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Report Says GM Crops Increase Pesticide Use, Fail to Alleviate Poverty

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Genetically modified (GM) crops have led to a large increase in pesticide use and have failed to increase yield or tackle world hunger and poverty, states new report by Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety.

The report, "Who Benefits from GM Crops? The Rise in Pesticide Use," finds that:

GM crops do not tackle hunger or poverty

• The majority of GM crops are used to feed animals in rich countries rather than people in poorer nations. South America's expanding GM soybean plantations produce soy meal for Europe's livestock industry, and have reduced food security by displacing poor farmers and reducing land area planted to food crops like corn and beans for local consumption.

• Not a single GM crop on the market is engineered for enhanced nutrition, increased yield potential, drought-tolerance, or other attractive traits touted by the biotech industry.

GM crops increase pesticide use and foster spread of resistant "superweeds"

• Four of every five acres of GM crops worldwide are Monsanto's Roundup Ready varieties, designed specifically for use with glyphosate, the pesticide that Monsanto sells under the name of Roundup.

• US government data reveal a 15-fold increase in the use of glyphosate on soybeans, corn and cotton in the US from 1994 to 2005, driven by adoption of Roundup Ready versions of these crops.

• Rising glyphosate use has spawned a growing epidemic of weeds resistant to the chemical in the US, Argentina and Brazil. Weed scientists have reported glyphosate-resistant weeds infesting 2.4 million acres in the US alone.

• Increasing weed resistance to glyphosate has led to rising use of other toxic chemicals. In the US, the amount of 2,4-D herbicide applied to soybeans more than doubled from 2002 to 2006. In Argentina, it is projected that 25 million liters of herbicides other than glyphosate will be needed to tackle glyphosate-resistant Johnsongrass.

The report also states that GM crops do not yield more than conventional crops and that GM crops benefit mainly biotechnology companies.

"For years, the biotech industry has been trumpeting the benefits of GM crops, but this report shows the true emerging picture," added Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. "These crops really promote greater use of pesticides, and cause direct harm to the environment and small farmers."

Monsanto criticized the report, telling Business Week, "The Friends of the Earth report makes numerous inaccurate and false claims. Information sources cited are rarely from peer reviewed scientific journals or research and are not representative of actual impacts."