Genetically-engineered corn, soybeans, and cotton now account for the majority of acres planted to these three crops. A model was developed that utilizes official, USDA pesticide use data to estimate the differences in the average pounds of pesticides applied on GE crop acres, compared to acres planted to conventional, non-GE varieties. Compared to pesticide use in the absence of GE crops, farmers applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides over the last 13 years as a result of planting GE seeds.
GE crops are pushing pesticide use upward at a rapidly accelerating pace. In 2008, GE crop acres required over 26% more pounds of pesticides per acre than acres planted to conventional varieties. The report projects that this trend will continue as a result of the rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
UPDATE January 2010: A Monsanto-funded research study echoes the results of this Organic Center report, concluding that herbicide resistance in weeds threatens the effectiveness of herbicide-tolerant GE crops.
For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields. That promise has proven to be empty, according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009. Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.
In recent years the price of genetically engineered corn, soybean, and cotton seed has risen sharply. Seed expenditures per acre are now cutting into net farm income, and transferring earnings that used to stay on the farm to the seed industry. The magnitude of the biotech and organic seed price premiums are contrasted, and impacts on gross and net farm income are estimated. Surprisingly, the biotech seed price premium is much larger than the organic seed price premium, despite the major differences in the value embedded in each.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) can have unpredictable consequences for the environment and for human health. When it comes to solving world hunger, GMOs are a dangerous step in the wrong direction. Learn more about this controversial technology, which is prohibited by organic standards.