks for the link Dax. GM is such a scam, after so many years of research and marketing all farmers have is Roundup resistant and Bt engineered grains, which as outlined in the articles above produce LESS YIELD! What a total waste of money, time, resources etc

    The purported benefits have failed to materialise, pests and weeds have evolved to become resistant to both roundup and Bt, and we’re left with a contaminated food supply. The only thing monsanto has succeeded in is reducing crop diversity (greater monocultures) and making huge corporate profits at the expense of farmers around the world.