No soup for you

Close your eyes for a minute (after this paragraph) and think about the technology you have around your house. Maybe your TV, DVD player, your smartphone, your tablet. Maybe you like the way it works. But could it be better? Could it be safer? Could it be more environmentally friendly? Would a new OS provide new features?

What if researchers and engineers worked for years and years on a way to improve your favorite products, but other people tried to keep it away from you? Blocked your upgrade to the new OS. What if the researchers added benefits for you–the consumer–that delivered better features for many things you cared about: saving resources and energy which would be better for the environment. Maybe they reduced one of the chemicals in this product, to reduce the potential to cause cancer. Perhaps it was a feature that would reduce waste. Maybe it’s a product you enjoy now, but would disappear due to forces beyond your control unless engineering is done. Of course, I’m talking about food technology – not your smartphone. But the concept is the same.

No GMO for you!Some people think you shouldn’t be allowed to even try this new stuff. They work really hard to keep it out of the stores so it won’t be available to you. They make sure you don’t even have the option to try it. And unfortunately, in some cases they are succeeding.

That’s right. There no salmon soup for you* from many retailers. No potato soup for you (or, in this case, fries, at McDonalds). No apple soup for you. No orange soup for you. Oh, and if you are a shopper at Whole Foods, no Chobani for you either.

Activists are celebrating their victory in keeping these foods away from you. Yes, I know you understand the environmental and health benefits. I know you would like to see food waste reduced. But they don’t want you to have the products to use. (While, simultaneously, they tell us they must have labels to have – wait for it – choice. But no choice for you?)

They are keeping the faster growing salmon from you – salmon grown in inland tanks that the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch classifies as a “Best Choice” for the environmental benefits of that type of system, is this their idea of victory? I don’t eat seafood myself, but this product is of great interest to my cat. And as much as I like my cat, I really don’t think we need to harvest the wild stocks in the ocean for her dining pleasure.

Why are they trying to prevent you from having foods with less acrylamide such as is produced in fried potatoes? What, do they want you to have acrylamide in your fries?

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Frank photobombs an anti-GMO protest in Chicago, 2013. Credit: KJHvM

How about an apple that doesn’t brown when cut – not because it has any new genes, but because one gene was turned down – no, you can’t have it. Sure, your kids might like apple slices better and eat more fruit because of that. It may have improved nutrition value. It might mean fewer apples are wasted because of discoloration. But others, including  Friends of the Earth, petition writers at Change.org, and OCA know better than you, and they want to make sure your access is prevented.

I’ve also been watching as activists work to try to ensure that the city of Los Angeles bans the sale of GMOs. What if one day soon people would like to put some GMO citrus in their backyard? Do they realize that the first case of the citrus greening identified in California came from a SoCal backyard gardener?

A graft of pomelo — a symbol of good fortune and prosperity in many Asian cultures — was the likely source of the state’s first documented case of huanglongbing, a citrus disease with no known cure, say researchers involved in the investigation. The suspected plant shoot, or budwood, was passed freely among San Gabriel Valley church friends who loved to garden and experiment with hybridization, according to residents.

So soon all their home-grown citrus could be destroyed–but the potentially resistant trees would be prevented from being sold. It may happen in Florida too:

But home growers, where all of the current identified cases in Santa Rosa County were discovered, may be less aware of the risks.

No citrus soup for you, either. Your kids want to have a lemonade stand from your backyard tree, and you will have to explain why it is dying and can’t be replaced.

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Some people in Hawai’i today are actually trying to take away the GMO papaya that the farmers depend upon. Credit: KJHvM

It seems to me that the activists are running the tables at this point. It’s a pretty shrewd strategy to do it before people know about these products, or understand the benefits. And they have the advantage of looking like they are battling the big scary corporations, but what they aren’t telling you is that you are really the target of these messages now. Because if you liked and wanted these products, it would be much harder to control. If consumers demanded even one genetically engineered food, the game would be lost.

Already we know that other great projects have never made it to the public in part because of the regulatory barriers that they’ve erected based on fearmongering. A tomato that could reduce chemical spraying is not available. Onions that don’t make you cry. Plants that could use phosphorus more efficiently. Of course, there’s the wheat that was physically destroyed by Greenpeace too: one that offered potential health benefits and one that used nitrogen more efficiently.

