Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More on GM Crops

This came out in my daily vocational education newsletter:

The New York Times (4/14, B3, Pollack) reports while "genetically engineered crops have provided 'substantial' environmental and economic benefits to American farmers...overuse of the technology is threatening to erode the gains," according to a report from the National Research Council. The document, which "is described as the first comprehensive assessment of the impact of genetically modified crops on American farmers," concludes "that the crops allowed farmers to either reduce chemical spraying or to use less harmful chemicals. The crops also had lower production costs, higher output or extra convenience, benefits that generally outweighed the higher costs of the engineered seeds."

Similarly, NPR's (4/13, Harris) "All Things Considered" reported, "A report released Tuesday by the National Research Council committee finds that crops produced through genetic engineering are on the whole beneficial for farmers who plant these seeds." However, the report "cautions that the technology could lose some of its power if it's not carefully managed in the future."

It is interesting to see how non-farmers perceive this report released yesterday by the National Research Council.

I am sure each one of us has our own view on it depending on our experience or lack of it.

GM crops have been debated pro and con since the day the Plant Variety Protection Act was modified in 1994 and GM crops released in 1995.

Some countries like New Zealand will not allow the seeds into their country where 85% of US crops are genetically modified so the reaction to GM crops has been all over the board.

Now we have limited research that even though glyphosate is safe to humans it really ties up nutrients in the soil, particularly the "rhizosphere" and some American farmers have stopped using glyphosate entirely. That doesn't leave many chemistry's left to control weeds.

I guess every technology has its pluses and minuses.



  1. I have changed my mind on GMO, not because of the frankenfood argument but because of the monopoly by the major seed companies. GMO crops are so successful they took over the market place and they made so much money for their parent company that all the small seed companies that provided the US market with so much diversity and choice are now gone. When you read about the development of hybrid corn you find hundreds of independent crop breeders breeding corn perfect for their regions. Now they are owned by one company.
    I think this is bad.
    Of course in a few years there will only be about five farms doing the whole country so I guess it doesn't matter.
    The whole GMO freakout here in hippie land has made it worthwhile to non-GMO grow corn and beans here so I guess I will not complain!

  2. GMO crops could have saved the world, instead, I'm afraid they'll ultimately enslave it, due to human greed.

  3. Hard to say who has benefited the most from GM crops. I know its easier for me to grow roundup ready canola than the older conventional varieties. Weed control is just so much easier. But am I making any more profit at the end of the day? That $15 per acre technology fee sure adds up.

  4. You three bring out good points. Is it technology for the good, technology that was over used or technology that was bad from the start? Each has his own opinion or lack of it. I am planting some LL soybeans this year to try and take advantage of the new varieties and weed control that should work better on my farm.