Purdue researchers warn of problems if GMO crops are banned

One Purdue expert says if GMOs were to go away, the increase in greenhouse gasses would increase. (WLFI Photo)
One Purdue expert says if GMOs were to go away, the increase in greenhouse gasses would increase. (WLFI Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – More than 90 percent of farmers in the U.S. prefer using genetically modified organism crops, but some organizations still believe eliminating those is the right thing to do.

Purdue University agriculture economist Wally Tyner has been wondering for years why people want the ban.

“The Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have deemed GMOs to be safe and to be the equivalent to traditional commodity,” said Tyner.

GMOs have higher yields so by eliminating them, you will need more land to create the same amount of crop. In turn, that’s what causes the rise in greenhouse gasses.

“Where does that crop land come from? It comes from pasture that you’ve converted to crop land, and forest that you’ve converted to crop land,” explained Tyner. “And when you convert pasture and forest to crop land, you release greenhouse gasses that have been stored in that land for years and you don’t have the opportunity to capture the carbon like the forest does every year.”

Just how much would the emissions increase though?

“The thing that surprised us most with this study is that if GMOs were to go away, the increase in greenhouse gasses is three times as much as the whole U.S. ethanol program,” said Tyner.

Along with the uptick in greenhouse gasses, food prices could also rise an average of 2 to 7 percent.

That’s bad news for countries that depend on GMOs.

“The commodity and food prices go up the most in the poorest countries,” said Tyner. “India had the highest increase in food prices — a country that can ill afford even a 1 percent increase.”