There are other products we haven’t seen yet. I continue to yearn for the GMO peanut that will knock out the allergens. Now, just because I’m allergic to peanuts doesn’t make me want to keep anyone else from eating them. But the philosophical opposition to genetic engineering could mean they keep this valuable product from me. And worse – this is a product that could save lives. Think of the children in daycare centers who can’t bring peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch because the allergenic peanut is banned from them. We could change that.

I’m sure everyone knows already that they are trying really hard to keep vitamin-enriched Golden Rice away from kids who seriously need this nutrition. Are we gonna let them keep this away from kids? Really?

I’ve had just about enough of these activists pushing these products away from me. But I also think you deserve the option to try them too. And, more importantly, I’m quite certain kids at risk of blindness should have access to Golden Rice. In fact, one Nobel Prize winner recently said:

Describing the protest by “green” parties in Europe against GM crops as a “crime against humanity,” he [Richard Roberts] particularly drew attention to the project to produce a GM rice variety for tackling the problem of Vitamin A deficiency in India and other countries.

“The green parties are playing politics. About one-and-a-half [million] to two million children are affected by Vitamin A deficiency. It’s a crime against humanity … If I can get support from a philanthropist, I will file a case in the international court of justice.’’

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Frank wants to break the filibuster at the U.S. Capitol, Credit: KJHvM

Ok, preventing access to my allergen-free peanut might not rise to the level of a crime against humanity. But how long are we gonna let these shouty and misinformed people keep us from having access to products with health, nutrition, and environmental benefits without telling them it’s not OK?

We need to work harder on spreading the word about the benefits. In times of increasing population combined with  additional risks to food sources from climate change effects, we can’t let them filibuster this, we can’t let them decide what tools we’ll be allowed to have or not have. It’s time to break the filibuster they are running – it can be done. The alternative is that someday there will be no soup for you.

* Editor’s note: Just in case any of our reader’s aren’t sure what Mary’s talking about with the soup references, she is referring to a TV show called Seinfeld. In one episode of the show, a vendor of delicious soup refused to sell to certain people if he thought they weren’t worthy.

Mary is a genomics scientist, with credentials in microbiology, immunology, plant cell biology, and mammalian cell, developmental, and molecular biology (PhD). All comments here are my own, and do not represent my company or any other company.


Commentary


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129 comments to No soup for you

  • Ben Hadd

    The problem I see with GMO’s is they arn’t working for the end consumer, the farmer. It sounded great in the board room, (made alot of money too), and looked good in the greenhouse tour, but the farmer now uses at least 4 times as much chemical then he did before, and has worse weed and insect problems. If the environmentalist and genetic researchers would have compromised and pushed more for crop rotation as the first line of control, we all would have won the first battle against weeds and insects. The smart lady in her white coat and condo glasses is too far removed from what is actually happening in the field.

  • Sanjay bhatikar

    @Ben

    I appreciate your taking time to share your perspective. I lead Monsanto’s R&D in India. My team IS those smart lads and ladies in lab-coats you refer to.

    My team spends time in the fields several times each year, from planting through harvest. This gives them perspectives upon their work directly from the farmers who are our customers. Farmers are not shy of giving feedback. They learn exactly what’s working and what is not.

    Yes, Monsanto makes money. We pump a lot of it back into research that makes better crops. Monsanto’s investments in India exceed are often higher than the money they have made.

    I travel to headquarters in St Louis every year. Many of my colleagues are from a farming background. I am proud to say many decision-makers in the company started out as farmers and stay connected with field work.

  • Richard R

    “The problem I see with GMO’s is they arn’t working for the end consumer, the farmer.”

    Then why are so many farmers still buying them? Alternatives are available.

    The problem as you outlined it does not exist with AquaAdvantage Salmon and Arctic Apples, both mentioned in the post above. Does your hypothetical “problem” cause you to oppose those uses of GMO?

    Do you support Golden Rice? This use of GMO has absolutely nothing to do with insects or weeds, but could provide a source of vitamin A for people who need. Are you part of the crowd who says “Let them eat carrots”?

    • Yeah, I was thinking about the adoption rate of these crops, and how those lines don’t make any sense with what Ben claims. So I’ll need to see his evidence.

      But that’s exactly the point with these GMOs I describe. These are the ones that benefit the consumer and people are keeping them from us–you don’t even get to see if they have value for the end user.

