GM Crops Not Increasing Yields

The NYTimes has an excellent feature on genetically modified crops, written by Danny Hakim joined by Karl Russell on data. The usual story is about a battle between fears of contamination on one side and the potential of increased yields on the other but the Times story is about how genetically modified crops have failed to increase yields or reduce pesticide use. This has been discussed in the scientific literature for a few years (e.g. here) and Tom Philpott at Mother Jones has covered the story earlier but the Times story really brings it home in a dramatic way. The graphics are especially good.

Here’s one graph showing corn crop yields in the United States, which uses GMOs, and Western Europe which does not. See the difference?gmo-crops

Addendum: Some good further discussion here, h/t ant1900 in the comments.

Comments

I don't understand the market for proprietary GMO crops if that's the case.

I bet you believe in climate change and other unscientific Green claptrap, too.

Isn't that the answer to anyone pointing out that GMOs are mainly about certain corporate bottom lines?

Is that REALLY the route you want to take, tying anti-GMO to climate change and saying they're equally scientific? Because you'll come out looking pretty bad. Pretty, pretty bad.

Food is more expensive to grow in non-GMO countries like the EU. So one way to reconcile the data is to say that food grown in the USA that is GMO can be sprayed more often with pesticides and herbicides (especially the latter) since the GMO crops will not be destroyed. Hence growing food in the USA is cheaper (less weeds, less rust, less disease = more yields, more profits with GMO crops).

Analogy: I grew chickens in the Philippines, and, as is well known, giving them antibiotics in their water, even if they are not sick, will make them grow faster and be more profitable. But the trace antibotics, though flavorless, have long-term side effects (unlike GMOs btw, but it's an analogy).

Bottom line: GMOs allow a farmer to grow food more cheaper. The downside is they also allow a farmer to be more aggressive in spraying GMO crops with herbicides, which increases yield. So, "YES" to the Flavor-Saver tomato, "YES" to Bt-corn. It's good for you, gobble it up and don't listen to the Luddite AlexT. Seriously. I ate at a London steak house at the height of the Mad Cow disease epidemic and here I am todaY, peRfectly oF souNd mInd.

They use less herbicide on GMO. They used to have use pre-emergent and then post emergent herbicides.

@Floccina - well, either you are wrong or the NY Times article is misleading, which says: "At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties. "

In any event, there's an advantage to using GMO seeds, as GoneWithTheWind says, so the question is, what is that advantage that AlexT and the NYTimes ignore? And is this advantage being passed to consumers? (consumer surplus, producer surplus, yada yada).

Hazel Meade gets it w=right, they used the wrong metric for herbicide use.

A way to explain it: Which is more poison an ounce of salt (LD50 12357 mg/kg) or and ounce of caffeine (LD50 150 to 200 mg/kg).

Take enough land out of agriculture and per acre crop yields will rise. Think about it.

The thing is that the type of heribide has changed, and it is not a 1/1 comparison since some herbicides are more potent than others on a per-pound basis.

There's no point in spraying extra insecticide on an insect resistant crop.
As noted in the article, insecticide use has indeed fallen by 1/3.

"I don’t understand the market for proprietary GMO crops if that’s the case."

EXACTLY!!! IF that was the case it would make no sense to pay more for the GMO seeds. IF that were the case...

Farmers are not stupid hicks. In general they are really good at what they do in an industry where mistakes or ineptitude weeds you out (no pun intended). There is a very real value to the GMO corn AND less herbicides are used as well.

"I don’t understand the market for proprietary GMO crops if that’s the case."

