With this final comic in this GMO series, I’d like to expand on some of the points brought up in the comments. First, people very commonly misuse the word pesticide – confusing it with herbicide or ‘chemicals’ generically. So when they say that GE crops use increasing amounts of pesticides, they have it exactly wrong.

Btuse

It is interesting to note that Bt, or bacillus thuringiensis, is an insecticide that is widely used on ORGANIC crops as well. So really, it’s a moot point against GMOs – especially since Bt is nontoxic in mammals. You could eat a Chipotle burrito of this stuff before you felt like you would die, and lets be honest, you feel that way after a Chipotle burrito anyway. Most arguments of this sort point to glyphosate or RoundUp as the main culprit for evildoing. Again, a moot point because glyphosate is the most common herbicide, not only in GE crops – although GE crops used much less of it early on.

HTuseThis is common for any herbicide or pesticide, to become less effective as the pest species adapts. However, GE is a tool that can help keep us ahead of this curve and new varieties of GE crops “stack traits” of various genes to do this – for example with both Ht and Bt.

But here’s the major point – GE crops promote conservation practices such as ‘no-till’ farming, where farmers do not have to plow their fields multiple times per year. Not only does this save a lot of gasoline and carbon emissions, more importantly it prevents runoff of fertilizers and pesticides into waterways, prevents erosion, and maintains the moisture of the soil. The difference in farming practices varies by crop, but in any case the difference is pronounced.

NoTill NoTill2

But here’s the bottom line, farmers have been purchasing seeds way before GE came around because it’s easier and cheaper than trying to retain and store seed themselves. Most importantly, farmers use GE because it saves them money when less of their crop dies, which means it saves the consumer money as well. Like some of my commenters pointed out, if ‘organic’ is what farmers have always successfully done – why does it cost so much more for the consumer? It’s not any healthier for you.

Like a true science communicator, Bill Nye recently accepted an invitation to Monsanto to speak with their geneticists and was swayed by all of the evidence that GMOs are safe and good for the environment:


↓ Transcript
ROB
Genetic crops actually help the environment through no-till farming.
KATE
I'm just not convinced.

ROB
If you care about the environment, it's irrational to oppose GMO's.
KATE
Did you just call your pregnant girlfriend irrational?

ROB
What I meant was-
KATE
I'm allowed to be rationally irrational!


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