      My theory is that they have to flail and shout now to keep them away from the consumer, because once the value is apparent at that point, the whole house of cards falls.

  • Keith Hayes

    +1 for Seinfeld reference.

  • Ben Hadd

    I plant gmo, non-gmo, and organic crops. Last year my highest yielding and most profitable crop was organic. My worst yielding and highest cost crop was GMO. So as a farmer, I’m having a hard time figuring out why anyone would want to grow ge salmon, apples or rice. I didn’t have to worry about any of the products I used in my organic crops ending up in breast milk and being fed to infants. Unlike my GMO crops. I fail to see any reason a consumer needs a GE salmon. Or apple. Never in my life would that have made a difference in my diet. As for rice, anytime we went over seas and forced growers to by GE crop seed, fertilizer, chemical, and financing, it has ended up in a train wreck. You do not want to cross pollinate their native varieties and put those people into debt which they cannot repay. The biggest problem with our exports is we push GMO’s on other countries telling them its in their best interest to buy them and its good for them. France just banned planting of GMO crops. In the meantime our exports continue to go down and our imports go up. One of the largest food processors in the US imports non-gmo corn because they can’t get a good supply here. Do you think a apple farmer would spend years killing his trees and growing new GE trees knowing his market could disappear? or a salmon farmer would grow GE salmon while our large chains stores refusing to sell it? Who made the money on my GMO corn? And who makes it on the apple, salmon, and rice? It all sounds rosy to the girl in the white lab coat wearing the “I live in a condo glasses” and to the BOD that are licking their lips on how much money they will make. But they are so removed from the farmer and agriculture to realize it was all a pipe dream.

    • Yah, well, we have a saying about anecdotes. It’s not data. Your experience is not the same as everyone elses’. So unless you can back up your claims you’ve made with actual data–we’ve go no reason to take your comments as legitimate.

      I would recommend that you don’t plant salmon. However, you have no right to keep others from growing them.

      It’s too bad you can’t appreciate the environmental benefits of these products. But again, even if you want to drive a gas guzzler, you don’t have the right to keep electric cars away from others.

      And you’ve got nothing more than a string of baseless and unsourced assertions that are really just uninformed and flat-out wrong.

      Your ramblings about condo glasses (whatever that is) are really just bizarre. It’s hard to take anything you are saying seriously.

    • Ewan R

      I plant gmo, non-gmo, and organic crops.

      Which crops/varieties?

      Was it your recent experience with GMO that soured you on them? What were you expecting in terms of yield/income and what did you actually achieve?

      Later you state that you treat all your crops to get the highest yield – which crops and what practices are you using? Generally it doesn’t pay to treat for the highest yield, you treat for the highest return (One can achieve 100 Bu/Ac Soybean (well, when I say one, it can be done, but it ain’t easy), for instance, but the input costs far exceed the returns and so it is rather pointless as an exercise)

      Right now non-gmo corn is yielding more. Partly because it doesn’t have the gene yield drag in its inbred, and the new non-gmo hybrids get to market quicker.

      This isn’t even remotely true… trait introgression is rapid enough that it really doesn’t impact time to market for a new hybrid enough to change much of anything – one may start running into issues as the number of traits increases but there are approaches being developed to address this issue. As to yield drag… about the only time I’ve seen this demonstrated was in the first versions of RR soy – as far as I am aware in corn it hasn’t been demonstrated, and in RR soy the slight yield drag was still worth it at the end of the day for the improved weed control offered.

      If, however, as you claim, non-GMO yields better and has better returns one must wonder how exactly GM retains such a high market share in US row crops – is it your hypothesis that American farmers are stupid?

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Ben, quite frankly I don’t believe much of anything you say. You could easily just not fertilize the gmo crop adequately and you would get your results. There are many other ways you could manipulate to get those questionable results. Look up who gets the money for golden rice. You might be surprised. If I grow a G.E. crop and make a profit I get the money. The suppliers who helped me will get some as well. That’s a good thing. They deserve it for supplying me with quality products. Because many people in France choose to be ignorant is not a good reason for us to do so. If that food processor really wanted nongmo corn grown in the U.S. He could find it. More likely he is buying from a cheaper source. So he can get more money. Also no one has ever forced anyone to buy gmo seeds. Pushy marketing does not constitute use of force. Your claim is a lie often used by the anti crowd to appeal to emotion. If you want to truly understand “force” send a few activists to my farm and I will teach you, and them. Real fast.

    • Kevin Folta

      I’m with you Eric. The same person visits other boards with the same claims. If his claims were true, farmers would use organic techniques and standard hybrids. Are hybrids allowed in organic, or is that too much technology?

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        Kevin, I got used to certain arguments as being indicative of the anti-activist line. Among them are the “forced” accusation, Money/profit, and gmo farmers use more chemicals now. This is so common that I really thought that because of this and the name chosen that we had a clown among us. I actually popped awake, got up and posted the comment about having “been had” to minimize the gleeful comments of the prankster. I have switched to the Haile market. Stop by and introduce yourself some Sat. Pineapples will start sometime in July.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Good one Kevin, You will have to do a lot of educating to make those marketable in Gainesville. I grew “grafitti” cauliflower this year and the first time I brought them to market. I had several worried folks ask of they are G.E. The bright purple was just too much for some. I took advantage of a few and claimed purple food coloring in the injector was responsible. The regulars behind the questioner immediately started chuckling and gave me away. Has that pina been released yet? I am up to abpout 5000 plants and propagating as rapidly as possible. Am a bit concerned about how this will effect me. boondoxtropicals@yahoo.com is personal e-mail. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Whoops, sorry Mary, When I replied to Kevin and the response popped back so quickly I just assumed it was Kevin. I’se gwine to click on yer link now. Thanks.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Mary, That tangerine gene makes me wonder about a flavor change. I can easily envision a very tasty pina from a mix of tangerine and pina flavors. Please feel free to give me a heads up on that address if you become aware of more about this. Thanks.

            • I don’t know anything about the taste or the progress. But I’d try it!

              • Eric Bjerregaard

                You and me both, Mary. Ironically, the very prejudice that I whine about in these forums is what may allow me to compete with this product. The color of the flesh of this is probably going to be very attractive. Perhaps I should become a greenpeace backer and have criminals destroy the test crops. Hail Serralini…..I feel nauseous.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Mary, Thanks, You are, of course, correct in your use of the soup nazi analogy. Deliberately attempting to mislead folks by fostering ignorance is shameful behavior. And no, I’m not opinionated or sick of phony “activists”

  • Richard R

    “Last year my highest yielding and most profitable crop was organic. My worst yielding and highest cost crop was GMO.” – Please tell us the details. Why? Are you comparing higher value crops with commodity crops. Although that is what you found on your farm, do you not think that others have done the same experiment on their farm and found the opposite?

    “I fail to see any reason a consumer needs a GE salmon” – because they can be farmed and they grow to maturity in a shorter time. What is wrong with that?

    “or a salmon farmer would grow GE salmon while our large chains stores refusing to sell it? ” – thanks to fearmongering about a technology and lack of understanding about the science.

    “You do not want to cross pollinate their native varieties and put those people into debt which they cannot repay. ” This makes no sense. What does cross pollination have to do with debt? Sounds like you are mixing up the myths about GMO crops.

    “France just banned planting of GMO crops.” well, they’ve banned it a number of times, had the bans overturned for lack of basis, then banned them again arguably for political purposes. So what.

    “In the meantime our exports continue to go down and our imports go up.” ???

    “who makes it (the money) on the apple, salmon, and rice?” – well, assuming they are successful, a small start-up in BC Canada, a venture capitalist who bought into the company after years of regulatory hurdles and delays and finally for rice no one is making the money since the technology was donated by those lip licking BOD types (just as it has been for insect resistant corn in Africa).

    I think I’ll go look at Anti-GMO Bingo on the forum and see how you did.

  • Ben Hadd

    If GMO’s are so great why am I not getting a premium for growing them? I get a premium for non-gmo and organic crops. And my expenses are less with the non-gmo and organic crops. So tell me why do I need GMO crops. We’ve been in the seed business since 1958 and we’ve seen things come and go. I see GE’s the same way. Its not fear mongering, its just the facts. I treat all my crops to get the highest yield and GMO’s still lag. And tell me as a consumer what would I gain from a GMO apple, rice, and fish? As far as Richards question about are other people finding out Non-gmo corn can have a higher yield? Yes. Right now non-gmo corn is yielding more. Partly because it doesn’t have the gene yield drag in its inbred, and the new non-gmo hybrids get to market quicker. The non-gmo seed companies are enjoying growth. It takes several years to get the genes into the GE inbred lines and that puts them behind the yield curve. If GE crops performed better I’d grow them. Eric thinks that if I disagree with the current GE technology that I’m an activist, and thats far from it. An activist is just a liberal with a gender problem. And I’m too far right for that.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      If the nongmo seed companies are enjoying growth. Why can’t your imaginary processor find non gmo corn? I think I am beginning to understand. I’ve “been had” Richard, you may have “been had” as well. I think there is a greater possibility that Karl or Anastasia has made this guy up and is thinking this is real funny right now. Than there is that “Ben” is a real farmer. Remember a while back when Karl jumped on some baloney I posted?

    • Tell me your yields. I have data from a farmer who also grows GMO, conventional, organic and I’d like to compare them.

      And if your are so bad maybe I can give you her name and she can help you.

      C’mon Ben. Show us your data to back up your claims.

    • Ben Hadd, if GMO’s aren’t working for you, then just go with what does. It may be that simple. Be warned, though, your Organic crops may be enjoying herd immmunity from the pest barriers(and sinks) afforded by your conventional and GMO crops. I’m curious about your claim that you are in the seed business and growing GMO corn. Are you under contract to grow these patented products for the patent owners?

    • Cairenn Day

      Ben, all the currently GMO varieties give YOU the premium. When I talk to farmers I know and meet, on off of the web, they report that they prefer the GMOS because they spend less on growing them. I have to wonder why you are not seeing the same results? Is there something different that you are doing?

  • Ben Hadd

    Eric, the problem with the non-gmo grown corn in the US is that they don’t feel they can get a large enough supply of corn that isn’t cross pollinated with a gmo trait. Yes they should be able to buy it in the US, but choose not to for liability reasons. And yes we have ben had by all this technology. They fail to sell the consumer what they want. Only what they think the consumer “should buy”. My GMO corn had two rootworm events that didn’t work and it only yielded 210 bu at 4.50$. The organic was making from 240 to 260, and was worth 16$ a bushel. The non-gmo was around 240, and it usually gets up to 86cents premium. Conventional corn would have had to make close to 900 bu/ac to equal the gross income of organic corn. Mary, now remember the reason there are these premiums is because the market wants it and will pay for it. Now the salmon farm investors may find out that they spent too much money on the tech fee, and were left with cat food, while the non-gmo fish farmer will be getting a premium for his lower cost fish. My experience says this will happen. It would be like me starting up a gun factory with Obama as president. Not a good decision. And the last thing we will need is the salmon gene to show up in breast milk like the roundup gene did. I listened to a university toxicologist say that the roundup gene will change the DNA in you body for 3-4 generations. Thats a warm feeling.

    • Well, Jennie has a much different experience than you do:

      In a typical year, we gain 24 bushels of GE corn and 10 bushels of GE soybeans when compared to our conventional acres.

      http://www.bostonreview.net/forum/truth-about-gmos/farmer-choose-gmos

      You can’t really want to keep Jennie from growing what’s best for her, can you?

      But that said, I don’t think you using more acreage for organic corn is a good use of the land. I’m not in favor of that. But I wouldn’t stop you from doing it.

      I’m sorry about the incorrect information you have about the genes. That’s really just false. I hope that scientist isn’t actually claiming that and you misunderstood. That would be incredibly irresponsible to convey.

    • Ewan R

      My GMO corn had two rootworm events that didn’t work and it only yielded 210 bu

      210Bu/Ac is well in excess of the national average, that’s a pretty crazy yield if it contains a trait that didn’t actually work (which varieties are you planting and where are you situated? That’s some crazy good land)

      And the last thing we will need is the salmon gene to show up in breast milk like the roundup gene did.

      You appear to be getting your sources of misinformation confused. There’s a current claim being made by a group so irresponsible with information as to be discarded immediately that glyphosate is found in breastmilk… not the RR gene.

      I listened to a university toxicologist say that the roundup gene will change the DNA in you body for 3-4 generations.

      I’m sure you can provide a name of the toxicologist in question so someone can clarify that this is actually being said?

      Thats a warm feeling.

      In both instances here the warm feeling you’re experiencing is that of being lied to. Not even particularly well.