I'm curious where this study came from. Because it contradicts numerous other studies:

"The new study, in the journal PLOS One, comes down strongly on the pro-GMO side. It’s a meta-analysis that aggregates and examines the results of 147 existing research studies looking at GM soybeans, maize and cotton, the world’s biggest GM commodity crops. The authors, a pair of agricultural economists at Germany’s University of Göttingen, found that GM technology increased crop yields by 22 percent, reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, and increased farmer profits by 68 percent."

https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/11/19/gmo-crops-increase-yields-benefit-the-environment/

Source: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629

I think this is why single graphs can be extremely misleading. It is presented as a "natural experiment" when it is anything but. There are lots of other factors driving crop yields beyond whether or not they use GMOs - rainfall, sunlight, pesticides and fertilizers used, quality of the land used, machinery used, etc etc etc. The NYT would need to control for all of these factors and then see if GMO use made a difference.

Like you pointed out, it is puzzling why farmers would pay more for GMO seed when the regular stuff is cheaper and the NYT would have you believe just as good.

A striking piece in a number of ways (IQ loss to pesticide use?). I look forward to responses with reinforcing/contrasting data.

Posted below but adding it here for visibility: http://weedcontrolfreaks.com/2016/10/the-tiresome-discussion-of-initial-gmo-expectations/

That was a good link, and the click-throughs as well.

I have been GMO neutral, and I think these all encourage me to remain so, and perhaps a little sad that transformative changes are now off the table? Not only is GMO safe like traditional breeding, it is also slow like traditional breeding?

GMO neutral?????

???????

Adding another science-based critique:
http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-times-gets-it-wrong-on-gmos/

I grew up farming; this article is terrible.

The first generation of GMO's in common use was the RoundupReady crops. Those had two key advantages: you could use herbicide, instead of mechanical cultivation, for field preparation (which greatly decreased erosion concerns), and you could use (cheap, fairly safe) Roundup, instead of the much more toxic and persistent herbicides like atrazine, for weed control. So yes, pounds of herbicide per acre probably went up--but the toxicity and persistence went down, and soil erosion went from one of the biggest concerns to a much smaller concern.

The terrible article is the NYT article, not the one in the comment above.

Correct. Everyone please read Sam's comment here. he knows what he's talking about.
Herbicide use has gone up. But it's a different, less toxic herbicide. It's not a 1/1 comparison, and the Times article fails to make that distinction (among others).

Huhn. I know one good reason to keep GM crops: monopoly profit for the seed corporations. Well, at least it is a good reason for SOME folks. Considering how ugly the seed corps have been over maintaining monopoly on GM seed, personally I think this would be a good reason to ditch it.

Believe it or not, the seed companies can't force farmers to use their products. The much-hyped cases where Monsanto sued farmers were where the farmer bought seed from a granary that had RR seed within it, then selected for the RR seed by spraying Roundup on it.

'the seed companies can’t force farmers to use their products'

No, but in the case of Monsanto, they cannot keep their property from spreading into farmer's fields either. In this particular case, a farmer with a deep incentive to never have anything to do with Monsanto and its property ever again, as noted here - 'Schmeiser discovered Roundup Ready Canola in his fields in 2005. He contacted Monsanto to have the company remove it, but when Monsanto conditioned doing so on Schmeiser signing a confidentiality agreement and a release from litigation, Schmeiser had the cleanup done and billed Monsanto for the $660 cost. When Monsanto refused to pay, Schmeiser sued in small claims court. On March 19, 2008 Monsanto settled out of court, paying the $660 without stipulation.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Schmeiser#Schmeiser_v._Monsanto

You have it all wrong. Do some research.

Start reading here: http://kfolta.blogspot.com/
http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2016/10/rehashing-tired-argument.html

I'd be extremely skeptical of anything coming out of that wreck of a newspaper. These are pompous windbags in NYC, not farmers. GMO corn doesn't even majority of corn planted in the US until the middle of the 2000s. Most corn is also non-irrigated (something on the order of the 85%+) and the Great Plains had big droughts at the beginning of this decade that would have killed production. That's in comparison to France, where 40% of corn is irrigated: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-29/opec-splits-prevent-supply-deal-with-other-producers-in-vienna

I am obviously not a farmer either, but I don't pretend to be an expert on farming for a living.

