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Apr 14, 2010

National Research Council - The Impact of GM Crops on U.S. Farm Sustainability (1996-Pres.)

On 13 April 2010, the National Research Council released a signficant study entitled The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States.  This is a retrospective examination funded by the National Research Council that extends from the present day through 1996, the year when commercialized gene modified (GM) crops were first planted in the United States.  The geographic scope is limited to the United States. 

The report focuses on the environmental, economic and social impacts of gene modified (GM) crops.  It also attempts to identify "gaps and future applications of genetic engineering technology."

The study was conducted by a panel of experts including: David E. Ervin (chair), Portland State University; Yves Carrière, University of Arizona; William J. Cox, Cornell University; Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo, USDA-Economic Research Service; Raymond A. Jussaume, Washington State University; Michele C. Marra, North Carolina State University; Micheal D.K. Owen, Iowa State University; Peter H. Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden; L. LaReesa Wolfenbarger, University of Nebraska, Omaha; and David Zilberman, University of California, Berkeley.

The report issued the following findings:
"1.The transfer of genetically engineered traits from genetically engineered crops to other crops of relatives has not been a concern for most types of crops;

2.Targeting specific insect pests with Bt toxins in corn and cotton has been successful, and insecticide use has decreased with the adoption of insect-resistant crops;

3.Reliance on one herbicide reduces the effectiveness of herbicide resistance as a weed-management tool;

4.The adoption of herbicide-resistant crops could help improve water and soil quality by reducing the need for tilling;

5.Genetically engineered crops may have social impacts similar to previous technological developments in agriculture;

6.Many adopters of genetically engineered crops have experienced either lower costs of production or higher yields, and sometimes both.
7. Adequate research has not been conducted on the social effects on GM crops;
8. Areas in Need of Research: Non-Adopters e.g. Livestock Producers and Organic Farmers; Property Rights and Ethical Issues; Farmer Conflict and Community Stability
9. Economic effects on non-GM producers are mixed and poorly understood.  More research is need in these areas: Purchasing decisions of GM producers affect non-GM producers; No quantitative estimate of economic impact on livestock producers; Landscape-level effects on pests; Costs of inadvertent gene flow; Benefits of segregated markets."

For more information see:

"Genetically Engineered Crops Benefit Many Farmers, But The Technology Needs Proper Management to Remain Effective," News From the Academies, Office of News and Information, Washington, D.C., 13 April 2010.

"The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States," The National Academies, Division of Earth and Life Sciences, Public Briefing Powerpoint Presentation, 13 April 2010.

Report: Academies' Findings, Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States (2010).

Killman, Scott.  "Modified Crops Touted," Wall Street Journal, 14 April 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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