At CSPI, we set out to answer the question of whether GE crops increase the use of pesticides, and dove into the weeds of the available data [in] our new report, “In the Weeds: Understanding the Impact of GE Crops on Pesticide Use.”
Here are our topline findings:
- GE insect-resistant crops have been associated with a significant reduction in insecticide sprays across all crops engineered with traits for insect resistance…
- Since glyphosate-tolerant crops became widely adopted in the early 1990s, use of glyphosate and overall herbicides has increased in corn, soybean, and cotton (as well as in non-GE crops like wheat and barley).
- However, trends in herbicide use are better measured by changes in toxicity (volume X toxicity) rather than by volume alone, as adoption of herbicide-tolerant crops has changed the mix of herbicides used.
- Acute (or short-term) toxicity of overall herbicide use after the introduction of GE crops decreased for all three major crops (corn, soybean, and cotton) and chronic (or long-term) toxicity of herbicides decreased by 78% in soybean, but increased by 7% in corn and by 91% in cotton.
Our report calls for caution in pesticide use going forward, noting recent trends that may threaten progress made with the adoption of GE crops.