Crop Biotech Update

Study Finds that Adoption of GM Crops Could Improve Health of Chinese Farmers

October 19, 2016

The use of glyphosate-tolerant GM crops not only increases glyphosate use, but also reduces the use of non-glyphosate herbicides, while adoption of GM insect resistant crops significantly reduces insecticide use. While the hazards of pesticide use are well known, little is known about the effects of different pesticides related to GM crops in an integrated framework.

Chinese researchers led by Chao Zhang of the Beijing Institute of Technology, aim to associate the uses of different pesticides related to GM crops with the health condition of Chinese farmers. The pesticides used by these farmers were recorded and classified as glyphosate herbicides, non-glyphosate herbicides, chemical lepidopteran insecticides, biological lepidopteran insecticides, non-lepidopteran insecticides and fungicides.

The team's analysis revealed that none of the examined health indicators were associated with glyphosate. However, the use of non-glyphosate herbicides was found to induce renal dysfunction. Meanwhile, the use of chemical lepidopteran insecticides could be associated with hepatic dysfunction, inflammation, and severe nerve damage.

The results of this study show that adoption of GM crops will cause the replacement of other herbicides with glyphosate, which may actually benefit farmer health in China and around the world, and has positive implications for GM crops.

For more on this study, read the article on Nature.