GMO Food

Banning GMOs Would Hurt Nature

Farmers would have to plow down an area roughly equal to Connecticut.

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NoGMO
occupy.com

Today some 18 million farmers in 28 countries planted about 181 million hectares of GMO crops in 2014, with about 40 percent of that in the United States. In the United States, modern biotech crop varieties make up almost all the corn (89 percent), soybeans (94 percent) and cotton (91 percent) planted each year. A new study by agricultural researchers at Purdue University asks what would happen if activists got their wish and planting modern biotech crop varieties was banned globally? The researchers reported:

Eliminating all GMOs in the United States, the model shows corn yield declines of 11.2 percent on average. Soybeans lose 5.2 percent of their yields and cotton 18.6 percent. To make up for that loss, about 102,000 hectares of U.S. forest and pasture would have to be converted to cropland and 1.1 million hectares globally for the average case.

Greenhouse gas emissions increase significantly because with lower crop yields, more land is needed for agricultural production, and it must be converted from pasture and forest. …

The price changes for corn were as high as 28% and for soybeans as high as 22%. In general, the price increases for the reference and average cases were higher than those observed previously for biofuel shocks. Food price changes in the U.S. amount to $14-$24 billion per year. As expected, welfare falls both in the U.S. and globally.

The additional area of land that would have to be plowed up to sustain current levels of production is about the size of Connecticut. As I noted in my recent "debate" with anti-GMO alarmist Nassim Taleb:

In a 2014 meta-analysis of 147 studies, a team of German researchers reports that the global adoption of genetically modified crops has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22 percent, and increased farmer profits by 68 percent. They conclude that there is "robust evidence of GM crop benefits for farmers in developed and developing countries."

Of course, eliminating the federal ethanol mandate would also encourage the return of farmed acres to Nature too.

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  1. Nothing hurts nature, except maybe for nuclear weapons. And I’m not too sure about that.

    1. Nothing hurts Nature because that would assume that there is some objective ideal state for Nature to be in.

    2. If Chernobyl and the Bikini Atoll taught us anything, it’s that humans are the only ones that give a shit about nuclear fallout. the Chernobyl exclusion zone is one of the most thriving nature preserves in Europe, and there are currently coral reefs populating the actual craters where we detonated 23 nuclear bombs, several of them hydrogen bombs, at the Bikini Atoll. Radiation is natural. The dangerous high levels drop quickly.

  2. Agree with the article, but that has to be one of the dumbest headlines I’ve seen.

    1. It’s not dumb. It’s just using the parlance of the environmental extremists against them.

  3. Saw a book review in Outside magazine about E. O. Wilson’s plan to set aside 50% of the Earth’s surface for biodiversity protection. I immediately thought back to the point that Ron has repeatedly brought up — the best way to preserve nature is to make people rich.

    I almost barfed when Outside raised the question of what would happen to the people living in places like the entire country of South Africa as a “detail” that never really gets answered in Wilson’s plan. It’s not a fucking detail, it’s an example of the massive injustice stuff like this requires.

  4. Hectares??? Go back to Russia!!

    1. My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that’s the way I likes it!

  5. They’d tolerate the trade-offs if it weren’t for that pesky 68% increase in, gasp, profits.
    Worse, that’s the measure that increased the most. The horror, the horror!

    Profit is the only measure we have of ‘social utility function’.

  6. Don’t forget about the immense increase in nitrogen fertilizer required for all of this additional farmland. Nitrogen manufacturing and agricultural use emits around 13 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2 and N2O) for every tonne of nitrogen availability in the field.

    Of course, environmentalists want to curtail fertilizer use also. I suppose Erlichian mass starvation is the desired end state.

    This question was posed to a prominent environmentalist. Here is his response.

  7. Don’t forget about the immense increase in nitrogen fertilizer required for all of this additional farmland. Nitrogen manufacturing and agricultural use emits around 13 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2 and N2O) for every tonne of nitrogen availability in the field.

    Of course, environmentalists want to curtail fertilizer use also. I suppose Erlichian mass starvation is the desired end state.

    This question was posed to a prominent environmentalist. Here is his response.

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