Study Adds Weight to Benefits of Genetically Engineered Crops

By Nathaniel Scharping | February 21, 2018 12:10 pm
(Credit: TTstudio/Shutterstock)

(Credit: TTstudio/Shutterstock)

A review of the research on genetically engineered corn concludes that the benefits appear to outweigh the drawbacks.

In a meta-analysis, where researchers synthesize the findings of many studies, researchers from the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies look at papers on genetically engineered (GE) corn from between 1996 and 2016. They were looking for research on crop yields, grain quality, impacts on other organisms and how well the corn degraded in fields after harvest.

More, Better Corn

They say their findings, published last week in Nature Scientific Reports, back up the benefits of corn that has had its genome tweaked to produce more desirable characteristics. Yields across the various studies were anywhere from 5 to almost 25 percent higher, there were fewer toxins in the soil and biomass decomposition in the soil, a measure of how well the corn breaks down, was better among GE strains of corn.

In summary, there was more corn and fewer dangerous compounds. The results add to a body of similar meta-analyses looking at GE crops. Other studies have also found that plants that have been genetically tweaked result in better yields, and also return higher profits for farmers in addition to requiring fewer pesticides. The seeds can cost significantly more, though.

Though GE crops have been controversial ever since farmers began using them decades ago, today, some 12 percent of global crop yields come from such crops. That proportion rises to 54 percent in developing countries, where GE crops can help to compensate for technological shortcomings. Among other things, plants can be engineered to resist pests and herbicides, or to contain more nutrients.

Nevertheless, 38 countries have banned GE crops, citing worries about their safety. In the U.S., GE crops grow on about half of the farmland, according to the USDA, and corn ranks among the top three grown.

MORE ABOUT: agriculture
  • Atlanta_Girl

    Nope. Nope. and nope. All my produce and meat/eggs come from local organic farmers who I know do not use any GMO feed, or Monsanto products. And I also grow some of my own – completely organic. We vote with our wallets with every meal.

    • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

      We know, Love, we know.

    • OWilson

      The problem is it’s not just about you!

      Theres a hungry world coming at yer,and they don’t all l have private land.

      They live in inner city ghettos and crowded cities! :)

      • Atlanta_Girl

        Eye roll. You do realize the stats they cite are significantly disputed by independent sources – but whatevs.

        • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

          👎 ᠎ 👎

        • OWilson

          If we don’t use high tech to feed the world, they’ll just come and take your precious chickens! :)

          Human nature!

      • bananapeal

        please understand, literally nobody has ever asked the usa to feed anyone. we dump cheap agricultural commodities on poor countries and devastate their local farming economies. this is what is known to our farmers as “we gotta feed the world!!” no … no we don’t, every country can feed itself that is free from war and (too much) corruption. LITERALLY EVERY COUNTRY.

    • lump1

      It’s because of people like you that we waste so much farmland on inefficient production. First of all: You eat eggs? You eat *meat*? That’s bad enough. But if you also refuse to eat GM crops, this forces farmers to use nastier methods for pest control, and they still harvest much less from each acre. The point I see in GMO is that it allows us to reduce the area we farm, so the rest can revert to wilderness. In my book, people who make your pattern of buying choices are the worst blights on our environment.

      • Atlanta_Girl

        I buy local grown organic pastured meat, poultry & eggs that consume no grains.

        Flashback 8yrs ago – I was taking 13 prescriptions a day for MS and felt like __. I switched to eating organic, local grown produce, meat, eggs, and dairy (raw milk). I stopped ALL medication. I have not taken as much as an Advil in 7 yrs. (2006-2008 I spent 86 days in the hospital) And I feel amazing. ONLY change in my life – food.

        So you can eat whatever you want. My doctors initially said it was merely a coincidence- but after 3 yrs of looking at my health /labs, they saw connection.

        • OWilson

          You may be on to something there!

          I have not taken anything stronger than a aspirin and not seen a doctor in some 40 years, Except for a couple of broken bones!

          I am in great health and just moved to a third world country! I swim and walk miles every day!

          Listen to your body, it really is talking to you all the time. You are what you eat!

      • Micah

        I disagree with you NOT all farmers work with GM and nothing is ever wasted. I am an owner of a 150 acre farm out in Oregon we don’t use anything with GM and as for you nastier methods we use organic homemade pesticides or natural plants to ward off different bugs and animals. all your GM BS should be directed towards all large Commercialized farms that’s where your problems are at because there working with products that you can’t even eat off the vine. I grantee if you came to my farm we would change your tune.

  • Uncle Al

    Corn is teosinte grass mutated by moisture, oxygen, and copper in metal storage vessels. Every kernal. They lied to you! giggle Gene-gineering obtains a single controlled product rather than playing inheritance saloojee.



Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar