The Benefits of Genetically Modified Crop

The most obvious benefit is yield increase. In 2010, the report estimates, the world’s corn crop was 31 million tons larger and the soybean crop 14 million tons larger than it would have been without the use of biotech crops. The direct effect on farm incomes was an increase of $14 billion, more than half of which went to farmers in developing countries (especially those growing insect-resistant cotton).

[T]he most striking benefits are environmental. The report calculates that a cumulative total of 965 million pounds of pesticide have not been used because of the adoption of GM crops. The biggest impacts are from insect-resistant cotton and herbicide-tolerant maize, both of which need fewer sprayings than their conventional equivalents…The use of less fuel in farming GM crops results in less carbon-dioxide emission…the GM crops grown in 2010 had an effect on carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 8.6 million cars off the road.

More from Matt Ridley in the WSJ.

Comments (11)

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  1. Jimmy says:

    Advances in technology has been the saving grace of civilization.

  2. Roget says:

    The only problem is that we tend to get myopic when it comes advances in technology.

    Couple decades ago they were certain that DDT was the answer (all those commercials of them spraying the kids must mean it’s perfectly safe). Oops.

  3. Charlotte Spencer says:

    As said in the article, “Today, arguably, adopting certain new technologies is harder not just because of a policy of precaution but because of a bias in much of the media against reporting the benefits.” Piece of advise applicable in any aspect of your lives…don’t let society influence your opinion on anything you haven’t tried/experienced yourself. Try it and then decide whether it meets your needs or not…that way we can all avoid the negativity created by the media on products/services that might not be that bad after all..

  4. Alex says:

    Sounds fantastic. I’ve always been for GM foods, after testing and review of course, the only problem is getting rid of people’s knee-jerk reaction.

  5. seyyed says:

    reminds me of this article: people that prefer organic foods to GM ones don’t really know what they’re getting

  6. Robert says:

    I see the benefits, yes, but there is still a lot of controversy, especially with companies such as Monsanto. Many farmers are not fans, especially when you can’t even keep the seed yield from your crops. It’s scary territory.

  7. August says:

    “A Japanese paper… used larger samples, longer trials and accepted experimental designs, yet received virtually no notice because it found no increase in cancer in rats fed on GM crops”

    Good to see science is on GM’s side

  8. Linda Gorman says:

    If you’ve eaten soy or corn products in the US, chances are that they were from genetically modified varities. USDA estimates that 88 percent of corn and over 90 percent of soybeans are genetically modified. Most common form is for herbicide resistance.

    Farmers I know like Roundup Ready Monsanto products–cuts weed control costs and preserves soil moisture because one doesn’t have to cultivate. Has let them pretty much replace sorghum with more valuable beans because the beans can now make it through dry Augusts.

    Sure they’d rather keep a seed crop. Who wouldn’t like getting all the R&D for free?

  9. Chris says:

    Actually Roget, the ban on DDT is a prime example of junk science. Do you know how many millions of children in Africa have died from Malaria as a direct result of the US government pressuring African nations to not use DDT because of junk science? It isn’t even cutting off your nose to spite your face, more like cutting off your head to spite your nose.

    Genetic engineering will save the world, so long as environmentalism-as-religion zealots do not stand in the way. They don’t even get that in so many ways GM crops are more environmentally friendly.

    It is like with Nuke power, how many greenies have had a change of heart with nuclear power because it isn’t dirty like coal?

    GM crops require less fertilizer, less water, less acreage, less pesticides, and less herbicides. That is a very very very good thing.

    And by the way, genetic engineering is not some magical thing. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years, we just do it a little faster/better now. To even hypothesize a GM crop could cause cancer shows a base misunderstanding of…well.. biology. There is no red letter that is applied to the chemical make up of GM crops that makes them dangerous in some concise or universal way. It would all depend on the genes, and normally all that is being done is taking one gene from a plant we eat and putting it into another plant we eat. Or combining desirable attributes from two hybrids of the same plant species, like two types of corn.

  10. Jill says:

    The Malaria example is everybit as myopic.. I think it may just prove his point. Those junk scientists didn’t fully understand how interconnected systems are. Thing about unintended consequences is that they have positive and negative effects. It’s not some level 7 vegan conspiracy scheme to be concerned.

  11. Dorothy Calabrese MD says:

    A truly abundant supply of food and clean water worldwide is an answer to all our prayers. No one wants to see anyone, particularly babies and children, with kwashiorkor or marasmus, surrounded by flies dying in 3rd world countries.

    On the other end of the spectrum is the need of outliers. GM foods have been and continue to be a wildcard for me and my patients with severe food, mold and chemical allergies.

    Our CA Prop 37 food labeling initiative needs support no matter how “imperfect.” There are reasonable grumblings about the added regulation and expense for the labeling. There is no free marketplace when we are blindfolded as to what we are actually buying.

    There are already too many medically-impacted subpopulations, too many GM foods already in the marketplace. . . too variables for the science purists to invoke the battle cry of mandatory evidence-based medicine – EBM – proof beyond all doubt. Labeling will not answer these concerns.

    So, we, the severely food, mold and chemically allergic continue to eat very simply – particularly fresh foods that generally have no labels, where we depend a lot on the buyer at the local market. We challenge new foods individually and repeat the successful challenges with more careful repeat challenges, so as to avoid the unexpected land mine. . . throat closing. . .anaphylactic shock. . .the catastrophes that only careful diet and successful immunotherapy can mitigate against.

    CA Prop 37 is on our November ballot. It will give significant competitive advantage to our CA food suppliers so they can simply thrive – for those of us who really need them to survive in a rapidly changing food production market. Arrowhead Mills, Alta Dena etc. are truly dedicated to going the extra mile to produce cleaner, nutritious foods.

    Dorothy Calabrese MD
    Allergy & Immunology San Clemente CA