GM foods over-hyped as solution to world food crisis

A number of recent news stories on soaring food prices worldwide have cited unsubstantiated claims that genetically engineered crops are the solution to the problem. In fact, according to experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), there is no evidence that currently available genetically engineered crops strengthen drought tolerance or reduce fertilizer use. Nor do they fundamentally increase crop yields.

“Increased energy prices, harsh weather, and trade policies are largely to blame for the recent spike in food prices, none of which have much to do with crop breeding technologies,” said Margaret Mellon, director of UCS’s Food and Environment Program. “The biotech industry’s claims about genetically altered crops are perennially overstated. In truth, agricultural biotechnology has almost nothing to offer to the world food crisis in the short term.”

There are proven ways to increase yields and protect crops, Mellon pointed out. “Traditional plant breeding, crop rotation and marker-assisted breeding—which incorporates molecular biology to enhance traditional breeding—and ecological farming systems that use such methods as crop rotation and cover crops, have a long history of boosting food crop yields.”

© Copyright July/August 2008, The Organic & Non-GMO Report