Home > Growing GM Foods > GM Foods and Product Yields

GM Foods and Product Yields

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 31 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Gm Foods And Product Yields

One of the most controversial aspects of genetically modified (GM) foods relates to the yields from GM crops in comparison with yields from conventional, non-GM foods.

There has been much debate about the extent of the increased yields from the production of GM crops. In fact, some people have cited that studies indicate GM crops can show significantly lower yields than non-GM crops, which suggests that such crops defeat the purpose of using GM crops in the first place.

Purported Benefits of GM Crops and Increased Yields

A specific benefit that is reported to result from the use of GM crops is that they have higher yields than the production of conventional, non-GM crops. This benefit is suggested to occur because GM crops are typically pest-resistant and herbicide-resistant, which means they would hypothetically grow more freely and abundantly.

Without the competition from weeds, which can reduce the crop access to light, water and important nutrients, the logic is that there will be higher yields. In one study several years ago, cotton crops in India that had been genetically modified to be resistant to specific insects did produce significantly higher yields.

In the study, cotton was grown that had been engineered to have a gene from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The result was that the plant is toxic to a number of different kinds of bollworm, all of which are known to harm crops in India. To assess the crop in comparison with conventional cotton crops, the Bt cotton was grown beside non-GM cotton. Yields showed significant differences, with the Bt cotton having a yield that was improved by more than eighty percent.

Issues with GM Crops and Yields

On the opposite side of the debate are studies indicating that GM crops have not shown improved yields. In fact, some research shows that GM crops have barely achieved equivalent yields and have produced lower ones in some instances. Given that some of the companies who sell GM seeds cite improved yields and an improved ability to tackle poverty and hunger, the question of whether this is true is important to answer.

A report that was provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that the GM crops currently available are not able to improve the yield potential of hybrid varieties. Another study suggested that yields can actually decrease if the varieties that are used for carrying herbicide-tolerant genes or also ones resistant to pests aren't the strongest yielding cultivars.

Another recent report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation found that GM crops can show reduced yields and a smaller amount in some instances.

Still, it is extremely difficult to assess the yields and amount of GM crops in comparison with non-GM, conventional crops. There are many other factors at work, including the growing conditions.

Also, the extent to which a specific geographic area is infested with insects or weeds will impact any studies. On top of that, the weather for that region will influence the yield as well. For example, one study found that under drought conditions, soybean losses tended to be higher in GM crops than in non-GM varieties.

While some GM crops are engineered to withstand specific weather conditions, others are engineered to address pests or weeds.

The Verdict on GM Crops and Yields

Clearly, it is a challenging task to form any solid conclusions about GM crops – based on the current evidence and mixed reviews and studies. Many organisations have also skewed the results to suit their own agenda, whether that agenda is one with the aim of furthering the biotechnology industry or one that involves promoting the competing organic food industry.

More research is needed and it should be performed more rigidly and by an autonomous group that does not have specific interests in the field, which could easily sway the quality of the research, the results and the interpretation.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Bainer
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    It's called, We all have a choice, either we buy into it or not! Stop letting big pharma and governments push you around. Stand up to…
    16 April 2018
  • ReverendSatanist666
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    your all forgetting that satan approved GMOs in His book of revelations which you would know if you were at the satan-lizard cross over…
    15 April 2018
  • Noowe
    Re: Ethical Concerns and GM Foods
    The ethical issues of GMO is as a result of their many health risks associated that outweigh the benefits. More so there is…
    9 April 2018
  • 1wangste
    Re: Ethical Concerns and GM Foods
    You realize that these aren't ethical issues. These are strictly ENVIRONMENTAL concerns that have nothing to do with ethics. Just…
    28 March 2018
  • Shorty
    Re: A Career in Biotechnology
    I need help from 2 qualified Biotechnologists it 4 a reseach assingment please
    21 March 2018
  • Ella
    Re: The Long-term Effects of GM Foods
    Thank you! This article really helped!
    3 March 2018
  • YaBoi
    Re: Ethical Concerns and GM Foods
    Plz use the justify function for the good of humanity
    28 February 2018
  • Ruthers
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    I don't think we're giving our benevolent lizard overlords enough credit for this remarkable technological achievement. We should be…
    23 February 2018
  • LizaaaaaaardQueen
    Re: Fact Sheet: Pros vs Cons
    My Lizard King, it is time for our reign on this weak planet with the ever increasing amount of 'GMOs,' as they call it. Let us rule…
    22 February 2018
  • Des
    Re: The Public Perception of GM Foods in the UK
    Anybody has an idea if NON GM Cornglutenmeal (60% protein) is actually used in instant soups/ recipes in Asia…
    13 February 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the GeneticallyModifiedFoods website. Please read our Disclaimer.