Genetically modified (GM) crops ‘failing to keep promises’
February 13, 2008
Genetically-modified crops are not delivering on the promised benefits of increased yields or reduced pesticides, Friends of the Earth has claimed ahead of a report from the industry on the growth of GM.
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) is expected to detail the rise in GM crops and the contribution they are making to tackling world hunger and poverty.
But a Friends of the Earth report released ahead of the biotech industry’s annual announcement said damaging pesticides are on the increase as a result of widespread farming of the plants.
And rather than tackling poverty in developing countries, much of the GM crops grown – the vast majority of which are in the US and South America – are used for animal feed or for biofuels, the environmental group’s report said.
Genetically-modified soya, maize and cotton make up 95% of the total acreage of GM and none of the crops introduced so far has increased yield, or enhanced nutrition, drought-tolerance or salt-tolerance, the report said.
Because they are genetically engineered to be tolerant of pesticides they allow farmers to spray herbicides more frequently – which in turn encourages the growth of herbicide-resistant plants.
The report claims widespread take-up of GM crops resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. It also claims an emergence of weeds tolerant of the chemical have caused a 15-fold increase in the use of the herbicide between 1994 and 2005.
The herbicide is not replacing other products, Friends of the Earth said.
According to the Who Benefits from GM Crops? report, the use of the pesticide atrazine, banned in the EU because of links to health problems such as breast and prostate cancer, has increased by 12% on maize in the US from 2002 to 2005.
Friends of the Earth also claims GM products have not increased food security for the world’s poor, with none of the crops on the market modified for increasing yields.