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Biotech Crops Use Less Pesticide: Study Rebuts Perennial Anti-GMO Activist Lie

GMO T-ShirteuropabioAnti-technology activists incessantly claim that planting modern herbicide and pest-resistant biotech crop varieties results in farmers using more pesticides. For example, the thankfully failed anti-science Oregon GMO labeling initiative asserted...

...genetically engineered, herbicide resistant crops have caused 527 million pounds of additional herbicides to be applied to the nation's farmland.

This activist disinformation has been rebutted by researchers numerous times. The latest rebuttal is a study,"A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops," just published in the journal PLoS One.  The study was done by by two German researchers from the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Georg-August-University of Goettingen. After analyzing 147 original agronomic studies dealing with pesticide applications on biotech crops, they report:

On average, GM technology has increased crop yields by 21%. These yield increases are not due to higher genetic yield potential, but to more effective pest control and thus lower crop damage. At the same time, GM crops have reduced pesticide quantity by 37% and pesticide cost by 39% (emphasis added). The effect on the cost of production is not significant. GM seeds are more expensive than non-GM seeds, but the additional seed costs are compensated through savings in chemical and mechanical pest control. Average profit gains for GM-adopting farmers are 69%.

More yield and lower pesticide applications means less potential damage to the natural environment. And more profits for farmers too! What's not to like?!!

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  • Spoonman.||

    While I'm all for GMOs, the Oregon zealots were talking about herbicides, and the study you cite talks about pesticides.

  • Ron Bailey||

    S: From the study:
    Our meta-analysis concentrates on the most important GM
    crops, including herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybean, maize, and
    cotton, as well as insect-resistant (IR) maize and cotton.

    Weeds are pests, too.

  • Almanian!||

    Hater!

    *shakes tiny pollen sac*

  • ||

    Your pollen sac isn't tiny, its a nice size.

  • Spoonman.||

    Yeah, but in standard usage pesticide means chemicals used to kill insects and herbicide means chemicals used to kill plants. HT plants encourage herbicide usage and IR plants obviate pesticide usage.

  • Clown Hunter||

    Citing reductions in pesticide usage does not rebut claims of increased herbicide usage. Sorry, Ron.

  • SKR||

    Yeah and in the standard usage, "literally" doesn't actually mean literally.

    If you actually have a clue about plants then you know that pesticide is the global term used to describe the set that include fungicides, viricides, insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, and every other chemical that kills things that piss off farmers.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I haven't read everything here, but my understanding was that part of the point of GMOs was to engineer plants that don't require as much pesticide and herbicide.

  • Rich||

    Yep. And the other part was to PLAY GOD!!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, yeah. That's the main point.

    I remember in one of the later Dune books when one of the characters was talking about growing a house. Now that's a GMO I like. I suppose all of these anti-post-Neanderthal-technology folks would be disgusted by such a cool thing, right?

  • Rich||

    Indeed. The same folks who always talk about growing the economy.

  • Zeb||

    Where's my chair dog?

    When biology and nanotechnology meet, life is just another kind of machine.

  • ||

    Or if we could find a way to use horses as a mode of transportation! Genius!

  • ||

    ProL:

    A pesticide kills insects, a herbicide kills weeds.

    When engineering your crops you engineer them to kill the insect, but to resist the herbicide. That is, you want to be able to spray herbicide on your crop and have ONLY the crop survive. That's the whole point.

    So herbicide tolerant crops are not really supposed to reduce herbicide applications. They are supposed to allow you to use safer herbicides.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Very well. The point is to make the plant more betterer in as many ways possible.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    more betterer? MORE BETTERER?

    (launches into spittle flecked grammar rage)

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's vaguely possible that I intentionally used that word. Only vaguely.

  • RBS||

    I know right? It's more BETTEREST, ProL.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You mean morest betterest?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Finally

    NO MIXED-SPACE MODIFIERS

  • Pro Libertate||

    I can make up any word I want, at any time. If enough of you other people use them, then I win and get a check from the OED.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Why would the Outreach, Empowerment, and Diversity group pay you for that?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, dear. Of course I meant the Ogretim Elemanlari Dernegi, a Byzantine front group for the radical arm of the Oxford English Dictionary.

  • SKR||

    That was one of the points. There are a lot of them, like enhance nutritional content or confer resistance to bacteria etc.

