Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
A fully referenced and illustrated version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here
The United States is suffering the worst drought in 50 years. But crop damage may well have been avoided if high quality non-GM varieties were available to farmers. Further evidence is emerging that glyphosate-tolerant crops are ill-equipped to deal with drought, while high quality non-GM varieties are flourishing. Monopoly of the seed industry has left farmers unable to get non-GM varieties, despite the drought having global repercussions including steep rises of cereal prices and reduced meat production in many countries.
In a commentary circulated by GM Watch (UK), Howard Vlieger, a co-founder and agroecological farming advisor of Verity Farms in drought-stricken South Dakota the US, provides evidence from a farmer who has grown both GM and Verity Farms’ non-GM varieties of soybean and corn side by side . Non-GM soybean, grown in agroecological conditions to promote soil biodiversity and nutritional content is shown next to Monsanto’s GM triple-stack GM corn, which is glyphosate-tolerant and additionally expresses two Bt insecticidal toxins, grown using conventional chemical industrial methods that include the use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup (Figure 1). As captured in the photograph, non-GM varieties appear greener, fuller, and healthier. These impressions are backed up by the far superior yield reported of non-GM corn, which averaged 100-120 bushels per acre (BPA) compared to the 8-12 BPA to 30-50 BPA of GM corn.
Figure 1 Aerial photo of adjacent fields with non-GM corn (left) and triple stack roundup ready GM corn (right)
The large yield differential was confirmed in a new set of harvest data provided by Vlieger (with accompanying photographic identification) for three fields surrounding Verity Farm, all growing Smart Stack RR corn . All were harvested for corn silage as the yields were too poor to harvest the grain. The federal crop insurance adjuster appraised yields were respectively 12 bushels per acre (BPA), 27 BPA, and 28 BPA. The Non-GMO corn on Verity Farm across the road yielded 108 BPA.
The findings were replicated with soybean crops (see Figure 2).
Glyphosate-tolerant crops have been repeatedly shown to be less healthy than conventional varieties. Their increased water demands make them entirely unsuitable in times of unpredictable weather conditions and increasingly limited supply globally (see  World Water Supply in Jeopardy, SiS 56). Monopolisation of the seed market means conventional varieties are unavailable, therefore reducing the farmers’ ability to effectively deal with changing conditions and most worryingly, it threatens global food security and sovereignty. A global shift to non-GM agroecological farming is the real way forward.
More at the link above.