When farmers in Mato Grosso, the top soy-producing state in Brazil, were introduced to GMO soy varieties, they jumped at the chance to plant them, even though the country’s government hadn’t yet approved their use. It was a foolish risk to take; the GM soy these farmers planted has consistently provided lower yields than conventional soy varieties.
About half of the soy grown in Mato Grosso is genetically modified, but because of the lower yields – and the fact that many distributors are shunning GMO – quite a few farmers are turning back to conventional crops. However, so much research has been done on GM crops in the past decade that it may be difficult, at least initially, for conventional-minded farmers to compete. Concerned consumers and environmental scientists alike hope they can act quickly enough to preserve the seed base of non-genetically modified soy.