Let's try the correct link: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-23/french-farmers-may-face-more-pain-as-dry-weather-hits-corn-crops Basically, I doubt this a comparison of like to like. My prior would suggest that if American farmers have switched to GMO corn en masse, there's probably economic value to it.

Your reflexive dismissal of the New York Times strikes me as intellectually limiting. Certainly, think critically about what biases a reporter or a newspaper brings to the information they present. They are telling a story and, even if they are scrupulously fair, they will emphasize some parts and diminish others. That's intrinsic to storytelling. But spending a few minutes searching on the internet doesn't mean you've found something the reporter didn't in a piece that likely took weeks or months to write. The article is chockablock with sources - each of which undoubtedly have biases of their own. And really, if you're implying the Times is pushing an anti-GMO agenda, you could stand to do some critical thinking about the opening sentence: "The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat."

+1

-1

Wrong. The operative argument is that farmers, who have a stake invested, have switched. Likely due to a reduction in their costs, but I am not a farmer, so who knows why.

That some random liberal who oh-so-badly wants to control others decisions was able to find some spurious relation in no way changes the outcome that they are beneficial.

That a few minutes of googling is all it takes to show we are not comparing like to like is exactly why you should discount anything the NY Times says.

Note how linear the graph is. No disturbances due to climactic variations. Consider this evidence that global climate change, if it exists at all, is good.

I can tell you're not a bright guy, so I'm going to try to walk you through this.

>"you could stand to do some critical thinking about the opening sentence: “The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.”

Claims that GMO foods are dangerous to eat are not "largely unsubstantiated." They are 100% complete bullshit. The NYT is playing its usual media bias card here by refusing to state the obvious, and instead substituting another anti-GMO card by pushing the idea that "even if they won't necessarily kill you, here is a chart that says they are useless."

If you can't see that for the bias that it is, you are a dope.

By the way, you may have heard that Joe Biden raped another infant this weekend, but at this point that is largely unsubstantiated.

In fairness, need to read the article, but isn't there more to the business than yields (per acre)? Are US farmers just suckers, or does the option to use GM technology provide other benefits like increased profitability due to lower overall costs?

'Are US farmers just suckers'

Well, American purchasers of pharma products certainly are.

I guess that would make European purchasers of pharma the con men, gladly putting the burden of saving lives with innovative medicine on America

Yes. GM crops typically require less frequent spraying, which means fewer tractor passes (lower labor and fuel costs). In many cases total applied pesticide costs decline as well, sloppy insinuations from the article notwithstanding.

Yields aren't the only issue. Profits are higher, because management time is lower with GMO so (some) producers can scale up. On the enviro side "pounds of active ingredient" isn't the only good metric: Glyphosate is less toxic and less persistent than alternatives. Of course, this once-in-a-generation new technology has been all but squandered, with overuse and poor stewardship increasing resistance of weeds to glyphosate and bugs to Bt.

"Yields aren’t the only issue." Isn't part of the issue that high corn prices in the U.S. draw more marginal land into corn production? The U.S. corn belt is arguably the most productive in the world, but the national average will reflect lesser productive areas. Last year, the U.S. produced 13.6 billion bushels of corn, while EU=27 produced 2.3 billion.

That's a good point, agriculture is heavily subsidized in the U.S. and that could bring down average yield. A similar point is that some GM crops may reduce yield average but still be useful. For example, one of the seed types offered by Monsanto is a drought resistant seed, which could lower national yield averages by inducing plantation on acreage with low rainfall. Also, the paper linked above discusses the benefits of lower yield variance (which may come at the expense of higher average yield).

Agreed. Some other things about the article's claims struck me as off. It compared yields in all of the US with all of Europe. There could be numerous confounding variables. For example, a policy in in the US could have incentivizewd lower yields per acre, or one in Europe higher yields. Shouldn't one try to compare farms that are as much alike as possible, save for one using GMO and the other not? I am further skeptical when a couple newspaper journalists write an article part of a series examining "the globe-spanning relationship of chemical companies, academics and regulators, and the powerful toxins and genetically modified seeds used to grow food in many parts of the world," whereas the peer reviewed meta study (that the NYT kindly links to) conducted by people trained to do such things found higher yields and less pesticides with GM crops.

