This is a very balanced and knowledge-based post by the widely respected agricultural economist, David Zilberman. Thankfully, he brings some science to this hot topic. It is an important read for everyone in California who votes as we will soon have an initiative on GMO Labeling on our ballot.
One small point. Professor Zilberman indicates “Now, what about emergence of resistance to GMOs? ‘
Actually, the resistance is to the herbicide that is sprayed on the GMO. The more people plant HT crops, the more likely they are to spray the herbicide glyphosate (Classified as “non-toxic” by the EPA). Too much of any herbicide increases the selection for resistance weeds. This can be a problem because if farmers start to observe too many weeds in their field that are resistant to glyphosate, they may return to more toxic chemicals such as atrazine. Still, the solution is not to ban all GMOs (many of which do not even contain the HT trait). The more sensible approach is to integrate GE crops into an integrated weed management system. Or if consumers really hate herbicides then they can buy organic produce. The organic approach to weed control also has problems. It is backbreaking work for poorly paid farmworkers and the organic farmer must pass his/her tractor through the field much more often to keep the weeds down. This disturbs the soil and contributes to carbon dioxide emissions.
He received many comments and posted a follow up post here: