GMO Activists March Against Monsanto – Farmers’ Perspective


What’s that you say? There’s a rally on Market Square today? What’s the cause? Oh, they are marching against GMO foods…

march against monsanto gmo food biotechnology

Image via March Against Monsanto

Today, Saturday, May 25, (2014 event is taking place on 05/24/2014) thousands of people across the globe are organizing a March Against Monsanto. The group claims in a mission statement that GMO foods are not sustainable and cause harm through increased risk of cancers, infertility, and birth defects. The group believes that chemicals produced by Monsanto, like glyphosphate (Roundup), are poisoning our environment. This group strongly dislikes government and FDA support and approval of GMO foods and the recent, as they call it, Monsanto Protection Act. This groups wants to unveil the truth about GMOs, boycott Monsanto, and increase research on the harm caused by consuming GMO foods. You can read more about the desires of this event on the March Against Monsanto page. I’ve included the links to the MAM page, because you’ll find it through an easy google search and we might as well learn what everyone has to say about it.

I think that it is great that we have the freedom of speech and choice in this country. But at the same time I believe that activists rallying against Monsanto would be  better off to direct their attention to better efforts. Monsanto is a company that has responded to the demands of consumer markets. They are one of many companies supplying seeds through the use of biotechnology to help farmers produce more crops with fewer inputs and have a smaller impact on the environment per unit produced.

If these concerned folks really want to make a stronger impact against GMO, there are a few more productive steps that could be taken: stop purchasing food and products from organizations that do not support your beliefs, support local food sources, grow your own food, and take time to have an open mind and respect others’ choices. Most of us could benefit from doing a little more research and hear out both sides of the issues. There’s good science and there’s bad science, we need to learn how to identify both.

What do farmers and agriculture have to say on the issue? Here is a run-down of a few topics and several perspectives that have been shared with me this week. I trust these individuals for information and I hope you’ll take time to hear out their $0.02.

What is a GMO?

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMO, are foods or plants created with the use of biotechnology. Janice Person has a great discussion and explanation of GMOs on her blog that is well worth a read. Her blog also points out a definition of GMO from the USDA Agriculture Research Service.

The term “genetically modified organism” (GMO) was originally used by the molecular biology scientific community to denote a living organism that had been genetically modified by inserting a gene from an unrelated species. Incorporation of genes from an unrelated species does not occur in nature through sexual reproduction and thus, various types of sophisticated technologies are used to accomplish this. These types of plants are generally called “transgenics”. Transgenic technology has been used in over 40 species of plants including corn, cotton, tomatoes, potatoes, soybeans, tobacco, rice, cranberries, papayas, raspberries, chrysanthemums, gladioli, petunias, poplars, spruce, and walnuts. In crop plants, the technology has generally been used to incorporate insect resistance or herbicide tolerance. More recently, transgenic rice strains having high vitamin A or high iron content have been developed. In the future, transgenic plants may be used as “bioreactors” to produce large quantities of inexpensive pharmaceuticals, polymers, industrial enzymes, as well as modified oils, starches, and proteins. via ARS : What are GMO’S?.

 

Do farmers have a choice to plant GMO crops?

Quite simply, yes they do have a choice whether or not to plant GMO crops. No one is railroading these farmers or forcing them to plant only GMO seeds. Farmers take into consideration several factors and spend time studying on which seeds they want to plant. Thanks to biotechnology, there are many varieties of seeds out there that help farmers produce a better crop despite harsh conditions from drought, pest invasion, and weed competition.

  • Jenny Dewey, South Dakota, takes a look at several of the factors farmers take into account when choosing the seed varieties for their next crop. Read more in Do Farmers Have Choices?
  • Brian Scott, Indiana, has actually taken time to share his Monsanto cropping agreement with readers and explains how it impacts his farming decisions. Read more in I Occupy Our Food Supply Everyday.
  • Suzie Wilde, Texas, walks us through some of the decisions and choices her husband makes when selecting the next year’s cotton seed varieties. Read more in Hybrid & GMO Cottonseed Varieties leading the polls.

Does the use of GMO crops reduce chemical use for farmers?

A concern for many people is the sustainability of our environment with the use of current farming systems. Personally, I think the word sustainable is overused and often taken out of context. For farmers, sustainability of their environment often means maintaining their environment and leaving it in better shape than they found it for the next generation. The use of biotechnology and GMO seeds actually allows farmers to use fewer chemicals with more precise application to prevent weed and pest competition with their plants. These technologies also allow farmers to take better advantage of soil conservation and water conservation practices.

  • Oregon blogger, Julee K, recently asked Suzie Wilde of Texas to share about her use of gmo cotton. Turns out the use of bt cotton crops has allow the Wildes’ farm to significantly reduce the use of pesticides on their farm. Read more in Kiss The Boll Worm Goodbye!
  • Farmer Brian Scott answers the questions about glyphosphate (Roundup) use on his farm. He explains how herbicides are used on corn and wheat crops in Long-Term Glyphosate Use Effect on Wheat

What do farmers have to say about the safety of using GMO crops?

I believe that using GMO foods is safe. There have been several stories released about scientific studies showing increased risk of infertility and cancers in mice and humans, but several of these are poorly executed science. As a person working in research, there are several things to look for in good peer-reviewed science. Was the experiment large enough to show a difference? Was there a control to compare what is normal under those circumstances? Was the study designed properly to show a statistical difference?

Many folks with the anti-gmo movements claim that biotechnology hasn’t been around long enough to really know about the potential long-term effects to determine if they are safe. But they haven’t been around long enough to say they are dangerous either. I have no concern in eating gmo foods. I have no concern in feeding my livestock GMO corn and then eating that meat, milk, etc. Neither do many of the farmers I talk to.

Here is a group of Q&As from farmers about the safety and use of GMOs that have been shared with me recently.

 

How does Monsanto feel about anti-GMO activism?

So how does the company in the center of this controversy feel about the issues? I know several folks to have or do work for Monsanto either as scientists or by working directly with farmers. They really are great people, a joy to be around, and they love their jobs. They’re not of the opinion that they work for the ‘devil’ as some folks propose and they don’t go to work with the intentions of taking over the global food supply by force as some fear mongers want us to believe. Monsanto is one of many companies working to help farmers improve the tools in their belt to better handle the challenges we face when growing food, crops, livestock, and many other things that feed a growing global food supply.

  • BlogHer blogger and mom, Aimee Whetstine, recently asked several Monsanto female employees how they feel working for the company. Read more in Listening to the Women of Monsanto.
  • A recent article from the Genetic Literacy Projects, encourages readers to take a closer look at the Monsanto Protection Act. Read more in Separating the facts from the fury.
  • What do Monsanto employees stand for and what do they want to achieve? The Monsanto blog addresses these questions and shares several links in a post today. Read more in What Monsanto Employees Stand For.

I have yet to ever plant my first gmo crop seed, but I do trust the farmers, their experience, and the knowledge shared in the links above. I don’t want to stand on a pedestal today and tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat. I am 100% in support of food choices and I am stoked that Farmers’ Market season is here and that I have the opportunity to gather a huge assortment of fresh meats and vegetables right outside my office every Wednesday.

If you want to make a choice to not support genetically modified organisms or biotechnology, that is your choice. But please make that an informed choice, based on good science, and realize there are two sides to every story and often the extremes on either side are the most vocal in the spotlight.

Updated: Additional Perspectives and Information

About Ryan Goodman (982 Articles)
Ryan Goodman lives in Helena, MT and comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan is currently working on a Master's degree from the University of Tennessee. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same.

77 Comments on GMO Activists March Against Monsanto – Farmers’ Perspective

  1. Two simple test questions:
    1) How can you add something to a strand of DNA and have it NOT be in the DNA of its offspring (seed)?

    2) How can you add non-biological (herbicide) into the DNA of a plant and know there are no side affects without decades of research of both the plants and those who ingest it?

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    • 1) You can use a vector that does not integrate with the host’s DNA and that doesn’t have a cloning site. It will eventually dilute on the passing generations. Either way that’s not what is used to create GM seeds sold on the market.

      2) The herbicide (glyphosate) is NOT added into the DNA of a plant. What is added is a resistance gene against glyphosate so that the plant remains unaffected by this herbicide. Tests have been done for glyphosate for decades and no illness was directly linked with it.

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  2. Thank you for this post and for all that you do to encourage respectful informed dialogue on the subject of agriculture. Keep up the good work!

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    • Thanks for the comment Renee. That’s the hope.

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  3. I used to be anti-GMO and would have been out marching with these people but the true science won me over in the end and knowledge allays fears. Now I just feel bad that so many people are being mislead into thinking GMOs pose a health danger. There are other, REAL health issues we should be marching about. Nice post!

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    • I am curious. For the sake of furthering my research would you mind letting me know what studies changed your mind? Especially since it was powerful enough to change how you felt on the topic. Thanks!

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      • Dear Curious: You asked me which studies changed my mind. Well, to be perfectly honest, it was the most well-known studies circulated by the anti-GMO activist movement that first made me suspect and were very instrumental in eventually changing my mind (e.g. Seralini’s rats, Vliegers “shocking corn comparison”, Carman’s pig gut study). Why? Because according to the vast majority of scientists worldwide, these studies were not valid and even considered junk or psuedo-science. There was a long list of questionable scientific methodology used in each and every one of them. Results were cherry-picked, hyped and propagandized. To my knowledge, none of the data has been repeated (which is part of the scientific method), and in some cases the data hasn’t even been proven to exist (Dr. Huber’s ‘deadly pathogen’, for example).

        The science used to cast doubt on safety of GMOs, and by safety I mean that they are no more dangerous than conventional non-GMO food, has all been circulated by characters who come across like they have an ax to grind, characters on the fringe (e.g., Jeffrey smith, Mike Adams, Vendana Shiva, Ronnie Cummins, Dr. Mercola).