Why can't we run a controlled experiment?

Take a bunch of farms spread throughout Iowa, give some of them non-GMO seeds and some of them RR seeds. Compare yields, cost of operations, profits, etc.

According to the Corn Farmers Coalition, U.S. take out 20% more corn per acre than in any other part of the world. (http://www.cornfarmerscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012-Corn-Fact-Book-Part-1-Introduction.pdf)

As a farmer/academic, I think most of the graphics in the article are crap. There is nothing to be learned from comparing the yields per acre for rapeseed between Canada and Europe. There are way too many problems with that comparison.

Also, it's not like Europe stopped innovating. They just developed along different tracks. For example, the use of growth regulating chemicals to prevent crops from growing too high and weakening their stalks has been common in Europe for 30 years and is only beginning to catch on in Canada. http://www.grainews.ca/2014/11/26/plant-growth-regulators/

As others have noted, yield is one consideration, but not the only one. The Times article does not examine whether the cost to produce an acre's worth of food has declined. Yield per hectare could be the same in two methods, but if it costs less to produce GMO crops, then GMO crops are preferable, all else equal.
Put another way, the invention of the tractor didn't improve crop yields, but it did reduce the cost of producing those crops. The Times argument would be that tractors are a bust because they didn't increase yields.
I don't know whether GMOs cost less to grow, but it is important to remember that when we talk about 'farmers' these days, we are not talking about Uncle Joe with 160 acres out beyond the county seat. The typical farm today is operated by an agribusiness giant, with sophisticated cost accounting methods that are telling it whether GMOs make financial sense. I'd be really surprised if they were all getting it wrong while a Times reporter can parachute in and after a fortnight's research set them straight.
The article does point out that 20 years into the GMO revolution, the Frankenfood fears have proved unfounded.

That was my point. Nicely put.

I think this is a very valid point - if you can achieve similar results at a lower cost, this is by definition an increase in efficiency. I think the Times article is narrowly focused on yields because that was the promise of GM crops, at least as I understand the history. Proponents of GM crops often say that we need the higher yields they offer in order to feed the world's growing populations. If the Times article is to be believed, the yield argument loses some of its credibility, while the case for cost-effectiveness of GM crops remains an important point on the pro-GMO side of things.

So why then do farmers in all the world -where allowed- do choose GMO's for their fields?
Are they all stupid?

Yields are not always the end goal. In the case of golden rice, it's adding beta carotene to combat vitamin A deficiency in poor populations.

Need to update this?

http://www.mruniversity.com/courses/development-economics/gmos

- if GM seeds aren't better, farmers won't buy them. They buy them. They have been buying first-generation hybrid seeds since long before they were genetically engineered, because they were better. They buy GM cotton seed in Europe, which is the only GM crop allowed there.
- I have read that one benefit comes from planting more rows/acre, because you don't need room for mechanical weeding.
- Glyphosate (the main ingredient in Roundup) lost patent protection long ago. Not much profit in commodity chemicals... Glyphosate tolerance in soy is off-patent and the other crops are coming off in the next couple of years. Glyphosate is much less toxic than other pesticides.
- Genetic engineering has gone from rocket science to high school science just in the last 4 years. CRISPR is changing ag, mosquito control, medicine and much more. Hold onto your hat.

Agreed. One correction- GM cotton is not cultivated in Europe. It has been widely grown in India for more than a decade and has helped turn the country into a cotton exporter. Yield benefits from Bt transgenic crops are much larger in places with high pest pressures and limited non-GM pest control methods.

One early response here: http://weedcontrolfreaks.com/2016/10/the-tiresome-discussion-of-initial-gmo-expectations/

+1

My god what a take down.

Liberal knows nothing, selects data according to his own biases, makes baseless claims and goes full Godwin. Yet, somehow his editor approves.

