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Herbicide sales up 130% in Canada since GM crops approved

May 22, 2015. Ottawa. Are GM Crops Better for the Environment?, a new report released today by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) documents the failure of genetically modified (GM) crops to reduce pesticide use or protect biodiversity.

The report found that during the twenty years that GM crops have been grown, herbicide sales in Canada have more than doubled, with an increase of 130%.

“There is a strong correlation between the expansion of GM herbicide-tolerant crop area and the increased use of herbicides in Canada,” said Lucy Sharratt of CBAN. “This environmental impact was predicted twenty years ago and needs to be urgently addressed to protect ecosystems and human health.”

The use of glyphosate-based herbicides in Canada tripled between 2005 and 2011, and is associated with the cultivation of GM glyphosate-tolerant corn, canola, soy and sugar beet. Glyphosate is now the highest-volume pesticide active ingredient sold in Canada, followed by 2,4-D and glufosinate ammonium.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

“The industry promised GM crops would make food production more sustainable, but GM has only meant more chemicals and less diversity on our farms,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec group and CBAN Member, Vigilance OGM.

CBAN’s report also details the evolution of five glyphosate-resistant weed species in Canada since glyphosate-tolerant GM crops were introduced. To manage these weeds, GM crops also tolerant to the older herbicides 2,4-D- and dicamba are now being introduced, making it possible to spray the crops with a herbicide mixture.

Are GM Crops Better for the Environment? also examines the impact of GM crops on biodiversity and notes that:

  • Insects that have developed resistance to GM insect-resistant (Bt) crops are spreading across the world and could soon be found in Canada.
  • North America has lost 90% of its Monarch butterfly population due to habitat destroyed by glyphosate use on GM glyphosate-tolerant corn in the US.
  • GM contamination in Canada prevents organic farmers from growing canola, and may have reduced genetic diversity in both canola and flax seed.
  • GM organisms are difficult to control or recall once they are released.

“Our report provides compelling evidence that Canada urgently needs to evaluate the environmental impacts of the GM crops that have been released,” said Sharratt. “We need to make sure we don’t continue using ineffective and destructive strategies. At the moment we’re set to simply accelerate herbicide use along with the problems of pest and weed resistance and biodiversity loss.”

More information: Lucy Sharratt, CBAN, cell 613 809 1103; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514 582 1674; cell: Taarini Chopra, CBAN, cell 226 606 8240.

The GMO Inquiry 2015 ( is a project of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) and future reports will examine regulation of GMOs in Canada, and their impacts on the environment, consumers, and farmers. CBAN is a campaign coalition of 17 organizations that researches, monitors and raises awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on Tides Canada’s shared platform.