Remember those flagrant claims that Big Biotech made, that genetically modified foods were a big reason why the world was enjoying food with less pesticide residues? Well, it turns out, those promises were like all the other biotech claims – baseless.

What has really happened is one class of harmful pesticides has simply been replaced by another. A massive increase in bee-toxic neonicotinoids has replaced chemical insecticides used previously.

This isn’t the first time a scientific study revealed that Monsanto and their ilk actually cause greater pesticide use, but a new study points out specifically how biotech has caused a “rapid increase” in neonicotinoid insecticide use – especially in the widely planted GM corn and soy crops. Just how much of an increase are we talking about, for all who want to claim there is no ‘statistical’ evidence against GM agriculture?

More neonics were used to the tune of 34−44% more for GM soybeans and 79−100% of GM corn hectares being treated in 2011.

I’d say that accounts for a ‘dramatic increase’ no matter how you want to look at the numbers. We aren’t arguing over half a percentage point here – biotech has caused an almost 100% increase in damaging chemical pesticides in the last several years.

Margaret Douglas, graduate student in entomology at Pennsylvania State University and an author of the study, commented:

“Previous studies suggested that the percentage of corn acres treated with insecticides decreased during the 2000s, but once we took seed treatments into account we found the opposite pattern. Our results show that application of neonicotinoids to seed of corn and soybeans has driven a major surge in the U.S. cropland treated with insecticides since the mid-2000s.”

pesticides_neonics_study_chart

No wonder the bees and butterflies are dying. The study also found that over 40 million hectares of land are doused in neonics since the industry has promoted an “insurance-based approach to pest management” causing a now limited availability of neonicotinoid-free seed, farmers are running out of other options.

What’s more, the study outlines that Bt crops planted were not included in the original Big Biotech studies which allowed them to claim that their manipulated crops were allowing for fewer pesticides to be sprayed – that’s because Bt crops ARE a pesticide. The Bt toxins are inside every fiber of the plant once it grows, and insects that eat them end up, essentially, with an exploded gut as their form of a quick and painful death.

Put more gently, the researchers stated that studies claiming that Bt crops have decreased insecticide use “do not seem to have considered seed treatments, and so may have overstated reductions in insecticide use.”

I’ll say. Monsanto’s Bt toxins don’t just kill insects. They have also been known to harm human embryo cells. E Toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has also been found in the blood of pregnant women and baby’s cordblood. Yet Monsanto asserts that their pesticide in the form of Bt crops are safe.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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