The Intriguing Link Between GM Crops And Increased Herbicide Use

Dealing with the GMO debate has been more confusing than ever, if not frustrating to understand. While proponents of GMO say that it offers more benefits than good, opponents say otherwise. This can be utterly confusing for those who are on the sidelines trying to make sense of it all. The problem with GMO’s and those that promote it only try to magnify the good things that it is supposed to offer to the public. They try to neglect the possible negative effects they may have on health, environment and others. While they are able to convince others, many are still skeptical. One example where GMO’s have failed is on the issue of herbicide use.

Companies that develop and promote GMO crops have said that extensive use can lead to many environmental benefits such as less use of insecticides and herbicides on plants. They say that the technology can develop and engineer crops that can tolerate herbicides that are more effective. This can lead to lesser herbicide and insecticide use down the line. However, the opposite seems to be happening, as what recent studies are able to show.

The US is considered to be the biggest adopter of GM crops as well as the technology’s largest marketer and promoter. It is not surprising since the major biotech companies in the world today are from the US. Many of today’s staple crops in the country, such as soy and corn are genetically modified. According to the USDA, around 93 percent of soy crops planted in the US are genetically engineered to withstand powerful herbicides that effectively kill the weeds that can affect total plant production. Around 73 percent of all corn planted in the US are genetically modified as well.

One of the key selling points of using these GM crops is that they will lead to lesser herbicide use. That would mean a more ecology-friendly cultivation of plants as well as lesser cultivation costs for the farmers who plant them. But recent studies made by Food and Water Watch indicate that herbicide use has actually increased with the cultivation of GM crops. By studying the data coming from USDA and EPA reports, adoption of GM crops has increased the use of herbicides over the past 9 years alone.

One major reason of the said increase is the rapid spread of “superweeds” as a result of herbicide use. It seems that the use of the powerful herbicides over time has led to some of the targeted weeds to develop a resistance to them. In order to stop them, farmers need to use more and more herbicides. It becomes a never-ending cycle where the weeds develop resistance and the farmers increasing the use of more and more powerful chemicals in order to control them. This is quite the opposite of what many biotech companies have been saying about using GM crops.

One intriguing element in this whole setup that some people may not be aware about is that the biotech companies that develop and sell the GM crops are also the same companies that make and sell the herbicides and insecticides that control the weeds. The increase in herbicide use means more sales for the agribusinesses that develop the insecticides and pesticides to control the weeds. As they develop newer and better GM crops for farmers to plant and buy, seed sales also increase. It becomes a win-win situation for the biotech companies as things worsen while the ordinary farmer is left with mounting cultivation expenses. It is quite an intriguing setup indeed.

 
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