A Farmer Speaks Up about GMO

Ed Note:  This is the response I received from a farm family  in Kansas (who wished to remain anonymous) in response to the article I posted yesterday called Farms Fighting Super Weeds. If you read on you will see what a difficult situation our farm families are in as well as how vulnerable our grain/food supply really is.  As always, I would appreciate your comments.

Combine Weeds

I recognize that water hemp in your photo!

We grow corn/soy. A neighboring farmer several years ago tried growing non-GMO corn to sell to Japan. The planting was certified, everything about his crop was monitored. The combine and other harvesting equipment was thoroughly cleaned. But, when it was harvested and tested, it had GMO in it. Why?

Cross pollination, winds from farms miles away as he had to have a buffer around his field. Yields were lower, chemical applications of herbicides and pesticides were higher and still it was “contaminated”.

As a grower, I don’t know that I have any real options. We don’t farm enough contiguous land to be free from wind blown pollen. We already have the weeds that the chemical companies claim we can manage if we identify them before they are as tall as a soda can. This particular piece of corn didn’t get sprayed in time because of rain (drought, I know, irony).  We can’t make the economics work out to grow anything else and this is our livelihood. I am also quite concerned, but I don’t know how to change it.

I responded to the above response with a few questions, and here is their response.

The neighbor did everything in his power and did not achieve non-GMO but was compensated as it was an “experiment”.

He was not growing “organic”, he did non-GMO (genetically modified organism).  GMO is a trait that is put into a plant. In other words, a virus is used to inject a genetic trait into the seed/plant. In the case of corn it is root worm, corn borer, etc.  I am not an expert on the genetics, but they put the pesticide right into the plant. We are then supposed to plant “refuge” which has not been modified. This way we don’t kill all the bugs, just most of them. The seed companies are now making it “easy” on us farmers by putting the refuge “in the bag”.  so, I have two varieties of seed in a given proportion in the bag. Now, my planter has to be able to handle the potentially different size/shape seeds.

These refuge in a bag seeds, are supposed to be of the same family. If I don’t plant refuge, the seed companies can/do refuse to do business with you. Remember that just about everything is ultimately owned by with DuPont or Monsanto. Or maybe it is all one big company now. Nearly all the seed is controlled by them and given whatever genetic trait combinations are in the seed you buy, you are then forced to use the chemicals (same overall company) that go with it.

So, if I buy roundup ready corn, I can spray roundup as a weed killer and not kill my corn. But, now, some of the weeds live too. It worked great for several years, but not so well now. Same thing will likely happen with the pesticides.

I watched a documentary about how a Canadian farmer was ultimately put out of business. His family for generations had been saving their crop and replanting it year after year – doing their own hybridizing. Well, his neighbors were using the roundup ready varieties sold by the big dealers. Some pollen drifted. The farmer sprayed roundup around the field edges, drain tile, etc and some of his crop was resistant. The big seed company came out and took samples and accused him of stealing their genetics (patent infringement). They sued and won (!!!) and were able to take all of his seed that generations of his family had been invested in. I see it as if his field was contaminated by them, but they have the money and the patent.

Think of it like this, all the color pigments are controlled by one company. You can paint, color, dye, but you have to use their pigment. But because you chose a specific color – say red, you have to clean up with a specific thinner – that another subsidiary of the same company sells.  Now, there is no reason to not paint, but if all your neighbors paint, you will get some on your house because it takes weeks to paint, the paint dries slowly, and it spreads in the wind.  It is becoming impossible to find anything not colored. And this is stuff you cannot see!  God created pollen to travel!

You can grow non-GMO if you do it in a controlled environment – building for example. But, practically, not really. You can still buy non- GMO seed, but it is getting harder to do because the seed growers in the foreign countries are having trouble with contamination as well.  And, it is harder to control the pests and weeds so you spend more in chemical or more time hoeing/cultivating which is impossible at the scale I grow on.

Fyi – Pioneer, has gotten approval to put in a “terminator” gene – so that the corn I grow cannot be replanted – it will not produce. It was a way for them to maintain control of their genetics and remain profitable. Remember, their goal is profitability. To keep me buying their stuff, they have to make sure I have no other options, and make sure I make a little so I can still keep buying.

The corporate types all rotate from a position on the board through the FDA, lobbying, and back. It’s all about the money. Trusting in man’s science to keep solving problems brought on by sin. Why can’t we all humble ourselves before God and repent of our wicked ways and let Him heal our land?

Dear Readers, as a consumer, I believe that we need to be praying for farm families, the seed situation, and not rise up in indignation about GMO.  The dye appears to already be cast.  I surely hope someone will reply with additional information and insights.

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2 comments to A Farmer Speaks Up about GMO

  • Marcy

    Along with my husband we run two small organic dairy farms in WI. So we grow all our own organic crops, corn, oats, barley, hay and pasture. We used to grow soybeans but have recently lost the rented acreage for that crop. I’ll tell you about our corn crop because that is one of the main ingredients for our cattle diets. We must buy organic seed. We may buy non-treated non-GMO seed if no organic seed is available(We have to prove that too). A few years ago we ran short during planting and my husband sent me to a large warehouse to pick up one bag of non-gmo corn seed. I stood in this huge warehouse with thousands of bags of corn seed and was told they had no non-gmo seed and that no one bought any non-gmo seed from them. I was shocked because that meant there were no refuge acres being planted either. I found my seed elsewhere that day. We’ve never bought seed from them before or after.
    We use all organic hybrid seed for our corn crop. We use our own animal generated fertilizer, manure on all of our corn crops. We aren’t allowed to use any herbicides, and we don’t use any natural pesticides. We cultivate, which is weeding the corn by a tractor pulled machine, aptly named a cultivator. We need to do this at least twice. Last year we couldn’t get it done the second time and then the drought came. So the corn had extra weeds and barely any rain. Somehow through God’s grace we got an ample crop of corn and were only short on hay. Since our cows and the young stock consume all of our corn we have never tested it for GMO’s. So if there is a small amount of pollen contamination it goes unnoticed. I’m telling you this so you know that even though it’s bad for the farmers in our nations grain belt, there are some bright spots and they are growing!
    The farmer from Kansas trying to sell his crop to Japan would need it to be 100% GMO free. So I wonder if there was a determination of what percentage GMO contamination in the corn he was trying to sell. The second thing to wonder about is the fact that he was compensated, as this was an experiment. Who compensated him? Was Monsanto trying to avoid a lawsuit? There is a canola farmer in Canada who eventually won a lawsuit vs. Monsanto because of contamination with GMO’s.
    Also the is this recent article from The Institute of Responsible Technology, which says farmers may stop buying GMO seed because it doesn’t produce good yields:
    As farmers we are always the optimist. My hope is that the consumers will rise up and refuse to eat the GMO laden food. There is a long road to recovery from GMO damage. Some crops may never come back, but we must try.

  • Marilyn Moll

    Marcy, Your additional insights are welcomed and insightful. Thanks so much for replying with an indepth reply with links. I hope other readers will take note.

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