The discussion around GMOs hasn’t slowed since President Barack Obama signed GMO labeling into law on Friday, with parties on both sides of the GMO issue continuing to voice their opinions on the value—or harm of—growing genetically modified crops.
What would the impact be of a global ban on GMO foods? That’s exactly the question Wally Tyner, a professor at Purdue University, set out to answer recently. The results are probably not what you might expect.
He joined AgriTalk Radio host Mike Adams to discuss his research and the results are probably not what you think.
The first and most obvious impact would be an increase in food prices. “GMOs produce at higher yields,” said Tyner, adding that increasing food prices as a result of lower yield is simple economics. How much more? According to Tyner’s research at Purdue, a global ban on GMO foods could cost consumers an additional $49 billion each year in food costs.
Another, less obvious impact would be on carbon emissions. Greenhouse gases would skyrocket if there were no GMO crops grown in the world, according to Tyner, speaking on AgriTalk with Mike Adams. “Because you need more land [to produce the same amount of food], you’d have to convert pasture or forest land,” Tyner explained. “That means you increase greenhouse gas emissions.”
It wouldn’t be a small increase, either. Tyner’s research suggested that a global GMO ban would increase greenhouse gases more than three times the total emissions of the entire U.S. biofuels program. Ironically, many of the groups that want to ban GMOs are the same groups who work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “You can’t have it both ways,” Tyner said.
Such a ban would also have economic impacts. For countries like China and India, which import large quantities of commodities, the ban would be devastating because of the increase in food costs.
In contrast, a GMO ban could be a boost for the U.S. agriculture economy, according to Tyner. “What happens is price of ag commodities go up. The U.S. is leading exporter and if export values go up, the U.S. benefits," he said. “It’s ironic that the country that supports GMOs is the country that would benefit from it going away.”
For the world, though, Tyner says a ban on GMOs would be a “net loss.”