martes, junio 25, 2013

GM a failing biotechnology in modern agro-ecosystems


Posting date: June 19, 2013


Dear friends and colleagues, 

Re: GM a failing biotechnology in modern agro-ecosystems 

A new paper “Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest” published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability challenges high profile claims about the benefits of GM crops. 

Led by University of Canterbury, New Zealand researchers, the study analysed data on agricultural productivity in north America and western Europe over the last 50 years, focusing on maize, rapeseed and wheat. It found that the biotechnologies used in north American staple crop production are lowering yields and increasing pesticide use compared to western Europe. A conspicuous difference in choices is the adoption of GM seed in North America, and the use of non-GM seed in Europe.

The main conclusions are: 

* GM cropping systems have not contributed to yield gains, and appear to be eroding yields compared to the equally modern agroecosystem of Western Europe. This may be due in part to technology choices beyond GM plants themselves, because even non-GM wheat yield improvements in the US are poor in comparison to Europe. Therefore, the agricultural system (innovation and biotechnology choices) of Western Europe shows more promise of meeting future food needs than does the US system. 

* Both herbicide and insecticide use trends are increasing in the US relative to achievements in Western Europe. Hence the agricultural system of Western Europe appears to be reducing chemical inputs and thus is becoming more sustainable than the US, without sacrificing yield gains. 

* The US agricultural system continues to decline in agricultural biodiversity of staple crop germplasm and in options for non-GM and GM farmers. (A similar trend was not detected in selected European countries.) 

We reproduce below the abstract of the paper, a press release from the University of Canterbury and a briefing paper by the authors. The full journal paper is available at:

With best wishes,

Third World Network

131 Jalan Macalister

10400 Penang



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