New GMOs Will Not Reduce Pesticide Use

TWN Info Service on Biosafety, Sustainable Agriculture
9 July 2022
Third World Network

Dear Friends and Colleagues

New GMOs Will Not Reduce Pesticide Use

Reducing pesticide use by 50% by 2030 is a central goal of the EU Farm to Fork strategy, which aims to improve the sustainability of food and farming systems and reverse environmental degradation. However, there are claims that new genetically modified (GM) plants can help achieve this.

First-generation GM crops were introduced over 20 years ago with the same promises of pesticide reductions that are now being made for new GM crops. However, the data show that this first-generation of GM crops has increased pesticide use in countries where they are widely grown. The huge majority of GM crops are either herbicide tolerant or insect-resistant. In both cases, either weeds from the GM crop’s ecosystem or plant pests have in their turn evolved to become resistant or tolerant, leading to an increase in pesticide use.

Many new GM crops currently in the commercialisation pipeline are designed to increase herbicide use. The European Joint Research Centre found that the largest trait group (6 out of 16 plants) of new GM plants close to commercialisation is herbicide-tolerant. Some commercialised new GM organisms are not herbicide-tolerant but have other traits; these will not reduce pesticide use either.

Pursuing false GM “solutions” for pesticide reduction distracts from proven approaches such as agroecology. The effective way to reduce pesticide use is system change, which alone can provide lasting solutions to weed and pest problems. Decision makers must take steps to shift agriculture away from fossil fuel-dependent production in huge monocultures controlled by a handful of corporations. This should include greater public investment in agroecological farming, which offers benefits including higher incomes for farmers, resilience in the face of climate change, protection of biodiversity, and improved food security and nutrition.

A full briefing of the above can be accessed here:

With best wishes,
Third World Network

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