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Genetically modified (GM) crops have an immense capability of protecting the environment, an agricultural economist said.

According to Graham Brookes of PG Economics (United Kingdom), the use of GM crops has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by an estimated 14.76 billion kilos in 2006.

He added that the growing impact of GM crops from 1996 to 2006 has resulted in pesticide use reduction by a whopping 15.47 percent, covering a total of 27 pesticide active ingredients used by the European Union (EU) on arable crops in one year.

In GM insect-resistant cotton, for instance, 5.6 million kilos of insecticide were observed to be reduced, said Brookes. With the reduction on spraying, less fuel is used which resulted in the reduction of CO2 emission by 5.8 billion kilos or equivalent to 2.6 million cars off the road.

"This is equivalent to removing 6.56 million cars or 25 percent of cars registered in the United Kingdom from the road in one year," he said in a forum.

Biotechnology crops were also said to promote low or no till farming, a system which has cancelled the release of 13.5 billion kilos of CO2 into the atmosphere. If no tillage would be continued, 63.9 billion kilos of CO2 would be reduced through additional soil carbon sequestration.

In addition to this, Brookes said that the production of GM crops has benefitted farmers, generating an accumulated income of $33.8 billion. He added that such were able to effectively lower food prices, especially in developing countries.

"Additional production has allowed significantly higher volumes of commodities to be traded globally. It must have had an important positive impact on mitigating the level of price increases in world markets," he said.

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