The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.
Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.
An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields — food per acre — when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.Over the last 20 years pesticide use in the United States has fallen by a third, but herbicide spraying has increased by 21% — and herbicides are used in much higher volumes, so we're talking a hell of a lot of Roundup.
By contrast, in France, use of insecticides and fungicides has fallen by a far greater percentage — 65 percent — and herbicide use has decreased as well, by 36 percent.As the article notes, herbicides and pesticides are toxic by design. Many of them are based on neurotoxins like sarin, a nerve gas developed by the Nazis. These chemicals cause measurable IQ drops in children and have a major role in the catastrophic decline of pollinating insects like honeybees.
Biotech seeds cost North American farmers almost double what normal seeds cost. Farmers also have the added expense of huge quantities of weed killer that's keyed to herbicide-resistant crops. Finally, farmers cannot use seeds from GMO crops in the next year's planting: corporate giants like Monsanto have taken farmers to the Supreme Court to stop them from using a practice from the dawn of agriculture.
In the end, GMOs have not increased North American crop yields above Old Europe's. The only thing that has increased is corporate profits.