Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Will GMOs Really Hurt Me?

I consider myself a relatively reasonable human being. I am modeling this behavior after my mom and grandma, who have strong morals and convictions, but tend to question and be skeptical, in an educated, calm manner.

Thus, my thoughts on the GMO (genetically modified organism) debate tend to err on the side of science, but I try to do a little research while I'm at it.

There's a craze going on. A food craze. An "eat nuts and berries and twigs" and "processed foods are the devil" craze, and while I agree, I would rather my kids eat fruit than fruit snacks, does that make corn bred to withstand drought that we planted evil? Does that genetic modification make us as farmers evil?

Answer from a majority of the crowd: No.

However, how does this corn, that we inevitably harvest for fuel and food products and not to be confused with sweet corn that you can pick and eat, fit into the GMO debate?

Well, good question. Because to me, it's a simple answer: It shouldn't, because scientists have done their research.

I am not a scientist, but my understanding of GMOs is that it's figuring out how to make our supply meet the demand, of the population, of the weather, etc. It's making the outcome of the crop fit the need of our growing population. It's like Joe buying a "good bull" to breed with a "good cow." It's just science. There's no evil.

Scientists are in the lab, researching, and they're not evil scientists. They are just regular dudes who are wearing white coats and looking at CELLS. They're not figuring out a way to make the American public fatter. They have extensively studied this particular crop and have found a way for farmers like us to continue to survive during the driest of years and now the wettest of springs, and still harvest a corn crop so you folks can fuel up your SUVs with gas to get to Trader Joe's to purchase organic, non-GMO (supposedly) food and then make a stand on not eating conventionally grown food (sorry for the sarcasm, I'm grouchy today).

There's plenty of information out there that is both pro and con GMO. However, writers and skeptics like Fourat Janabi who have written books with anti-GMO sentiments, have back pedaled. Janabi has since written a second edition to his book, Random Rationality, realizing there's not much footing on the GMO debate. Thanks to conversations with scientists like Kevin Folta (read the conversation here if you're interested in the science behind GMOs, plus it's an entertaining piece), Janabi has written pieces of information  so that people like me can see the GMO debate a little more clearly.

GMOs are not making us sick or fat. CHOICES are making us sick and fat. Regardless of whether you eat organic or conventional, there is no debate when you're eating too much of the wrong stuff. However, with all this GMO debate, and all the press it's getting, scaring the pants off of many Americans, it's filtering down to farmers like us, and that stinks, because we're just trying to keep up with the needs of a bigger and bigger population. GMOs are helpful in this respect, and if you don't believe it, try growing your organic garden without water this summer, and see how it turns out.

So before you post another shared "eat this not that" article on Facebook, check your sources, and think of my face, my husband's face, and know that we're not in cohoots with some big agricultural company, or trying to give you cancer or get you fatter or whatever. We're just trying to make a living in this crazy occupation that doesn't get a regular pay check, is dependent upon the weather, and has the responsibility to fuel and feed a growing global need.

Lucky us.

30 comments:

  1. Hi Emily! I have done some research too, but come to different conclusions than you. I am skeptical about the safety of genetically modified foods as they pertain to our health and well-being.

    You are probably familiar with Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically engineered seed and the herbicide Roundup. Its seed commercialization practices are very controversial… We are in an era of Monsanto-driven monopolization of seeds. The corporate agenda has driven the takeover of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the global food system. Once a company starts to see royalty collections from every seed, it pushes its genetically engineered crops to replace the native crops that farmers have grown over millennia. The agro-chemical and GM industry claims that small scale agro-ecological farming is backward and inefficient, but the reality is that farmers have intelligently cultivated their own locally adapted, resilient seed for thousands of years. A report from the ETC group in 2009 showed that small-scale farmers feed 70% of the world’s population.

    I talked to a local farmer about this topic this week. She said because of Monsanto, farmers can no longer save seeds- and coincidentally the price of corn, soy and cotton seeds have skyrocketed. Monsanto claims their goal is to increase a farmers yield and profit, while decreasing their workload. In the first few years, farmers crop yield increased but not now. These GM seeds produce pesticide and herbicide resistant crops, which are designed to tolerate Roundup herbicide, and now there are 26 kinds of super weeds. So they stack more kinds of herbicides in sprays, including 24d weed killer which is used on lawns and made by DOW Chemical… this was the main ingredient in Agent Orange, which is now illegal.

