Genetically engineered (GE) crops have experienced a staggering increase in their use of weed-killing pesticides, leading to increased herbicide-resistant weeds, environmental degradation, and chemical residues on foods according to a report by the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS), The Organic Center (TOC), and the Center for Food Safety (CFS).
The report, based off data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), found that the use of herbicides increased by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008.
“The drastic increase in pesticide use with genetically engineered crops is due primarily to the rapid emergence of weeds resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide,” said Dr. Charles Benbrook, report author and chief scientist of The Organic Center.
“With glyphosate-resistant weeds now infesting millions of acres, farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses, and the environmental impact of weed management systems will surely rise,” added Benbrook.
The TOC report is contrary to GE industry claims that engineered crops have helped reduce pesticide use.
Though the report notes GE corn and cotton reduced insecticide use by 64 million pounds, the total increase of pesticides used over the past 13 years is still well over 300 million pounds.
“The report confirms what we’ve been saying for years,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. “The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for biotech/pesticide companies, but it’s bad news for farmers, human health, and the environment.”