U.S. GMO crops show mix of benefits, concerns - USDA report
GMO crops that prevent yield losses to pests is more helpful to farmers financially, allowing crops more yield potential and higher monetary returns, the report states. As well, insecticide use on corn farms was down to 0.02 pound per acre in 2010, down from 0.21 pound per acre in 1995, the report states.
But while insecticide use has gone down, herbicide use on GMO corn is rising, the report states. Herbicide use on GMO corn increased from around 1.5 pounds per planted acre in 2001 to more than 2.0 pounds per planted acre in 2010. Herbicide use on non-GMO corn has remained relatively level during that same time frame, the ERS said.
And the over reliance on glyphosate has translated to an increase in weed resistance, which makes crop production much harder. Glyphosate is the chief ingredient in Roundup herbicide sold by Monsanto, and its use has translated to the glyphosate resistance seen in 14 weed species and biotypes in the United States, according to ERS.
Researchers have thousands of tests underway in U.S. fields for new crops, ERS reported. As of September 2013, about 7,800 releases have been approved for genetically engineered (GE) corn, more than 2,200 for GE soybeans, more than 1,100 for GE cotton, and about 900 for GE potatoes.
Of those releases, 6772 were for GE varieties with herbicide tolerance, 4,809 for insect resistance, and 4,896 for product quality such as flavor or nutrition, and 5,190 for drought resistance.
Monsanto has the most authorized field releases with 6,782, followed by DuPont Pioneer, with 1,405.