Boycott the NYT? Clearly the only rational response.

Yield isn't the right metric. They need to use cost per bushel produced.

Agricultural and tillage practices are widely different between conservation tillage gmo and non GMO cropping systems.

GMO systems generally use a single, cheap herbicide glyphosate with occasional tank mixes with other herbicides. GMO systems rely on bt in the plant for worm control.

Non GMO systems use multiple herbicides. Non GMO use several different insecticides.

Basically every problem GMO crops try to address be it insects or weeds has a non-gmo solution that works very well under good management so it is no surprise yields don't show an increase. On a cost per bushel basis there may be a difference, but even there is may not be the case due to increased seed cost for gmo.

So why have farmers adopted GMOs so fully? Two reasons in my opinion.

First because they were told it would be cheaper to grow. And it was definitely cheaper for a few years before conditions adapted. And once they obtained the equipment there is a bit of inertia to keep on using GMOs.

Second, and the reason few go back to conventional varieties is time. Time on the farm is often not reflected in costs because owners do much of the work themselves and are not paid hourly. So all other costs being equal, being able to get a job done significantly faster using GMOs is a boon to the farmer.

For example it was common 20 years ago to spray cotton and soybeans insecticide weekly for about a month taking 3-400 man hours per 1000 acres. Now they spray it once because bt protects from worms and it takes 50 man hours. If you are that man putting in the hours, and you break even putting in 1/6 to 1/8 the hours you take it.

+10 for wrparks, -2 for Tabarrok, -1 for the NYT. For those of you scoring at home, or even if you are alone.

I have no doubt that weeding a field by hand everyday would increase yield per hectare, if you could find the labor.

Consider a "Round-up(tm) Ready" GMO crop. You can use Round Up and normal seed, but you have to drive your tractor over every square inch (cm if you aren't in the USA) twice, a few days apart. If you use round-up ready seed, you can do it in a single pass. What hit on yield-per-acre would you be willing to take for that advantage? Family Capitalists I mean Farmers have done the math, I assure you.

"Family Capitalists I mean Farmers have done the math, I assure you."

The author of the article, Danny Hakim, tweeted to the effect that we need to figure out whether farmers in the U.S. planting so many GMO acres makes sense. I thought it was hilarious that he expected to figure it out for himself, but by implication he didn't think farmers could figure it out for themselves.

Why don't all the anti-GMO experts go out and start growing corn if they are so much frickin smarter than the hayseeds out there actually in the business?

What about differences in pests, bacteria, soil, humidity, etc...

I grew up farming and my dad sold the first brand of roundup ready corn. The main saving for us, at the time, was that we went from spraying 6 to 7 different pesticides, in varying dosage rates, at a cost of $110 to $120 per acre to soaring only roundup at about $45 per acre.

I could be fuzzy on the details about the cost, but I am firm that we went from 6-7 down to 1, and the costs dropped by more than half.

I am not still clear on the ratio of costs between roundup and alternatives 20 years later, but back then it dramatically increase our margins...and even back then we still resented Monsanto because what cost us $45 per acre was available in South America for $2-3 per acre.

+1 Thanks for the firsthand account. Wish more farmers would post on whether they notice yield differentials, or if it's more about cost control.

I personally was under the impression that genetically modified crops were expected to increase yields. That they're used primarily for other reasons is good to know if true.

Yield per acre is one thing, yield per total input (including fuel, labor, pesticide, fertilizer etc) is another.

Um, this is the "Marginal Revolution" blog, right?

The thing measured in the chart above is yield per unit area cultivated. Well, shouldn't that always be in lockstep in a free world market? I mean, assuming the farmer with least-productive land is the highest-marginal-cost producer of corn, the effect of a technological increase in yield-per-acre in the US would be to drive farms on the least-productive land in Europe out of business. This would then show an increase in the yield-per-acre-cultivated in Europe because the lowest-yield acres would be taken out of production, even if there was no improvement in the productivity of any single given acre in Europe.

