Genetic engineered crops fail to significantly boost yields
15 April 2009
Washington: A new report says that claims made by the bio-technology industry over the years that it will feed the world have now proven to be empty. According to the report, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), increases in crop yields over the last decade have been more due to traditional breeding and conventional agricultural improvements.
The result of the study, conducted by the UCS, belies claims by the bio-technology industry that genetically engineered crops would produce higher yields. According to the report, despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase US crop yields.
"The biotech industry has spent billions on research and public relations hype, but genetically engineered food and feed crops haven't enabled American farmers to grow significantly more crops per acre of land," said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a biologist in the UCS Food and Environment Program and author of the report. "In comparison, traditional breeding continues to deliver better results."
The report, "Failure to yield: Evaluating the performance of genetically engineered crops," is the first to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies.
The report reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States.
Based on those studies, the UCS report concluded that genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields. Insect-resistant corn, meanwhile, has improved yields only marginally. The increase in yields for both crops over the last 13 years, the report found, was largely due to traditional breeding or improvements in agricultural practices.