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Didn’t they tell us that GMO crops were going to reduce pesticide use?

FoodFacts.com clearly remembers that the producers of GMO seeds used the idea of the reduced use of pesticides as the tremendous selling point for their products. Since the seeds would produce crops that were virtually resistant to the pesticides sprayed on them, crop production would increase without the dangers of pesticide residue in our food supply. So much for that theory.

It appears that a report released by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University points to an increase in pesticide use – not a decrease. To be specific during the 16 year period that was examined, pesticide use increased by 404 million pounds. To take that further it talks about that this increase is mostly because of the genetically modified crop technologies that were supposed to hold pesticide use at bay. New strains of “superweeds” and insects that have developed more immunity to the pesticides are appearing throughout U.S. farmlands.

So, while companies like Monsanto were selling the benefits of GMO technologies first introduced to the world in 1996, the actual outcome of the use of the technologies is challenging their value. The use of GMOs was supposed to make it easier for farmers as they attempted to rid their fields of both weeds and insects which reduced their crop production.

And for a while they did exactly that. Farmers had an easier time making sure that their crops weren’t hindered by weeds and bugs. But recently, new species of weeds that are resistant to both Monsanto Roundup and other strong herbicides have developed. So now farmers are having to use more and more of those products to achieve the same effect. In fact, they’ve been using about 25% more year over year. These have come to be known as “superweeds” and about a dozen different varieties have been identified.

The report notes that the annual increase in the herbicides needed to handle these new, resistant weed populations has increased from 1.5 million pounds in 1999 to about 90 million pounds in 2011.

Then, there are the bugs. Corn and cotton crops that were created specifically to ward off certain insects has actually caused a rise in insects that are resistant to even stronger insecticides.

FoodFacts.com thinks we’ve all learned about this in science class fairly early on in our education. Living things evolve to adapt to their changing environments. Weeds and insects aren’t any different than any other living things in nature, so it would make sense that as their natural environment changed, they changed along with it. Since genetically modified crops now represent the bulk of agriculture in the U.S., we can probably expect to see this trend continuing.

We have to wonder how the advanced science responsible for the creation of GMO technologies failed to include consideration of a fact we all learned back in grade school. And we want to note that we now have a pretty consistent stream of research being released that in one way or another points out that genetic engineering of our food supply was probably best left in the lab, far away from our farmland.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/usa-study-pesticides-idUSL1E8L202I20121002

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