      Generally the literature shows that organic yields lower than conventional :-

      http://models.pps.wur.nl/sites/models.pps.wur.nl/files/AGSY1644.pdf

      is a metaanalysis of many studies – the corn data shows that on average you’d expect to achieve approximately 89% of the yield (there is quite a spread, and so it isn’t impossible that organic practices on a given farm would outyield conventional, simply unlikely) – whereas a perusal of the literature suggests that at the end of the day your net income would not be drastically different, on average, between the systems (once you take into account inputs and premiums etc – again, this is an average value, so one would utterly expect anecdotally to see a handful of instances where income was higher, but also a number where it is lower (which is why anecdotal evidence is essentially worthless in assessing a system)

    • Cairenn Day

      Really? What ’round up gene’? You seem to not understand the difference in a gene and a herbicide.

    • Benjamin Edge

      Organic and non-GMO producers should be careful what they wish for, if they are against GM crops. Once it all becomes organic or non-GM, there go the premiums.

      Ben Hadd, if you are making that much off organic and non-GMO, why mess around with GM crops that you are so dissatisfied with?

  • Ben Hadd

    Just think if Jennie would switch to non-gmo corn and get 200$+ more money per acre. And if I was her, I would look at the new non-gmo corn numbers. See it doesn’t tell in the article when the last time she tired a non-gmo corn, or if she currently has test plots to compare to. I have all three systems to compare to and over 200 plots in two fields that show that there are not advantages to GMO’s. Its a typical news article full of fluff and feel goods. there are current chemicals that work great with no-till and non-gmo corn. Its sad she isn’t taking advantage of them. I have to laugh every time a university Dr. makes a non GMO statement, that they are dog piled before they get the words out of their mouth. Mary, whens the last time you actually walking through a field of corn? Picking out an article from the bosten review doesn’t really tell whats going on in the field.

  • Ben Hadd

    Mary
    Please do call the lab that tested the breast milk and found Glyphosate in it. Talk to Ben. He said you can take the results to the bank. I’m not wanting to change what Jennie is doing, I’m just saying she’s leaving allot of money on the table that could be hers. You need to get out in the country and you will soon learn about published averages. They don’t ever seem to match up with reality. Even our county published average for corn is typically 60-80 bushels lower then what farmers are harvesting. But the insurance adjusters love them when it comes time to settle up. Out of respect for the Dr. I’m not going to say who talked about the change in the DNA. We’re trying to get him to come and speak to our local farmers. In my areas 220-260 bu/acre corn is reasonable. Organic corn from 200-220 would not be uncommon. I go to the nth degree with covercrops and have found that I can push the yields even higher. What bothers me is that no GMO scientist ever asked me why the organic rotation works and how I can get that high of yields. I just assume the they don’t want to hear it because it would make GMO’s obsolete? Todays typical researcher just assumes if there is a weed or insect problem that its caused by a lack of chemicals and GMO’s. Wouldn’t you be excited to be able to help farmers with information that could reduce their use of fertilizers, chemicals, and GMO’s? What would that do for the drinking water, or the dead zone in the gulf? Or how would the mother feel to not have glyphosate in her breast milk?

    • Well I am delighted to hear that you wouldn’t withhold GMOs from those who want them. That’s what this piece was all about! I’m glad we can agree.

      But to save you some embarrassment, I think you should reveal who is making these claims. Maybe the folks here at Biofortified can get you someone who has actual facts instead.

      Part of the mission of the folks at Biofortified is to bring the excitement of appropriate technology to everyone. There are numerous ways to reduce synthetic chemicals and runoff, and they are open to all of them. What’s unfortunate is that some people want to withhold tools from others.

    • What area would this be? It would be helpful to have some context since you are talking about farming.

      As for any scientists who say that the DNA in GMOs will change your own DNA for 3-4 generations, if that is true I would like to verify it and break the story right her on our blog. We’re independent, and I will pledge not to reveal their name to anyone else, if you let them know that they can contact me in confidence, at karl@biofortified.org. On my integrity as a journalist and a scientist I will not reveal names or release information without the permission of a person who tells me information in confidence.

      But, I must say, the claims sounds highly doubtful. It is reminiscent of claims about dsRNA passing effects down the generations, combined with descriptions of a retracted Italian study, which claimed 3-4 generations to get an effect, but was retracted because the control animals died at extraordinary levels. It could be genuine, but without evidence, we don’t have anything to go on. If there really is evidence that GMOs cause harm in this fashion, it must be investigated, confirmed, and exposed. IF, that is, it is true at all.

  • Richard R

    “In my areas 220-260 bu/acre corn is reasonable. Organic corn from 200-220 would not be uncommon.”

    So, what I see here is that normally you expect organic to yield 20 to 40 bu / acre less with organic. Now if you can translate the organic premium into a higher return, good for you. Your neighbour may opt for something different. The reason there is a premium would appear to be that there is less supply and an incentive is needed to overcome the yield drag you identify with organic.

  • Ben Hadd

    Typically organic farmers grow corn for food contracts. One if is blue corn. And it will not yield the same as yellows or whites. The white I used is a high yielding food corn. That being said I don’t think organic producers worry about pushing the limit on yield. If an organic farmer is grossing over 4 times as much as GE corn, he’s really not concerned about maxing the yield. The conventional farmer would want to up the seed populations, chemical and fertilizer to get the highest yield he could because his margin is much less. And farm much more ground to make a living. But their are conventional farmers that are satisfied with 200-220 corn also. I’m not saying we must grow crops organically. But if you see what a crop rotation does for organic farmers controlling weeds, disease, and pest. Why aren’t we using that in the first line of defense for conventional farms. And then if there was a problem you could still have a pesticide to fall back on. Right now we are trying to use GE’s as the solution and the insects and weeds are adapting about as fast as a new GE comes out. We have one event for corn rootworm. It no longer works so the bred a 2nd one in. Last year corn with both events were not getting control in my area. Now farmers may use both events and a soil insecticide. So you end up meeting yourself coming. Meanwhile my organic corn didn’t have a problem. I just don’t see GE’s as the answer to our problems. Scientist have been too dislocated from agriculture to understand its problems. Instead they look at the problem and zap it with a gene gun to see if they can make it go away. Farmers in Mississippi were spraying 3 gallons of roundup on water hemp last year and not killing it. But they were totally relying on gene/chemical package to solve their problem. Where as if they would have had a rotation, the weed would have never gotten to be a problem. Sometimes the old cowboy out watching his cows has more wisdom then the new kid out of college with his Dr.’s degree. And these kids are trying to decide what works best for us back on the farm.

    • Daryl

      Ben (or whoever “Been Had” is) – I think when you dismiss college professors and the kids with college degrees as being out of touch with ag, you do a great disservice to them. In my 30 plus years of working at Universities, I have found that few of the professors or graduate student come from cities. Most come from a farm background, and as such are anything but out-of-touch with agriculture. Secondly, universities are a collection of many people with diverse background who approach problems from different perspectives. As such, ag problems are not being addressed only by geneticists, but also by production oriented individuals, including projects which research organic agriculture. Because this website is oriented towards GMOs and other genetic solutions doesn’t mean that universities are not heavily involved issues involving non-genetic solutions. The people here are promoting genetics because that is their area of expertise. We need genetics as part of the overall solution to ag problems.
      The organic production that you are describing here sounds wonderful. But will it in fact work in all situations. I think not. For example, you are promoting crop rotation as an essential method of controlling weeds. In many parts of the country, that might work, but I would seriously doubt it would work in the area I come from. I am from the Northern Great Plains, where rainfall and length of growing season are limiting factors. I those areas, the crop rotation is pretty much wheat, wheat, barley, wheat – repeat. Cover crops – I can’t think of any (but then I work in genetics, not production systems, so perhaps I am unaware of one).
      Well, my point is that you have to expect that people who are geneticists will try to solve problems by genetic means. And to dismiss them is not appropriate.

      • In my graduate program in plant genetics, I was the oddball for not having an ag background.
        I made up for my shortcoming by learning as much as I could not just about plant genetics, but also human nutrition, conventional farming, and sustainable farming, even going so far as to minor in sustainable ag.
        Seems pretty crappy for anyone to dismiss all of my hard work and the work of so many others, when all we are trying to do is help. Of course a geneticist will instinctively look to genetics to solve problem that they see in the world – but that doesn’t mean that is all we can see. The problem, in my opinion, isn’t geneticists, but the lack of extension agents to help farmers make the best choices on farming methods that include genetics, crop rotations, and much more.

