GM and climate change

Interesting little factoid about GM crops:

Not convinced? Consider one survey by the agricultural economists PG Economics, who studied the impact of GM crops over an entire decade – 1996 to 2006.

They found that GM crops need to be tilled less and sprayed less, cutting tractors\’ fuel use and reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2006 alone, the permanent carbon dioxide savings from reduced fuel consumption since the introduction of GM crops was equal to removing 25 per cent of cars from Britain\’s roads for a year.

GM is, therefore, in the terms of the major environmental problem we\’re all told we must fight, climate change, the green option.

We can in fact go further than this.One of the huge carbon sinks in hte world is in fact the soil. Something which increased the take up of carbon in hte soil would be highly welcome. That, in turn, means that we need to plough the soil less. The ultimate form of that is no till farming. And that, in turn, requires the use of GM crops. (Note also that organic farming requires more ploughing than even conventional farming, thus increasing emissions.)

Wonder when the greens will wake up to this? GM to save the planet!

8 thoughts on “GM and climate change”

  1. “One of the huge carbon sinks in hte world is in fact the soil.”
    Yes, Freeman Dyson refers to this.

    “Something which increased the take up of carbon in hte soil would be highly welcome.” Yes, a logical deduction

    ” That, in turn, means that we need to plough the soil less.”
    Interesting, new to me. Do you have a reference ?

    Tim adds: No direct reference, no. Implied by Dyson and a couple of other things I’ve read, no more.

  2. Tim, you should be old enough to remember ten or twenty years ago, before the greenies were in ascendance, when GM crops were hailed as the potential saviour of mankind – higher yields, less pesticides etc, maybe thinking will swing round again?

  3. I have been out of agriculture for 8 years now, so I can’t give a quick reference about tillage and organic matter in the soil. However, as I recall it, was well established in many trials and observational studies that tillage reduced organic content in the soil and increased erosion.
    GM crops are not necessary for no-till cropping. They do make cheaper and easier though.

  4. Major reason for ploughing is to bury and kill weed seeds – with GM crops resistant to a common wide spectrum herbicide such as Roundup the weeds seeds aren’t a problem as you can let the crop and weeds grow and splash on the agrichems afterwards. Without a doubt GM means less soil inversion, which reduces the oxidization into Co2 of the carbon compounds in the soil.

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