GMOs good for US economy and environment – report

The industry-funded study warns banning GMO use would cause food price hikes and environmental harm.

The elimination of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in US agriculture would be bad for the economy and environment, according to a trade association-funded study carried out at Purdue University.

Thee report examines the potential effects of banning all GMO use in the US, and was conducted for the California Grain and Feed Association, an industry group that promotes the interests of the grain and feed sector. It focuses its analysis on potential yield losses in corn, cotton and soy.

The study finds banning GMOs, could cause corn prices to rise by as much as 28 percent, with total US food prices rising between $14 and $24 billion per year. Yield losses would also result in the conversion of 102,000 hectares of US forest and pasture land to farmland, and therefore increase carbon dioxide emissions. The US is home to 40 percent of the world’s GMO-planted farmland, according to research cited in the study.

“[If] we lost the GMO technology, there would be significant land use change and [greenhouse gas] emissions, important commodity price increases, food price increases, and economic welfare losses,” the study concludes.

Authors of the study simulated a range of estimated yield losses based on existing research on productivity gains from GMO use.

“Absent the GMO technology, more land would be needed to produce corn, soybeans, and cotton. That land comes from switching from other crops and conversion of cropland pasture and forest in many global areas,” write the report’s authors.

They also warn that use of pesticides and other inputs would increase as a result of banning GMOs, a cost which is not quantified in the study.

The California Grain and Feed Association has supported legislation that would prohibit US states from forcing companies to label food products with GMO components.

The report is scheduled to be published in the spring issue of AgBioForum, an online publication focusing on economic and social impacts of biotechnology.