Came here to say the same thing. Well said.

Another thing to note, yield potential comes from genetic background. I've worked in a biotechnology lab making transgenes 15 years ago. At the time there were two basically independent groups. One side did traditional plant breeding making improved varieties. Once they finished the biotechnology group took the finished varieties or variety parents and made them gmo for final testing.

So, while I have no firsthand knowledge this is the case, there is a very good chance that European varieties are the exact same as American minus a few transgene traits. If that is the case, and European farmers manage weeds and insects well there is no reason yields should be lower. Certainly the breeding effort in Europe is no less intensive than it is here.

The typical yeild is 175 bushels per acre the recod yield is 503 bushels per acre (http://agfax.com/2014/12/19/georgia-farmer-sets-new-world-record-corn-yield-dtn/). It takes more inputs to produce 300 bushels per acre but it could be done, so the yield per acre is very dependent on the price.

For shame! Do you always believe the New York Times, especially when they say that an industry is really stupid and could have higher profits if it chose different inputs? Farmers know what they're doing. I'm part owner of a farm myself. Monsanto has carefully priced its GM corn seed so that our cost savings on herbicide just makes up for the extra price, so we're close to indifferent as to which we buy. Farmers are extremely careful about their choice of seed corn. Contrary to the article, there are many many combinations of features one can buy. Nowadays, tractors are equipped with GPS and computers so they can plant slightly different seed corn in different parts of the field where soils differ slightly to get every combination of soil and seed just right.

Ricardo's 200 year old theory helps too. Suppose that yields in America and Europe start equal. Then GM seed makes planting corn more profitable in America. The result will be that American farmers will bring into cultivation land that wouldn't be profitable in Europe because the yield would be too low. The average American yield falls, but American producer and consumer surplus rise.

Corn production in the EU 27 (2016): 61,149,000 MT

Corn production in the US (2016): 383,378,000 MT

The US produces about 6 times the quantity.

Much better discussion/analysis here.
http://weedcontrolfreaks.com/2016/10/the-tiresome-discussion-of-initial-gmo-expectations/

Very surprised to see Tabarrock uncritically accepting the specific claims put forward in this article. Simply asking the question "If these claims are true, why have the people with the best information and most acute incentives (farmers) been using GMO crops for a generation?" would have been a useful place to start.

Doesn't the linear regression in the figure at the beginning of the article look strange? If the faint jagged lines (behind) the regression lines are the data, the regression is clearly falsified. There is way more below the lines than above.

I am a commercial farmer and I grow both GMO crops and crops that must be certified non GMO. It is well known with Roundup Ready corn that the gene modifications caused a slight yield drag compared to the same genetics without the RR trait. However, this was under ideal circumstances where the weed competition was eliminated in the non RR corn. There are actually many ecological and economic interactions going on with RR corn. First, the weed control is much better and much cheaper. Of course some of that is offset in higher seed cost. Next, it reduces or eliminates the need for mechanical cultivation to remove weeds prior to planting and as the corn is growing. This helps preserve organic matter in the soil and reduces costs and diesel emissions. In fact, no till corn would be very difficult to grow without RR cultivars. In that way it's a very green technology. The real cost savings though is in the simplicity of production. Because the production can be mostly boiled down to a cookbook recipe, a farmer can manage more acres and spread his fixed costs over vastly more production. It also reduces the number of crop failures which lowers over all risk. In my experience, less total chemical is used on a GM crop. Farmers respond rationally to incentives, however, and are happy to grow non GM crops if it looks to be more profitable. While a few producers have carved out high margin niches, 98% of us are still price takers which means that you can't afford to disregard cost lowering technology if your competitors are using it. There are obvious downsides such as the development of Roundup resistant weeds or corn root worms with resistance to the root worm resistance trait but with proper stewardship, the producers who prosper in the long run will manage those issues.

Even reddit (reddit! Ultra left reddit!! ) hates this liberal bullshit.

https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/5a5qta/doubts_about_the_promised_bounty_of_genetically/

The editor needs to be fired.

