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June 19, Melbourne – A new research paper [1], published today in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability confirms that genetically modified (GM) crops have lower yields than non-GM crops. It also corroborates previous studies showing that GM crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use.

This new research, lead by molecular biologist Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, is based on compiled data on agricultural productivity in North America and Western Europe over the last 50 years. These two regions have systematically taken very different approaches to the introduction of GM crops and land management practices. The United States (US) was the first country to plant commercial GM seeds in 1996 and aggresively adopted them. They are still the bigger producers by far. In Europe GM crops have remained uncommon due to high levels of concern amongst consumers and only a small amount of GM crops have been planted.

« Many studies show that GM crops have not kept their promises. They are harmful to the environment, risky to consumers and unsustainable for farmers. They don’t answer in any way the challenges the world is facing for future production of food.» Scott Kinnear, Director of the Safe Food Foundation, said.

«  More than 90% of cotton crops and about 10 % of canola crops grown in Australia are already genetically engineered. Commercial varieties of GM wheat could be authorised as soon as 2015 [2].  Australia is at a crossroad as far as the use of GM crops in agriculture is concerned. It is now time to decide if we want to follow the US example leading to higher pesticide use and lower productivity, or if we prefer to adopt the European high performance, lower pesticide agricultural model and turn away from GM crops. » he added.

 

For interview or more information

Scott Kinnear, Director, The Safe Food Foundation :  04 19 881 729

 

[1]          “Sustainability and Innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest” by J.A. Heinemann, M. Massaro, D.S. Coray, S.Z. Agapito-Tenfen and J.D. Wen. Paper is open access: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408#.UcDzY-scTpA

[2] CSIRO, 2008. GM wheat and barley trial, OGTR application DIR093. Food Futures Flagship. [pdf] Available at: <http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pr3w.pdf> [Accessed 18 June 2013].

5 Comments

  • Shane December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    First off I would like to thank you for including a proper reference to support your statements. Too often people in the GM debate just refer to ‘a study’ with no further details to support their claims (a fault of both sides). Unfortunately your choice of article has a few obvious flaws. The most obvious one being that the author compares yield data from 1985 to make an assessment on the effect of GM technology on yield. Since GM varieties of maize and canola weren’t released commercially until 1996, this earlier date is largely irrelevant. A better study would be to look at GM and non-GM varieties in the same area (to negate variables such as climate, soil type etc) over the same years.

    Reply

    • SFF December 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Shane, Thank you for visiting our website and for your input. There is an article that addresses the comment you have posted and you can see the entire article here. This is an excerpt from the article that responds to a previous comment on the number of years chosen for this study: “Small datasets are susceptible to high variability and can therefore mislead. … Using only data from 1996 onwards as Tribe and Preston did has (other) problems, including using many years of very low GM maize production (~8% in 1997 to 47% in 2004)…The 1996-2010 dataset is far too small to extract credible evidence of a GM contribution to maize yield above normal breeding gains which would dominate in their time period. The same point applies to the dataset for GM canola.” I hope this answers your question!

      Reply

  • AJ December 3, 2013 at 11:59 am

    this article was not useful at all and you should get some bettre research. I am a student at high school and my learning is very important and this website just confused me and made no sence. Grow up.

    Reply

    • SFF December 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Hi there, we’d be more than happy to help you with information for your studies. What is it you are researching at school? There is a link to the actual published study by the scientists at the bottom of the page that you can also have a look at. Please feel free to email us at info@safefoodfoundation.org.

      Reply

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