A joint scientific report has been published by Germany's nature conservation agency BfN and the environment agencies of Switzerland and Austria on the agronomic and environmental aspects of GMO cultivation.
The report gives plenty of reasons why those countries may choose not to plant GM herbicide-tolerant crops if proposals to renationalise GMO cultivation decisions to the EU member states are finally passed.
Among the problems with GM crops highlighted in the report are herbicide-resistant weeds, the rising amounts and toxic effects of herbicides used on the crops, proneness to Fusarium mould infection, biodiversity losses from herbicide use, and absence of yield benefit.
The report suggests that given the internationally agreed policy goal of improving biodiversity in agricultural systems, it is time to abandon the practice of comparing GM crop cultivation with chemically-intensive non-GM crop cultivation.
In other words, a more useful comparator would be the low-input and agro-ecological systems successfully being deployed by farmers across the globe. Using such comparators would quickly convince policy-makers that GM herbicide-tolerant crops are not a step forward, but a step backwards in farming.
The report concludes that from a nature protection perspective, "herbicide resistant crops are not part of the solution, but part of the problem".
BfN (2014) Agronomic and environmental aspects of the cultivation of genetically modified herbicide-resistant plants. Agronomic and environmental aspects of the cultivation of genetically modified herbicide-resistant plants - A joint paper of BfN (Germany), FOEN (Switzerland) and EAA (Austria). Edited by Tappeser, B., Reichenbecher, W., & Teichmann, H.. Federal Agency for Nature Protection (BfN).
(Comment by Claire Robinson)