File this one under "whoops":
Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis. The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.
Why the difference? Well, its simple... it takes a REALLY long time to genetically engineer plants. By the time you have one new viable generation of frankenstein foods, traditional breeding techniques could generate dozens of new varieties... in which case, the best traditional crop will almost always outperform the best genetically modified crop. If not now, then probably in a season or two.
I'm not as paranoid about the label "genetic engineering" as some folks -- probably because I did it once in a lab and it wasn't what people think -- but what always bugged me was the woefully unscientific methods that Monsanto used to promote modified crops.
At best, Roundup-Ready crops introduce a new dimension to the arms race between farmers and pests... and one that has much more collateral damage than others. As pests inevitably grow resistant to pesticide, then only the second generation of modified crops and will survive... what then happens to traditional farmers? Or organic farmers?
If they want to use superorganics techniques to grow drought-resistant, flood-resistant, or salt-resistant crops, they have my support... but pesticide-resistant crops make absolutely no sense in the long term. And now it appears that they can't even keep up with the food yields of traditional crops...
Back to the drawing board, I guess.