GM crops not so great after all

#1
I've always been a little suspicious of the whole GM crop lobby. It seems they are not the great breakthrough they were claimed to be;

Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.

Professor Barney Gordon, of the university's department of agronomy, said he started the research – reported in the journal Better Crops – because many farmers who had changed over to the GM crop had "noticed that yields are not as high as expected even under optimal conditions". He added: "People were asking the question 'how come I don't get as high a yield as I used to?'"
Full details in the Independent.
 
#2
I've always been fo the opinion that the commercial driver for GM was more developing inbuilt controls to supply and patent protection rather than any benefit to consumers. Looks like I didn't need all that bacofoil after all!

As an aside, I wonder if this has anything to do with the bees dying off?
 
#3
smartascarrots said:
As an aside, I wonder if this has anything to do with the bees dying off?
Most GM crops are toleant to one or two herbicides, which are safe even if you spray them directly onto bees.

The GM crops that produce a protein that kills caterpillars, use a gene from a bacteria that is sprayed into beehives to kill insect pests that eat bee larvae etc, so that doesn't kill bees either.

The problem with yields is that it's easier (= quicker) to breed a new higher-yielding conventional variety, than it is to breed a higher-yielding variety and then put a new gene into it. It should be cheaper and easier to grow the crop (fewer, cheaper sprays to control weeds and/or pests), so overall the farmer wins, but I can believe that yields will go down.
 
#4
The real story's a lot more complex than a simple headline, of course, as it notes in the text: only the results from a couple of soyabean crops seem to have been quantified, nothing is said about the other most widely-grown crops, wheat and maize. GM isn't just produced for quantity, either; a number of other traits are important, including the ability to grow with minimal water or on different soil characteristics.

Of course, the fact that Monsanto builds in non-reproductivity might have a bearing, too...
 
#5
Whiskybreath said:
Of course, the fact that Monsanto builds in non-reproductivity might have a bearing, too...
Where? I know they wanted to (while I was working for them, co-incidentally) but it's too difficult and to unpopular, so AFAIK it's never made it into any commercial crop.
 
#6
Just nasty rumour, I agree, but unfortunately you'll be hard pressed to find an African Minister of Agriculture who doesn't believe it.
 
#7
Whiskybreath said:
Just nasty rumour, I agree, but unfortunately you'll be hard pressed to find an African Minister of Agriculture who doesn't believe it.
Fair one. :)
 

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