Genetically modified crops are helping farmers around the world reduce the environmental impact of agricultural production, according to Kate Hall, managing director of the Council for Biotechnology Information and spokesperson for GMO Answers. Hall published her thoughts in a recent editorial published by Forbes.
"Innovations like biotechnology help us address our generation’s most pressing issues, such as climate change, which affect the entire globe and will continue impacting generations to come," she says.
"While we continue to identify and create innovative ways to conserve our natural resources, one thing is clear: biotechnology can help."
GMOs are already helping farmers around the world reduce the environmental impact of agricultural production. Additionally, the usage of herbicide tolerant GM crops accompanied by farming practices, like conservation tillage, help to reduce carbon emissions on farms globally and plays an integral role in minimizing agriculture’s carbon footprint.
Conservation tillage refers to a practice farmers can use to till the soil less often. Instead of tilling an entire field after harvest, farmers can leave the crop’s residue (like corn stalks) in the field, and then plant seeds directly into that residue during the next planting season. The residue serves as a “mulch” for the next season’s crop, also protecting the soil.
This results in improved crop production, improved soil health and water retention, and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.
Katie Pratt, a seventh generation farmer from Illinois says, “Long story short, biotechnology has given us the opportunities to conserve our soil, practice additional conservation tillage methods and lower our farm fuel costs…just because we aren’t in the field that much.”