GM plants have been changed in two main ways so they can:
- survive being sprayed with weedkiller (are herbicide tolerant). This greatly increases the use of weedkillers;
- kill certain insects that eat them (insect resistant). The GM toxins produced in the plants can’t be washed off the food.
Despite Industry claims that GM crops reduce the need for pesticides, the opposite has occurred.
Looking at the US example, we can see that Genetically Engineered crops have been credited with an increase of 383 million pounds of herbicide use in the U.S. over the first 13 years of commercial use (1996- 2008).
The US example has produced another new phenomena, the creation of the GM Super Weeds. Weeds now need increasing doses of weed killers and more toxic types of these poisons to kill the weeds. Some weeds have to be manually removed from the ground.
One country that has embraced GM Soy on a massive scale is Argentina:
"The Argentine government, eager to pull the country out of a deep economic recession in the 1990s, restructured its economy around GM soy grown for export, most of which goes to feed livestock in Europe. In 2009, GM soy was planted on 19 million hectares - over half of Argentina’s cultivated land - and sprayed with 200 million litres of glyphosate herbicide. Spraying is often carried out from the air, causing problems of drift.
In 2002, two years after the first big harvests of RR soy in the country, residents and doctors in soy producing areas began reporting serious health effects from glyphosate spraying, including high rates of birth defects as well as infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages, and cancers . Environmental effects include killed food crops and livestock and streams strewn with dead fish [2, 3]."
Australia's GM Canola crops are also 'Roundup Ready Crops'.