According to revelations made by U.S scientists, GM crops have led to the unfortunate consequence of hugely increased use of pesticides over the last 16 years. Farmers have no choice but to use dangerous chemicals to fight superweeds.
GM crops were sold to the farmers on the promise that they would reduce the need to be treated with powerful chemicals thereby dramatically undermining the case for adopting crops.
The study conducted by the team at Washington University found that the weight of chemicals used on US farms went on to rise (except insecticide use which actually decreased by 56 million kilos) since the GM crops were introduced in 1996, by a whopping 183 million kilos, while herbicide use increased by 239 million kilos.
GM crops are acclaimed to be immune against weedkillers. In other words, GM crops can thrive while weeds are wiped out. But, weeds have actually thrived and developed immunity against chemicals, swarming farmers’ fields. Up to 3-meter tall ragweeds and pigweeds are especially the biggest threats with their rate of growth at more than one inch a day.
The desperate farmers are using a cocktail of dangerous chemicals to contain the weeds.
Some of the GM plants, including some species of corns are modified with Bt toxin to kill predator insects, but the insects are gradually developing immunity against the toxin.
According to Professor Charles Benbrook, leader of the University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources and Study: “Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GM crops and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent."
“Things are getting worse, fast. In order to deal with rapidly spreading resistant weeds, farmers are being forced to expand use of older, higher-risk herbicides."
“To stop corn and cotton insects from developing resistance to Bt, farmers planting Bt crops are being asked to spray the insecticides that Bt corn and cotton were designed to displace.”
Monsanto had no answer to the findings.
According to BBC, GM crops were found harmful to the environment in several ways. They could reduce weeds and seeds available to insects and birds. The UK Farm-Scale Evaluations, a British investigation costing £6 million (GBP), was described as the biggest experiment of its kind. Of the three types of engineered crops – a type of oilseed rape, a sugar beet and a maize – only the maize was approved for commercialization under strict conditions.
Despite several well known and documented negative impacts of GM, it is unfortunate that in the war between organic & GM crops, organic crops are clearly losing the battle.