Many passionate followers of organic agriculture are adamantly against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food production. But these two forms of agricultural production have more in common than most people would think.
The former encourages the use of modern science to produce more food and reduce resource use, while the latter advocates avoidance of synthetic fertilizers, crop protection tools and biotechnology. Chief among the goals of the organic movement are reduced or no pesticide use, lower fuel consumption, and less land devoted to farming.
Yet these are all things that GMOs have helped farmers achieve. Biotech crops are resistant to certain pests, meaning they need fewer pesticides, produce higher yields on the same or less amount of land, and require less tillage and other farmer intervention. This all results in lower fuel use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
New biotech crops in the works will soon be more drought tolerant, reducing the amount of water needed for agriculture. Meanwhile, biotech crops that fix their own nitrogen would drastically reduce energy consumption on conventional farms. By eliminating the current organic practice of planting legume cover crops that are then plowed under to trap their nitrogen in the soil, these crops could also result in fewer passes over the field, less fuel consumed, and lower emissions.