Wednesday, 3 October 2012

MOP6/COP11: Genetic engineering has been hailed as a panacea for the problem of global hunger and population explosion, but research studies reveal that it has failed to deliver the goods. On the other hand, it has created more problems than it could solve

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Genetic engineering has been hailed as a panacea for
the problem of global hunger and population explosion, but research
studies reveal that it has failed to deliver the goods. On the other
hand, it has created more problems than it could solve.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, an international research group
based in the USA, points out that none of the genetically engineered
crops under cultivation so far has boosted the farm yields or overcome
the problem of drought conditions.

“Genetic engineering has actually done very little to increase the
yields of food and feed crops. Given such a track record, it appears
unlikely that this technology will play a leading role in helping the
world feed itself in the foreseeable future,” points out the Union of
Concerned Scientists.

In a document, “failure to yield”, released at the ongoing United
Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which began here on
Monday. The research group reviewed the data on soybeans and corn, the
main GE food/feed crops in the USA.

“Herbicide-tolerant GE soybeans and corn have not increased yields any
more than conventional methods that rely on commonly available
herbicides. Insect-resistant Bt varieties have provided an average
yield advantage of just three to four per cent compared to typical
conventional practices, including synthetic insecticide use. Non-GE
plant breeding and farming methods have increased yields of major
crops by values ranging from 13 to 25 per cent,” the report said.

It argued that no currently available GE varieties enhance the
intrinsic yield of any crops. The intrinsic yields of corn and
soybeans did rise during the 20th century, but not because of GE
traits. Rather, they were due to successes in traditional breeding.

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