ONE of the most common criticisms of GM technology is that it’s major incarnation in the form of herbicide resistant traits is only of benefit to relatively well-off first-world farmers and is of little benefit to poor growers in the third-world – a misconception, according to Monsanto’s director of research Harvey Glick.

Dr Glick said GM technology would play a large role in assisting the billions of subsistence and low-income farmers worldwide who eke out a living from less than five acres (2.1ha), and by doing so, assist international food security.

Dr Glick said both first generation traits, such as herbicide resistance, and traits close to being rolled out, such as drought tolerance and nitrogen efficiency, would aid poor farmers.

“We see biotechnology as a means to increase yields and a way to reduce crop inputs,” he said.

“Farmers will be able to replace chemical use with GM traits, while the benefits of drought tolerance and nitrogen efficiency are self-explanatory.”

Dr Glick said he had been intrigued by study results showing where the major economic boosts from the use of GM had taken place.

“Some of the studies have shown that 60pc of income increases due to the use of GM technology has come from the developing world.

“Claims that the technology is only designed for farmers more able to pay for the technology are not right – GM has provided equal benefits to large and small farmers.

“This is a study result based on income, so it doesn’t even take into account the tremendous benefits for subsistence farmers that does not come through the books, due to the fact that the crop is kept at home.”

Author: Gregor Heard


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