Results tagged “biotech” from onegoodmove

GM Crops can Benefit Farmers

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Unlike the argument recently put forward by Daniel Church, three reports published this month have documented the benefits of GM crops around the world. A review of peer-reviewed surveys of farmers worldwide who are using the technology compared to farmers who continue to plant conventional crops, published last week in Nature Biotechnology, found that by and large farmers have benefited. Another report released last week by the National Research Council in the US concluded that many American farmers have achieved more cost-effective weed control and reduced losses from insect pests. And a survey of farmers in Brazil, which is a leader in global adoption of GM crops, shows benefits for soybean, cotton and corn growers. New technologies, such as Bt aubergine, promise additional gains to farmers if allowed for commercial release, despite the debate inspired by a recent moratorium in India.

Last year, 14 million farmers in 25 countries grew GM crops commercially, over 90% of them small farmers in developing countries, according to ISAAA. I've been studying the impacts of GM crops for the past 12 years. Given the growth in adoption rates around the world and the increasing number of studies that have been done to assess the impact of the technology on farmers, I was interested in looking at how the results of all these studies stacked up. In my review of global farmer surveys, results from 12 countries indicate that most surveyed farmers have increased yields, decreased costs and improved economic performance. The benefits were found to be greatest for the mostly small farmers in developing countries. The average yield improvements for developing countries range from 16% for insect-resistant corn to 30% for insect-resistant cotton, with an 85% yield increase observed in a single study on herbicide-tolerant corn. On average, developed-country farmers' reported yield increases range from no change for herbicide-tolerant cotton to a 7% increase for insect-resistant cotton.

It is often claimed that biotech crops are more expensive for farmers. However, the evidence shows that while seed costs (including technology fees) were nearly always higher for farmers who planted GM crops, this was usually offset by decreased costs of pesticides. The combination of increased yields and decreased costs has translated to improved economic performance in nearly three-quarters of the cases studied. And the economic advantage may be even greater, as surveys have also found that farmers value additional cost savings that are not included in a traditional accounting of costs, such as management time savings, human and environmental safety and reduced yield risk.