Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Serious Problem: Ag-biotech and Falling Yields (DOW; MON; SYT)

From Agrimoney:

Downgrade to US corn yield even more worrying than it looks
Will the US corn yield this year really be 148.1 bushels per acre, as US farm officials forecast on Monday?
The debate, which has raged for weeks, about whether crop will end up in the low 150s, or even somewhere near 140 bushels per acre misses the bigger point.
And that is why the yield should be lower than last year's 152.8 bushels per acre, which was in turn below the record 164.7 bushels per acre farmers managed in 2009.
One drop in year-on-year yield can easily be dismissed as misfortune. With two successive ones, it is not so easy. A back-to-back has happened only once in corn, in 1973 and 1974, in the last 50 years.
And the worrying factor this time is happened during a so-called revolution in seed technology – genetic modification or biotechnology - which had painted a far brighter picture.
The one that counts
It would be highly unfair, on such evidence, to dismiss biotech. The seed industry can, perfectly reasonably, say that yields would have been even worse if it were not for genetic engineering.
There are plenty of trial results supporting the efficacy of the technology, in crops from corn to potatoes.
But it is the biggest trial of all, the US harvest, that counts.
And it is certainly embarrassing for GM for successive yield declines to happen on its watch - 88% of US corn planted this year was from biotech seed....MORE