Is it true that a ban on GM crops in the European Union has hurt productivity? Most likely yes, retired Montana State University Economics Professor Gary Brester told a crowd at the Montana Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Billings. 

Brester explained that despite claims that the European yields without GMOS match those in the U.S., the debate is not taking into account enough years of data. “When I heard this debate, I went back to the early 1960s and started tracking productivity. Until 1996, the United State and the European Union shared technologies. Then when GMOS were banned, I’ve noticed in my data a flattening of yields in corn and soybeans in the EU, yet the U.S. yields using GMOs continue to increase.”

Could the difference be the weather or lack of farming knowledge? The researcher looked at wheat, as well, which is not a GMO crop; the EU production of wheat was to scale with the U.S. Yet, the EU yields of non-GMO crops was down while the U.S. increased remarkably.

“There is no other explanation than those increased because of GM crops,” said Brester, listing the benefits of GMOs including reduced input use, increased yields and reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture. He added that banning GM crops increases world hunger while Golden Rice and other banned technologies can greatly improve human health.

“The banning of this technology has been done with no documented human health problems despite extensive testing,” Brester said. He explained that agriculture has advanced because of technology---farm productivity has increased by 250 percent since the 1940s thanks to continued adopted technologies.

“We will continue to do so as along as farmers are allowed to adapt technology to their farming practices,” he said.