NEW REPORT: GM crops increase pesticide use
and fail to alleviate poverty
Brussels (Belgium), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia),
Lagos (Nigeria), February 13 - Genetically Modified (GM) crops have led to a
massive increase in pesticide use and have failed to increase yields or tackle
world hunger and poverty, a new report by Friends of the Earth reveals today.
 The report coincides with the annual release of biotech industry figures on
GM crop cultivation around the world. 
the Earth International's GMO coordinator in Nigeria, Nnimmo Bassey said: "GM crops have
failed to deliver the long-promised benefits of the biotech industry. Instead,
increased pesticide use caused by these crops threatens the environment and
communities around the world."
industry tells Africans that we need GM crops to tackle the food needs of our
population. But the majority of GM crops are used to feed animals in rich
countries, to produce damaging agrofuels, and don't even yield more than
Holder, European GMO campaign coordinator
said: "It is now clearer than ever
that the EU is right to take a precautionary approach to genetically modified
crops. GM crops are not the solution to the urgent environmental and economic
challenges facing farmers both in Europe and in developing countries. More and
more evidence is showing that around the world green farming methods are
providing real solutions whilst boosting local economies and creating
Friends of the Earth International's report
"Who Benefits from GM crops?" 2008 finds that:
of GM crops has led to a significant increase in pesticide use
Government studies show a 15-fold increase in
the use of the herbicide RoundUp (glyphosate) in the United States and an
almost 80 per cent increase in Brazil . This is resulting in increasing
numbers of glyphosate-resistant weeds around the world, leading to higher
production costs for farmers as well as concerns about the environmental impact
The US also reports increasing use of more
toxic pesticides, including one banned in Europe:
- The increase in glyphosate is no longer displacing other herbicides in the US. From 2002 to 2006 the use of 2,4,D (a component of agent orange) on soybeans more than
- The use of atrazine (banned in the EU due to links to health problems) on
corn increased by 12 per cent in the US from 2002 to 2005.
GM crops do
not tackle hunger or poverty
The vast majority of GM crops commercialised
so far are destined for animal feed for the meat and livestock markets in rich
industrialised nations rather than for feeding the poor. GM crops, as part of
the intensive farming model, contribute to small farmers losing their land and
livelihoods and do not alleviate poverty. 
Industry often claims that genetically
modified cotton (Bt cotton) has boosted overall cotton yields thus contributing
to poverty alleviation for farmers. However, close examination of these claims
shows that favourable weather conditions, a shift to irrigation and the
introduction of improved seed that is not genetically modified explain the
improved yield. Also, in several countries, farmers who paid a premium for Bt
cotton seed ended up spending as much on chemical insecticides as farmers
growing conventional cotton.
crops do not yield more than other crops
Even the US Department of Agriculture admits
that no GM crop on the market has been modified to increase yields. The main
factors influencing crop yield are weather, irrigation and fertilizers, soil
quality and farmers' management skills .
continue to fail in Europe
Less than 2 per cent of the total maize grown
in the EU is genetically modified  and five EU countries have now banned
Monsanto's maize because of growing evidence of its negative environmental impact.
A review of biotechnology in the European Union in 2007 confirmed that the GM
crop sector is not performing well. On the other hand, green farming methods
such as organic farming are creating more jobs, boosting rural economies and
are safer for the environment .
A Question and Answer document focused on
showing that GM crops do not help meet the Millennium Development Goals of
halving hunger and poverty by 2015 is available here.
For more information, please contact:
Helen Holder, Coordinator of tthe Friends of
the Earth Europe GMOs campaign:
Tel: +32 2542 6182 and +32 474 857638 (Belgian mobile)
Francesca Gater, Communications Officer for
Friends of the Earth Europe:
Tel: +32 2542 6105 and +32 485 930515 (Belgian mobile)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 The executive summary of the report is
available online here.
The executive summary of the report is
available IN SPANISH online here.
The executive summary of the report is
available IN FRENCH online here.
The full report is available online here.
 The new report launch coincides with the
annual release of the "Global Status of Commercialized Biotech"
report of the industry-sponsored International Service for the Acquisition of
Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) which promotes GM crops as beneficial for the
environment and a key solution to hunger and poverty. The GM crops industry
continues to misleadingly claim that GM crops reduce pesticide use and play a
role in tackling poverty and hunger.
 Data from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture shows that from 1994 to 2005 Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops have
driven a more than 15-fold increase in the use of glyphosate. In 2006 alone,
glyphosate use on soybeans jumped 28 per cent from 2005 to reach almost 100
million pounds (approx 44 million kg).
Last year, a study by a Brazilian governmental
agency found that the use of glyphosate increased 80 per cent from 2000 to
2005, much faster than the expansion in area planted to RR soya.
 Worldwide 58 reports of
glyphosate-resistant weeds have been identified, infesting an estimated 3,251
sites covering 1 million hectares. Experts agree this is caused by continuous
planting of RR crops and over-reliance on glyphosate. In Argentina in 2007 a glyphosate-resistant weed called Johnson Grass had infested over 120,000 ha. It is estimated that 25 million litres of herbicides other than glyphosate will be needed
to tackle this weed, increasing production costs of between $160 to 950 million
 In South Africa, since the adoption of Bt
cotton, the number of small cotton farmers have plummeted from 3229 in 2001/02 to just 853 in 2006/07. In India, GM cotton is failing to address problems like
increased costs of seeds and inputs leading to spiralling farmer debts and 942
documented farmer suicides in 2007 alone (to October). Numerous conflicts
between big landowners and local communities have been reported, including the
shooting of a peasant farmer in Brazil by militia linked with Syngenta in
Paraguay, soya expansion is associated with increasing rural poverty. 90 per
cent of soya grown is GM and up to 40 per cent of people in rural areas living
below the poverty line.
 Monstanto's Roundup Ready Soybeans - the
most widely planted GM crop in the world - do not produce higher yields than
conventional soya. In fact many studies have found on average 5-10 per cent
lower yields than highly similar conventional varieties.
Insect resistant Bt cotton does not have
higher yields than conventional cotton:
- In the U.S., Argentina, Colombia, and Australia overall cotton yields have
- In India and China, the yield increase is mainly due to weather conditions
and production factors not related to GM technology. For example in China, the
province with the highest cotton production and the highest average yield
(Xinjiang), grows mostly conventional cotton, not GM Bt varieties.
 Only one GM crop is grown in the European
Union, Monsanto's Bt maize (MON810) that is genetically modified to produce a
"built-in" insecticide. The biotech industry announced a 77 per cent
increase in the surface area of GM crops being grown in the EU in 2007 which
brings the overall surface area from less than 1 per cent to just under 2 per
cent. The country showing the biggest increase, France, has just announced a
ban on the maize for health and environmental reasons.
from academic and governmental sources compiled by Friends of the Earth Europe
is available here.
Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for
sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment,
unites more than 30 national organisations
with thousands of local groups
and is part of the world's largest
grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.