The environment would suffer devastating consequences if activists manage to ban genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to a study published Monday by Purdue University.
“This is not an argument to keep or lose GMOs,” Dr. Wallace Tyner, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “It’s just a simple question: What happens if they go away?”
The Purdue study used an economic model to calculate crop yield, as well as economic and environmental effects of GMOs. It found that eliminating all GMOs in the U.S. would cause corn yield to decline by approximately 11.2 percent and cotton yields to decline by 18.6 percent. The study predicted a GMO ban would cause food prices to rise by one to two percent, costing consumers $14 billion to $24 billion annually.
“[W]e know we’ll need to nearly double again the amount of food we produce over the next 50 years,” Greg Conko, executive director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “To stave off ecological disaster, we will have to substantially increase yields again. That won’t all come from GMOs. But much of it will have to. The alternative is to substantially increase our use of agricultural chemicals: fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. Adoption of the GMOs already on the market has been proven to reduce our reliance on agricultural chemicals. So, GMOs are a win-win for the environment.”
The study estimates that making up for such a decline would require 102,000 hectares of American forest and pasture be converted to cropland, and 1.1 million hectares globally. An area the size of Connecticut would need to be converted to agricultural use to sustain current levels of food production.
“From 1960 to 2000, improved agricultural technologies more than doubled global agricultural output on essentially the same amount of land,” Conko continued. “If we’d had to double food production using 1960’s technology, we’d have had to bring close to 1/3 of the Earth’s land surface area into agriculture. That would have been an ecological catastrophe.”
Despite opposition from environmental groups, getting rid of GMOs could even increase carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which green activists believe causes global warming.
“Some of the same groups that oppose GMOs want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the potential for global warming,” Dr. Tyner said. “The result we get is that you can’t have it both ways. If you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, an important tool to do that is with GMO traits.”
Environmental groups, like Greenpeace, consider genetically modified organisms to be both “genetic pollution” and a “major threat.” The group has long been associated with eco-terrorism against property to protest genetically modified organisms. The group’s values statement promises “we are committed to nonviolence,” but as Scientific American says “their “non-violent” opposition to GMOs contributes directly to real human death and suffering.”
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