Friends of the Earth International
Immediate release: February 23, 2010
NEW REPORT: GM CROPS FAILING TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE
Global opposition and safety concerns continue to halt biotech industry
Amsterdam / Uruguay, 23 February 2010 - On the day of the release of
annual industry-sponsored figures, a new report from Friends of the
Earth International reveals that claims made by the biotech industry
that genetically modified (GM) crops can combat climate change are both
exaggerated and premature.
The report, 'Who Benefits from GM Crops?', examines the evidence for
these claims, and exposes that GM crops could actually increase carbon
emissions while failing to feed the world. This is because, GM crops are
responsible for huge increases in the use of pesticides in the US and
South America, intensifying fossil fuel use. The cultivation of GM soy
to feed factory farmed animals is also contributing to widespread
deforestation in South America, causing massive climate emissions.
The report also exposes that globally GM crops remain confined to less
than 3% of agricultural land and more than 99% are grown for animal feed
and agrofuels, rather than food. There is still not a single commercial
GM crop with increased yield, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance,
enhanced nutrition or other beneficial traits long promised by biotech
Ongoing concerns about the negative impacts of GM crops means many
Governments are still cautious about adopting them. India has placed a
moratorium on the planting of its first GM food crop due to widespread
concerns on its health, environmental and socio-economic impact. In
Europe the area planted with GM crops has declined for the 5th
consecutive year for the same reasons.
Millions are being spent by Governments on GM crops, and, promoted as a
solution to climate change, they could be funded in the future through
the UN climate emission reduction Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Friends of the Earth Europe GM campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran said,
"GM crops are being promoted as a solution to feed us in a warming
world, when in reality they are wiping out forests, damaging farmers'
livelihoods and increasing harmful emissions. Given the damaging track
record of GM crops to date, and unfulfilled promises to feed the world,
we would be well advised to disregard claims that GM crops can combat
In South America, a cocktail of pesticides is being applied on GM soy,
which is poisoning communities and contaminating the environment. GM
crops, and the corporate control of seeds, are also hindering the
development of real solutions by starving them of funding and
restricting farmers' access to seeds and knowledge. Genetically diverse,
ecological farming and traditional knowledge have been identified key to
facing future challenges.
Friends of the Earth International food coordinator Martin Drago said,
"The reality is that GM farming is not a success story. Small farmers
across the world are already using planet-friendly methods to feed
themselves and cool the planet. These methods must be supported rather
than environmentally and socially destructive GM farming."
For more information please contact:
Europe: Kirtana Chandrasekaran, GM campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7566 1669 and +44 (0) 79619 86956 (UK mobile)
Sam Fleet, Communications officer for Friends of the Earth Europe:
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 1012 and +32 (0) 470 072 049 (Belgian Mobile)
Martin Drago GM campaigner REDES, Friends of the Earth Uruguay
Tel: (+ 5982) 9022355 - 9082730 and Uruguayan Mobile: (+ 598 99) 138559
 The Friends of the Earth International report is released to
coincide with the annual release of the 'Global Status of Commercialized
Biotech' report of the industry-sponsored International Service for the
Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) - which promotes GM
crops as a key solution to hunger and poverty.
'Who Benefits from GM Crops 2010?'
 Recent US Department of Agriculture data has shown that compared to
pesticide use in the absence of GM crops, farmers applied 318 million
more pounds of pesticides over the last 13 years as a result of planting
GM seeds. In Brazil pesticide use increased 5 fold between 1995 and
2005. In 2008, GM crops in the US required over 26% more kilograms of
pesticides per hectare than conventional varieties. In Argentina, more
than two hundred thousand hectares of native forest disappear every
year, mainly due to the expansion of GM soy plantations.
 99% of biotech agriculture consists of four crops with just two
traits, herbicide-tolerance and/or insect-resistance. The vast majority
of GM crops in the pipeline are also herbicide tolerant or insect
For more info see FoEI, 2009, 'Killing Fields',
 UNEP, 2008 Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa. See
IAASTD, 2008 Agriculture at a Crossroads Key finding 7. See