Does the study show how much total acreage has increased in each area? It would be quite surprising to see similar yield gains in corn if lower yielding marginal acreage was brought into production to support the US ethanol program...

Surprised to see Alex praising this article, which seems somewhat biased.

One disturbing thing about the article, it frequently combines pesticides and herbicides in the total usage statistics. A popular gm modification is one that makes the plant herbicide resistant, so you could expect it to increase herbicide usage.

Also not all pesticides and herbicides are equal in risks. Roundup is generally believed to be less dangerous than others.

At least the article acknowledges that I other regions the GM crops may have a larger impact.

Alex, I hope you revisit this article and revise from great to inconclusive. The trend lines for rapeseed oil and corn production are exactly as you would expect in a totally free market if GMOs had a large impact on productivity. The trick is that there are two ways to increase productivity per hectare, first is to simply increase productivity yields, the second is to cut out the lowest productivity hectares leaving only the high productivity ones. If the US were to increase yields one would expect that marginal land in Europe would be abandoned or repurposed. If that was happening then naturally you would expect to see herbicide and pesticide use drop in Europe (which they measure in total amounts, not in amounts per hectare, why the sudden switch?). This article simply doesn't give you the information needed to make the comparison.

To write an article about this without mentioning the drastic ramp up (30% more corn) of production to satisfy ethanol mandate on less productive land and areas is fraud. To also omit the truth that Europe has banned GMO for the most part to protect their highly subsidized farmers from US competition is more fraud. We now grow corn in the Dakodas where it dosen't rain much. The adds production but brings down average yeilds. This is an intentional fraudlent article

farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2015/03/changing-landscape-of-corn-and-soybean-production.html

The measure of interest is not yields, it is yields per cost of inputs.
GMO crops are less expensive to grow.

The thing is that GMO crops reduce *losses*. But if you're applying other pesticides, then you're also protecting against losses, just in a more costly way.

Also, the data on "pesticide" use doesn't differentiate between the herbicide glyphosate, and insecticides. Since GMO are a mix of herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant varieties, that failure to distinguish obscures a reduction in insecticide use.

From the article:
Since genetically modified crops were introduced in the United States two decades ago for crops like corn, cotton and soybeans, the use of toxins that kill insects and fungi has fallen by a third, but the spraying of herbicides, which are used in much higher volumes, has risen by 21 percent.

So yes, there has been a 1/3 reduction in insecticide use. Saying "pesticide use hasn't fallen" by averaging that with herbicide use clouds the issue instead of clarifying it.

No only that, they used the wrong metric for herbicide use.

"So yes, there has been a 1/3 reduction in insecticide use. Saying “pesticide use hasn’t fallen” by averaging that with herbicide use clouds the issue instead of clarifying it."

I suspect it was intentional. This article feels like propaganda more than science journalism. It seems specifically written to appeal to a type of reader that's prone to assuming that Europe is doing things the right way and that the US is doing things the wrong way. It's written with enough science to get past someone who want to believe the narrative. But it's jarringly inaccurate to anyone that has even a passing familiarity with the subject.

Read and learn:

http://jaysonlusk.com/blog/2016/10/31/new-york-times-on-gmos

The NYT is wrong:

http://jaysonlusk.com/blog/2016/10/31/new-york-times-on-gmos

Better late than never.

Some actual GMO yield data: http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2016/11/some-actual-yield-data.html

Scrap the TPP. Go back to the drawing board and invite consumer, labour and privacy advocates.

Also, the various subsidies and protections that US and EU governments have for farmers suggest that market logic should not be relied on for logic inference in such analysis.

NYT article seemed to have been debunked
http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-times-gets-it-wrong-on-gmos/

I can't find a good source on this, but what are the relative labor demands between Western Europe and the United States. Another words is Western Europe using more labor to achieve the same effect as GMOs?

Does anyone have any decent data related to man hours per ton or something like that?

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