A Scan of Critical World Developments
GMOs: An Unfulfilled Promise
How do we feed a world whose population may reach 10 billion by 2050? Over the past two decades, some have claimed that genetically modified crops (GMOs), with their putative promise of higher yields with less pesticide, are the answer. However, new studies suggest this may not be so. Despite widespread use of GMOs, the US and Canada have not enjoyed greater yields than Western European nations, which have modernized agriculture without relying on GMOs. Pesticide use in the US has fallen by only half of what it has in France, and herbicide use has actually increased. The biggest beneficiaries of GMOs have been neither people nor planet, but large corporations like the seed giant Monsanto and pesticide giant Syngenta, which have grown more than sixfold in the last decade and a half. Rather than a panacea, GMOs may prove an ecologically costly distraction from the real challenges of feeding a hungry world—decreasing crop and food waste, making food affordable for the poor, and promoting ecological agricultural practices.