    In 1996 GM foods were introduced into the food supply. Unfortunately, the FDA requires limited safety testing. There have been no human studies that to show this toxin is inactive following consumption. And in Europe genetically modified foods must be labeled as such.

    Scientists and researchers are funded by someone. We need to check our sources. Monsanto is big business. The goal of big business is to turn a profit. But at whose expense? I think it is prudent to be skeptical.

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    1. Lisa- Thank you for your comments- I do have some factual clarifications for you as some information that you have received is not correct-

      #1- it is NOT illegal for farmers to keep back seed. It is only illegal to keep back seed that is licensed by a company that holds a patent on their own technology. Just as with any other patented invention, they have invested in that technology that has value in the marketplace, and are entitled to the revenues generated by their investment. There are still "Public Varieties" available that you can plant and save seed from- it's just that nobody does because no one has invested in making them comparable in yield.

      #2. Agent Orange is NOT 2,4-D. It was 2,4,5-T. Two completely different compounds. Just because they were from the same scientific family of chemicals does not make them the same. As you mention, Agent Orange is no longer available to anyone, while 2,4-D is available to everyone in the world at Walmart to kill your dandilions or other broadleaves in your yard.

      #3. To say that FDA requires limited safety testing on anything is a pretty naive position. I recommend educating yourself more fully on the approval process of anything that passes through the FDA and EPA.

      Again, thank you for your comments, and I hope that these facts clarify the mis-information that you have previously received.

      Joe Webel
      Farmer of the FarmWife

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    2. Lisa,

      I applaud you for your courage to post from an oppositional viewpoint on a blog likely to be predominantly read by viewers/ followers who agree with the author. Likewise, as women are often the purchasers and decision-makers regarding the family's food choices, I encourage you to constantly be vigilant about the intake of your family. I am sincerely glad that you have taken some time to consider these things.

      There are a few things that you have mentioned that I would like to offer an alternate view for.

      It seems that everyone in this debate (worldwide, not just on this blog) is very pro-GMO or anti-GMO. I feel as though there is a need for both in the market place.

      The truth is that there is currently no evidence to condemn GMOs as being harmful to humans. You are correct that the FDA and EPA do little research themselves, which, in and of itself would NOT be sufficient to release GMOs into the marketplace. However, the companies which discover and produce these products spend 10-15 YEARS doing research before they can even be submitted to the FDA/EPA for approval. This research is done all over the world with the products by the owner companies as well as non-biased, third-party researchers, usually in Universities. The FDA/EPA then evaluates the results of all of this research, designs several "check" experiments, and conducts their own research to essentially make sure that their results corroborate the data that has already been turned in. There are, in fact, times when the FDA/EPA will reject products based on too little evidence of safety in a particular area. At this point, it is the company's responsibility to do more research, gather and analyze data, and resubmit the request for approval. There are claims that government agencies do very little research and "always" approve products submitted; while these statements are not out-right lies, they do not take into account all of the information and are very misleading regarding the actual procedures for GMO approval.

      Getting back to what I was saying earlier, if, once presented with data, you are still skeptical regarding the safety of GMO products, you should absolutely have the right to say, "I choose to feed my family only organic food." This is America, afterall, and its people should be free to choose for themselves. Just as I believe that producers should not force consumers into a situation where they are not free to chose, I do not, in any way, believe that the people who are anti-GMO should be able to restrict what a producer chooses to plant on his/her farm. It seems as though the people are very pro-organic are also very adamant that growers should not even be allowed to plant GMOs if they choose! In my view this is a very hypocritical stance; producers should also be able to make the choices that are right for their family and their situation.

