Some good news out of Brazil. Last week I wrote about how pro-GMO forces within the government were trying to achieve an authorization from the Judiciary Commission for the Congress to legalize Terminator seeds. This came after an earlier promise from the Commission that it would not take such action, and after Brazil adhered to the longstanding global moratorium on Terminator seeds under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
Today we’re hearing that the Commission narrowly voted down the proposal. This is the equivalent of a bill failing to emerge from committee, and so it won’t be coming before the Congress this time round.
Of course, the enemy will certainly try again, probably starting in February 2014 when the next session of Congress convenes.
In other Brazil news, the Brazilian Association of Agrarian Reform (Abra) has released a new report summarizing the first ten years of legal cultivation of GMOs in Brazil. (GMOs were first illegally planted in Brazil on a wide scale. Their presence and contamination was then presented to the government as an accomplished fact. Safely in the briar patch, the government then legalized their cultivation.)
The report (available only in Portuguese so far) tells the same story as GMOs have woven everywhere else they’ve been commercialized: They require greatly increased application of poisons, and yield less than non-GM conventional crops.
Here’s two typical numbers from the report:
In the past ten years, pesticide use in Brazil has increased by 190%, while around the world use increased 90%. (This number conflates two widely diverging groups, countries which have commercialized GMOs on a large scale and seen pesticide use skyrocket, and countries which have not and seen poison use level off or decline.)
Brazil’s soybean yield has grown only 4% over the last ten years, while it grew 31% from 1992-2003, prior to GMO deployment.
These numbers are typical of such studies. For comparison, I’ll cite some trends from the superb 2013 report by a team led by Jack Heinemann which compared yield and poison use in the US (the world’s GMO capital) vs. Europe (which has only sparsely cultivated GMOs) over the same time period.
I haven’t yet written up my own comment on this report, but for today I’ll just list some trends from it. The report contains copious numbers documenting all of these.
*Herbicide use is increasing in the US since the commercialization of GM corn, soy, cotton.
*If we don’t count endemic Bt poison (which of course we should), then insecticide use is slightly down during the GMO era, but very high compared to non-GM Europe. (If we do count the GMOs’ own endemic poison, then insecticide use is way up.)
*From 1985-2010 in Western Europe corn yields per hectare have been higher than those of the US. (From 1960-85 US yields were higher.)
*From 1985-2010 Western European corn farming has used less pesticide than that of the US.
*Wheat yields (comparing the US with Europe) and canola yields (Canada vs. Europe) are increasing at a faster rate in Europe than in the US and Canada respectively. In 1960 US wheat yields and Canadian canola yields were also lower, but the yield gap has increased and is accelerating.
*Insecticide use is falling faster in Europe than in the US. Again, this is counting only sprayed poison, not Bt endemic poison.
Those are just the main trends documented by the report. The new Brazilian report documents similar trends for that country. The same applies everywhere else GMOs have been deployed.
There’s no doubt at all about these two facts. They’ve been thoroughly proven. GMOs cause a large and accelerating increase in the use of agricultural poisons, and they yield less than non-GM conventional crops. The allegations of GMO hacks to the contrary are nothing but Big Lies.