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From July 13, 2001

U.N. Releases Pro-Biotech Report

The Human Development Report 2001, an 11 year-old survey by the United Nations, made claims that wealthier countries' opposition to genetically modified crops "mostly ignores the concerns and needs of the developing world," according to The New York Times. The report asserts that the benefits of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are "potentially higher yields and greater nutritional value, and … the reduced need to spray pesticides that can damage the soil and sicken farmers."

Despite claims that GMOs will reduce pesticide use, 71% of all genetically modified crops are engineered to be herbicide resistant, and 22% are modified to contain pesticides within their cells. Advocates against GMOs support sustainable agriculture techniques to address the difficulties farmers face. Educating farmers of developing nations on these methods allows for a higher yield, more sustainable fields, and decreased use of toxic pesticides. These methods can be permanently incorporated into farming techniques. Use of GMOs, however, requires that they purchase specific seeds from western corporations, some of which must be purchased year after year because of built in sterility.

Mr. Malloch Brown, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, likened GMOs to the "green revolution" which increased pesticide use and irrigation, and decreased self-sufficiency. He claimed the need to let go of an "anti-technology bias." However, with any introduced technology comes the risk of dependency, which can be easily taken advantage of. By instead educating farmers of alternative methods, the environment, health and welfare of farmers is better insured.