Fact File on GM Crops By GM Watch

Organic Consumers Association

  • By GM Watch
    GM Watch, March 16, 2009

FACTS IN THE FILE 1.ARE GM CROPS TAKING OVER GLOBAL AGRICULTURE? 2.ARE GM CROPS EXPANDING IN EUROPE? 3.WHAT GM CROPS ARE BEING GROWN? 4.DO GM CROPS MATCH THE HYPE? 5.ARE GM CROPS REDUCING PESTICIDE USE? 6.WHO BENEFITS FROM GM CROPS? 7.WHO’S MILKING THE FOOD CRISIS? 8.QUOTE: SELLING THE DREAM 9.FACT FILE SOURCES

1.ARE GM CROPS TAKING OVER GLOBAL AGRICULTURE? *GM plantings make up a mere 2.4% of global agricultural crop land *nearly 80% of the global area planted to GM crops was in just three countries – the US, Argentina and Brazil *the US alone plants over 50% of the world’s GM crops *less than 3% of cropland in India and China is planted with GM crops, almost exclusively just 1 crop – GM cotton

2.ARE GM CROPS EXPANDING IN EUROPE? *in the 27 countries of the European Union, GM crop cultivation represents a mere 0.21% of agricultural land *the number of hectares of GM crops fell last year in Europe *EuropaBio inflated the figures for GM crops grown in Europe by almost a quarter to mask the decline *the area of GM crops being grown has actually fallen in Europe every year since 2005

3.WHAT GM CROPS ARE BEING GROWN? *most investment has gone into a small number of crops and traits targeted toward large-scale commercial farming *only four crops – soya, maize, cotton and canola (oilseed rape) – comprise virtually 100% of GM agriculture *GM rice, wheat, tomatoes, sweetcorn, potatoes and popcorn have all been rejected as unacceptable in the global marketplace *GM papaya cultivation in Hawaii has been declining over several years

4.DO GM CROPS MATCH THE HYPE? *none of the GM crops on the market are modified for increased yield potential *some studies show GM crops reduce yield *disease-tolerant GM crops are practically non-existent *the GM industry has not marketed a single GM crop with enhanced nutrition, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance or any of the other ‘beneficial’ traits long-promised by the industry *there are no commercially available GM crops designed for biofuels

5.ARE GM CROPS REDUCING PESTICIDE USE? *almost all GM crops involve just 2 traits, mainly just one trait – herbicide tolerance *herbicide tolerance is found in over 80% of all GM crops planted worldwide *GM crops have contributed substantially to increased pesticide use  *most new GM crop varieties are also pesticide-promoting *GM crops have caused an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds *this is encouraging the use of more toxic petsicides, including ones banned in some European countries

6.WHO BENEFITS FROM GM CROPS? *the real beneficiaries are the GM companies which profit from patents, expensive GM seeds, and increased pesticide sales *Monsanto is the world’s largest seed firm *Monsanto holds a near monopoly in the biotech “traits” incorporated in GM seeds *Monsantofoodasweapon is the world’s fifth largest pesticide firm *Monsanto markets Roundup, the world’s biggest selling pesticide *Monsanto controls roughly 60% of the market for glyphosate (the active ingredient of Roundup) *Roundup is used in conjunction with Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready seeds’

7.WHO’S MILKING THE FOOD CRISIS? *The World Bank attributes 75% of global food price inflation to “biofuels” *Monsanto has been at the heart of the “biofuels” lobby, particularly the lobby for corn ethanol *The price of Monsanto’s GM triple-stack corn will reportedly increase by around 35% in 2009 – by $95-100 per bag, to top $300 per bag *The average price for soybean seed, the largest GM crop in the US, has risen by more than 50% in just two years from 2006 to 2008 – from $32.30 to $49.23 per planted acre  *Retail prices for Roundup herbicide  have increased from just $32 per gallon in December 2006 to $45 per gallon a year later, to $75 per gallon by June 2008 – a 134% price hike in less than two years

8.QUOTE: SELLING THE DREAM “All those dreams… the blind will see, the lame will walk… has turned out to be science fiction. They are basically chemical companies selling more chemicals. They’ve been able to spread these herbicide-promoting plants around because it is more convenient for farmers who can just mass-spray their crops. But they’ve given absolutely nothing to the consumer while causing more chemical pollution and contamination.” — Andrew Kimbrell, lawyer and executive director of the Center for Food Safety (USA) https://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8854

For more, go here.

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Clare Swinney

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Clare Swinney