(NaturalNews) Since the time when genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) were first introduced into the American food supply back in 1996, there has been a dramatic increase in pesticide use rather than the decrease we were all promised by the biotechnology industry as a supposed benefit of GMO technology. A new research paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe explains how, today, conventional farmers are dousing their crops with more pesticides than ever -- and as long as GMOs remain in the food supply, pesticide use will only continue to escalate.
The report, authored by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University (WSU), spells out how overall pesticide use on conventional crops has risen by 404 million pounds since 1996 when GMOs were first introduced. Similarly, herbicide use has increased by more than 527 million pounds, contradicting industry claims that GMOs would reduce the need for such crop chemicals.
The primary culprit in this rise appears to be the continued emergence of "superweeds," or weeds that have developed resistance to GMO crop chemicals like Roundup (glyphosate). Roundup-ready crops like Monsanto's GM soybeans, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets, all possess artificial genes that make them resistant to glyphosate. But it is this resistance that has triggered the onset of superweeds, which require increasing amounts of chemicals to keep at bay.
"Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent," says Benbrook. "The relatively recent emergence and spread of insect populations resistant to the Bt toxins expressed in Bt corn and cotton has started to increase insecticide use, and will continue to do so."
The only category of chemicals to see a decrease in use between 1996 and 2011 were insecticides, and this was likely due to the release of newer GM crops like Bt corn that contain their own built-in insecticides. But according to Benbrook, insecticide use is once again on the rise as well, as insects develop increasing resistance to Bt and other GM insecticides.
"In order to deal with rapidly spreading resistant weeds, farmers are being forced to expand use of older, higher-risk herbicides. To stop corn and cotton insects from developing resistance to Bt, farmers planting Bt crops are being asked to spray the insecticides that Bt corn and cotton were designed to displace."