  • ||

    True, but I have heard many anti-GMO types say that BOTH pesticide and herbicide use has increased.

    However, herbicide use hasn't really increased significantly - gyphosate has replaced different herbicides.

  • Spoonman.||

    That may be and it makes perfect sense, but that isn't how Ron's post reads.

  • ||

    Yes, he needs to find some examples of the anti-GMO people claiming pesticide use has gone up. I'm sure they exist. There are plenty of dumb anti-gmo types who don't know what the difference is.

  • creech||

    German researchers, eh? And isn't (looks around conspiratorially) Koch a German name???

  • Adans smith||

    Hogan has the under cotrol

  • Adans smith||

    contol,crap

  • Rich||

    Average profit gains for GM-adopting farmers are 69%.

    That's kind of amazing, given so many people refuse to buy their stuff.

  • WTF||

    What's not to like?!!

    For God's sake, it's FRANKENFOOD!! BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!!!!11!!!!

  • Rich||

  • paranoid android||

    This movie has everything!

    While everyone panics, Mary declares she has an idea on how to get off the boathouse. Before she can explain a shotgun, left in the still-burning fire from the barbecue, shoots her.

    Dangerous guns that shoot people by themselves! It's like a leftist fever dream.

  • Rich||

    Dan is trapped in the mud as dozens of baby frankenfish attack him.

    The kids should enjoy *that* part.

  • ||

    OT: I just walked out of one of my accounts, a really nice hotel in rural GA. Apparently they're holding some kind of old hippie convention here this weekend. There was a bunch of them hanging out in the lobby and bar area, and you could actually feel the butthurt in the room. It was great, these people truly are miserable human beings.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Was shrike there?

  • ||

    I don't think Weigel is old enough for this club.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    There must be two classes of old hippies, because the ones I know are mostly pleasant people who are social democrats because no one bothered to educate them in economics in their youth. They're the types who own horse ranches and greenhouses.

    I suspect that flying to a convention in rural Georgia would weed many such people out, leaving the Bloomberg crowd to wallow in their well-intentioned fascism.

  • ||

    Just remembered something. This same hotel has hosted the Ludwig Von Mises society before. Just imagine of they had both at the same time.

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    They'd just turn DiLorenzo loose on the hippies for an hour, then call in the janitors.

  • Almanian!||

    Meanwhile, over at the Tweeterz:

    @AnthonyBialy 2m2 minutes ago @greggutfeld As a New Yorker, I wish I could be there to complain about how the pizza's not authentic.

    @czechov 1m1 minute ago @AnthonyBialy @greggutfeld b.s.....New York pizza is fine. Chicago pizza is utter bullshit....its a casserole

    ‏@joelkimball 8s9 seconds ago @czechov @AnthonyBialy @greggutfeld It's like you guys fell into a http://reason.com blog post.... #ArgumentsAboutPizza #nodeepdish!

  • RBS||

    I didn't see anything about circumcision in those tweets.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    They haven't gotten around to the pizza toppings yet, I guess.

  • Catatafish||

    (retching)

  • Almanian!||

    I'm here to grow plants and check bubble gum.

    And I'm allll out of bubblegum....

  • Almanian!||

    "check"? Really?

    Fuck me....

  • Rich||

    Are you all right? Most people put their gum in a carry-on bag.

  • Andrew S.||

    You never know when you're going to run into a TSA agent who claims bubble gum is a liquid. I always check it just to be safe.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    Could be an explosive disguised as Freshen-Up. Can't be too cautious in this post 9/11 world.

  • Almanian!||

    Did I say "bubble gum"? I meant "C4"

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    What's not to like?!!

    As with most things, the anti-GMO movement is fundamentally a reaction to anxiety, with a dash of romantic agrarianism--aka utopianism--thrown in.

    My proposal is to transport neo-luddites en masse to subsistence farms in Georgia for six months from spring to fall, then see how they feel about GMOs and other farming innovations after that. Those of us who were raised on farms understand why hybrids and now GMOs have been the norm for generations now: they're better plants than heirlooms, which are fundamentally curiosities for modern Americans who are sufficiently wealthy to grow them.*

    *I say this as someone who grows heirlooms for pleasure and who takes great pride in his Jeffersonian black hollyhock.

  • ENDelt260||

    "great pride in his Jeffersonian black hollyhock"

    Isn't that what got Artie Lange in trouble?

  • Knarf Yenrab!||

    I was surprised to learn that Lange was still alive; for some reason I thought he'd died years ago. Joe Buck wishes he had.

  • sarcasmic||

    And more profits for farmers too! What's not to like?!!

    If we were still an agrarian nation, then that would be great. But we're not. Most of the food is grown by Big Agriculture, as in corporations. And corporate profits are bad because, well, they're corporations.

    Sheesh.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I have a cunning plan. All of the corporations in food production should convert to LLCs. Then no corporations!

    I can hear the cheers and cries of relief already.

  • Swiss Servator, spare a franc?||

    That plan is so cunning, we could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.

  • Pro Libertate||

    As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?

    Truly it solves all problems. Now we can have a free market again.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals... except the weasel. "

  • ||

    Pinning a tail on a fellow creature is inhumane.

    Try this instead:

    http://www.amazon.com/Greatcas....._hpc_img_y

    (Probably NSFW)

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    *Adds Jimbo to the list*

  • albo||

    But GMO's are icky!!

  • RBS||

  • John||

    Man is he turning into a thin skinned jackass. I was listening to Mike and Mike today and heard that. Both of them said acknowledge that Simmons was talking about the team not LaBron being lousy. They said Simmons saying that was ridiculous because it is four games into an 82 game season. And they were right.

    And Golic is a former NFL defensive tackle. He is like six five. I would love to seem him pound that obnoxious littel dweeb. I actually have long liked a lot of Simmons' writing. But in the last couple of years he has gone from a decent writer who was worth listening to even though he could often be a douche bag to just a complete egotistical douche bag.

    Did you see him during the NBA finals last year when the panel went on for a few minutes before he could talk? Simmons give this pissy "can I speak now" whine when he was finally able to get a word in. My God is he a dick.

  • DK||

    I have the same opinion on Simmons. Good writer, self-important douche.

    Instead of making comparisons to baseball, why not just go to the more apt comparison of his first year with the Heat. What were they, 8-9 or something, and ended up in the Finals.

  • Andrew S.||

    Golic is terrible, but his partner is so terrible he makes Golic look smart by comparison. I have to support Simmons here by default.

  • John||

    I don't think they are terrible. Everyone else who does sports radio is just a performing jackass. They don't offend me on a daily basis and that is enough for me.

    Terrible is Collin Cowherd. I can't listen to that prick for more than ten second without wanting to reach through the radio and beat him senseless. He is utterly ignorant about all sports but tries to make up for by being a complete douche bag.

  • KDN||

    Not that I'd bet on him, but Simmons isn't a small guy. He just looks like it because he's usually next to 6' 9" Jalen Rose whenever he's on TV.

    At this point I have to think Simmons is trying to get fired. He must have taken that suspension hard.

  • John||

    I think he is going to find life without ESPN pretty hard. No other network is going to let him run a shitshow vanity project like Grantland and he is nothing without access to a network.

    More and more I think things are going to end badly for him. He seems to be another Keith Olberman without the politics.

  • John||

    Since one of the main goals of GMOs is to make them resistant to pests, you would have to be a special breed of mendacious retard to think that their use would increase pesticide use.

  • ||

    "a special breed of mendacious retard"

    But that's kind of built into the phrase "GMO protesters".

  • GILMORE||

    Once again - with regards to 'environmentalists' (and i increasingly think this is the wrong word)

    People need to stop acting as though they will be silenced by 'science'

    The assumption is: they will eventually be convinced that GMO are *better for the environment* and human health than conventional farming, provided enough 'facts'

    (and there is plenty to argue that it is = from higher yield per acre, lower pesticide requirements, lower labor inputs, in *some* cases lower water requirements, etc.)

    ...as though the 'environment' or 'human health' were the real root of their opposition to GMO, or climate change, or whatever..

    Its not. They don't care about the environment, and they don't care about human health.

    The root of their cause is anti-capitalism. The 'green' is just icing they've put on their anti-capitalist cake because they know that it appeals to liberal middle-class yuppies. It makes anti-capitalism *mainstream*.

    That is the only point of it. They could give a flying fuck whether GMO *actually* is better for feeding the planet. It is entirely irrelevant. They push this agenda because it appeals to the audience they are targeting. it has nothing to do with "food science" and everything to do with Frankfurt School-style 'undermining traditional structures of power' etc.

  • Catatafish||

    I actually think that for true enviros the root is population reduction. GMOs and capitalism allow for people to break out of subsistence/poverty and propagate.

  • ||

    Actually, when it comes to GMOs, I don't think they are really red-green types.

    I think the anti-GMO people are quasi-religious nature-worshippers.
    They hate GMOs because they perceive it to be defiling mother nature with our science. It's just unnatural and nothing you can say will shake that belief. They don't care about either the science, or the economics. ALL of that is bullshit.


    The climate change people are TOTALLY red-green, yes. But the anti-GMO people are way more irrational than that, irrational in a way that only deeply held quasi-religious beliefs explain.

  • ||

    Caveat: There are a fair number of otherwise reasonable people who have simply been LIED TO by the insane religious zealots. Problem is that the insane religious zealots believe that lies are justified by the sanctity of their cause. That's how fucking nuts they are. They are willing to spread deliberate bullshit because they honestly believe that GMOs are going to destroy the planet, and shit like that. They are psychos.

    But then there are people who are just reading the lies that the psychopathic zealots have spread around and are taking them at face value.

  • ck55||

    Wow, after reading these comments it is very easy to understand why we can't get labeling GMO bills passed! I wonder why GMOs are banned in Germany if nothing is wrong w/them?!

  • ||

    You people are the enemies of reason, science, humanity, and progress. I loathe everything you represent. Go die in a ditch, scum.

  • Sevo||

    ck55|11.6.14 @ 6:16PM|#
    ..."I wonder why GMOs are banned in Germany if nothing is wrong w/them?!"

    I wonder if ck55 is too stupid to understand the logical failure of 'appeal to authority'?!

  • GILMORE||

    Germany = where the environmentalists voted for a Green Energy Mandate...

    ..and whose energy system is now both 3X as expensive as the US, and actually *dirtier* in terms of actual pollution.

    "Cost is not the only problem with the Energiewende. It has in effect turned the entire German energy industry into a quasi-planned economy with perverse outcomes. ... Nuclear-power plants are being phased out ... So conventional power plants have to stay online in order to assure continuous supply.

    The Energiewende has, in effect, upset the economics of building new conventional power plants, especially those fired by gas, which is cleaner but more expensive than coal. So existing coal plants are doing more duty. Last year electricity production from brown coal (lignite), the least efficient and dirtiest sort, reached its highest level since 1990 Gas-fired power production, by contrast, has been declining (see chart). In effect, the Energiewende has so far increased, not decreased, emissions of greenhouse gases"

    So, that should answer your question why Germany is also equally retarded enough to reject food technology that is ACTUALLY both 'green' and 'sustainable'

  • John Green||

    Uh, the PLOS1 study says, and I quote: "Only IR crops cause a consistent reduction in pesticide quantity. Such disparities are expected, because the two technologies are quite different. IR crops protect themselves against certain insect pests, so that spraying can be reduced. HT crops, on the other hand, are not protected against pests but against a broad-spectrum chemical herbicide (mostly glyphosate), use of which facilitates weed control. While HT crops have reduced herbicide quantity in some situations, they have contributed to increases in the use of broad-spectrum herbicides elsewhere [2], [11], [19]. The savings in pesticide costs for HT crops in spite of higher quantities can be explained by the fact that broad-spectrum herbicides are often much cheaper than the selective herbicides that were used before."

    So the "Reason" talking point is debunked by the very paper they are quoting. It straight up says herbicide resistant crops use more herbicides in a GMO crop system, and lists references proving it. The really big problem is the language they used, calling insecticides pesticides and separating out herbicides so that they could make it sound like all chemical usage is down, when only insecticide spray is down.

  • WandaLou||

    I love the graphic as it shows our point. Give us the opportunity to "judge" by just labeling it. IF they are right, and there is nothing wrong with GMO, then they should stop spending 300M combined annually to create campaign ads. One would think it would be with the same pride that they would label their products "I carry MONSANTO GMO!" meat, milk, cheese and other consumables. I mean its only the "right to know" that has been the root of all this from the beginning.

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