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    3. Regarding Monsanto's "monopolization" of seeds, it should be noted that there are several agri-seed and agri-chemical companies around the world who compete and collaborate to create the most effective agriculture products available. Dupont Pioneer, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, and Dow are just a few. While they all have unique products and compete in some areas, licensing agreements between companies is also commonplace, as certain companies excel in specific areas where others are lacking. For example, Roundup Ready crops and Liberty Link crops serve essentially the same purpose and are, for the most part, direct competitors; however, there are certain instances where the LL trait is more beneficial than the RR alone, and so Monsanto has licensing agreements with Bayer to include the LL protection in some of their corn. Likewise, other companies will request licensing agreements with Monsanto, because they feel that producers will benefit from the RR trait. The other companies are in no way forced to integrate this trait with their product. They simply choose to pay Monsanto because they believe that with it, they will be able to provide a better product to their customers.

      Additionally, as Joe has mentioned, producers are not required to buy seed from Monsanto. They are free to buy from any other company or from public sources (usually universities with the locally adapted varieties that you mentioned). Those purchased from public sources are not subject to "brown bagging" laws and can be saved back to plant the next year. Producers who choose to purchase Monsanto/Pioneer/Syngenta seed do so because with the additional traits, they can increase crop yields, convenience, and profits. These products, have, in fact, resulted in increased yields and continue to do so. This is a graphic from USDA data regarding corn yield: http://www.agweb.com/assets/1/6/average%20corn%20yield.jpg

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    4. I have particular issue with your statement, "Once a company starts to see royalty collections from every seed, it pushes its genetically engineered crops to replace the native crops that farmers have grown over millennia. The agro-chemical and GM industry claims that small scale agro-ecological farming is backward and inefficient, but the reality is that farmers have intelligently cultivated their own locally adapted, resilient seed for thousands of years. A report from the ETC group in 2009 showed that small-scale farmers feed 70% of the world’s population." Let me take this a step at a time. I work, on a daily basis, with people in the agricultural industry, and I can assure you that, of any sector of society, agriculturalists are the last people to call anyone else "backward." Small-scale farmers, which we call subsistence farmers, do feed a large portion of the world. They rely on the production of corn and rice to feed their families. They rarely feed anyone other than their family. They often rely on seed that they, themselves have cultivated and selected for decades or longer. US producers are not subsistence farmers. The US, Argentina, and Brazil alone provide over 85% of the worlds exports soybeans. The US is the number one exporter of corn. US producers are not farming simply to provide for their own families, but to provide for the world's growing population. Not every country can provide enough food in country to support their own population (i.e.- India) and so they import these products from those who can (i.e.- the US). To my knowledge, no agricultural company is trying to force subsistence farmers to purchase their seed and displace their "native crops." Rather, it is these subsistence farmers which would like to increase yields using the technology available in the US, but simply cannot afford to purchase it or is prohibited from doing so by their government's import restrictions. Either way, the fault does not fall on agricultural seed companies in this situation. I do not know what you mean by native crops, but really, none of the major crops that are produced worldwide are "native."

      Native soybeans (Glycine soja) are a vine from China http://www.mitomori.co.jp/hana4/image/yasou784turuma.jpg

      Native corn (Teosinte) is from Mexico and looks nothing like corn today
      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/images/news/teosinte.jpg

      Likewise, wheat is probably from Iran and is a bit more complicated, but you get the idea
      http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/bio65/agriculture/wheat2.jpg

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    5. The "super weed" issue is also something that is largely reported on incorrectly and in a misleading manner. The actual number is 24 species that are resistant to Roundup. While the weed species that are resistant to Roundup are of concern and can be economically damaging to producers, the issue with resistant weeds is not a new battle. Farmers have always and will always be combating weeds. Weeds are like any other life form, they adapt to survive. Weeds have adapted to cultural practices as well as chemicals, but those are never reported on. Likewise, the number of weeds resistant to other chemicals far out-numbers the weed species resistant to glyphosate, but these things are also not reported on. When some people use the resistance aspect as an argument, they usually do not use in the proper perspective, but magnify the problem to be much greater than it is. For example, this graphic shows the number of species to different chemical modes of action over time. Roundup is represented by the blue line with plus signs (labeled glycines)
      http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/AgriculturalDisciplines/Weed-Management/training-herbicide-resistant/Current-Status/images/Slide8.PNG

      Both Joe and Curtis have commented on 2,4-D and I would just like to add that, yes, 2,4-D was a component in Agent Orange, along with 2,4,5-T; however, neither one of these chemicals in and of themselves is dangerous. As Curtis alluded to, it was the dioxin (which is a byproduct of the manufacturing process, not actually a component of either chemical) that was responsible for all of the issues. AND, it was Monsanto who informed the government that the Agent Orange was contaminated, but they were ignored. Who saw that coming?!

      I hopes this helps to see things from a different perspective. No matter what you decide to feed your family, I hope that you will support US farmers and ranchers. We really are good folk.

      Sincerely,
      Ashley

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  2. Lisa, please check your facts when you post blogs. 2,4-D is not the only main ingredient in Agent Orange and is not the chemical that was harmful to humans. "A 50:50 mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, it was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense primarily by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. The 2,4,5-T used to produce Agent Orange was later discovered to be contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD), an extremely toxic dioxin compound."
    With the advent of GMO crops we use less insecticides and different herbicides which are usually much safer than prior to GMO technology.
    I agree that we have to be careful what we consume, but too many people do not know the facts and throw out bias information to make new technogoly or methods look harmful and bad for our environment.
    Everybody can gripe and moan about Monsanto(not a big fan myself,) but not many other people or companies can say they are doing much to increase productivity of our farmland to feed an ever increasing population.

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  3. Let's admit things change. We don't like it but we have to suck it up and move on. Our soil changes yearly. It isn't the same soil from 100, 50 or even 5 years ago. Farming isn't the same as it was either. Environmental effects change the ground so with it the seeds we plant need to change. I applaud the scientists who are creating seeds that can sustain so many adversities, while at the same time reducing chemical applicants. With so few farmers providing for our communities now our seeds have to withstand so much more to be productive. Subsistence farming is now obsolete. (A good thing for me because my family would have to survive on cucumbers and tomatoes because that is all I can get to grow) Thank you to the farmers who help feed my family and fuel my vehicle. The world is constantly changing and an "expert" is born every day. Just do your research, and not the one sided your family is all going to die by 40 if you eat this info. Read all sides, educate yourself, talk to a farmer, talk to his wife an kids. You may change your mind.

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  4. This is a great post with some great facts!!! Thank you for posting this!!!!

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    1. Yes, I agree with Sarah! This is a great post and great answers in the comment section! Thanks Emily!

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  5. Great Blog, Emily! One more thing I'd like to encourage the GMO skeptics to do is check the references of the scientists who are telling them that GMO's are harmful. You wouldn't ask a cellular biologist or a geneticist about astronomy, but a lot of the 'experts' leading the anti-GMO movement are from equally disparate fields. A PhD doesn't mean you know everything. I love that people are starting to care where their food comes from, but it's also important to know where your information comes from.

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  6. Thank's for the great blog post Emily!
    I'm with you on choices- that is the beauty of America! We get to choose how we want to eat, where we want to eat and as a farmer, what I want to plant!
    My short answer for planting GMO seed: It works for us. It works for our bottom line, our family, our soil, our climate, and our commitment to feeding the growing population.
    I always hate when people bring up "big bad Monsanto" to me, because it just proves they haven't fact-checked. They don't realize that there are plenty of other seed companies doing a lot of the same work that Monsanto does and there are plenty of choices for farmers to choose when purchasing their seed. No one is forcing them purchase Monsanto-based seed.
    And just like you- I believe in the science behind it! There's a reason I barely passed Chemistry class with a C in college while the kid next to me got an A. :)

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  7. First and foremost, I will gladly be one to advocate for farmers. Not only do they constitute a large portion of my patient base, but these men and women pour their hearts and souls into their profession, feeding a growing food market with an insatiable appetite. It is often a thankless job, which is a shame, but it is also a shame that a relentless GMO debate is slowly backing them into a corner. Unfortunately, I feel as though these men and women that provide for and feed our country are quickly becoming the victims of a theoretically victimless crime.

    The GMO debate, with Monsanto at the forefront, is likely to rage on for many years to come. From a healthcare standpoint, I have been asked numerous times by patients what my professional thoughts are on the topic. In lieu of full discloser, I would like to simply offer an initial perspective, hit some of the high (or low) points, and encourage more education and exchange of information in a constructive manner.

