Impact Of GM Crops On Pesticide, Herbicide Use

Farms that grow genetically modified and engineered crops have become more common in many agricultural areas in the US as well as other countries in the Americas. The promise of such plants providing higher yield as well as having lesser chemical footprints in the environment seems to have been its main selling points. But after more than a decade since GM crops have been introduced into commercial farming, its impact should now be more clearly seen. And it seems that some of the studies may show a dismal outlook so far.

Although the main intent why GM crops were first being developed was to improve yields as well as make farming a more sustainable industry in many ways, its impact recently may be showing a somehow opposite result. One of the reasons why some types of GM crops were developed was mainly to reduce the use of harmful pesticides in the environment. This objective has somehow been met with some GM crops as shown by some studies made on the subject. Unfortunately, this achievement may have brought about another consequence- while pesticide use were generally lessened with the use of GM crops such as Bt cotton and corn, the use of herbicides increased, eventually increasing its negative environmental footprint rather than decreasing it. Overall, pesticide use surprisingly increased when using GM crops instead of reducing it.

According to a report on the impact of GM crops on pesticide use on its first 13 years, a 2009 report indicates that there was an overall increase of pesticide use by 318.4 million pounds over the 13 years that GM crops have been used. While Bt corn and cotton showed substantial reductions in pesticide use, other GM crops were not as efficient. Herbicide tolerant GM plants and other Bt seeds were not up to par as they showed increased use of herbicides and pesticides.

The increase in pesticide use was mainly attributed to herbicide tolerant plants with weeds that developed resistance to the engineered herbicide in the said plants. As the resistance developed, farmers needed to use more and more pesticides in order to control them. Farmers now have to deal with more and more resistant weeds which may further add to their headaches than when they were using natural crops. The said report was based on the 2009 study conducted by Dr Charles Benbrook.


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