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7-Business: Study touts benefits of genetically modified crops



*------------------------------------------------------------------------*
   "A British research firm, hired by Monsanto Co., said Tuesday that
    the global use of genetically modified crops has added $27 billion
    to farm income and greatly reduced agriculture's negative impacts
    upon the environment. 'The thing that struck me most was ... how
    big the benefits were,' said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics
    Ltd."
*------------------------------------------------------------------------*



------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Study touts benefits of genetically modified crops
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA, by Rachel Melcer
        http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/story/
BCB6A8B621D6235186257098000C732D?OpenDocument&highlight=2%2C%22monsanto%22
DATE:   12.10.2005

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Study touts benefits of genetically modified crops

A British research firm, hired by Monsanto Co., said Tuesday that the
global use of genetically modified crops has added $27 billion to farm
income and greatly reduced agriculture's negative impacts upon the
environment.

"The thing that struck me most was ... how big the benefits were," said
Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics Ltd.

Brookes co-authored the study on the cumulative economic and
environmental results of using Monsanto's biotech crops between their
commercialization in 1996 and last year.

Among the results: Farmers reduced fuel consumption by cutting down on
the use of machines to apply chemicals and till the soil, saving a total
475 million gallons of fuel.

By not burning this fuel, and by reducing plowing that allows carbon to
escape from the soil, growers cut overall carbon dioxide emissions that
could have an impact on global warming. The reduction was equivalent to
eliminating 22 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Farm incomes grew by more than $27 billion, including an $8 billion
benefit to growers in Argentina.

Monsanto, based in Creve Coeur, is the world's leading producer of
genetically modified crops. It sells soybeans, corn, cotton and canola
that can withstand certain pests as well as applications of glyphosate
herbicide, which Monsanto sells as Roundup.

Monsanto and its competitors long have touted the environmental and
economic benefits of these crops. They boost yield, reduce the need for
herbicides and pesticides and simplify farming.

Yet opponents worry that it could reduce biodiversity and otherwise
damage the environment, or pose a threat to human health.

Some bristle at Monsanto's dominance in the marketplace, as nearly 197
million acres were planted with its biotech crops this year. They are
used by more than 8.25 million farmers in 18 countries, according to the
PG Economics report.

Nevertheless, the European Union and several other countries largely have
shunned genetically modified crops.

"I do get frustrated that Europe is missing out on these benefits,"
Brookes said.

The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the use of biotech crops
in the last nine years is equivalent to the result of removing 5 million
cars from the road for a year, he said. The pesticides not used during
that period, which would have been applied with conventional crops, could
fill 1,514 rail cars.

Among the biggest economic benefactors is Argentina, where the use of
genetically modified crops has reduced the need for tilling and made it
possible to quickly harvest one crop, then plant another.

Growers have been able to add a second harvest to a single growing
season, producing Roundup Ready soybeans immediately after harvesting
traditional wheat, Brookes said.

That second harvest accounted for about 22 percent of Argentina's total
soybean production and $1.7 billion of its farm income last year, he said.

However, growers can overuse the technology and end up blunting its benefits.

Planting the same glyphosate-resistant crop, year after year on the same
property, can give rise to weeds that also can withstand the herbicide.
Eight species of resistant weeds have so far been identified, leading
farmers to apply additional chemicals in order to kill them.

"It's not a major problem at the moment," Brookes said. "But, yes - you
need to recognize it as a problem that can develop."



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