I will admit that I have stayed away from publicly addressing this topic because I feel like there are a lot of people that cannot have a civil discussion on it, but after having a friendly and open conversation about it the other weekend with the #FranklinCoHarvest blogger tour participants I've decided to open up a bit myself and share why we choose to raise GMO crops on our farm. After having this group of bloggers out to our farm, I saw that there is some unfamiliarity with GMOs and that is what I hope to cover.
First off, let's describe what is a GMO. A GMO (genetically modified organism) is an organism where the genetic material, aka DNA, has been changed from what occurs naturally. Farmers and gardeners have been modifying plants for years by creating hybrids by selecting specific traits that they are looking for in a plant - such as manually pollinating two tomato plants together to create one tomato plant that produced both large and meaty tomatoes, or with apples - combining a sweet apple with a good baking apple, or by merging two corn plants so the corn has a strong stalk so it'll be more durable in weather and that creates a large ear of corn. Biotechnology, that is used to do this in GMOs, is a more technologically advanced method of selecting traits. As a farmer, GMOs benefit my corn and soybean productivity and efficiency.
How do GMOs benefit corn and soybean productivity and efficiency? First, GMO corn and soybean plants commonly have traits that help combat disease or insects, which helps us to use a minimal amount of pesticides (used to kill insects, similar to how you might use a mosquito repellent or a fly spray in the summer time) on our crops. Besides using less pesticides, GMOs are a more efficient plant that uses less land and water, due to traits in the plant that help with drought or root growth. One of the largest benefits of GMOs is that they are herbicide-tolerant (aka weed killer resistant) crops that allow us to control weeds better, which ultimately allows our crops to grow better and thrive. And in the end, GMOs have higher yields because the traits they have been bred for have helped eliminate all of these yield-hampering issues.
Are GMOs safe to eat? GMOs aren't only safe for you to eat, but a lot of times they are the more affordable food choice. Many regulatory agencies and organizations such as the US Food & Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the USDA have all studied GMOs and have found that they are safe to eat and have no negative health effects. In fact, the average amount of time that the FDA and the EPA study each new GMO is 14 years to make sure it has no health risks before it gets to go to the marketplace. If you are interested in seeing what some of these, and many more agencies and organization from around the world, have to say about GMOs check out this graph.
Did you know, that GMOs make up approximately 70-80% of the foods we eat? Many common food and beverage ingredients, such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets, are commonly GMOs. So if you look at the food label on the next food you eat, you most commonly will find at least one of these three ingredients listed.
Val Plagge farms in Franklin County, Iowa where she raise “corn, (soy)beans, pigs and kids”. She currently has a 31 Days from a Tractor Seat blog series on here personal blog during the month of October.
Why we choose to raise GMOs