Now that the dust has settled after the The New York Times’ bombshell analysis and report on the failed promises of genetically engineered crops, the debate between the media and Biotech interests has continued — as have further analyses of the Times’ assertions.
Much to the chagrin of Monsanto, the Times published in-depth statistics showing that GMOs (the common term for genetically engineered, lab-spliced crops) don’t increase yields or reduce pesticide use after all, punching holes in the company’s biggest arguments for the crops’ very existence on a national stage.
Monsanto, as you may have imagined, was upset by the report and offered up a response.
But do the company’s claims really hold water?
Where Monsanto Gets Their Statistics
As reported on in a new analysis by Reynard Loki of Alternet, Monsanto doesn’t get its stats from the same place as the Times or most other independent researchers do— in this case they relied on PG Economics, a UK-based agricultural industry consultancy, for data.
But according to the website Lobbywatch.org, a UK non-profit that “tracks deceptive PR practices,” PG is a go-to resource for the biggest agrochemical giants in the world: BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical, Syngenta, Dupont and Monsanto have all commissioned the company to write reports. The organization says that it is “independent and objective,” but its history of working on behalf of all of the major pro-GMO organizations suggests otherwise.
According to LobbyWatch.org, in 2004 a report titled “Can GM and non-GM crops really co-exist in the European Union? According to the respected economic consultants group PG Economics, yes they can!!” did not mention that in its press release that it was commissioned by a Biotechnology group (ABE) of which the above six companies are members.
Between the group’s ties to the major agrochemical and GMO companies and incidents like this, it’s fair to wonder whether Monsanto’s stats should hold the same weight. And considering that Monsanto has been documented as using its own studies to support the supposed “safety” of its chemicals like glyphosate with the support of major government organizations like the EPA, it’s fair to wonder why anyone would trust these and other claims.
More GM Industry Deception?
Also mentioned in the analysis, which can be read here, is evidence of the more egregiously deceptive practices Monsanto and co. have been charged with in the wake of the report.
While Monsanto often attempts to justify its existence and continued research by stating that its GMOs are needed to “feed the world,” recent research suggests otherwise. The “United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields—food per acre—when measured against Western Europe.” the Times analysis stated, as Loki noted.
Although Monsanto continues to claim its products use less pesticides, the effects of its current model are being felt in Vermont, where the U.S.’ first mandatory labeling law was passed and subsequently torpedoed by millions of dollars worth of lobbying by Big Ag.
As mentioned in the Loki analysis:
The true nature of GMO agriculture in Vermont today is a stark and dangerous difference from the promises of its corporate advocates. According to data collected by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, pesticide use is up 39% and increasing rapidly while, at the same time, new pesticides are being added to the arsenal. Climate-threatening nitrogen fertilizers have been up about 17% per year in the decade of GMO’s rise to dominance (2002-2012) and climbing as our denuded soils require more and more inputs for high production. And the pollution to our climate, water and soil from these increases continues to rise, keeping us on a steady degenerative decline, environmentally, economically and culturally.
The Times analysis ended up finding “little evidence that the introduction of GE crops were resulting in more rapid yearly increases in on-farm crop yields in the United States than had been seen prior to the use of GE crops.”
Critics and activists say it’s because Monsanto and the other big six companies also happen to sell pesticides designed to work with crops engineered to resist them.
“Over the past 15 years, the combined market capitalizations of Monsanto and Syngenta have grown more than sixfold. And these companies are profiting on both ends…They sell the seeds and the poisons sprayed on those seeds. Great for their bottom line, terrible for the rest of us and the planet,” said Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety.
For more analysis on the Times report and Monsanto’s failed promises, check out the full article on Alternet by clicking here.