The news you're not supposed to know...

Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand the World
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted Apr 24 2009, 3:43 AM Category: Science/Technology Source: Fencepost Print

GE Fails To Boost US Crop Yields: Study

Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialisation, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase crop yields in the United States, while traditional breeding continues to deliver better results, according to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The UCS is a non-profit group founded in 1969 by faculty and students of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that advocates practical policy based solely on science.

On Wednesday the group released its report ailure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops," which the UCS says is the first study to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies.

It says that for years, the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields, but its research has shown that this is not the case.

A biologist in the UCS Food and Environment Program and author of the report, Doug Gurian-Sherman, says that the biotech industry has spent billions on research and public relations hype, but genetically engineered food and feed crops haven't enabled American farmers to grow significantly more crops per acre of land.

He says in comparison, traditional breeding continues to deliver better results.

The study reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States. Based on those studies, the UCS report concluded that genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields. Insect-resistant corn, meanwhile, has improved yields only marginally. The increase in yields for both crops over the last 13 years, the report found, was largely due to traditional breeding or improvements in agricultural practices.

The UCS report comes at a time when food price spikes and localised shortages worldwide have prompted calls to boost agricultural productivity, or yield - the amount of a crop produced per unit of land over a specified amount of time.

The UCS says that biotechnology companies maintain that genetic engineering is essential to meeting this goal, with Monsanto currently running an advertising campaign in the United States that warns of an exploding world population and claiming that its "advanced seeds significantly increase crop yields".

The UCS report debunks that claim, concluding that genetic engineering is unlikely to play a significant role in increasing food production in the foreseeable future.

The biotechnology industry has been promising better yields since the mid-1990s, but the "Failure to Yield" report documents that the industry has been carrying out gene field trials to increase yields for 20 years without significant results.

"After more than 3,000 field trials, only two types of engineered genes are in widespread use, and they haven't helped raise the ceiling on potential yields," said Margaret Mellon, a microbiologist and director of UCS's Food and Environment Program.

"This record does not inspire confidence in the future of the technology," she says.

The report recommends that the US Department of Agriculture, state agricultural agencies, and universities increase research and development for proven approaches to boost crop yields. Those approaches should include modern conventional plant breeding methods, sustainable and organic farming, and other sophisticated farming practices that do not require farmers to pay significant upfront costs.

The report also recommends that US food aid organisations make these more promising and affordable alternatives available to farmers in developing countries.

"If we are going to make headway in combating hunger due to overpopulation and climate change, we will need to increase crop yields.

"Traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down," said Dr Gurian-Sherman.

Following the release of the report, Kimberly Pfeifer, the Head of Research at Oxfam America, said that the UCS offers a useful report for emphasising and demonstrating what is commonplace knowledge: that genetically engineered crops to date do not increase intrinsic yield, that GE crops are limited in improving yield (with the exception of Bt varieties), and that other approaches have demonstrated improvements to yield.

She says that in the report the UCS rightly questions why GE technology receives such privileged attention over other approaches.

"The report is also timely for highlighting the shift in focus and the concerns that come with it. That research and development in GE crops is shifting focus to address the current crises capturing the attention of policy-makers and the publicamely, the food prices crisis and climate changehere is a focus on crops to deal with drought tolerance, flooding, salinity, etc. But the jury is still out and we are not sure how soon this will change. Additionally, we will need to be cautious due to new complexities.

"While Oxfam does not have a position on GE crops, it has publicly expressed in regards to food aid that governments and citizens receiving food aid have a right to decide whether they want to accept or not GE crops (foodstuffs) and if not they have a right to receive non-GE food assistance.

"From such a stance it would follow that supporting multiple local options in agricultural methods as UCS recommends for improving food availability in developing countries is a sound approach. Developing countries should have the policy space to make such decisions as they determine," she said.

(c) NewsRoom 2009

Latest Science/Technology
- Bezos Beats Musk
- Sorry, George Carlin, Plastic Is Biodegradable
- First of its Kind Study Finds Virtually no Driving Impairment Under the Influence of Marijuana
- Should We Fear the Era of Driverless Cars?
- Bad News: Supreme Court Refuses to Review Oracle v. Google API Copyright Decision
- Lexus Says They've Invented World's First Hoverboard
- The Migration of Guns from Physical to Digital
- The Ingenious Design of the Aluminum Beverage Can

No Comments Posted Add Comment

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Donald Sutherland Reveals The Real Meaning Of The Hunger Games - 11/27Drone Pilots Have Bank Accounts and Credit Cards Frozen by Feds For Exposing US Murder - 11/27World's Most 'Adorable' Drug Kingpin Is Actually The Daughter of Texas DEA Head Honcho - 11/26Pot Breathalyzers: Coming Soon to A Drug War Near You - 11/27City Settles After Police Chief Arrested Man For Calling Public Official A 'Liar' - 11/27Georgia Sheriff Puts Up Sign Warning People Who Disagree With Him About God to Leave - 11/27Bezos Beats Musk - 11/27Is Black Friday Racist? - 11/25

Man Follows Speeding Cop, Finds Out He Was Speeding To Buy PeanutsMission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement'Cop Shoots Couple's Dog, Threatens Jail For Trying To Save Dog's LifeSWAT Team Shoots Teen Girl & Her Dog During Pot Raid On Wrong HomeDurham, NC Cop Testifies Faking 911 Calls To Enter Homes Is "Official Policy"Indiana Sheriff Says US A "War Zone" To Justify New MRAP Military VehicleTampa Cops Surveil Pot Dealer, Catch Him Selling Pot, Raid His Home & Kill Him"You Just Shot An Unarmed Man!": Witness Says Police Shot His Friend With His Hands Up