Genetically engineered crops must lead to higher yields and profits; otherwise why would farmers choose to grow them… right?
A recent report from the Leopold Center is causing us to think otherwise. The report compared different cropping systems in a long-term, large-scale field experiment in Boone County, Iowa.
It found that the best way to maintain or improve profits, grain yields, weed suppression and soil quality was for farmers to combine crop diversity with lower herbicide use and non-GE crops.
The main argument the industry uses to promote GE crops is that they help reduce the use of herbicides and make weed suppression easier – leading to higher yields and profits for farmers. In reality, GE crops increased herbicide use in the US by 527 million pounds between 1996 and 2011. And greater herbicide use has created “superweeds” that are even harder to control.
The report’s findings show that there are better ways for farmers to control weeds and that these methods, using non-GE crops, can lead to higher yields and profits and improved soil quality.