Graham Brookes on Biotech Crops

Interview with Graham Brookes* (Agricultural Economist, PG Economics Ltd). Recorded at the 15th Gottfried-von-Haberler Conference 2019 in Vaduz.

 Summary of Graham Brookes’ talk at the G. von Haberler Conference:
“Biotech crops, environmental impact and climate change”

This presentation summarises an assessment of the environmental impacts associated with using crop biotechnology in global agriculture. It focuses on the environmental impacts associated with changes in pesticide use and greenhouse gas emissions arising from the use of GM crops since their first widespread commercial use over 20 years ago. The adoption of GM insect resistant and herbicide tolerant technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 671.4 million kg (8.2%) and, as a result, decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on these crops (as measured by the indicator, the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ)) by 18.4%. The technology has also facilitated important cuts in fuel use and tillage changes, resulting in a significant reduction in the release of greenhouse gas emissions from the GM cropping area. In 2016, this was equivalent to removing 16.7 million cars from the roads. By delivering improved pest and weed control, the technology has enabled many farmers to increase crop yields and as a result, crop biotechnology has been responsible for the additional production of 213 million tons of soybeans, 405 million tons of maize, 27.5 million tons of cotton lint and 11.6 million tons of canola between 1996 and 2016. This has allowed farmers to grow more without needing to use additional land, reducing pressure on typically high bio-diverse land to be converted for agricultural production.

Recording of Graham Brookes’ talk: 

*Graham Brookes is an agricultural economist with PG Economics Ltd, UK, which specialises in examining the economic and environmental impact of new technology use in agriculture. Graham has authored 15 papers, published in peer reviewed scientific and economic journals on the economic and environmental impact of GM crops around the world. He held this talk at the 15th International Gottfried-von-Haberler Conference which took place on May 17, 2019 in Vaduz, at University of Liechtenstein. Conference Topic: “When Naive Presumptions prompt Hasty Judgments: On the Benefits and Problems of Genetic Engineering” (German: “Wenn Vermutungen zum Urteil werden: Die Gentechnologie am Pranger”). The event was organized and hosted by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation.