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Environmental benefits of genetically modified crops: Global and European perspectives on their ability to reduce pesticide use

By J. R. Park


The Green Revolution, which brought together improved varieties, increased use of fertiliser, irrigation and synthetic pesticides, is credited with helping to feed the current global population of 6 billion. While this paper recognises the ability of pesticides to reduce crop losses, it also discusses their potential negative effects on public health, with particular emphasis in developing countries, and the environment. The response of the agricultural industry in bringing forward new technology such as reduced application rates of targeted pesticides with lower toxicity and persistency is noted. However, with increasing world population, a slowing of the rate of crop improvement through conventional breeding and a declining area of land available for food production there is a need for new technologies to produce more food of improved nutritional value in an environmentally acceptable and sustainable manner. Whilst the authors recognise that the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops is controversial, the benefits of these crops, including their effect on pesticide use is only now beginning to be documented. Published data are used to estimate what effect GM crops have had on pesticide use first on a global basis, and then to predict what effec

Year: 2013
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