What are the environmental benefits of using GM seeds?
Biotechnology is used to develop traits that make crops more tolerable or resistant to plant diseases, pests, extreme environmental conditions such as drought, and specific plant herbicides. These traits not only help keep plants healthier but can also help maintain or improve our environment. For example, herbicide tolerant crops allow farmers to use less tillage which reduces nutrient runoff and soil erosion (helping our rivers), and retain additional soil moisture (requiring less irrigation), all while maintaining yield and nutritional value. In fact:
- The planting of GMOs resulted in a 379 million-pound reduction in pesticide applications in the U.S. from 1996-2009, saving farmers time and money, while improving our environment.
- Bt Sweet Corn can be grown with up to 85 percent less insecticide compared to conventional sweet corn.
- Widespread use of Bt corn has suppressed the devastating European Corn Borer (ECB) so well that the pest no longer threatens U.S. non-GMO corn crops.
- In 2009, 65 percent of U.S. soybeans grown used conservation tillage, resulting in a 93 percent decline in soil erosion, preserving an estimated one billion tons of top soil. This reduction, in part, was due to GM soybeans, which are resistant to herbicides.