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Study: Eliminating GMOs would hurt environment, economy

A vast majority of corn, soybean and cotton production in the United States currently relies on GMO traits.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 1, 2016 at 11:39 AM
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., March 1 (UPI) -- Researchers at Purdue University simulated a GMO ban in the United States, and the outputs weren't positive. The scientists found lower crop yield would have negative environmental and economic consequences.

To conduct their research, agricultural economists Wally Tyner, Farzad Taheripour and Harry Mahaffey used the Purdue­developed GTAP­BIO model -- a model designed to study how agricultural, energy, trade and environmental policy changes will affect the economy.

Their findings, published in the journal AgEcon, suggest a GMO ban would lead to significantly diminished crop yields. As a result, farmers would need to use more land to meet demand for their products.

Such inefficiencies would tax the environment, researchers say. Putting more land in to production -- converted from pasture and forest -- would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

"Some of the same groups that oppose GMOs want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the potential for global warming," Tyner explained in a press release. "The result we get is that you can't have it both ways. If you want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, an important tool to do that is with GMO traits."

A vast majority of corn, soybean and cotton production in the United States currently relies on GMO traits. If crop yields for corn and soybeans were diminished by a GMO ban, researchers say farmers could lose millions -- losses that could be passed onto consumers in the form of rising food prices.

The researchers are now looking at how other global economies are affected by their GMO policies.

"If in the future we ban GMOs at the global scale, we lose lots of potential yield," Taheripour said. "If more countries adopt GMOs, their yields will be much higher."

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