When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the seventh in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started…
Part 7 of 10
GM Farmers Don’t Earn or Produce More
Monsanto has been quite successful in convincing farmers that GM crops are the ticket to greater yields and higher profits. You still hear that rhetoric at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). But a 2006 USDA report “could not find positive financial impacts in either the field-level nor the whole-farm analysis” for adoption of Bt corn and Roundup Ready soybeans. They said, “Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of [GM] crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative.”
Similarly, the Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) flatly states, “The claim that GM seeds make our farms more profitable is false.” (PDF) Net farm incomes in Canada have plummeted since the introduction of GM canola, with the last five years being the worst in Canada’s history.
In spite of numerous advertising claims that GM crops increase yield, the average GM crop from Monsanto reduces yield. This was confirmed by the most comprehensive evaluation on the subject, conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2009. Called Failure to Yield, the report demonstrated that in spite of years of trying, GM crops return less bushels than their non-GM counterparts. Even the 2006 USDA report stated that “currently available GM crops do not increase the yield potential of a hybrid variety. . . . In fact, yield may even decrease if the varieties used to carry the herbicide tolerant or insect-resistant genes are not the highest yielding cultivars.” (PDF)
US farmers had expected higher yields with Roundup Ready soybeans, but independent studies confirm a yield loss of 4-11%. (PDF) Brazilian soybean yields are also down since Roundup Ready varieties were introduced. (PDF) In Canada, a study showed a 7.5% lower yield with Roundup Ready canola.
The Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) observed, “Corporate and government managers have spent millions trying to convince farmers and other citizens of the benefits of genetically-modified (GM) crops. But this huge public relations effort has failed to obscure the truth: GM crops do not deliver the promised benefits; they create numerous problems, costs, and risks. . . . It would be too generous even to call GM crops a solution in search of a problem: These crops have failed to provide significant solutions.” (PDF)
Herbicide Use Rising Due to GMOs
Monsanto bragged that their Roundup Ready technology would reduce herbicide, but at the same time they were building new Roundup factories to meet their anticipated increase in demand. They got it. According to USDA data, the amount of herbicide used in the US increased by 382.6 million pounds over 13 years. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans accounted for 92% of the total increase. Due to the proliferation of Roundup resistant weeds, herbicide use is accelerating rapidly. From 2007 to 2008, herbicide used on GM herbicide tolerant crops skyrocketed by 31.4%. Furthermore, as weeds fail to respond to Roundup, farmers also rely on more toxic pesticides such as the highly poisonous 2,4-D.
In spite of Monsanto’s assurances that it wouldn’t be a problem, contamination has been a consistent and often overwhelming hardship for seed dealers, farmers, manufacturers, even entire food sectors. The biotech industry recommends buffer zones between fields, but these have not been competent to protect non-GM, organic, or wild plants from GMOs. A UK study showed canola cross-pollination occurring as far as 26 km away. (PDF)
But pollination is just one of several ways that contamination happens. There is also seed movement by weather and insects, crop mixing during harvest, transport, and storage, and very often, human error. The contamination is North America is so great, it is difficult for farmers to secure pure non-GM seed. In Canada, a study found 32 of 33 certified non-GM canola seeds were contaminated. Most of the non-GM soy, corn, and canola seeds tested in the US also contained GMOs.
Contamination can be very expensive. StarLink corn—unapproved for human consumption—ended up the US food supply in 2000 and resulted in an estimated price tag of $1 billion. The final cost of GM rice contamination in the US in 2006 could be even higher.