The US government has officially labelled genetically modified (GM) crops “genetically modified” and said the US is one of the first countries to allow the process.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report on Wednesday which stated the GM crops can be grown without harming the environment and are a “significant advance in the field of food security”.
It said the crops could produce more food than conventional crops because of their reduced use of chemical fertilisers, but the researchers cautioned that these benefits would not last.
“We found that GM crops do not produce more greenhouse gas emissions, but they produce fewer crop-based greenhouse gas-equivalent emissions than conventional crop varieties,” the report said.
“Thus, the benefits of GM crop production will extend to the environment.”
The US is among the first to permit GM crops to be grown in the country, although there are currently only a handful of approved GM crops.
The government has not said whether the US will soon be the first country to allow this.
The report found that farmers using GM crops would benefit from lower water use and higher yields because the crops produce less pesticides.
The report also found that the plants require fewer nutrients from the soil.
GMO crops are also far more efficient at reducing CO2 emissions, because the crop can use a lower amount of fertiliser and can produce higher yields when planted in a climate that is more suitable for it, the report noted.
Critics of GM crops have argued that they have reduced biodiversity, but in recent years, studies have shown that GM crop varieties are beneficial to the soil, animals and humans.
But the report also highlighted some environmental benefits.
The study found that there were fewer pesticide applications in the GM crop fields, which was important because pesticides can damage the soil and the plant.
“The positive environmental impacts of GM technology are now widely recognised, and have the potential to increase as we continue to grow the global population and increase the use of these technologies,” the study stated.
“These benefits are projected to be worth at least $1.3 trillion over the next 50 years, with the potential for more to be realized as the technologies become more widespread and the technology becomes more efficient.”
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