The World Food Prize was recently awarded to three scientists (two of whom are from Monsanto and Syngenta, sponsors of the World Food Prize) for their development of genetic engineering based on claims of helping farmers increase yields and decrease pesticide use.
However, a new peer-reviewed study challenges the claims that GE crops improve yields or reduce pesticide use.
Jack Heinemann, the study’s lead investigator, compared major crop yields and pesticide use in GE-relient North America and non GE-relient Western Europe. Heinemann’s findings showed that the lack of biodiversity in the North American agroecosystem has actually resulted in higher crop loss and that North American policies (which are heavily controlled by strict property rights laws) also perpetuate the use of pesticides. According to Salon.com, Heinemann explains that, “The US and US industry have been crowing about the reduction in chemical insecticide use with the introduction of Bt crops and at face value, that’s true. They’ve gone to about 85 percent of the levels that they used in the pre-GE era. But what they don’t tell you is that France went down to 12 percent of its previous levels. So here is a major agroecosystem growing the same things as the US, corn and wheat, and its reduced chemical insecticide use to 12% of 1995 levels. This is what a modern agroecosystem can do. What the US has done is invented a way to use comparatively more insecticide.”