Researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand found that the Genetically Modified (GM) strategy used in North America crop production is limiting production and increasing pesticide use, compared with farming in countries that do not use these strategies. This study, published in June 2013 in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, found that European farmers are using fewer herbicides and insecticides and producing higher sustained crop yields. The Western European farmers’ crops also proved to be more resilient to weather change. This is important because annual variations cause price speculations that can drive hundreds of millions of people into food poverty. Overall, Europe has learned to grow more food per hectare and use fewer chemicals in the process, while US reliance on biotechnology is causing it to fall behind Europe in productivity and sustainability.
The controlling of seeds in the United States through patents also prevents seed saving and restricts what farmers can use. Diversification in seed and product will be strategic for improvements in crop yields. In the US, 95% of cabbage, 91% of field maize, 94% of peas and 81% of tomato varieties cultivated in the last century have been lost.
Mounting evidence suggests that the GM industrial food system is not only failing to feed the world, but also responsible for some of the planet’s most pressing social and environmental crises. The industrial food system is directly responsible for around half of all global greenhouse gas emissions. 70-80% of the world’s food land is being used by corporate food chains that produce only 30-40% of the food that we eat.
Jack A. Heinemann, Melanie Massaro, Dorien S. Coray, et al., “Sustainability and Innovation in Staple Crop Production in the US Midwest,” International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, June 14, 2013, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408 – .Uqdl4ygvpLU.
Colin Todhunter, “The Future is Local, the Future is Organic”, Global Research, September 26, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-future-is-local-the-future-is-organic/5351677.
James Corbett and Vandana Shiva, “Patenting the Food Supply and the Monopolization of the Biosphere”, Global Research, October 24, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/patenting-the-food-supply-and-the-monopolization-of-the-biosphere/5355452.
David Tribe, “Why Do Heinemann 2013 Use the Wrong Year to Obscure Valid Conclusions about Improved Yield Growth from GM?,” GMO Pundit, June 29 2013, http://gmopundit.blogspot.co.nz/2013/06/why-do-heinemann-2013-use-wrong-year-to.html.
Jack A. Heinemann, et al., “Author Response to GMO Pundit David Tribe,” Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety, University of Canterbury, no date, http://www.inbi.canterbury.ac.nz/response.shtml.
Student Researcher: Amanda Baxter (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin (Sonoma State University)