Friday, August 9

Case studies: A hard look at GM crops


Two topics specifically raise more heat than light, global warming and Genetically Modified crops ( if you excuse the inadvertent pun). 

So what we have to do is not to get into debates but listen carefully to the arguments. 

Climate change is happening and we need food productivity. Between these two conceptual positions and the public debate, there is too much noise. 



Case studies: A hard look at GM crops : Nature News & Comment

Palmer amaranth has taken root as a herbicide-resistant ‘superweed’ in many US cotton fields.


In the pitched debate over genetically modified (GM) foods and crops, it can be hard to see where scientific evidence ends and dogma and speculation begin. In the nearly 20 years since they were first commercialized, GM crop technologies have seen dramatic uptake. Advocates say that they have increased agricultural production by more than US$98 billion and saved an estimated 473 million kilograms of pesticides from being sprayed. But critics question their environmental, social and economic impacts.

Researchers, farmers, activists and GM seed companies all stridently promote their views, but the scientific data are often inconclusive or contradictory. Complicated truths have long been obscured by the fierce rhetoric. “I find it frustrating that the debate has not moved on,” says Dominic Glover, an agricultural socioeconomist at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. “The two sides speak different languages and have different opinions on what evidence and issues matter,” he says.

Here, Nature takes a look at three pressing questions: are GM crops fuelling the rise of herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’? Are they driving farmers in India to suicide? And are the foreign transgenes in GM crops spreading into other plants? These controversial case studies show how blame shifts, myths are spread and cultural insensitivities can inflame debate.

GM crops have bred superweeds: True

Jay Holder, a farming consultant in Ashburn, Georgia, first noticed Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) in a client’s transgenic cotton fields about five years ago. Palmer amaranth is a particular pain for farmers in the southeastern United States, where it outcompetes cotton for moisture, light and soil nutrients and can quickly take over fields.

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