Report: Monsanto’s Latest GM Maize Doesn’t Reduce Pests or Increase Yields

Report: Monsanto’s Latest GM Maize Doesn’t Reduce Pests or Increase Yields

Monsanto promised that its latest and greatest GM crop, MON810, a genetically modified (GM) insecticidal maize banned by most of Europe, would increase yields and stop crop loss due to pests. A new report from the government of Aragon in Spain says those promises are empty. [1]

There is an inserted gene in the DNA of MON810 which allows the plant to make a protein that harms insects that try to eat it. The inserted gene is from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which produces the Bt toxin that is poisonous to insects in the Lepidoptera order, including the European Corn Borer. [2] Three quarters of the corn grown in Aragon, Spain is currently genetically modified, but conventional varieties were tested against GM Maize varieties in 2014.

“Helen,” “Zoom,” and “Kayras” – the non-GM isogenic (parent) lines (plant varieties) – were compared with the GM varieties derived from each line. The genetic insert was the MON810 construct from the US company, Monsanto.

The report found that:

“Per hectare, from 12.6 to 14.3 kg of maize were harvested. The GM varieties and the non-GM conventional comparator had very similar yields – the difference was between 0.2 and 0.3 kilos.”

This means the GM maize did not produce more than conventional strains of maize.

The data also shows that the corn borer, the pest targeted by the Bt insecticide in MON810 maize, has caused no significant damage in the past 5 years, either to GM or non-GM varieties.

Spain is currently the EU leader in the cultivation of GM maize, though many countries including France have banned Monsanto’s GM crops.

In other EU countries almost no genetically modified maize is sown.

Last year, official figures say that 131,000 hectares were grown, around one-third of the country’s total maize production. A total of 41 percent of this was grown in the region of Aragon, where the maize crop is 76 percent GM.

The authors of the report conclude: “This information should help us reflect deeply about the continued use of transgenic crops on farms.”

Perhaps Spain will join the other EU countries who see no need to continue growing Monsanto’s seed.


(in German):