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E-M:/ Genetically Engineered Crops and Pesticide Use in the United States

Enviro-Mich message from Claire O'Leary <claireoleary@comcast.net>

While many farmers have embraced the promise genetically engineered (GE*) crops as a way to reduce the toxic use of chemicals in their fields, this report reveals that "GE corn, soybeans and cotton have led to a 122 million pound increase in pesticide use since 1996...HT [herbicide tolerant] crops have increased herbicide use 138 million pounds."

Dr. Benbrook: "As a result, the difference in the total pounds of herbicides applied per acre planted to HT crops compared to non-HT conventional varieties has increased steadily since 2000. Three factors--the emergence and spread of weeds resistant or less sensitive to glyphosate, limited supplies of conventional crop seeds in a number of popular maturity groups, and aggressive herbicide price cutting by companies seeking a larger share of the market--are working together to create the 'perfect storm' that now threatens to undermine the efficacy of HT technology." (from Executive summary, p. 4)

**Percentage of major crops planted in U. S. with GE varieties in 2004---(Michigan acres/percentages):

GE corn 45% (726,000/33%)

GE Soybeans 85% (1,500,000/75%)

GE Cotton 76% (0% needs warmer climate)

*GE is also known as GM/genetically modified. Since conventional plant breeders are essentially using selective breeding to genetically modify the traits of organisms, genetic engineering is a more accurate term to describe this novel technology.

**According to Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, August, 2004

Claire O'Leary
Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee

Genetically Engineered Crops and Pesticide Use in the United States:
The First Nine Years
Dr. Charles M. Benbrook
Northwest Science and Environmental Policy Center
Sandpoint Idaho
October 25, 2004
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About This Report

This report is the seventh in a series of Technical Papers prepared by
Benbrook Consulting Services on the development, costs and benefits, and
environmental impacts of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the United
States. The full series of Technical Papers has been posted on the website
Ag BioTech InfoNet and are accessible at

The analysis in this report relies heavily on the good work of the USDA's
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). While NASS pesticide use
data are neither perfect nor complete, the annual NASS survey on pesticide
use in major field crops is the best and only source of publicly accessible,
national data on pesticide use. NASS data are consistent over time and
across production regions, key attributes for an assessment over several
years such as the one reported herein.

Thanks to Karen Lutz Benbrook for compiling NASS pesticide use data into a
database that allows more in-depth analyses. She also did an excellent job
in producing the report's final format and layout.

Several pest management specialists working at land grant universities
provided guidance regarding recent developments in the field and the
appropriate interpretation of USDA data. The entomologists and weed science
specialists at several universities, in particular Iowa State University,
the University of Illinois, Purdue University, University of Arizona, and
the University of Wisconsin are conducting and reporting independent
analyses of the impacts, performance, costs, and benefits of today's
genetically engineered crops. Thanks to them for their important, ongoing

Also thanks to the Union of Concerned Scientists for providing the funding
that made it possible for this analytical work to be carried out. This
report was prepared by Benbrook Consulting Services and is being provided
free of charge via Ag BioTech InfoNet as a public service.

Read the report at: http://www.biotech-info.net/technicalpaper7.html

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