Broken Promises of Genetically Modified Crops

G.M.O.s Were Supposed
to Increase Crop Yields

Canada and Western Europe grow different varieties of rapeseed (canola), but Canadian farmers have adopted genetically modified seed, while European farmers have not. Still, the long-term yield trend for both areas is up.

hectograms per hectare*

50,000

Rapeseed crop yield

40,000

Trend line

30,000

G.M.O.s not used

WESTERN EUROPE

Annual figures

20,000

G.M.O.s used

CANADA

Genetically modified varieties

introduced in North America

0

’85

’90

’95

’00

’05

’10

’14

The New York Times|Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | Note: Western Europe is France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria.

In the last three decades, corn yields in Western Europe have largely kept pace with those in the United States.

120,000

hectograms per hectare*

G.M.O.s used

UNITED STATES

Corn crop yield

100,000

80,000

G.M.O.s not used

WESTERN EUROPE

Genetically modified varieties introduced in the U.S.

40,000

20,000

0

’85

’90

’95

’00

’05

’10

’14

The New York Times|Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | Note: Western Europe is France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria.

Meanwhile, in the last decade sugar beet yields in Western Europe have increased more sharply than those in the United States.

1,000,000

hectograms per hectare*

G.M.O.s not used

Sugar beet crop yield

WESTERN EUROPE

800,000

600,000

G.M.O.s used

UNITED STATES

400,000

Genetically modified varieties introduced in the U.S.

200,000

0

’05

’10

’14

The New York Times|Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | Note: Genetic modification penetration reached 95 percent by 2010, according to the United States Dept. of Agriculture.

G.M.O.s Were Supposed
to Lessen Pesticide Use

Manufacturers also said that genetically modified crops would reduce the need for pesticides. In France, where G.M.O.s are not permitted, pesticide use has significantly declined.

70

thousand metric tons of active ingredient

Pesticide use in France

60

50

40

FUNGICIDES

30

HERBICIDES

20

10

INSECTICIDES

0

’96

’00

’05

’10

’13

The New York Times|Source: Union of Industries of Plant Protection (France)

But in the United States, while the use of insect- and fungus-killing chemicals has declined, farmers are using even more weed killers.

600

million pounds

Pesticide use in the United States

500

400

HERBICIDES

300

200

100

INSECTICIDES AND FUNGICIDES

0

’92

’96

’00

’04

’08

’12

The New York Times|Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Much of the growth in the use of weed killers has come in Monsanto’s Roundup, in which the active ingredient is glyphosate.

percentage of acres treated

350

Herbicides applied to corn in the United States

300

250

METOLACHLOR

ACETOCHLOR

200

ATRAZINE

150

100

OTHERS

50

GLYPHOSATE

0

’90

’95

’00

’05

’10

’14

The New York Times|Source: U.S.D.A. National Agricultural Statistics Service
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