The Environmental Impacts of GE Crops

Increased Pesticide & Herbicide Use

Farmers are using more herbicides and insecticides because of GE crops

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, “Insecticide sales are surging after years of decline, as American farmers plant more corn and a genetic modification designed to protect the crop from pests has started to lose its effectiveness.”
  • A recent Forbes story highlighted a report by Food & Water Watch that shows the quick adoption of GE crops by U.S. farmers has increased herbicide use over the past 9 years.
  • A story on Midwest corn farmers by NPR found:

    “It appears that farmers have gotten part of the message: Biotechnology alone will not solve their rootworm problems. But instead of shifting away from those corn hybrids, or from corn altogether, many are doubling down on insect-fighting technology, deploying more chemical pesticides than before.”

  • And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported:

    “Roundup Ready, or glyphosate-tolerant, crops — which are genetically engineered to withstand applications of Roundup — have become ubiquitous on American farmland, accounting for the vast majority of corn and soy grown in the country. But in recent years, as farmers have increasingly relied on the Roundup Ready system, weeds have evolved to survive glyphosate.”

GE crops have created “superweeds” and “superinsects”


  • A report by Charles Benbrook, a WSU research professor, found U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides due largely to heavy adoption of GE crop technologies that are sparking a rise of “superweeds”.
  • According to a report from the agribusiness consultancy Stratus, nearly half (49 percent) of all US farmers surveyed said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent of farmers in 2011.
  • In addition, Stratus found that more and more farms have at least two resistant species on their farm. In 2010 that was just 12 percent of farms, but two short years later 27 percent had more than one.

GE crops negatively impact biodiversity

  • According to the Harvard School of Public Health, GE crops escape from fields into natural ecosystems and the pesticides associated with GE crops can be toxic to many species.
  • In November 2012, Peru passed a law banning the importation, use and production of GE foods for ten years in order to protect the country’s native plant species.

GE crop trials have led to unintentional consequences

  • In May 2013, the USDA announced that unapproved GE wheat from a Monsanto commercial wheat trial was found contaminating an Oregon farmer’s field.
  • Previous GE crop contamination incidents, including StarLink corn and Liberty Link rice have cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost exports and lower crop prices. Subsidies and recalls raised the total estimated costs to $1 billion for Starlink and nearly as much for Liberty Link rice.