Have GMO crops cut herbicide use? A tale of two conflicting studies

field flag meaning technology W A e

We have planted millions of acres of genetically-engineered (GE) crops, a vast majority of which are resistant to herbicides. In the U.S., we’ve collected lots of herbicide sales and usage data …. So we should be able to simply look at the herbicide data before and after GE crops were developed, and infer an answer. Right?

[Editor’s note: Read Dr. Andrew Kniss’ original blog post here.]

A few years ago, Charles Benbrook did just that and published his results in a paper that summarized pesticide data between 1996-2011 …. However, Graham Brookes looked at similar data spanning almost the exact same time period and also published his results in a paper.

How [could] two scientists could look at almost the same data, but come to such drastically different conclusions? How could the same simple question lead one person to conclude that herbicide use increased by 239 million kg, while another person concludes that herbicide use was reduced by 225 million kg?

Related article:  FDA approves GMO potato that resists blight that caused Irish potato famine

I don’t think it is possible to say for sure what the impact of GE crops has been. My personal opinion …. is that we’ve probably seen a net benefit with respect to both toxicity and the evolution of ‘superweeds.’ And one could even make an argument that adoption of GE crops has slowed the increase in herbicide use. But …. getting an answer to this question is anything but simple.

Read full, original article: Have genetically engineered herbicide-resistant crops increased or decreased herbicide use?

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend