Dear Friends and Colleagues
Review Finds GM Herbicide-Resistant Crops Will Bring About Further Loss of Biodiversity
First introduced in the 1990s, 84.6% of all genetically modified (GM) crops worldwide carried herbicide resistance traits (144 mil. ha) by 2012. Herbicide-resistant (HR) crops occupy about 59% of the 170.3 million hectares under GM cultivation globally, with GM crops with stacked traits (basically herbicide and insect resistance) covering 25.6%.
Scientific studies have established that agricultural intensification and pesticide use are among the main drivers of biodiversity loss. There are concerns that HR crops will help to further intensify farming and may therefore increase pressure on biodiversity. The review finds evidence to conclude that HR crops cannot reduce herbicide use in the longer term, and will in fact be associated with a further loss of biodiversity including whole food webs, wild flora, seeds, and ecosystem functions in agricultural fields.
Other concerns raised include observations that in regions where HR crops are widely adopted, less crop rotation and crop diversification takes place, with a clear trend towards monoculture; the development of herbicide resistant weeds, resulting in farmers resorting to higher herbicide doses and the use of other herbicides; and the spatial and temporal spread of the HR trait, which is a particular concern in centres of crop origin and regions where interfertile and weedy hybrids occur. In addition, there has been little, if any, contribution of HR crops to increase crop yields.
According to the review, “…herbicide resistant crops are not part of the solution, but part of the problem”. It makes a call to stop the loss of biodiversity, reverse the current development trend in agriculture, and increase biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems with more environmentally friendly practices and less dependence on pesticides.
The Executive Summary of the paper and the link to the full paper are given below.
With best wishes
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister