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Crop Biotech Update

Genetically Engineered Corn May Help Offset Effects of Climate Change

November 21, 2018

Economists Jesse Tack from Kansas State University and Ariel Ortiz-Bobea of Cornell University published a study in Environmental Research Letters that looked at the impact of climate change on corn yields in eight Midwestern states. They paired 35 years of climatic data with United States producers' adoption of genetically engineered (GE) corn to find out if incorporating a new technology can offset the effects of higher temperatures and other weather impacts.

The study showed yield trends increased by nearly 70 percent during the rapid adoption period in 1996 after U.S. corn producers adopted these varieties, from approximate gains of 0.94 percent per year prior to 1996 to 1.6 percent afterward.

The study also looked at corn yields from 1981 to 2015 in eight states and 500 counties. From the climatic conditions during those same years, the researchers built trend lines that gave them a better idea of how weather conditions affected yields before and after the adoption of GE corn. Tack noted their study assumes average weather during the growing season and acknowledged that technology alone is not the answer to increasing yields in changing climates. Producers tend to adjust their management strategies based on weather or other climatic factors.

For more details, read the K-State Research and Extension News.