Bt maize crops delivering health, wealth and environmental benefits in Europe

DORCHESTER (April 2, 2007) — Although EU plantings of GM insect resistant (Bt) maize were only 65,000 ha in 2006 (in 7 countries), the crops have been delivering income gains to the farmers planting the crops, health benefits for the human and livestock consumers from improved grain quality and environmental gains associated with lower insecticide use, according to a study released today.

“Farmers, consumers and the environment all gain from adoption of this technology. It is therefore somewhat ironic, that by largely ignoring its application in the EU, we are denying ourselves these benefits” said Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics, and author of the study.

The study offers the first comprehensive quantifiable look at the impact of GM insect resistant (Bt) maize crop production in the EU since 1998 when the first commercial crops were planted in Spain.”
The key findings in the study, “The benefits of adopting genetically modified, insect resistant (Bt) maize in the EU: first results from 1998-2006 plantings” were:

  • In maize growing regions affected by European Corn Borer (ECB) and Maize Stem Borer (MSB), the main impact of growing Bt maize has been higher yields compared to conventional non-GM maize. Average yield benefits have often been +10% and sometimes higher;
  • In 2006, users of Bt maize have, on average, earned additional income levels of between €65 and €141/ha. This is equal to an improvement in profitability of +12 to +21%;
  • In certain regions, Bt maize has delivered important improvements in grain quality through significant reductions in the levels of mycotoxins found in the grain. This delivers a health benefit to the livestock sector that mostly consumes the maize (but could be available to the human food sector, if used)
  • Where farmers have previously used insecticides to control ECB and MSB, adoption of Bt technology has delivered environmental gains from less insecticide use and reduced use of fuel. Reduced fuel use is contributing to lowering carbon emissions

Click the title to view the full manuscript "Bt maize crops delivering health, wealth and environmental benefits in Europe"

A shorter version of the report is being submitted for peer review. PG Economics are independent consultants specialising in the economic and environmental impact of technology in agriculture. For queries, contact Graham Brookes.  Tel 00 44 1531 650123.