USDA report says GM crops show mix of benefits, concerns 

| February 26, 2014 |

After more than 15 years of using genetically modified crops, U.S. farmers are continuing to see an array of benefits, but the impacts on the environmental and on food production are mixed, and high farmer use of a popular herbicide on GMO crops is a cause for ongoing concern, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good. We are just providing information,” said Michael Livingston, a government agricultural economist and one of the authors of the report, prepared by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).

The report, released online on Feb. 20, comes at a time when GMO crops are under intense scrutiny. Consumer groups are calling for tighter regulation of crop research and production and seeking mandatory labeling of foods made with GMOs; environmentalists are reporting increasing concerns about weed resistance and insect resistance to the crops and the chemicals used on them; and some scientific studies are reporting that the chemicals used on the crops are linked to disease and illness.

Read the full original article: U.S. GMO crops show mix of benefits, concerns – USDA report

  • prism

    The article should be better worded. The concern is about the chemical being used on GMO crops. Farmers tend to use chemicals like weedicides indiscriminately, when they know that the GMO crop will not get killed by the weedicide. Farmers need to get better educated about the use of chemicals.

    • Farmwife

      Due to cost and benefit, as a producer I do not indiscriminately use herbicides. Focus on proper crop rotation, variety, etc need to be the producer’s focus to cover the bottom line. I think you need to learn more about our industry.

      • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

        Just so everyone is aware, the fact that we posted this Reuters story does not mean that the GLP agrees with it. Part of our site is aggregation. Personally, I think this story was quite biased and prevents a misleading picture of the USDA report.

        • eMosso

          “I think this story was quite biased”

          Can you be more specific?

          • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

            Here are examples of how a journalist can bias a report–subtly if that’s her intention. She writes:

            (1) “environmentalists are reporting increasing concerns about weed resistance and insect resistance to the crops and the chemicals used on them”

            Response: First, she uses the word environmentalists, most of whom are anti-GMO. Note she does quote or cite ‘farmers’ or ‘scientists’ or ‘government officials’ because they would reject such a heavy-handed characterization. There is no evidence that weed or insect resistance is linked to “the crops” if by that she means “GMO crops”–she disingenuously did not write GMO crops because there is absolutely no difference in resistance from using conventional crops versus conventional/GMO crops. Weed resistance is part of modern agriculture, as the report makes clear, and does not tease out GMO crops as more harmful. The issue is “chemical resistance” which is not GMO exclusive and is an issue confronted by all farmers, including organic farmers, who overuse certain ‘natural’ pesticides. Farmers have known of weed/chemical resistance issues for decades, are have various means in place to address them. In short, she takes a ‘modern agriculture’ issue–one found across Europe that does not grow GM crops–and deceptively misrepresents it from the report as a GM specific issue.

      • prism

        I have master’s in your industry and have farmed as well. I know that most farmers are pretty good, but some farmers do use pesticides indiscriminately. I have seen some farmers using systemic insecticides on food crops when we used to visit farms.