Vegan GMO – what environmental benefits of GM crops?

The Vegan GMO website with it’s allegedly vegan pro-GMO activists would have you believe that GM crops are good for the environment. From their site:

Environment: Creating plants that use fewer pesticides and fertilizers will help us strive toward a sustainable agriculture that’s less detrimental to all life on this planet. Fewer insects would be killed, less run off will poison fish, and no- or low-till agriculture will save the lives of ground-dwelling animals.

via Vegan GMO | Why Are We Pro-GMO?.

This is a standard pro-GMO claim. And in theory it sounds great. Develop GM crops that don’t need to use the quantity of chemicals regular intensively farmed crops require and bingo, environmental benefits. What could possibly be wrong with that? Well the main issue is that chemical use increases over time. The GM crops require more spraying not less. Curious but is there any evidence.

GM crops, the environment and superweeds

Forbes author  Beth Hoffman writes about two separate studies on superweeds 

spraying a pesticide repeatedly selects for weeds which also resist the chemical.  Ever more resistant weeds are then  bred, able to withstand increasing amounts – and often different forms – of herbicide.

So GM crops lead to more spraying, more chemicals and more detriment to all life on this planet! That would be opposite to what the pro-GMO vegans would have you believe. To quantify this, she goes on to say

Food & Water Watch found that the “total volume of glyphosate applied to the three biggest GE crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — increased 10-fold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012.”  Overall pesticide use decreased only in the first few years GE crops were used (42 percent between 1998 and 2001) and has since then risen by 26 percent from 2001 to 2010.

By 2011 there were also three times as many herbicide-resistant weeds found in farmer’s fields as there were in 2001.

Ouch! Loads more spraying and loads more superweeds as a result! Nasty. And nastier still that people claim otherwise.

How bad is this increased spraying for the environment?

Discussing the impact in terms of numbers is shocking enough but when you see images of the damage, the impact is greater. Argentina has increased it’s use of agrochemicals since 1990 ninefold. The devastating effect of this increase can be sampled via the brilliant but sad and shocking images in this Boston.com report.

GM Crops, the environment and increased spraying impace
Soybeans ready for harvest are bathed in afternoon light near Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina on April 16. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy, cotton, and corn fields. They routinely contaminate homes and classrooms and drinking water. A growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that their uncontrolled use could be responsible for the increasing number of health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation. (Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press) – Boston.com report

It’s a grim tale of harm to humans and environment but I encourage you to take a look.

And finally in another report Argentine soy has levels of glyphosate higher than that permitted by the EU

The claim that GMOs are good for the environment is disingenuous at the very least. Do you agree? If so share this post!

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