[Editor’s note: Jayson Lusk, a food and agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University, responds to Danny Hakim’s recent article in the New York Times, which claimed that GMO crops have failed to live up to promises of increased yield and reduced pesticide use.]
…[I]f we are to believe the NYT’s story, farmers are paying these higher premiums [for GMO seeds] but aren’t getting higher yields and they’re spending more on herbicide. They must be really dumb right? I’m going to reject the dumb farmer hypothesis, which means that either the NYT’s data are wrong or there are other benefits to biotech aside from yield (or some combination of both).
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…it is pretty well acknowledged that biotech likely increased herbicide (but not pesticide) use, though it is important to consider relative toxicity of different pesticides used (which the Times article didn’t). It is also important to recognize that research shows that adoption of herbicide resistant soy has led to greater adoption of low- and no-till farming practices. And, while the biotech traits have sometimes been incorporated into varieties that were lower yielding, if you look, on average, at a large number of studies, that yield tends to increase with biotech adoption.
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I don’t know whether GMOs have fail to live up to their promise. That would require us to know something about farmers’ expectations prior to adoption. What I do know is that the vast majority of corn, soybean, and cotton farmers have continued to buy higher priced biotech seeds. Why? The NYT article makes no attempt to answer this question.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: New York Times on GMOs