(NaturalNews) A major tenet of the biotechnology model of agriculture is that genetically modified (GM) crops help mitigate climate change by sequestering more carbon into the soil. But a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change has determined this to be patently false, showing that no-till farming methods perform similarly to conventional plowing methods in terms of actual carbon sequestration.
Chemical companies like Monsanto have long claimed that no-till farming, which eliminates the need for soil to be plowed under in order to eradicate weeds, is preferable because it doesn’t disrupt the soil and thus release carbon into the atmosphere. Climate change apologists have long claimed that soil carbon release is responsible for global warming and that no-till farming methods prevent this phenomenon from occurring.
But as it turns out, no-till farming only sequesters carbon near the surface of the soil, with far lower accumulations than previously assumed at deeper levels. What this suggests is that the net accumulation of organic carbon in no-till soil is small, at best, and most likely negligible. In other words, GM crop technologies do not actually address climate change any better than conventional growing technologies.
“Over-stating the climate change benefits of no-till is serious as it gives a falsely optimistic message of the potential to mitigate climate change through altered agricultural practices,” stated Prof. David Powlson, a co-author of the study from Rothamsted Research in the UK.
No-till farming can be beneficial, but not for the reasons Monsanto claims
The findings of this study are important because they completely debunk the myth that GMOs are somehow better for the environment than natural crops. This is a major claim of Big Biotech, and one that is often used to justify bringing ever more GMOs to market.
In other words, it appears as though Monsanto and the rest have greatly exaggerated the alleged benefits of no-till farming in order to aggressively promote GMOs as the saviors of the planet. In the process, the industry has willfully ignored copious evidence showing that carbon sequestration is minimal under the no-till model.
“These claims ignore a large body of experimental evidence showing that the quantity of additional organic carbon in soil under no-till is relatively small: in large part apparent increases result from an altered depth distribution,” explains the study.
“We argue that no-till is beneficial for soil quality and adaptation of agriculture to climate change, but its role in mitigation is widely overstated.”
As explained by Mother Earth News in an extensive piece published back in 1984, no-till farming can be beneficial in that it helps prevent soil erosion, minimize topsoil loss and improve nutrient and moisture levels in soil, among other benefits. But the carbon sequestration claims paraded around by Monsanto in support of GMOs are not among them.
“In regions where no-till or reduced tillage is agriculturally appropriate it should be promoted on these grounds, but not on the basis of equivocal evidence for climate change mitigation,” stated Farming Online. “Climate change mitigation is a small, but useful, additional benefit, not the key policy driver for its adoption.”
To learn more about the pros and cons of no-till farming, be sure to check out the following piece:
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