QAccording to this study by the University of Illinois, non GMO crops are producing greater yields than your GMO corn. Can you confirm or deny these findings? http://www.spectrumseed.com/sites/default/files/performance-trials/pdf/2013%20University%20of%20

According to this study by the University of Illinois, non GMO crops are producing greater yields than your GMO corn. Can you confirm or deny these findings? http://www.spectrumseed.com/sites/default/files/performance-trials/pdf/2013%20University%20of%20Illinois.pdf

AExpert Answer

It is quite possible to have a high yielding variety that isn't GM. In the absence of insects, weeds, drought or some other environmental challenge, GM varieties don't necessarily yield any better, and if overall genetics are better in a non-GM variety, it will produce a higher yield.

 

One therefore needs to know how the test was done.  For example if there were no corn borers, no weeds, and no root worms there would be no need for GM corn.  If there was a drought and they didn't water then a non-GM drought resistant type would easily win.  As is the case with all research, the devil is in the details.

 

In this case, the question refers to the results of what is called our Variety Testing Program where seed companies pay to enter their varieties in common field trials conducted on anywhere from 3 to 12 farmers’ fields throughout the state of Illinois, to see how they compare with other varieties.  The results from any given year are certainly appropriate to use in a marketing sense, but would not be considered scientifically robust unless trends are viewed over multiple years. 

 

The data presented would indicate that the 17 non-GM hybrids entered into the study show the same range of yields as the 86 GM hybrids entered into three locations in the North Illinois region. What isn’t included in the report is the costs to the farmer to produce that yield, or the quality of the grain produced, as GM corn shows clear reductions in contamination by fungal pathogens that lead to moldy ears. 

 

The North Illinois location in 2013 was a “high yield” environment, where the tillage, soil insecticide, fertilizer, and herbicide treatments, in combination with good rainfall throughout the season, resulted in relatively little stress on the plants.  Thus, the trial conditions made it more difficult to observe the advantages that GM traits are designed to provide.

 

So when you see research like this, it’s wise to ask questions.  This research provides part of a large puzzle, but ultimately farmers make the call when it comes to what seed is right for their fields and their business.  Thanks for posting this question – curiosity like yours gives us a chance to elaborate and clarify.

 

http://www.spectrumseed.com/sites/default/files/performance-trials/pdf/2013%20University%20of%20Illinois.pdf

Posted on March 9, 2018
Hello, and thank you for your question! Scientists commonly use genetically engineering (GE) to add and subtract genes from ALL sorts of plants, from common weeds to potatoes from the Andes. Most GE is performed only to learn how plants work. While it’s relatively simple to change a plant’s genetics, it’s difficult and expensive to actually improve a plant’s genetics. Thus, only the most “important” crops are targets for GE. Smaller improvements are... Read More
Answer:
Posted on March 8, 2018
Hello, and thank you for your question! Scientists commonly use genetically engineering (GE) to add and subtract genes from ALL sorts of plants, from common weeds to potatoes from the Andes. Most GE is performed only to learn how plants work. While it’s relatively simple to change a plant’s genetics, it’s difficult and expensive to actually improve a plant’s genetics. Thus, only the most “important” crops are targets for GE. Smaller improvements are... Read More
Posted on March 9, 2018
Anyone who has traveled through the Southeast and seen kudzu vines along the highway knows that plants can evolve into a negative outcome. There is a similar concern that a GMO can produce negative outcomes in the environment.  Therefore, prior to approving their commercial planting, GMOs must be tested in contained field trials to ensure that they do not behave in ways that could cause problems. To prevent negative outcomes, GMOs must not have the ability to cross with wild... Read More