LONDON — The controversy over genetically modified crops has long focused on largely unsubstantiated fears that they are unsafe to eat.

But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem — genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.

The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.

An analysis by The Times using U.N. data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields when measured against Western Europe, a region with comparably modernized agricultural producers like France and Germany. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops.

At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States, even as major crops like corn, soybeans and cotton have been converted to modified varieties. And the United States has fallen behind Europe’s biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides.

One measure, contained in data from the U.S. Geological Survey, shows the stark difference in the use of pesticides. Since GM crops were introduced in the United States two decades ago for crops like corn, cotton and soybeans, the use of toxins that kill insects and fungi has fallen by a third, but the spraying of herbicides, which are used in much higher volumes, has risen 21 percent.

By contrast, in France, use of insecticides and fungicides has fallen 65 percent and herbicide use has decreased 36 percent.

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(1) comment

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Since September 2016 Monsanto belongs to the German (Europe) company Bayer. And on October 2016 the EU (European Union) and Canada signed CETA. I really believe, that we will soon (within the next 8 years) have GM food in all EU countries and in all our superstore shelfes.

By the way, since 1998 it is allowed to grow genetically modified corn in the EU. Spain is the EU's top grower of GMOs.

There are already a lot of countries all over the world, where you can find genetically modified foods. They wouldn't take it, if they wouldn't earn more money with it. Thus, you can suppose, that GM foods indeed produces a successfuller crop.

The problem is, that there are already too many people on Earth, and the population is still growing: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Human_population_growth_from_1800_to_2000.png From day to day we need more food. Unfortunately also gene manipulation has its limits. What's next? "Soylent Green"?

I believe, our goal should be, to reduce the world population. Then it would be unneccessary to discuss GMOs. And some other problems would be automatically solved, too. I am ready to help.

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