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Review Finds GM Herbicide-Resistant Crops Will Bring About Further Loss of Biodiversity

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on October 22, 2014 - 3:24pm

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%.

Many studies have been done on HR crop use patterns and impacts. A review of these studies has been jointly conducted by three government agencies from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, to extract the lessons learnt, paying particular attention to the impact on biodiversity.

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

10400 Penang

Malaysia
 
 
Originally Published: BioSafety-Info.net
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