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Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

In # 10: Communicating food science by JanelleLeave a Comment

Danny Hakim wrote “Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops” based on The New York Times ‘extensive examination of the genetic modification debate’. This article explains independent data, academic data, and industry research which compares crop yields and pesticide use of United States and Canadian agricultural practices, majority genetically modified crops, to European Union agricultural practices, where G.M. is mostly not allowed. The two continents differ greatly in their amount of pesticide use and crop yield, ultimately the results from this research reveal different outcomes than what was promised or expected of genetically modified produce.

They start with “a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that ‘there was little evidence’ that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.” The U.S. and Canada started using genetically modified crops about twenty years ago with the hope that these crops would become resistant to herbicides and insecticides, there for crop yield would be more abundant than conventional farming. According to the United States Geological Survey, although “toxins that kill insects and fungi have fallen by a third, spraying of herbicides which are used in much higher volumes, has risen by 21 percent.” The debate here is not about G.M. food being harmful, scientific information has shown no nutritional differences. The concern is about the use of pesticides and the continued research on its toxicity.

In the beginning, Monsanto, the largest seed company, presented seeds which either resisted herbicides, or resisted certain insects. Their hope was that pesticides would be of little use. As could have been expected, weeds became resistant to chemicals like Roundup, ‘Monsanto’s most popular weedkiller’. Now new chemicals are being created and sold along with seeds which are resistant to them. Comparing U.S. crop yields to Western Europe yields, “Over three decades, the trend lines between the two barely deviate. And sugar beets, a major source of sugar, have shown stronger yield growth recently in Western Europe than the United States, despite the dominance of genetically modified varieties over the last decade.”

Overall, this article proves that the debate on genetically modified crops coupled with their need for pesticides, should be a continued research topic and questioned. What are the consequences of the continued use of chemicals on our food? Yes, some pesticides may be killing the weeds, but what else is devastated by the continued use toxins in our ecosystem intended to kill?

JanelleDoubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

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