An article published last week by a group of health and environmental protection organizations stated that since 1996 till today, the U.S. farmers have increased dramatically the use of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton. This mean on one hand the increase of pesticides and herbicides use and on the other hand it means more chemical residues in our food.
The report was released by the nonprofit “The Organic Center (TOC)”, the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS). The group stated that even though the use of herbicide raised, insecticide use had dropped because of genetically engineered crop usage. The insecticide usage has lowered since 1996 by 64 million pounds but the pesticide usage increased with 383 million pounds in the same period leaving a deficit of increase of 319 million pounds of chemicals.
Unfortunately nobody saw up to now that biotech crops are the main factor of increased chemicals. Genetically engineered corn, soy and cotton have traits that allow them to tolerate the weed killer. And the need of those 3 crops also increased the usage of pesticides. One of the most popular of these are known as “Roundup Ready” as they can sustain treatments with Roundup herbicide. They are produced by world see industry leader Monsanto Co. They put the first biotech crop on the market, Roundup Ready soybeans, in 1996.
Biotechnology Industry Organization, of which Monsanto is a member, declared that the herbicide-resistant crops are more valuable as problematic: “Farmers are continuing to adopt these crops because they provide benefits, not liabilities and problems” said Mike Wach, BIO managing director of science and regulatory affairs. BIO officials directed the attention to an earlier report from this year made by PG Economics Ltd that said the volume of herbicides used in biotech soybean crops decreased globally by 161 million pounds (almost 4.6 percent) in the period from 1996 to 2007.
The environmental groups state that the major problem that will result from using herbicides is the creation of a “super weed” which adapts itself to the herbicides and becomes resistant to them: “With glyphosate-resistant weeds now infesting millions of acres, farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses, and the environmental impact of weed management systems will surely rise” said Charles Benbrook, chief scientist of The Organic Center. The group also pointed out that costs of the genetically engineered corn seeds will be three times higher than conventional seeds by 2010.
As a conclusion, Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety said “This report confirms what we’ve been saying for years: the most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for the biotech/pesticide companies, but it’s bad news for farmers, human health and the environment.” We should think twice before taking into consideration of using biotech seeds.