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Big Biotech's big lie: National sciences group concludes GMOs do not increase crop production

GMO crop yields

(NaturalNews) Over the years, genetically modified crops have been a controversial topic of intense global debate. While proponents claim that GMOs are safe and needed to feed our burgeoning population, health and environmental groups are concerned about the lack of long-term testing on the impact of GMOs on the environment and human health.

Recently, the National Research Council, the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), released a highly influential and comprehensive report, Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, on the effects of genetically engineered crops.

A panel of experts spent two years producing a 400-page report, which is one of the most extensive reviews of genetically modified crops ever published. They pooled data from more than 1,000 existing studies on genetically modified crops. They interviewed 80 witnesses, and analyzed more than 700 comments submitted by the public.

The study committee concluded that genetically modified crops available to date are safe for human consumption and the environment. However, they note that the prevalence of herbicide-resistant crops has led to an increase in herbicide use and herbicide-resistant weeds.

Furthermore, they found that while GMOs may help farmers economically, they do not see the significant increase in yield promised by proponents that see GMOs as the best way to avoid world hunger.

The report comes at a critical time, as America and Europe are reassessing the place of GMOs in our food system. According to a Pew poll, more than half of Americans (57 percent) believe that GMOs are unsafe and should be labeled, while proponents say they don't cause any harm and will help farmers meet the growing demand for food.

Are GM crops going to feed the world?

Big biotech seed companies such as Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta, have repeatedly told us that their GM technologies are necessary to keep up with the population growth. However, that claim seems to be one big lie.

The NAS report admits that GM food doesn't increase the yields of staple crops, such as soybeans, cotton and maize, and may even give rise to super-weeds. Although pest-resistant GM crops have helped farmers reduce crop losses, no evidence has been found that the use of GMOs improve farm yields.

Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a senior scientist with Consumers Union said, "Despite industry claims, these crops are clearly not the answer to world hunger. It's equally clear that consumers deserve an informed choice about the products in the marketplace."

The study committee said that it may be plausible that new, emerging genetic-engineering technologies could increase yields, but this is not certain. Going forward, the board recommends that even if future GM technologies can help increase crop yields, investing in different approaches, not just genetic engineering, will be important to see maximum improvements in yields.

"Such issues as soil fertility, integrated pest management, market development, storage, and extension services will all need to be addressed to improve crop productivity, decrease post-harvest losses, and increase food security," the committee warns.

GMOs safe for human consumption?

While the study has debunked the myth and general belief that we need GMO foods to feed the world, the report's statement that GMO foods are safe for human consumption and the environment still seems slanted in favor of Big Agri companies.

Advocacy group Food and Water Watch has accused many of the study committee members of having worked with Monsanto or other biotech companies with an interest in the GMO industry. In a report on their website they question whether or not the public should trust the review.

"Corporate agribusinesses pour millions of dollars into our public universities, play a heavy hand in peer-reviewed scientific journals and seek to influence prestigious scientific bodies like the National Research Council," reads the report. "We've asked the NRC [National Research Council] many times to remove itself from this broken system of science, to step up and be a leader on the issue of conflicts of interest in GMO research."

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