What is the Impact of GM Crops?

impact of gm crops

A meta analysis of the impact of gm crops find that they lower pesticide use, including glyphosate, increases crop yields and increases profits generated.

In recent months I’ve written many news items about all aspects of genetically modified organisms. Many people worries about the safety of genetically modified crops while other believe that there are  problems with regulations for these crops, false of course. You can find many myths about GM crops mixed with real areas of concern which includes the issue with the monarch butterfly. Instead of focusing on the safety aspects of GMOs a new meta analysis look at the real impact of gm crops, when farmers plant hectares of a crop like corn in their soil.

The Impact of GM Crops – What does the data show ?

So what exactly is the impact of the GM crops on farmers?


All new technology have to have some advantage for people to start using them. In the case of GM crops one of these advantages are yield. Genetically modified crops that resist both pests and herbicides, like glyphosate, are going to have higher yields. In the meta analysis researchers found that yields of GM crops increased by an average of 22%. The higher yield was the result of not losing crops to pests. The yields were even greater in developing countries since they tend to have more problems with insects.

Pesticide use

Many anti-GMO ideologues try to say that there are more pesticides used on farmers fields because of GM crops since glyphosate use can lead to glyphosate-resistant weeds making the farmers spray even more pesticides. In a previous article result showed this wasn’t the case and this study further confirms this. Overall they found that pesticide use dropped by 37% on fields using GM crops. Fewer pounds of herbicides used on corn, soy, cotton or any crop for that matter is better for everyone.

The Money

So it seems like the impact of gm crops are almost entirely positive, what about the cash? Seeds do cost more since companies have spent millions developing them. Production costs are actually higher but this is offset by having to use less pesticides to kill weeds and getting higher yields means more to sell. Researchers found that there were a 68% increase in farmer profits. These gains were also more significant in developing countries were they’re needed most.

So what is the impact of GM crops?

Mainly positive if you’re a farmer. Using a GM crop like corn, cotton or soy the three most common result in: Fewer pounds of herbicide applied including the problem with resistant weeds, more food produced per hectare of land and bigger profits all of this with a proven safety record. Maybe a name change is what’s required for people to start accepting this new farming technology.

Image credit: Sarah via flickr.com, CC BY 2.0