        I also was in contact with several scientists and farmers and I learned that within the molecular biology/genetics field both public and private and within industry, GMOs are not only accepted as an agricultural tool, but people are excited about where the technology can go and how it can aid our global food future. They are also sad that innovations like Golden Rice (which is completely non-commericial, by the way) are held up in red tape by the overreach of Greenpeace and meanwhile, those whose sight and lives can be saved by eating it don’t have access to it.

        I also learned that farmers are way too smart to be victimized by Monsanto. They buy the products because they like them and they are good for their business, period.

        I also had a scientist once explain to me in detail the mechanism behind Bt and Roundup Ready corn and I realized after understanding a bit more about it, it nolonger had the power to scare me. More importantly, my health is not suffering from eating GMOs. My health may very well suffer from consuming too much processed food, sugar, fat, starch, alcohol, etc., but not the GMOs themselves.

        A GMO process is involved in the manufacture of insulin and cheese and no one much seems to notice or care about that. GMOs may also be used in craft beer and wine making. I don’t see people willing to cut back on their beer and wine either.

        As for studies proving safety of GMOs, you’re not going to find that. You can’t prove safety of conventional food either. It can’t be proven that wearing a seatbelt will save a life each and every time, but we wear them because the evidence tells us it works most of the time.

        A good place to find public and private studies is Biofortified.com and GMOAnswers.com.

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    • Thanks for stopping by Julee! I was glad to be able to include links to a few of your posts. I’ve been enjoying your highlights of farmers.

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  4. Its easy for a lot of people to forgot & over look Monsanto’s not so good past & think that Monsanto is such a wonderful loving & caring company! I’m sure if you were to talk to some of the Vietnam vets, south & north Vietnamese people & the residents of Anniston Alabama they might have something different to say about Monsanto! To this day not one Monsanto Executive has faced any criminal charges for their so called “sins of the past” ! Just think of some of the horrible painful deaths thousands of people suffered because of Monsanto lack of responsibility & not wanting to lose one dollar of profit! If Monsanto really wanted to do some good they would clean up their messes and pay back all the people lives who they destroyed and people that are still suffering cause of what Monsanto did in the past!

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    • It seems Monsanto is the object where many folks direct their hate and distrust about many issues. Thanks for the commentary Paul.

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    • Hi Paul, first of all I want to be perfectly transparent and let you know that I am a Monsanto employee. I am also very proud of what I do and who I work for. I want you to know the truth about Monsanto’s history with Agent Orange. During the Vietnam war the US government asked Monsanto and several other chemical companies to manufacture Agent Orange. The feds had the formula as well as how it was to be manufactured, it wasn’t a Monsanto product but yes we did make it for the government. The feds were the ones who applied it and are decided how, where and when it was used. If anyone is to be held responsible for the resulting cancer rates associated with contact from the chemical don’t you think it should be the government? If you have any other concerns or questions I’d be happy to answer them or direct you to someone else if I can’t.

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      • Lindsey // June 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM //

        Monsanto is not an innocent bystander because of an irresponsible government. Monstanto did this for profit despite potential risks. Profit at any expense is how they do business and is unnacceptable

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    • It’s also easy for us Americans to forget that we are not the only ones affected by the amount or quality of food produced here. Many hungry and poorer parts of the world benefit from these technologies in food production.

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  5. I stopped reading at “stop purchasing food and products from organizations that don’t support your beliefs”. How am I supposed to do that if Monsanto spends millions (8 million in California alone) to prevent the labeling of these products? If these GMO crops are SO great then why not label them?

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    • And I pose a similar question. Why not strengthen the labeling already in place for organic/natural products?

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      • I would further add that the “if it’s so great, why don’t you just label it” argument is a Trojan horse, just a first step toward the ultimate goal of banning them. Create a fear campaign, then label the thing everyone is supposed to fear, drive down demand for biotech engineered, increase demand for organic….oooops! Now I’m sounding like a conspiracy theorist, shame on me, yeah, agree, label the organic/natural stuff, reduce gov’t need to enforce & lawyer’s ability to sue.

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      • Other than organic farming and labeling GMOs, what other solutions or alternatives have opponents of GMOs brought to the table? It’s not an all or nothing situation for those supporting biotechnology, and I feel as though I am often attacked as if that were the case.

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      • Organic companies already have to label and have it organically certified, where as GMO crops do not have to label anything. Why would you want organics to have more red tape when the biotech industry has absolutely none?

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      • Biotech traits have plenty of hoops to go before landing on our tables. They are some of the most extensively researched traits in our food supply today with years of testing before approval.

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  6. Ryan a job well done once again! As a Golf Course Superintendent I have had to use many of the same types of chemicals to control pests that are used in farming. After all Agronomy is Agronomy. What bothers me the most about this March is that why did they pick this weekend to do this? This weekend people are out to cemeteries tending to the grave sites of their lost loved ones, especially the ones of Veterans. It just seems like a selfish act to take away from the remembrance of our fallen heroes. Keep up the good work as always.
    Eddie

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    • I agree Eddie. We should have been able to focus on support and memorials for our troops.

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  7. “This group strongly dislikes government and FDA support and approval of GMO foods and the recent, as they call it, Monsanto Protection Act.”
    It’s not a group, it’s the majority the whole world!

    “Monsanto is a company that has responded to the demands of consumer markets.”
    People don’t wake up and say “I can’t wait to buy some GE corn” Demand is there because they don’t know gmos are in the food. Put a label on it and see if the demand persists.

    “If these concerned folks really want to make a stronger impact against GMO, there are a few more productive steps that could be taken: stop purchasing food and products from organizations that do not support your beliefs”
    We need labels to do this.

    Bt cotton needs less insecticide? I don’t think they weigh the insecticide that is produced in the plants themselves.

    On Monsanto employees: How about they volunteer for long term feeding studies on transgenic crops?

    The author “trusts the farmers?” Do the farmers really know about the science of transgenic crops? On the most part what they know is what Monsanto tells them. They are not scientists.

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    • I can’t help if you’re not willing to do your own work and want someone to pay for a colorful label to share the information you want on a product you don’t want to consume anyway. And I’m sorry you have so much distrust in the food system and those producing it. I’m just trying to share my perspective. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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      • Mr. Goodman-
        I would like to do my own work to find out which products contain GMOs and/or any Monsanto products. Can you please tell me where I can obtain this information? Thank you

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      • A good place to start is the Monsanto website, learning about their products, and what types of biotechnology are available and what they do – http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/default.aspx

        I’m not sure you’ll find a list that says, products A, B, C… contain Monsanto products. Learning what crops have biotechnology traits and what those traits do is a good place to start.

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      • Another useful resource is this page with 3 links to databases of GM crops approved/considered by FDA and other government agencies. Be sure to click on the links and read information on the crops. Not all GM traits listed are in use today.

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      • Actually Ryan, nobody but the food processors have access to that information. They are the ones that choose the source of their corn, soy, canola etc… So what I do is buy organic only, grow my own or buy from my farmer friends. This is what I encourage everyone else to do too. It sucks what transgenics is doing to our country. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021091091_gmowheat31xml.html

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      • But how do you know it’s REALLY organic? You put an awful lot of trust into somebody saying their product is “organic” don’t you? I ofent wonder if it’s not labeled as “organic” and it actually comes from the same place as every other product. pffft who can you trust?

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      • Well, I guess a person who doubts many things can fail to trust those in our food system.

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    • Please don’t imply that farmers don’t understand the science. We are not dumb. We are in a constantly changing job and our knowledge grows everyday

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      • That statement was in reference to those who reach for harmful pesticides and herbicides. It’s good to be adaptable and hopefully in a way that supports organic agriculture. This market is growing quickly, there are many who are willing to pay more for quality food products. There is good science that shows the benefits of organic agriculture. https://www.certifiedcropadviser.org/story/2013/may/thu/long-term-research-shows-organic-farmings-benefits

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    • Brigette Leach // May 27, 2013 at 3:21 PM // Reply

      What makes you think that farmers education is lacking when it comes to science? What do you think farmers with degrees in agronomy, botany, horticulture, animal science, etc. study? I don’t know you, but have to ask how many science credits you have, and specifically how many semesters of anything related to genetics?

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      • I have an undergraduate degree in biology, studied two courses in cell biology, one course in genetics, biochemistry, two in organic chemistry. Unfortunately I am just a few courses short in completing my Masters Degree in Formulation Science. Also, please check out Monsanto’s MSDS under Toxicological Data, section 11, Teratogenicity. Look at the amount of Roundup that it takes to cause miscarriages in rats. Hopefully our human population will not suffer the same effects that rats do, but I have an suspect that we do. Also see section 12, Ecological Information. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/xmas/pesticides/labels/Roundup-orig-max-msds.pdf

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      • Though my overall point is, we don’t need transgenics to feed the world. Decentralize, relocalize, support local organic food systems. I can understand why large farming operations are resistant to this type of change. There is so much to be learned and change to occur. Here’s the full report: http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/cm/symposium/organic/farm/LTAR/LTAR.pdf

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      • Theresa; I’m a conventional farmer in Minnesota. I’m also an engineer in the electrical power generation industry. I’m not trying to start an argument, but in the interest of civilized discussion I’ve perused the articles you’ve provided links to. In looking at the Roundup MSDS; I’m wondering what you are seeing that makes you so concerned. It appears to me that with the exception of rabbits that the administered doses are quite high before we see any detrimental effects. In the ecological information section it appears that Roundup is non toxic to only mildly toxic to everything listed with the exception of algae which we would expect. In terms of herbicides we have used over the years; I would venture to say that Roundup is among the least toxic based on the MSDS. In the organic farming studies you link; most of the higher margin from organic comes from the higher prices organic farmers receive. However, it is mentioned in field operations that in place of chemical treatment they rotary hoed and cultivated, and then hand weeded the crops. It lists the benefits of organic, without mentioning the amount of labor it takes for the average farm to adopt to this system. Also, it uses a rotation of five years using Corn, soybeans, oats, and two years of alfalfa. Because for two years the ground isn’t worked and seeded to a legume we would expect higher organic matter numbers in the soil. I guess my question is that on a national level how will we meet the demand for corn and soybeans if we go to a five year rotation where only two years are in these crops; and what will we do with all of the oats and alfalfa?

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      • Andy, I also question what the results would be if it were tried somewhere where the soil is not as naturally deep and fertile as Iowa. Or if it were tried somewhere with more disease and insect pressure, like the Deep South.

        The study says that the cover crops provide protection for beneficial insects. It also provides protection for harmful insects, which may act as disease vectors. There is always a lag, where harmful insects increase in number, before the beneficial population builds up. As the beneficials get the harmful insect numbers in check, the beneficial numbers go down too. But if the harmful insects are disease vectors, they do their damage before the beneficials can be effective.

        They also mention that they plant the organic crops at a higher seeding rate, in case cultivation causes damage. But what kind of advantage does that give the organic if cultivation does not result in damage? I can only assume they figured in the cost of fuel and equipment for those extra cultivation passes as well.

        The oats and alfalfa yields are compared to county averages, instead of growing those crops under conventional conditions for comparison. That brings in all kinds of confounding error. It is usually not hard to beat a county average if you use any management at all.

        This reminds me of studies trying to show hybrid vigor in wheat. It is there, but the amount depends on what you compare it to. It is usually pretty easy to show an advantage over the mean of the parents, but showing an advantage over the best conventional variety is more difficult.

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    • Farmers understand more about the crops they are producing than you lead yourself to believe. They spend countless hours researching what they will plant, what they will use to aid the growth, and what the results should be. Don’t assume farmers don’t understand what they are doing. They make a living taking huge “educated risks” to ensure food security every year. Would you risk over a million dollars every year with something you don’t understand? Neither would they.

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      • Once the market understands the detrimental effects of transgenics, and they are learning quite rapidy now, your market will diminish. Including foreign markets. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/business/global/japan-suspends-some-imports-of-us-wheat.html?_r=0

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    • “If these concerned folks really want to make a stronger impact against GMO, there are a few more productive steps that could be taken: stop purchasing food and products from organizations that do not support your beliefs”
      We need labels to do this.

      There are Labels, They say “Organic”…

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      • Yes, but transgenics are contaminating our organic products. And the market for organics is growing so much that it the supply can not meet our demand. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1243282?uid=3739808&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102065544123

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      • Theresa Lam said: “Either you pay the doctor or pay our organic farmers. Decentralized small organic local farms can feed the world. Transgenics are not necessary, not effective … and have only been created so that biotech companies can profit on the sales of Round up.”

        Then she followed that with ” And the market for organics is growing so much that it the supply can not meet our demand.”

        If organics can’t meet the demand for a few affluent 1st worlders, how are they ever going to meet the demand of the whole world?

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    • “Farmers are not scientists”
      Do you understand how ignorant and insulting that is to farmers throughout the world? As an individual who grew up farming and is getting my Ph.D. In science you seriously need to check your bias. Many farmers get a science degree (yes agriculture is science) so they know how to understand and manage their lands. Farmers are some of the best scientists, they research what they grow, the look at past data, and they make decisions according. Or to break it down in a manner which might make sense to you and compare what farmers do in comparison to what scientists do.
      1. Make a hypothesis: Decide what to grow and how to grow it; this is decided based on many factors, just like any science experiment.
      2. Collect data: Look at yield, inputs, and cost/benefit.
      3. Draw conclusions: See if what they did works for them.  Appropriate yields, profit margins, and maintenance of the land for sustaining their livelihood.
      4. Make new hypotheses based on the conclusions: Start all over again next planting season.

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    • Barclay Meinert // May 25, 2014 at 4:58 PM // Reply

      Funny you should mention BT…. A bacteria that secretes leaving tiny pointy crystals that scratch up little bugs and kills them literally by 1000 cuts.
      The gene spliced in allows the plant to do the same.
      The most widely used pesticide in North America.
      AND AN ORGANIC PESTICIDE
      Yes. It is and has been for decades liberally used in organic agriculture.
      Organic doesn’t mean the absence of pesticides. Only the absence of artificial ones.

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  8. I buy local. And support small farm efforts, because at the end of the day I would rather all of my money go into the farmers pocket instead of to a corporate giant and get distributed. What bothers me about the entire thing is that I do not have a choice. Unless you do research on the brands you choose and know where they source their ingredients then it is impossible to venture into a grocery store and avoid GMOs. If they are so proud of their product…and it poses no threat then why do they fight labeling it so vehemently? These are also the same people that said Agent Orange was safe, well we all know how that turned out. And we are not the only ones who look at GMOs with suspicion, many European countries have out right banned them! It is clearly something to look deeper into, more independent long term studies need to be conducted before we embrace such a new technology.

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    • That’s awesome that you actually do have that choice to buy local. I too enjoy a frequent trip to the farmers’ markets this time of year. I’m sorry if you feel doing a little research on our food sources is too much work. I think we’d all be better off if more folks did some research into their food sources. For perspective, we are lucky to even have that food available and be able to afford it. There are many folks here at home and across the globe that can’t.

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      • You are right that we are lucky to have the availability. As long as govt subsidies go to the big agra and not to the little guy then the affordability is questionable.
        I am not saying that I don’t like researching the companies I support but it gets more difficult to do that thoroughly. I do not have children or the obligations that go along with them, and I can spend hours trying to find reputable companies to spend my feeble wages on. I could not imagine it being a parent trying to do the same for their family. The research is also ever changing, you find a company that has ingredients that you approve of, then you look into them and agree with their mission statement, decide to purchase their product and add them in your mind to your “safe” list, only to see that 6 months later they change ingredients because another company bought them out! Tell me do you know the parent company of every product on the shelf? Or how they donate their money, as in elected officials or to fight Prop 37? And all of this just to buy a darn granola bar! And you do that for every product in your shopping cart! I put in my due diligence but the lack of transparency makes it a near full time job.
        As far as food availability for the under privlidged, there are many extensive studies that show small scale organic farms are more sustainable then single crop farms or feed lots ever will be. They also increase the richness of the soil instead of depleting it, and they are not contaminating our water sources. Besides all of this I must also ask just how much of a humanitarian effort it would be to feed someone a product that could potentially harm them? It seems more like a wolf in sheeps clothing to swoop in and save the starving only for them to develop cancer or infertility? Have you saved them or actually done more harm then good? A rat can eat rat poison because he is hungry but he will not be able to live long enough to thank you for feeding him.
        I do not know all the answers to the questions I pose. I guess these are just the issues I face because I do care enough to look deeper. I feel for those that don’t even know to question these things. Those that blindly believe that the FDA is looking out for them. Those that believe the propoganda that Monsanto puts out to save their profit margins.

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  9. You scientists are lazy!….When have you ever stacked hay?….woke up at 3am to feed cattle?…fixed a hydraulic line in the blistering heat…did the same in the freezing cold?…..You sit in a climate controlled lab, and claim you work hard!….What is your heart rate during those petri-dish experiments?….I bet you jog after work, because you don’t get excersize!…..and, if your products are so miraculous, then why have you been kicked out of some of the most densely populated countries?

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    • Actually… I did grow up on a ranch, continue to work on the farm, and have participated in the tasks that go along with those jobs in every type of weather. And yes I enjoy running a few days a week to help clear my head after dealing with frustrating topics like this. Then I come back inside and dedicate extra time to share information so that others may share my experiences and learn more about where our food really comes from. Thanks for checking!

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    • We all benefit when we remember the efforts of those that nourish us! Many need to remember that regardless of your stance on GMOs that our lives depend on those that do back breaking work to feed our families. Much respect for the often thankless work that you do!

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      • Either you pay the doctor or pay our organic farmers. Decentralized small organic local farms can feed the world. Transgenics are not necessary, not effective (think super weeds and super bugs and the suggested use of Bayer’s 2,4-D ready crops) and have only been created so that biotech companies can profit on the sales of Round up. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/6-reasons-organics-can-fe_b_1399380.html

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      • Really Theresa? What would be your assessment of how biotech helped the Hawaii papaya from going extinct by coming up with a transgenic variety that resists the ringspot virus? I support local farmers. I am against the anti-GMO movement not because I care so much about the seed companies, but because I’ve seen how it’s starting to hurt our hard working commercial farmers here in Hawaii, many of whom are small businesses, just because some folks, many of whom are not even from here, try to tell multi-generational farmers how they should farm (organic, of course, nothing else is acceptable) and that biotech engineered for desired traits should be off the table. The rainbow papaya is SAFE, tested up the wazoo, to the point that even Japan has approved it for import. I myself eat it everyday, for almost a decade, without any fear or reservations whatsover. I’ve also gotten off all my former meds, feel healthier, & have better digestion.

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      • Thank you Matthew! I appreciate the perspective from the ground in Hawaii.

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      • Catbird // May 31, 2013 at 11:35 AM //

        Theresa…

        Super weeds were a problem long before GMO was around…Farmers have always had to be accountable for what chemicals they uses and they must ensure not to over spray that way other plants will not become immune

        To suggest that “transgenics have only been created so that biotech companies can profit on the sales of Round up” is strange because
        a) round up is not the only chemical used
        b) before GMO these same companies were selling other chemicals
        (more than they sell now because less is needed)

        Biotec is not the end all fix all…Its just another tool that farmers can use along with traditional farming tactics to continue to feed the ever expanding population of the world

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      • I don’t think the Hawaiians are all that happyu about this

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/20/genetically-modified-papayas-attacked_n_932152.html

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      • http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/sections/news/local-news/gmo-critics-fight-ban.html

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      • Matthew, What does this have to do with your transgenics? “I’ve also gotten off all my former meds, feel healthier, & have better digestion.”

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      • The transgenic variety of the Hawaiian papaya was created to resist a virus, not to be able to thrive the application of pesticides or herbicides. Lets not confuse the issue.

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    • John, what do you think a scientist does? I am a wheat breeder/scientist and I grew up on a farm. I stacked hay, I picked cucumbers from 8-noon, then stacked 50 lb baskets of cukes at a cucumber buying station from noon to midnight, eating only when there was a break in the action, or taking turns eating while my siblings filled in. Then we might even have to get up in the middle of the night to load out a refrigerated truck, then get up again to work at 8 the next morning. Sometimes I cropped (picked) tobacco, where we started before the sun came up and the dew dripping off the leaves soaked us thoroughly, stinging our eyes from the nicotine, etc, then the sun came out and we sweltered in near 100 degrees and 100% humidity.

      As a wheat breeder, I planted wheat riding the back of a research planter in cold drizzling rain until midnight the week before Christmas, because I knew if we stopped we would probably never get it planted that season once the ground got soaked, because it would not dry out until after the New Year. I also walked beside a research combine in 100 degree heat, taking the samples out of the back of the combine by hand and pouring them into sample bags, while the chaff swirled around us and we got so itchy it felt like we had been rolling in fiberglass insulation. Try doing that for the better part of a month.

      I have also worked in a lab, but I would prefer the outdoors work compared to the tedium of the lab.

      I assume you are referring to Europe, where GMO use is limited, but rarely banned. They buy GM from other countries because they can’t grow enough food to meet their demand. But the politicians put barriers to using GM because of fear of the political backlash that would occur because of fear-mongering by the likes of Greenpeace, despite their national science organizations saying GM is safe.

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  10. Theresa,
    Decentralized small organic local farms can(NOT) feed the world for the simple reason it would be nearly impossible for them to reach the consumers…or for the consumer to reach them. How would the average New York City dweller (who doesn’t own a car) get to a farm to buy direct from the farmer? Even if New York farmers advertised on the internet, and shipped food via FedEX, you don’t have enough farmers in the state to supply New York City. It takes large centralized farms just to meet distribution needs.

    That said, there are too many modern farm and ranch practices that rely on technology rather than common sense. You can only mess with mother nature so long before she will up and bite you on the behind!

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  11. Hi Ryan, even though we’re Certified Organic, we did not participate in the march in Cedar City, UT. I wrote a post about why we didn’t join our fellow farmers and show our disdain for Monsanto. Here’s the link to that post

    http://fourcountrygals.com/2013/05/26/we-didnt-attend-the-march-against-monsanto

    Like

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective! I appreciate that.

      Like

  12. Reblogged this on dancemom97501 and commented:
    Another great article for info on non GMO’s vs GMO’s. We must educate ourselves to make informed decisions.

    Like

  13. [Comment edited for strong language and inappropriate content. See comment moderation rules on the About page]

    When stating that farmers have a choice is this matter, one wonders what you are talking about — reality as shaped by three farmers?

    The numbers suggest you are not looking at the big picture. Or perhaps your readers do not know that Monsanto is also in the education business.

    You are an MA student? What companies make up funding supporting your research?

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    • Actually there are perspectives from several more farmers in this post, and on my blog roll tab, you will find perspectives from many more who share similar views that are representative of a larger group. Yes, farmers do have a choice in what seeds they plant, where they purchase the seeds, and spent many hours planning their decisions.

      Funding sources do not dictate the outcome of my research or others in my department. However, I can tell you, Monsanto has never paid me a dime. Academic research have several levels of liability to enforce ethics in research. Financial support of University research programs from larger businesses is critical because research is expensive, long-term, and money does not grow off trees.

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  14. Hot topic! Thanks, Ryan, for opening up this dialogue. I appreciate seeing both sides. I too have reservations about GMO’s and believe they should be labeled. However, I appreciate your viewpoint and that of other farmers. I have read about farmers on either side of the fence and I believe we should carefully weigh all the information from all sources. Re the labeling — let people make their own choices. I believe people should be informed about their food and that they shouldn’t be “protected” from information. With that said, thanks for all this. On the blogging side, you got a lot of hits and attention with this topic. Keep digging into controversies! :)

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    • Thanks Kay! Writing about these topics takes a little more time and effort, but I work on them when I can between research work. There’s a few more in the drafts folder.

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      • Good for you. I’m a former editor/writer, and I think you’re a talented writer, so keep it up (along with everything else, LOL). And topics like these definitely need some airing :).
        Heat wave in the Shenandoah Valley, by the way, whew! Stay cool in your area.

        Like

  15. Annette Stewart // June 6, 2013 at 5:28 PM // Reply

    This blog is great because it shares both sides. As a farmer’s wife I have health and safety concerns. However these are the issues we face: We are told to produce food. We have lower acreage to work with so in order to produce the food everyone needs, we push the yields. Can non-GMO accomplish this? If not, there will be lower yields resulting in food shortages, lower selection of foods, and higher costs of food. (2) If we go non gmo, what about our markets to sell our products? Otherwise we are out of business and we can’t afford to grow a product and get nothing back. (3) how do you control weeds on over 1000 acres? I’m not hoeing out weeds on that acreage. So, there’s our challenges as farmers. Some want small farms but sorry we can’t live on that unless it’s a garden or hobby farming. Plus, there’s less farmers and more people will be hungry. If the consumers want these products, then we need the income to be able to live, the markets for the products, control of weeds, yields which means you will pay a lot more at the grocery. Are you willing to do that? Let’s look for solutions instead of blaming and complaining about companies and the farmer.

    Like

    • Great perspective and thanks for the comments and Food For Thought Annette.

      Like

  16. So glad about this article. Non GMO chicken nuggets vs GMO carrots (sub veggie here). As a mom with a background in science, my emphasis is towards veggies. … And those solutions that can help our world food crisis.

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  17. GMO is unnatural. Goes against natural law. There will be ramifications and they will not be good. America is a country that runs on the illnesses of its citizens. If we were all healthy (eating good, organic, natural food) our economy would collapse. The government is not interested in the health of its citizens because healthy citizens don’t pay. GMO is just one aspect of the nightmare that America has become. It’s so sad because we were once a great nation. Monsanto must be good friends with the pharmaceutical/medical industries because they give them all their business. All I can say is, “Go organic and detox.”

    Like

    • Thanks for the opinion Sam. Not that I agree with it, but I hope you at least read the opinion I shared and that of other farmers linked in the post.

      Like

  18. Curious on your thoughts on two things:

    #1 – Have you watched King Corn? What do you think about Monsanto and seed and how they cross pollinate with other seeds? Are we destroying the diversity of seed? How do you feel about how Monsanto RUINS farmers who are trying to use their own seeds?

    #2 – Super weeds. Are we not creating super weeds that can’t be killed with things like (Monsanto created) Round-up now. What happens when the weeds outsmart all the chemicals and crap we dump on our food?

    I am open to learning more about GMOs, Monsanto, and pesticides, but I if something says “keep out of the reach of children,” I’m not so keen on putting it on their food!

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment and questions Ami.

      I’ve watched King Corn and several other anti-Big Ag food documentaries. My opinion is that the story lines for these pieces are not as accurate as they appear. I don’t believe Monsanto (or any other biotech seed company) is out to sue farmers for cross pollination or retaining seeds. The farmers know the contract they sign when purchasing these products and know what they are doing they violate the terms of those contracts. Just as would happen with any other business transaction under a contract. Brian Scott, Indiana corn, bean, and popcorn farmer, shares his cropping agreement and explains what it means to his farm – http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/01/17/opinion-my-family-farm-isnt-under-corporate-control/.

      Brian also has a few other posts that come to mind when you mention weeds. I’ll let them do the speaking.

      http://thefarmerslife.com/environment/greed-is-green/

      http://thefarmerslife.com/videos/weeds-are-a-challenge-for-farms-of-all-types/

      Like

      • Let me know if you have any questions, Ami. Thanks for the shout out, Ryan.

        Like

  19. Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] // May 24, 2014 at 12:34 PM // Reply

    “If these concerned folks really want to make a stronger impact against GMO, there are a few more productive steps that could be taken: stop purchasing food and products from organizations that do not support your beliefs, support local food sources, grow your own food, and take time to have an open mind and respect others’ choices.”

    You hit the nail on the head: RESPECT OTHERS’ CHOICES. End of story.

    Like

  20. Reblogged this on iSimpleTypeApp News and Support.

    Like

11 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. SAY NO TO GMOs – Demonstrations in Washington | jakeandrae
  2. Eugene’s Monsanto March | oregongreen
  3. Reputatiemanagement van een multinational onder vuur | Sandra Barth
  4. The Anti-GMO Movement Continues To Disappoint | SLEUTH 4 HEALTH
  5. Spraying our fields. | The Adventures of Dairy Carrie... I think I Need a Drink!
  6. Year in Review: Top Agriculture Blogs for 2013 | Agriculture Proud
  7. Questions about Genetic Modification | Student Brings Attention to GMO in C-SPAN Documentary | Agriculture Proud
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  9. Random Thoughts on this Memorial Day Weekend | Minnesota Farm Living
  10. 1,000 Lessons Learned From My First 1,000 Blog Posts | Agriculture Proud
  11. Eugene's Monsanto March - OregonGreen

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