Debunking Denialism: 5 environmental benefits from GMO crops

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Editor’s note: Emil Karlsson is a Swedish science communicator who runs the Debunking Denialism blog, which is dedicated to scientific skepticism and refuting pseudoscience.

#1 GMOs decrease dangerous pesticide usage

Genetically modified insect-resistant crops produce their own, highly-specific pesticide (called Bt proteins) against a specific group of pests. This means that farmers do not need to spray as much insecticide over their crops.

GMOs have reduced pesticide use by 37%….

#2 GMOs increase yield and decrease land use

Because GMOs increase yield whereas organic farming decreases yield by 34%, GMOs require substantially less land compared with conventional and organic farming to grow the same amount of food.

#3 GMOs boost no-till farming

Because herbicide-resistant crops do not require as much mechanical weed removal, GM farmers do not need to till their soil as much and some farms that grow GMOs do not engage in any tilling at all.

#4 GMOs save beneficial insects

Because insect-resistant GMOs that use the Bt proteins only affect a specific group of insect pests, it has little to no effect on any other insects.

#5 GMOs reduce carbon dioxide emissions

Because GMOs reduce pesticide usage and tilling, farms that grow GMOs require less diesel to power their tractors and thus produce less carbon dioxide.

GM farms have a smaller carbon footprint and are thus more eco-friendly in this area.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Five Ways GMOs Benefit The Environment

  • Alokin

    Minor quibble with #2: Anti-GMO folks sometimes say that GE has not resulted in promised yield increases. That tends to be a strawman because GE is not just about yield and scientists usually don’t promise anything, but a blanket statement like “GMOs increase yield and decrease land use” is not helpful in this regard because it is not true for all GMOs and to a small degree, validates anti-GMO criticism on this point. When one talks about GE and yield, I think it is always best to highlight the fact that increased yield is not the only reason why GE is such a valuable tool for agriculture; the potential for greater nutritional value, better flavor, improved shelf life, reduced food waste, disease resistance and food security for developing nations, among others, are examples of potential benefits from biotechnology that may resonate more with consumers than does a discussion of yield and the economics of farming.

    • Wackes Seppi

      To get the argument on its feet one needs to be more specific : the increase is due to a decrease in the losses sustained, etc.

      And no, we should not provide easy ammunition to the opponents.

      • Alokin

        Not sure I get your points. Are you agreeing or disagreeing with me?

        Since when is truth “easy ammunition”? In the interest of transparency, those who communicate the positive aspects of biotechnology and GE should be meticulous in representing the facts, good, bad or neutral. Misrepresenting facts or stretching the truth, however slightly, is what provides ammunition to opponents.