The promise of genetic modification 20 years ago – of making crops stronger, resistant to insecticides and thereby increasing crop production to feed the the world’s growing population, has proven to be less advantageous than expected, according to the United Nations. Genetically modified crops are championed by the US and Canada, and shunned by our European counterparts. GM is banned in the European Union.
In the last three decades though, corn yields in Western Europe have largely kept pace with those in the United States, without GM. So what then are the supposed benefits of genetic modification for crops?
It was believed GMC would be more immune to weedkillers and more resistant to pests, but that is not turning out to be the case. Another concern for US crops is the fact that herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties. And the United States has fallen behind Europe’s biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides.
Another promise of GMC – increasing crop production to feed the world’s increasing population, has also proven to be elusive. With world population estimates at 10 billion by the year 2050, increasing food production is of critical need. Monsanto, the world’s largest GMO, has long held out its products as a way “to help meet the food demands of these added billions,” as it said in a 1995 statement. That remains an industry mantra. That mantra has not been met yet.
With broken promises of the benefits of genetically modification, we as consumers need to be ever more vigilant and ever more vocal about the true costs and benefits of GM. Do genetically modified crops actually create more benefits than harm? From this point in time, it does not seem so.
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