Five Ways GMOs Benefit The Environment

Debunking Denialism
3 min readFeb 19, 2017


Humans have been modifying crops for over ten thousand years.

Conventional methods (such as crossbreeding or treating plants with mutagens or radiation) involve large-scale and imprecise changes that are unknown.

Using biotech solutions like genetic modification, researchers can make small, precise and extremely well-known changes to crops for the benefit of humans and the environment. GM crops are also much more well-tested than conventional crops to make sure they at least as safe.

So what are some of the environmental benefits of GM crops?

#1 GMOs decrease dangerous pesticide usage

Genetically modified insect-resistant crops produce their own, highly-specific pesticide (called Bt proteins) against a specific group of pests. This means that farmers do not need to spray that much insecticides over their crops. Bt proteins are also a lot safer than pesticides used in conventional farming.

Crops genetically modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate mean that farmers can use this much safer herbicide instead of much more dangerous herbicide that they used before.

Thus, GMOs have reduced pesticide use by 37% and has allowed farmers to severely decrease their reliance on dangerous pesticides and herbicides.

#2 GMOs increases yield and decrease land use

Because GMOs increases yield whereas organic farming decreases yield by 34%, GMOs requires substantially less land compared with conventional and organic farming to grow the same amount of food. It has thus a much milder agricultural impact than the alternatives.

#3 GMOs boost no-tilling farming

Tilling is used (among other things) as a weed-management method, but it also removes nutrients from the soil, causes more erosion and run-off, and harms earthworms, ants and other organisms.

Because herbicide-resistant crops do not require as much mechanical weed removal, GM farmers do not need to till their soil as much and some farms that grow GMOs do not engage in any tilling at all.

#4 GMOs save beneficial insects

Because insect-resistant GMOs that use the Bt proteins only affect a specific group of insect pests, it has little to no effect on any other insects. This means that beneficial insects that would previously have died due to broad-spectrum insecticides being sprayed will now survive on farms that grow GM crops.

#5 GMOs reduce carbon dioxide emissions

Because GMOs reduce pesticide usage and tilling, farms that grow GMOs require less diesel to power their tractors and thus produce less carbon dioxide.

Less carbon dioxide mean that GM farms have a smaller carbon footprint and are thus more eco-friendly in this area.

Bottom line

Many GMOs are good for the environment.

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