If you’re wondering why farmers have chosen to grow GM crops, it helps to consider the challenges they face.
Some GM corn crops protect harvests in water-limited conditions better than conventionally produced crops. Other GM crops can also promote the use of no-till farming, which improves soil health by retaining carbon and moisture. No-till also enables farmers to make fewer passes through the field using machinery, which means less fuel used and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Fighting pests and disease
Scientists are developing crops that look and taste the same as their non-GM counterparts, but are resistant to insects and plant-specific diseases that can impact a farmer’s harvest. Plants with traits that protect roots from insect damage have an additional benefit of using water more efficiently.
U.S. farmers who have adopted insect-resistant GM corn and cotton have seen a reduction in pesticide use by 90% and 66% respectively since the adoption of those traits in 1996.
Conserving natural habitats
Without the use of GM crops, farmers would have needed to plant an additional 22.4 million hectares to maintain global production levels in 2016. That’s an area equivalent to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka combined.
GM seeds help farmers around the world meet the increasing demand for food by helping them make the most of their existing arable land, thus enabling them to preserve nearby habitats such as rainforests and prairies.
- Can GMOs Help Protect the Environment? (Infographic)
- How Do GMOS Help Preserve our Habitat? (Infographic)
- How Do GMOs Help Preserve H2O? (Infographic)
- How GMOs and Sustainable Farming Practices Can Improve Air Quality (Infographic)
- How GMOs Help Reduce Food Waste & Loss (Infographic)
- How GMOs Help Improve Soil Health (Infographic)
- GMOA – Let’s talk about GMOs and the Environment (Video)
- FDA – Agricultural Biotechnology: Feed Your Mind
- GMO Answers
- Graham Brookes & Peter Barfoot (2018) Environmental impacts of genetically modified (GM) Crop use 1996–2016: Impacts on pesticide use and carbon
- Graham Brookes & Peter Barfoot (2018) Farm income and production impacts of using GM crop technology 1996–2016
- Carpenter JE. (2011) Impact of GM crops on biodiversity