Improving Crop Yields

argylesock says… Here are thoughtful words about genetic modification (GM, also called genetic engineering or GE). I like Global Food Politics’ remark that both the pro-GM thinkers, and the anti-GM thinkers, can ‘marshal data in support of their position by cutting the data in particular ways.’ The study reported in the article I reblog here concludes that ‘yield benefits (or limitations) over time are due to breeding and not GM’. You might also like to see what my fellow blogger skepticalraptor says: ‘Where’s the common sense in the GMO discussion?

Global Food Politics

corn university photoThere’s long been a debate over the impact of genetic modification on crop yields. While agricultural biotechnology’s proponents argue that genetically modified crops demonstrate higher yields, its critics contend that organic production and conventional crop breeding result in higher yields than genetic modification. The problem is that both sides are able to marshal data in support of their position by cutting the data in particular ways. Under ideal growing conditions or when pest infestation levels are high, genetically modified crops often demonstrate higher yields. But under less-than-ideal growing conditions or when pest infestation levels are lower, conventional (non-GM) varieties perform better. When measured in terms of monoculture yield (output per acre of a single crop variety), GM varieties tend to have higher productivity. When measured in other ways (total caloric output per acre, cost per calorie, etc.), conventional varieties tend to have higher productivity. It often comes down to how…

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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4 Responses to Improving Crop Yields

  1. EqFe. says:

    I wanted to share this link with you, which I’m sure you will classify as bad science, since the use of the pesticide, and the planting method, is used for all commercial planting of corn. http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/11739-gmo-bee-deaths.html In part to bring up the way GMOs are usually thought of, and that is Round up ready and heavy pesticide use. The fact that roundup ready seed, has taken over the market for key commercial crops, tells me that if the combination of the seed and roundup use doesn’t increase yield, it most likely does increase profit for the grower.

    • argylesock says:

      Thank you for this link. Why would I call it bad science? I’ve no problem with commercial growing.

      That article confuses two issues: neonics and GM. That journalist does right to draw attention to neonics as a danger to pollinators. But the corn being planted wasn’t some new kind called ‘Neonic Ready’, in fact I don’t think there’s such a thing.

  2. EqFe says:

    The bad science was drawing a ling between the neonics and GMO.

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