Originally published February 25 2015
Non-GMO buffer zones routinely fail at containing GM traits and preventing Bt resistance
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Many of the claims made concerning the supposed benefits of biotechnology and the effective containment of it through so-called "buffer zones" are patently false. Study after study continues to show that the patented traits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) easily spread and cross-contaminate other crops, as well as worsen resistance among pests and weeds.
Alleged reductions in pesticide use associated with GM crops are a complete myth, as many farmers are using the same amounts of, or in some cases more, chemicals than they were prior to adopting GMOs. Bt crops in particular, which contain built-in pesticides, have not reduced insecticide use but rather shifted how the chemicals are applied.
It is often claimed that Bt crops reduce the need for applied insecticides because they are specifically engineered to target pests. But as explained by Earth Open Source, citing a multitude of published science, engineered Bt traits are by definition insecticides themselves, and many farmers still have to douse Bt crops with additional pesticides due to the growing prevalence of Bt resistance.
"[T]he GM Bt gene turns the plant itself into an insecticide," explains Earth Open Source.
"The GM insecticide is present in active form in every part of the crop, including the parts that people and animals eat. So Bt crops do not reduce or eliminate insecticides. They simply change the type of insecticide and the way in which it is used -- from sprayed on, to built in."
GMOs haven't reduced dependance on crop chemicals In general, the adoption of GMOs has done little to curb chemical use. Data compiled by an industry consultancy source reveals that overall chemical use globally has shrunk by less than 7 percent since GMOs were first introduced, with the caveat that older and more dangerous chemicals are now being used in higher amounts to combat pest and weed resistance.
On the flip side, advances in non-GMO and organic growing techniques have led to calculable reductions in chemical use while maintaining roughly equivalent levels of output and profit for farmers. In France, for instance, herbicide use has dropped to 82 percent of 1995 levels, while insecticide use has plunged to 12 percent of 1995 levels.
This was accomplished without the use of GMOs, according to a study published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, which points to diversification and integrated agricultural techniques as the solution, not the subsidized monoculture model prevalent in the U.S.
"GM crops have maintained or increased US pesticide use relative to equally advanced competitors," explains the study. "The pattern and quantities unique to the use of GM-glyphosate-tolerant crops has been responsible for the selection of glyphosate-tolerant weeds, with estimates of resistant weeds on between 6 and 40 million hectares in the United States.
"The use of Bt crops is associated with the emergence of Bt resistance and by novel mechanisms in insect pests."
Buffer zones, "refuges" fail to prevent Bt resistance Concerning Bt technology, the use of buffer zones has utterly failed to stem the tide of Bt resistance. So-called "refuges," where non-Bt crops are planted alongside Bt crops to dilute the population of Bt-resistant pests, have also failed -- one study found that Bt crops are inherently a failure when it comes to pest management, and that their use will "likely hasten the evolution of resistance."
Because of cross-pollination, non-Bt refuges can't really be sustained anyway, as they will eventually be converted into Bt crops. The end result is even more resistance among pests and a never ending cycle of increasing chemical use to combat a problem that will never be mitigated apart from an integrated pest management approach, which simply doesn't exist in the GMO model.
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