A new peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability has revealed that genetically modified crops produce a lower yield then conventional crops.
The research was led by Jack Heinemann, a molecular biologist Professor from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and is based on agricultural productivity data in North America and Western Europe over the past 50 years.
The two regions have undertaken significantly different approaches to GM crop adoption and pesticide use. 1996 saw the United States plant the first commercial GM seed crops and the country has continued to adopt them aggressively since.
In contrast to the US, GM crops throughout Europe have remained relatively uncommon due to strong consumer concerns.
Heinemann said in a statement that the two regions were chosen as they exhibit similar crop types, latitude and access to biotechnology, mechanisation and farmer education.
“Our research showed rapeseed (canola) yields increasing faster in Europe without GM than in the GM-led package chosen by Canada and decreasing chemical herbicide and even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, while chemical herbicide use in the US has increased with GM seed,” he said.
“Europe has learned to grow more food per hectare and use fewer chemicals in the process. The American choices in biotechnology are causing it to fall behind Europe in productivity and sustainability.”
"We found that US yield in non-GM wheat is also falling further behind Europe, demonstrating that American choices in biotechnology penalise both GM and non-GM crop types relative to Europe.”
Never shy of media attention, GM crops have also come under scrutiny recently in an Australian study.
The research found that pigs who were fed GM feed demonstrated significantly increased levels of stomach inflammation compared to pigs who were fed conventional feed.