GE Crops Have Increased Pesticide Use
The amount of pesticides used has increased in the first 13 years since the commercialization of GE crops in the US .
A new report published by a group of environmental and consumer organizations which looked at the impact of the adoption of GE corn, soybean and cotton on pesticide use in the US, found that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, with 46% of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008. The rise in herbicide use comes as US farmers increasingly adopt GE herbicide-tolerant corn, soy and cotton; this intense selection pressure from excessive reliance on glyphosate especially has triggered weed shifts to species more tolerant of glyphosate, as well as evolution of glyphosate-resistant biotypes.
While herbicide use has shot up, insecticide use has dropped by 64 million pounds, but that still leaves a net overall increase of 318 million pounds of pesticides, which include insecticides and herbicides, over the first 13 years of commercial use.
In 2008, GE crop acres required over 26% more pounds of pesticides per acre than those required by conventional crops. This trend is expected to continue as a result of the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
These findings dispute the claims of proponents of biotechnology that GE crops will reduce pesticide use. The brunt of this increase will be felt by many farmers in the form of increased costs, the environment due to an epidemic of resistant weeds, and human health as foods will be laced with more chemical residues.
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"Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years"
Author(s): Charles Benbrook, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist , The Organic Center
Genetically-engineered corn, soybeans, and cotton now account for the majority of acres planted to these three crops. A model was developed that utilizes official, U.S. Department of Agriculture pesticide use data to estimate the differences in the average pounds of pesticides applied on GE crop acres, compared to acres planted to conventional, non-GE varieties.
The basic finding is that compared to pesticide use in the absence of GE crops, farmers applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides over the last 13 years as a result of planting GE seeds. This difference represents an average increase of about 0.25 pound for each acre planted to a GE trait.
GE crops are pushing pesticide use upward at a rapidly accelerating pace. In 2008, GE crop acres required over 26% more pounds of pesticides per acre than acres planted to conventional varieties. The report projects that this trend will continue as a result of the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
The full report is 69 pages, and is accessible below. The Executive Summary is posted separately (15 pages). The Supplemental Tables listed in the report's Table of Contents are also posted below.
"Executive Summary" (1.44 MBs, 15 pages)
"Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years" (3.68 MBs, 69 pages)
Etiquetas: Benbrook, Third World Network