You consistently hear about how GMOs can help save the world. You hear how they can help poor farmers. You hear that they are greener (more environmentally friendly). You hear that the world needs them….
But who do you hear all this from? (GMO companies and the politicians they buy.)
Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, *slams* these claims. He reports in the video below that GM crops are not good for small farmers at all. They are created for the large monoculture farms of agribusinesses (and chemical companies which, conveniently, also produce the GMOs). The require the use of tons of herbicides and pesticides, which is worse for the environment.
Meanwhile, promises of drought-resistant and salt-tolerant crops have not been fulfilled. Check out the video below (if it’s not loading for you, try refreshing the page or go to the UK’s Guardian to watch it):
Also, yields are not nearly what they were said to be. With the extra costs of the seeds and the pesticides and herbicides, that leaves farmers in a worse situation than they would have been.
Bassey says we should all pay close attention to what’s happening in India and take it as a lesson. (In India, which has adopted GMOs much more so than most countries, has had ~250,000 farmers commit suicide because of the horrible situation going GMO put them in and their inability to deal with the disappointment and trapped downward financial spiral.)
This video interview comes on the heels of a new report by “20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people,” the UK’s Guardian reports.
The report claims that hunger has reached “epic proportions” since the technology was developed. Besides this, only two GM “traits” have been developed on any significant scale, despite investments of tens of billions of dollars, and benefits such as drought resistance and salt tolerance have yet to materialise on any scale.
Most worrisome, say the authors of the Global Citizens’ Report on the State of GMOs, is the greatly increased use of synthetic chemicals, used to control pests despite biotech companies’ justification that GM-engineered crops would reduce insecticide use.
In China, where insect-resistant Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of pests that previously posed only minor problems have increased 12-fold since 1997. A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology found that any benefits of planting Bt cotton have been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat them.
Additionally, soya growers in Argentina and Brazil have been found to use twice as much herbicide on their GM as they do on conventional crops, and a survey by Navdanya International, in India, showed that pesticide use increased 13-fold since Bt cotton was introduced.
The report, which draws on empirical research and companies’ own statements, also says weeds are now developing resistance to the GM firms’ herbicides and pesticides that are designed to be used with their crops, and that this has led to growing infestations of “superweeds”, especially in the US.
Ten common weeds have now developed resistance in at least 22 US states, with about 6m hectares (15m acres) of soya, cotton and corn now affected.
Consequently, farmers are being forced to use more herbicides to combat the resistant weeds, says the report. GM companies are paying farmers to use other, stronger, chemicals, they say. “The genetic engineering miracle is quite clearly faltering in farmers’ fields,” add the authors.