While the application of agricultural chemicals is highly mechanized in industrial countries, the same cannot be said for developing countries, where most applications are done through human labor using hand held applicators.
The application of insecticides must be done as the plants grow and mature, through the use of backpack sprayers, resulting in skin absorption of chemical residues. Exposures to chemicals such as this result in sickness of the person applying the chemicals, known as pesticide poisoning. GM crops, particularly Bt cotton, [have] resulted in significant reductions in pesticide poisoning cases due to reduced applications and reduced levels of insecticide exposure. Reductions in farmer pesticide poisonings have been quantified in China, India, Pakistan and South Africa.
While millions of farmers growing Bt cotton are experiencing reduced incidences of pesticide poisoning, all of the estimated 17 million farmers growing GM crops globally have reduced chemical exposures. Certainly, the reduced rates of pesticide poisoning, possibly in excess of 100 million cases, is a vital statistic of the benefits of GM crops, but perhaps the most significant is the contribution to improved mental health from farmers, especially those in India.
Suicide is a devastating part of agriculture, to which no country is immune and the observed plateauing and now reduction in Indian farmer suicide rates is a benefit that simply cannot be surpassed. By allowing cotton farmers to be more profitable, Bt cotton has allowed tens of thousands of Indian cotton farmers to have more options and opportunities to continue farming. The true benefit of GM crops can be measured through the thousands of family members that no longer have to deal with the anguish and grief suicide causes.
Read full, original article: The Human Health Benefits from GM Crops