Do GMO Crops Increase Yields? New Report Says Maybe Not

Genetically modified crops first appeared in the United States more than 15 years ago. While some American farmers claim they benefit from growing GE seeds (genetically engineered) instead of heirloom seeds, the negative impact on honeybees, and quite possibly human health and the environment as well, still abound.

GMO crops do not necessarily provide a higher yield than conventionally grown seeds, according to a new USDA report. The federal agency will not weigh in on the argument about whether or genetically modified crops are good or bad, but the review of GMO crops is not a glowing statement of approval either.

Increased use of chemical herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready, have been reported during the same time frame. As noted in an Off The Grid News report, the development of “superweeds” now also pose a problem for farmers and homeowners alike. Weeds have become resistant to the current variety of chemical herbicides, growing to record heights despite frequent spraying. Biotech giants like Monsanto are now rushing to develop even stronger chemical mixes to combat superweeds.

The USDA GMO crops report was released on February 20. American consumers and organic farmers are continuing to push from GMO contamination and GMO labeling regulations to protect the food supply. The USDA is also in the midst of debate about a new Dow Chemical agricultural product which contains the same active ingredient used in Agent Orange during the 1970s. In 2013, GMO crops covered approximately 169 million acres in the United States – about half the land mass used for farming. GMO corn, GMO soybeans, and cotton comprise the bulk of the genetically modified crops planted in America, according to the USDA report.

An excerpt from the USDA genetically modified crops report reads:

“Consumer acceptance of foods with GE ingredients varies with product characteristics, geography, and the information that consumers are exposed to. Most studies in industrialized nations find that consumers are willing to pay a premium for foods that don’t contain GE ingredients. However, studies in developing countries yield more mixed results. Some studies, including some with a focus on GE ingredients with positive enhancements (such as nutrition), find consumers to be willing to try GE foods and even to pay a premium for them, while others find a willingness to pay a premium for non-GE foods.”

The USDA researchers did not find a “definitive” yield increase during the first 15 years of commercial GMO crops production. A line for the genetically modified crops report said, “In fact, the yields of herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant seeds may be occasionally lower than the yields of conventional varieties.” Several of the researchers discovered “no significant differences” between the net yield returns between farmers using conventional seeds and those using the GMO variety.

The section of the USDA report pertaining to GMO corn revealed:

“Herbicide use on GMO corn increased from around 1.5 pounds per planted acre in 2001 to more than 2.0 pounds per planted acre in 2010. Herbicide use on non-GMO corn has remained relatively level during that same time frame.”

How do you feel about GMO crops and the potential for GMO contamination?