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Glyphosate and GM Crops Are Harming No-Till Soils

Magazine dedicated to promoting GM crops and glyphosate herbicides in no-till systems recommends reducing the use of these products

No-Till Farmer is a magazine aimed at farmers who grow GM glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans using herbicides instead of ploughing to control weeds. In a revealing sign of the times, the magazine has published an article detailing the serious problems of soil and plant health caused by the application of glyphosate on these GM crops in no-till systems. 

The article gives the lie to the regular promotion of no-till farming with GM crops as environmentally friendly – generally on the claimed grounds that by avoiding ploughing it mitigates climate change by reducing the number of tractor passes in fields, thus reducing fossil fuel use, and stores carbon in the soil rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. While the new article focuses on other aspects of no-till farming with GM crops, it makes clear that these systems create a host of negative impacts for farmers and the environment alike.

The paywalled article, written by No-Till Farmer's senior editor John Dobberstein, draws on the expertise of Robert Kremer, a retired research microbiologist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor at the University of Missouri, as well as other researchers.

Noting that "there may be trouble on the horizon for glyphosate", Dobberstein says that when measured by pounds applied per square mile, the use of glyphosate has increased from less than 1 million pounds in 1974 to 28 million pounds in 1995, and 80 million pounds in 2010. Between 1974 and 2014, 30 billion pounds of glyphosate were applied to US agricultural lands, according to federal data.

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