Scientific Study Claims: GMOs Ineffective Despite Industry Claims

Union of Concerned Scientists

For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields.

That promise has proven to be empty, according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009. Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.

Failure to Yield is the first report to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies. It reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States. Based on those studies, the UCS report concludes that genetically engineering herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn has not increased yields. Insect-resistant corn, meanwhile, has improved yields only marginally. The increase in yields for both crops over the last 13 years, the report finds, was largely due to traditional breeding or improvements in agricultural practices.

The UCS report comes at a time when food price spikes and localized shortages worldwide have prompted calls to boost agricultural productivity, or yield — the amount of a crop produced per unit of land over a specified amount of time. Biotechnology companies maintain that genetic engineering is essential to meeting this goal. Monsanto, for example, was running an advertising campaign at the time of the report release warning of an exploding world population and claiming that its “advanced seeds… significantly increase crop yields…” The report debunks that claim, concluding that genetic engineering is unlikely to play a significant role in increasing food production in the foreseeable future.

The biotechnology industry has been promising better yields since the mid-1990s, but Failure to Yield documents that the industry has been carrying out gene field trials to increase yields for 20 years without significant results.

Failure to Yield makes a critical distinction between potential—or intrinsic—yield and operational yield, concepts that are often conflated by the industry and misunderstood by others. Intrinsic yield refers to a crop’s ultimate production potential under the best possible conditions. Operational yield refers to production levels after losses due to pests, drought and other environmental factors.

The study reviewed the intrinsic and operational yield achievements of the three most common genetically altered food and feed crops in the United States: herbicide-tolerant soybeans, herbicide-tolerant corn, and insect-resistant corn (known as Bt corn, after the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, whose genes enable the corn to resist several kinds of insects).

Herbicide-tolerant soybeans, herbicide-tolerant corn, and Bt corn have failed to increase intrinsic yields, the report found. Herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant corn also have failed to increase operational yields, compared with conventional methods.

Meanwhile, the report found that Bt corn likely provides a marginal operational yield advantage of 3 to 4 percent over typical conventional practices. Since Bt corn became commercially available in 1996, its yield advantage averages out to a 0.2 to 0.3 percent yield increase per year. To put that figure in context, overall U.S. corn yields over the last several decades have annually averaged an increase of approximately one percent, which is considerably more than what Bt traits have provided.

In addition to evaluating genetic engineering’s record, Failure to Yield considers the technology’s potential role in increasing food production over the next few decades. The report does not discount the possibility of genetic engineering eventually contributing to increase crop yields. It does, however, suggest that it makes little sense to support genetic engineering at the expense of technologies that have proven to substantially increase yields, especially in many developing countries. In addition, recent studies have shown that organic and similar farming methods that minimize the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can more than double crop yields at little cost to poor farmers in such developing regions as Sub-Saharan Africa.

The report recommends that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state agricultural agencies, and universities increase research and development for proven approaches to boost crop yields. Those approaches should include modern conventional plant breeding methods, sustainable and organic farming, and other sophisticated farming practices that do not require farmers to pay significant upfront costs. The report also recommends that U.S. food aid organizations make these more promising and affordable alternatives available to farmers in developing countries.

“If we are going to make headway in combating hunger due to overpopulation and climate change, we will need to increase crop yields,” said Gurian-Sherman. “Traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down.”

Relevant Links

Original Article:
Union of Concerned Scientists
View The PDF Report: Failure To Yield (PDF)
Environmental Effects of GMO Crops (UCS):

Police Speak Out: Why They Harass and Violate Rights of The Innocent


What drives well-meaning police to harass and violate the rights of the public? Read these mind-blowing quotes, below, from active and retired NYPD police.

“When I came into this department, I wanted to help people, but the civilian population is being hunted instead of being protected.” —NYPD veteran officer of 10+ years

New York State law prohibits the use of quotas for arrests, summonses, and stops by the NYPD. But, active officers (speaking on condition of anonymity) explain that quotas are definitely being used, and officers are threatened with retaliation if they don’t meet them.  The NYPD is one of New York City’s only agencies to operate without independent oversight, leaving officers no safe place to file complaints about police practice and systemic problems.

► NYPD veteran of 10+ years:

“This job racial profiles, [it] will force you to do things that you don’t want to do. We’re supposed to be the best in the world? We’re [just] the best in making money, and we’re the best in arresting and summonsing everybody [in sight].

I had this captain [give] a speech about harassing the public. His words were ‘we’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna violate some rights.’ We hear it from the captain down. If you’re a certain ethnicity, standing on the corner, [police officers] have no problem racial profiling, searching you, [and] violating your rights.

The commanding officer wants to become a deputy inspector, the executive officer wants to become a commanding officer. If you do well by keeping your arrests up, you’ll be promoted to the next rank. So, they put pressure on the police officers to generate arrests. Some of us, under the stress, make them up. Some of us stop innocent people and search them. And there are certain units out there who will just run around and stop everybody.