    In theory, according to the proponents of GMO, GMO can be looked at as the product of a very elaborate Punnett square. This method of natural genetic combining has been occurring for billions of years. The transfer of genes is sex based, occurring within the same genetic population, ie: in very simplistic terms, red and white flowers may yield pink flowers within the same species. Or like the example given, a good bull is bred with a good cow. This process is natural. What GMO is now dealing with is the insertion of foreign species’ genes, bacterium, and even viruses into the genetic code. Instead of splicing in a gene for color or variation, GMO seeds will often use foreign “pieces” and splice them into the existing genetic code, thus creating a totally foreign molecular strain. The bull and cow debate is more of a moot point now. People have mentioned, “Corn is corn, our bodies cannot tell the difference.” Anyone that understands developmental science knows what happens when the human DNA sequence is altered. Does this genetic alternation make us non-human? No, but the single deletion, addition, or alteration of a gene has the potentiality to change the way that life is expressed.

    While people are clamoring for definitive evidence as to whether GM seed has the ability to produce negative health changes in humans, we find ourselves with few studies to fall back on that don’t directly contradict each other. One such study that I reference is a research paper titled, “A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health.” It may be found here: http://www.ijbs.com/v05p0706.htm

    While the study is not perfect, it does give some insight as to possible effects, and brings about questions for further study. Of the changes observed in the study, one of the most drastic is related to liver and kidney function:
    “Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days.” Having this information in hand, if a patient with a known liver or kidney condition asks the question regarding GMO, I feel as though it is my duty to educate them and make them aware of this study. I will never tell them “yes” or “no” without definitive evidence, but I believe everyone should be educated on both sides and able to make an informed decision.

    So in closing, please don’t group farmers into a completely non-existent coalition of evil. I am not a farmer, nor do I profess to be. I do not know all of the terminology and processes involved in the new seed and growth practices. I would be ignorant if I said I did. I can only approach it from a scientific standpoint of evaluation, and encourage others to do their own research, and then make the decision that is right them and their families.

    Regards,
    Dr. Jared T. Liles

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  8. I just want it labeled as being a GMO product! Why are they so against this? If GMO is supposed to be the same as not GMO there shouldn't be any problem with allowing me to chose what I want to eat.
    Me--I would just as soon not eat anything that can be sprayed with Roundup and keep on growing! As for scientific study--they studied thalidamide also . . .

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    1. I understand your frustration on labeling. However, there are times that labels can do the opposite. I agree, knowledge is power, and there's a right for consumers to know, but shouldn't there also be a sense of trust in science and the farmers that we're trying to keep up with the world's population and the growing needs of our world? Thanks for the commentary!

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  9. Emily, could it be that science is finally gaining some traction in this discussion (I call it that, it is hardly a debate, at least among scientists). The first post in this comments section says it all. The same tired nonsense based on a profit-driven author that needs to scare people to keep things profitable.

    Check out sleuth4health blog. The author there is coming to similar conclusions and I've been glad to help her with that. We're having a great time. Keep up the good work.

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    1. WOW!! Thanks, Mr. Folta, first of all, for reading this blog, and thanks for the website for more information. I agree...I think the science is finally having a foothold in the argument, and that's new and different and thus, scary to those who are blowing whistles. You keep up the good work, too, and I'll keep giving you props as they come in!! Thanks so much for reading!!

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  10. Kudos Emily for standing up; it's not easy to do and it almost always brings out some harsh opposition. For many people their battle against biotech and adoption of organic is a faith-based endeavor (as we know it's not science-based) and challenging someone's religious beliefs evokes strong for visceral reactions. Keep the faith and thanks for standing up for rationality.

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  11. Great post! I too was able to speak with Fourat Janabi on a farmer's perspective on GMO after I left a comment on Dr. Folta's interview. http://randomrationality.com/2013/03/22/qa-the-lowdown-on-gmo-with-a-family-farmer/

    Farmers have a great deal more freedom to choose their seeds than the anti-GMO crowd would have us believe. If anyone wants to read one of those contracts we farmers sign with companies like Monsanto they can read the whole thing on my blog. I pulled an agreement out of my file drawer and scanned a copy to my blog here http://bit.ly/YsFTdN

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  12. In love with the debate going on here. All that needs to be said..."Do you like to eat seedless grapes and seedless watermelon?" Anything seedless is a GMO of sort. What a lot of people don't realize is how many things are actually GMOs. All I ask is that people who are not involved in production Ag at all please, please talk to your area farmer, follow great blogs such as this, do lots and lots of research before you make a decision.

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  13. Good article. I really don't like how the "non-gmo" movement is bashing farmers and farming in general. I certainly don't consume an all-organic diet and I've got nothing against conventional farming practices either. I think that there is a place for GM crops...provided they aren't full of the Bt toxin, or have modified the protein structure, causing food allergies. I really don't like science crossing breeds or species either....I somehow don't think God would approve of this. Putting jelly-fish genes into sheep so they glow is just plain craziness. The other thing that bothers me is that once these GM crops are out there; there is no controlling their spread into the wild. Why do we need GM alfalfa? It will only take a few years to escape and mess up the organic, grass-fed beef market. I grow my own organic garden at home and I really don't want to contaminate it with GM pollen, nor do I enjoy seeing the demise of our honey bee population.

    If they can keep these crops separate (the ones with the Bt and other abominations inserted) for fuel or industrial use, then that's fine by me...but to sneak it into my food supply, well, that sorta makes me a little mad.

    I grew up on a farm in the 70's. I know about applying herbicides and pesticides. What was wrong with the way we used to farm in this country, and why are these big pharmaceutical companies feeding our farmers with false information and forcing us into their little box so that we are no longer able to practice seed saving and biodiversity?

    Emily, thank you for your stewardship of the earth and for taking on the career of farming. I just pray that your children never develop food allergies, or autoimmune diseases. If it should happen, you might begin to think a little differently about the seed you plant and what happens to it after harvest. God Bless.

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  14. I love this posting. I totally agree with you. Coming from another farm wife, and daughter. We only have around 300 acres and while it is a small farm compared to most, it is our livilhood and without it- we would be lost. We can't just stop everything we are doing and lose 7 years trying to go organic. GMOs are in everything. Not every farmer is partnered with Monsanto.

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  15. Lisa,

    You've been misinformed.

    Corn and soybeans are not replacing native crops. Native crops were very limited here, other than nuts and berries and squash. The corn grown in the Americas was a runt variety that couldn't feed everybody.

    What's wrong with profit? Are we to do away with corporations? Limit their size? are you personally hunting and gathering or do you buy things from big corporations?

    Small farmers -- the reason 70 percent of the population is fed by small farmers is because most of the world's population is in emerging economies with limited technology or infrastructure to support agriculture. If you think organic farmers are tending small idyllic plots of grassy land, check out the USDA census of agriculture: the vast majority of organic produce is raised by a fraction of the organic farms. The demographics are identical to "big-ag."

    Superweeds are a monster conjured by marketers. Weed resistance is nothing new; The fact that it's happening with Roundup in GM crops is because most of the corn and soybeans are GM. Resistance was happening in corn and soybeans before GM. The real problem with ALL weeds is they keep coming back. No mater what.

    Funding. yes -- every researcher is funded by someone. Is this new information for GM? Disclosure: I once worked at Monsanto. What I saw behind the scenes was absolute devotion to scientific accuracy, sound ethics and yes, making money fair and square. Nobody is or has ever been forced to buy Monsanto products. I personally enjoyed the income that flowed from Monsanto profits. It helped me feed my family and save some money for my daughter's college. There was no evil plot at Monsanto.

    What's really happening is special interests are using fear and misinformation to help justify budgets for activism, or to get people to pay more money for foods that are not any safer than foods from big ag. Organic food also is positioned as a way for people to take a stand and make a difference. It doesn't change anything except whose pocket the money flows into.

    best regards,

    John Osthus

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  16. Ohiofarmgirl: I believe your are mistaken to call seedless grapes and watermelon Genetically Modified. There is a distinct difference between Hybrids and GMOs. Just about anyone can create a hybrid by crossing genetically distinct individuals with complementing traits. However--only science can create the GMO in the lab. But once those traits have been released into our countryside.....well, the spred is becoming more and more evident with each passing year. Soon you will not be able to find the true plant any longer. This is one of the things that non-GMO people are up in arms about.

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  17. Hi Emily, I hope you know a little more about biology as a farmers wife to know that GMO seeds are not the result of some cross breeding. Because if you could do that in nature, all the biotech patents would be obsolete. Cross breeding in nature is only possible between families of species. What GMO is, is changing proteins within our food, creating a new kind of food.

    As a consumer I like to be informed. Like consumers with nut-allergies, milk-allergies, etc are informed by labels. Does that make those foods bad? No, just for some people.
    So label your food GMO and I as a consumer have a choice to either buy the food or not.
    Your family then can decide, for economic reasons, to still grow GMO food or not.

    Years back, mid 90ties, I heard about the story about ApoA-1 Milano. It's a little mutated protein only excisting within a family line with a specific gene. That gene was traced back to a single person. That person was born in 1780. Their staple diet at that time at that place was fish. And ApoA-1 Milano is a very, very good protein to combat cholesterol. There is a connection there.
    Somehow that person switched on a gene, most likely, because of what he ate.
    So is it likely our DNA will change, because of what we eat? No. Our immune system will not tolerate that very much. It's still possible, if some protein is able to slip by. So that's why it may or may not be good for us in the long run. And some people might be more susceptible to alteration in their genes because of what they eat. So label the food, and let consumers decide what is good economically. Not marketeers, not some laws that protect the companies, but the consumers. Please. If the consumers won't buy it, the farmers won't grow it.

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    1. I believe my disclaimer in that paragraph you're citing began with "I'm not a scientist." I'm not. I'm a farmer's wife, trying to put the rumors that farmers are potentially trying to line their pockets and give us cancer by planting seeds that are resistant to certain things. You sound like you know way more science than I do, and I appreciate your commentary, but don't substitute my lay man's terms for lack of understanding. Just trying to keep it simple.

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    2. Thank you for your reply. There are always two sides of the story and I do understand that in modern farming, being able to continue your business it needs constant growth. This, unfortunately, is more to do with economics in general.
      I don't agree with personal attacks or attacks on farmers. This is not helping the whole discussion, nor brings it the true facts on the table.

      My view on this is that the biotech industry is trying very hard to keep making money. Any negative news on this topic brings a flood of non-constructive information out.

      Do I know if it brings cancer? No, but like Dr. Jared T. Liles says above, the body is capable of enabling genes, trough proteins. That's nature doing what biotech is doing in a crude way.
      In that view, I strongly hope people will put this whole industry back into the lab and study it carefully.
      But there is a lot of money invested, involved, and a lot of jobs depend on this technology.
      Will not accepting GMO will cause people to starvation? I don't know. The problem is mostly transportation and the costs from that. Because I think we are still able to feed 7 billion people. And probably also 10.
      I know people will always choose what's best for them, but only if they are informed correctly. And against or in favour of GMO food, what we need most is honest information. And that might take generations... I hope I as a consumer gets it, but most of all the people producing our food as well. Because I put my trust in them, by buying their produce.

      Delete
  18. Thank-you for your persepctive on an important issue. While I don't drive an SUV to Trader Joes, I do drive a modest Toyota Corolla to my local farmer to buy beef, pork, chicken, raw milk and seasonal organic produce. I sacrifice on other things in life so my family can eat what we consider to be healthy. I beleive it is a sacrifice worth making, we are not wealthy elite people, we are regular folks who feel we have no choice to purchase the food we do, as most processed or manufactured food is questionable at best as to it's contents in many areas, not just GMO. I beleive my farmers are entitiled to a good wage for all their hard work and support them. If more farmers would raise pastured animals and grow organics, people would buy it. Of this I am sure. whatever side of the debate you are on, in time we will find out who was right I suppose. I think we can agree that Monsanto, Bayer etc certainly have questionable pasts. This alone gives me reason not to trust big-ag. It is not the farmers I have issue with, nor do I want to be sterotyped for my views, perhaps they have pitted us against each another;)pity either way, Bravo to you for all your hard work,

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