Genetically modified crops failing worldwide

The Green Revolution — a misleading name applied by PR firms to the onset of globalized, chemical-intensive, industrial agriculture that is anything but friendly to the environment — is coming unraveled around the world, bringing devastation to farmers from the plains of China to the plains of America.

It was revealed last week that China is dealing with an explosive infestation of the formerly inconsequential mirid bug in its orchards and cotton fields. The bug’s population exploded as a result of widespread planting of cotton that had been genetically altered to be resistant to the bollworm, formerly cotton’s worst enemy. Cotton farmers stopped spraying insecticides, since their plants shrugged off the bollworms, and thus allowed other insects, especially the mirid bug, to multiply without interference.

According to a study published last week by Kongming Wu at the State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests in Beijing (reported by Reuters), the mirid bug is now laying waste to orchards and cotton fields in at least six provinces in Northern China, affecting 10 million farmers. Controlling one pest, as chemical companies boast frequently that they have discovered how to do, inevitably unleashes others in a cascade of unintended consequences. The lesson in this case, according to Wu, is that “We have to study the whole ecosystem.” Indeed.

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