GM Crops Failing to Tackle Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Europe: Kirtana Chandrasekaran, GM campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7566 1669

GM Crops Failing to Tackle Climate Change

WASHINGTON - On the day of the release of
annual industry-sponsored figures, a new report from Friends of the
Earth International reveals that claims made by the biotech industry
that genetically modified (GM) crops can combat climate change are both
exaggerated and premature.[1]

The report, ‘Who Benefits from GM Crops?’, examines the evidence for
these claims, and exposes that GM crops could actually increase carbon
emissions while failing to feed the world. This is because, GM crops
are responsible for huge increases in the use of pesticides in the US
and South America, intensifying fossil fuel use. The cultivation of GM
soy to feed factory farmed animals is also contributing to widespread
deforestation in South America, causing massive climate emissions.[2]

The
report also exposes that globally GM crops remain confined to less than
3% of agricultural land and more than 99% are grown for animal feed and
agrofuels, rather than food. There is still not a single commercial GM
crop with increased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance, enhanced
nutrition or other beneficial traits long promised by biotech
companies.[3]

Ongoing concerns about the negative impacts of GM
crops means many Governments are still cautious about adopting them.
India has placed a moratorium on the planting of its first GM food crop
due to widespread concerns on its health, environmental and
socio-economic impact. In Europe the area planted with GM crops has
declined for the 5th consecutive year for the same reasons.

Millions
are being spent by Governments on GM crops, and, promoted as a solution
to climate change, they could be funded in the future through the UN
climate emission reduction Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Friends of the Earth Europe GM campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said,

"GM
crops are being promoted as a solution to feed us in a warming world,
when in reality they are wiping out forests, damaging farmers’
livelihoods and increasing harmful emissions. Given the damaging track
record of GM crops to date, and unfulfilled promises to feed the world,
we would be well advised to disregard claims that GM crops can combat
climate change."

In South America, a cocktail of pesticides is
being applied on GM soy, which is poisoning communities and
contaminating the environment. GM crops, and the corporate control of
seeds, are also hindering the development of real solutions by starving
them of funding and restricting farmers’ access to seeds and knowledge.
Genetically diverse, ecological farming and traditional knowledge have
been identified key to facing future challenges.[4]

Friends of the Earth International food coordinator Martin Drago said,

"The
reality is that GM farming is not a success story. Small farmers across
the world are already using planet-friendly methods to feed themselves
and cool the planet. These methods must be supported rather than
environmentally and socially destructive GM farming."

For more information please contact

Europe: Kirtana Chandrasekaran, GM campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7566 1669 and +44 (0) 79619 86956 (UK mobile)

Sam Fleet, Communications officer for Friends of the Earth Europe:
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 1012 and +32 (0) 470 072 049 (Belgian Mobile)

Martin Drago GM campaigner REDES, Friends of the Earth Uruguay
Tel: (+ 5982) 9022355 – 9082730 and Uruguayan Mobile: (+ 598 99) 138559

NOTES

[1] The Friends of the Earth International report is released to
coincide with the annual release of the 'Global Status of
Commercialized Biotech' report of the industry-sponsored International
Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) -
which promotes GM crops as a key solution to hunger and poverty.

‘Who Benefits from GM Crops 2010?’
http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/Who_Benefits/who_benefits_full_report_2010.pdf

[2]
Recent US Department of Agriculture data has shown that compared to
pesticide use in the absence of GM crops, farmers applied 318 million
more pounds of pesticides over the last 13 years as a result of
planting GM seeds. In Brazil pesticide use increased 5 fold between
1995 and 2005. In 2008, GM crops in the US required over 26% more
kilograms of pesticides per hectare than conventional varieties. In
Argentina, more than two hundred thousand hectares of native forest
disappear every year, mainly due to the expansion of GM soy plantations.

[3]
99% of biotech agriculture consists of four crops with just two traits,
herbicide-tolerance and/or insect-resistance. The vast majority of GM
crops in the pipeline are also herbicide tolerant or insect resistant
crops.

For more info see FoEI, 2009, ‘Killing Fields’, http://www.feedingfactoryfarms.org

[4] UNEP, 2008 Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa. See
http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/ditcted200715_en.pdf

IAASTD, 2008 Agriculture at a Crossroads Key finding 7. See
http://www.agassessment.org/reports/IAASTD/EN/Agriculture%20at%20a%20Crossroads_Global%20Summary%20for%20Decision%20Makers%20%28English%29.pdf 

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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