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Genetically modified crops - February issue

James Annan jdan at see.signature.for.address
Tue Feb 9 09:20:37 EST 1999

Nick Maclaren wrote:
> In article <36BDC3AE.79039FEB at uga.cc.uga.edu>,
> Wayne Parrott <wparrott at uga.cc.uga.edu> writes:
> |> >
> |> > Indeed. The argument is that if used according to best practice, they
> |> > will reduce overall herbicide use - and it may be true. But there is no
> |> > guarantee that they will be used according to best practice. There are a
> |> > lot of people out there who are firm believers in the idea that if a
> |> > little is good, then more (stronger or more frequent) is better.
> |>
> |> Here, economics is a powerful force.  Having to spray a second time can mean the
> |> difference between a profit and a loss for the year.  Overall, the farm prices
> |> (for non-subsidized crops) are too low for farmers to be able to indulge in
> |> excessive use of herbicides, if they want to stay in the farming business.
> Here, it is at least as powerful.  If they don't sell to the supermarkets,
> the go broke PDQ - and the supermarkets demand 'perfect' produce.  So
> they spray the hell out of crops with pesticides, often illegally.

Even for non-supermarket crops (eg most grain) the cost of a spray is
small compared to the potential loss from pests (of any type, I don't
think herbicides are the worst threat). So it makes sense for farmers
to spray even if it isn't profit-maximising. For that matter, most
farmers don't seem to be profit-maximising anyway, and neither are

James Annan jdan(at)pol(dot)ac(dot)you-kay
Proudman Oceanographic Lab
Bidston, Merseyside, L43 7RA

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