Genetic crops cause huge rise in pesticides

Genetically engineered crops have caused a 383m pound rise in the use of pesticides in the US from 1996 to 2008, according to a new Organic Centre report.

Crops including, corn, soybeans and cotton have seen the ‘drastic rise’ in the use of weed killing herbicide a form of pesticide.

In its report entitled ‘Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Thirteen Years’ the Organic Centre say while insecticide use has gone down by 64m pounds.

This has led to an overall increase of 318M pounds of pesticides use over the first 13 years of commercial use.

Based upon data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), report author Dr Charles Benbrook links the increase in pesticide use on ‘herbicide-tolerant’ crops to the emergence and spread of herbicide-resistant weeds.

“The drastic increase in pesticide use with genetically engineered crops is due primarily to the rapid emergence of weeds resistant to glyphosate ,” said Dr. Charles Benbrook, report author and chief scientist of The Organic Center.

“With glyphosate-resistant weeds now infesting millions of acres, farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses, and the environmental impact of weed management systems will surely rise.”

“This report confirms what we’ve been saying for years,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Centre for Food Safety.

“The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods.

“This may be profitable for the biotech and pesticide companies, but it’s bad news for farmers, human health and the environment.”

Luke Walsh

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