When I came into this police department, I wanted to help people. But the civilian population is being hunted instead of being protected by us. They’re being hunted, and we’re being hated. There are a lot of officers who are fed up and want to do something about it, and there are people who are scared.”

► NYPD veteran of 15+ years:

“A lot of police officers are trying to set civilians off, and then once they start talking, start cursing, they can lock them up for anything. People don’t like police, because of the harassment. And what civilians don’t understand is that the police department is forcing us to do these unreasonable stops, or [we] get penalized.

They’re trying to keep all of this stuff quiet. [But, I have proof] that they’re putting pressure on me to give summonses. The police department is pushing the new guys to be bounty hunters. And I use that word because that’s exactly what it is; they’re hunting. We need police, but the police department needs to change things.

What happens to the police officer if they don’t do what the department tells them to do, as far as these quotas? They will come after you. They give you unwanted assignments, put you in a post that is very dangerous, high crime, by yourself, [backed] in a corner. [It's] a form of retaliation. They make you look bad on paper, and that paperwork will trail you for the rest of your police career, and knowing that your livelihood is at stake, you meet the quota.”

► Julio Valentin, Retired NYPD Officer and Law Professor:

“The public isn’t aware of what’s happening. It’s a numbers game. What did you get last year? Well, you have to match it and give me more this year.

Let’s be honest, it is a quota. Nobody wants to call it that [because they're illegal], but that’s what it is. They call it a performance objective, they call it a goal. They can mask it however they want; it’s a quota.

This goes all the way up to the commissioner’s office…even the mayor’s office. They’re trying to say ‘we’re stopping people, we’re getting guns and drugs off the streets.’ But [they’re] not. Of the 600,000 people who were stopped last year, only 1% of those who were stopped were carrying weapons.

Here you have a system where people are told to get those numbers to where they should be, and you’re gonna get your promotion.There are a lot of officers who would like to tell their story, but nobody wants to hear the truth. Nobody wants to hear the bad. “

The following was secretly recorded during an officer’s performance evaluation meeting at NYPD Headquarters, these are his commanding officer’s words:

“Just looking at your activitiy based on other people’s activity, within your command, they feel like you’ve been below standard. All I’m asking you is to avoid anything further; do a little bit more. It’s not that hard to do a 250 (code for stop and frisk). I ain’t gonna lie…when I was doing my first 250, first time coming out, I was big on ‘I’m not stopping nobody for no 250.’ But then, I kept getting hit and hit hard about, ‘you need to do 250s, you need to do 250s.’ So, I started doing them just to keep the heat off of myself, cause I didn’t want to be in no type of monitoring or anything like that. So I just did the 250s just do do them.”

The Hunted and The Hated: An Inside Look at NYPD’s Stop-And-Frisk (Source for this article):


► The Hunted and The Hated: An Inside Look at NYPD’s Stop-And-Frisk [Video] (Source for this article)

►  Stop-and-Frisk Campaign: About the Issue 

►Federal court to consider legality of NYPD’s “stop and frisk”

►15 Amazing Facts About NYPD Stop and Frisks

► How Does It Feel To Be Stopped And Frisked [Video]

►Stop and Frisk: San Francisco Plunges into a New York Controversy

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Infographic: Higher Education Is In A Bubble, When Will It Burst?

“Higher Education is in a bubble. Not only has total student loan debt in the United States surpassed credit card debt, but much of this debt has been taken out for degrees that are not worth the price of tuition. This is due to the fact that many students go to college with the false belief that a degree is a degree. And the colleges and universities profit off this widespread, but mistaken idea. Not all degrees are created equal.

What we’ve found is striking. Not only have tuition and fees have skyrockted at rates much higher than inflation but student debt has grown much faster than consumer debt. As a nation we are investing vast resources into higher education, but what have been the results of this investment?

  • Drop in the quality of education
  • Degrees unmatched to the economic needs of the United States
  • Decreasing graduation rates
  • Declining value of most Bachelor’s degrees due to oversaturation
  • Drastic increases in debt, and the emergence of a wage slave class

Some of have suggested that the United States is currently engaging in a massive mis-allocation of resources – that we’re spending away our wealth on a mis-directed, poor quality, inefficient and unoptimized higher education system. All while the colleges and universities stoke their bank accounts.

Do we think there’ s a solution? Yes. And the first step is to start assigning economic value to specific degrees so that students can make wise decisions about the debt that they take on for education.”

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Infographic: What Congress Would Look Like If It Really Represented America


“America is getting more and more diverse—for instance, our Hispanic population grew by 43 percent in the past decade alone—but you’d never be able to tell it by looking at our Congress. Here’s what the House and Senate look like today, and what they would look like if they were demographically representative of our nation.

One thing not noted on this infographic is that, besides being nothing like America in terms of race, sex, or religion, our senators and representatives are also wholly different from most Americans in terms of wealth. We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: The average American’s net worth is $96,000. But the average Senator’s net worth?$13.4 million. For House members that sum drops to “just” $5 million.

Does this represent your community?”



“Correction: This post originally suggested that there were no atheists in Congress. There is! His name is Pete Stark. We regret the error”

Original Article:



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