      • Ben Hadd

        Daryl
        You need to go see Gabe Brown in Bismark ND. He’s been a true pioneer in crop rotation, covercrops and mob grazing. He’s got it down to a science. He farms with low amounts of chemicals and fertilizers and has increased his organic matter significantly in an arid environment. And he has become VERY successful. Dwayne Beck is another name that comes to mind in western South Dakota. They speak every winter at ag forums. I think all of agriculure could learn from them, esp the plant genetics industry. Gabe is on the forefront of technology in my book. I would guess he has the highest profit margin in the conventional corn industry. They are trying rotations that before were unheard of in dry northern climates. I would agree that some places could be tough to do rotations. But what about the other 90% of farm ground. We may come to a point someday that we have to do a switch to protect the water we have left. My small town is looking at spending 100 million to clean the water to the town. Right now I don’t see GMO’s as a solution to the problem.

        • Daryl

          Ben
          I looked at Gabe Brown’s website. He does indeed appear to be making a contribution to cropping systems and management. However, I note that he lives east of Bismarck. In North Dakota, there is a sharp divide that occurs at Bismarck, with adapted crops being much more diverse in Eastern ND than in the west. I come from the west, where rainfall is so limiting that strip farming was practiced for much of the last century. Strip farming was never an accepted practice in Eastern ND. In the west, chem fallow is now the approach of most producers. Within my original stomping grounds, I would question whether a cover crop would rob so much of the moisture from the next years wheat crop so as to make cover crops undesirable. But again, since I don’t work as an agronomist, I don’t have any data to support my conclusion, only my knowledge and background of the area.
          I think that you would find that most of the genetics oriented people on this site do not have a problem with improvements in cropping systems, as long as you have data that actually supports your position. You seem to be arguing that profitability and land management are the only issues when considering organic vs conventional vs GMO. But the issue of feeding the growing population is also an issue which cannot be ignored. Like it or not, the math says we are going to 9 billion people. This brings up the question of whether or not we can afford to take the 10% yield loss (reduced corn yield of 20-40 bu per acre) that you find growing organic on your own well managed farm. I wish we had the luxury, but I question whether we do.
          You seem to approach GMOs as simply herbicide tolerance and Bt. You say that right now, you don’t see GMOs as a solution to the problem. But if GMOs are pushed aside because of unfounded fears, we will never know what problems they could address. I think that is the point of Mary’s post. Many people fear GMOs are carcinogenic, conclusions based merely on fear. Mary mentions acrylamides in foods, an issue in which an actual carcinogen is produced in food. Don’t you think that if GMOs could be used to reduce or eliminate acrylamide in food, that it would be a very positive solution to a problem. And how many other problems can be addressed, problems which today we may not even recognize.

          • Ben Hadd

            Daryl
            I’m glad you checked Gabe out. There was a short video in this link. http://www.sare.org/Events/National-Conference-on-Cover-Crops-and-Soil-Health/Cover-Crop-Innovators-Video-Series/Gabe-Brown-Bismarck-North-Dakota I just think if we could use a rotation like his or modify it to our own area, would to do wonders for preserving our soil and water. His rotation tackles the big battle against weeds, insect, and disease. Then he hasn’t ruined his tools if he does have a problem. GMO’s should be looked at as a secondary force and not sold to us as “the answer for everything”. And I’m getting the feeling that researchers don’t realize how they’ve been marketed. I’ve probably been too hard on the industry. One study I did see west of Bismark was they took plots and monocropped cover crops. I think there were some plots that they combined 2 cover crops also. They had two inches of rain that year and most of the plots dried up, or were mostly killed. But the last plot they threw in all 5 varieties of cover crops. There were deep, medium, and shallow rooted crops. This plot was thriving. The fallow ground next to it had no cover and the soil was well over 100+ degrees. I think the cover crop soil was lower 80′s. But it again showed them something that we would have thought impossible. Never would someone have considered a cover crop in that dry of an area. I would suggest all the researchers on this board to take his crop tour. We are just on the tip learning how covercrops work and how they can benefit farming, and how they help a rotation. We have to look at the whole system before the water we have left is undrinkable.

            • Daryl

              Ben,
              You mention a study you saw out west. I am wondering if this is a university conducted study that is published in a peer reviewed journal. What you describe sounds interesting; however, you are only describing a single years data. The whole concept of strip farming developed in the last century was that moisture from one year needed to be conserved to contribute to the next years crop. Some question if strip farming could actually do that, but chem fallow is a more effecient management system fits into this philosophy. It seems to me that the important point in determining whether cover crops will work in such dry environments is not what happens in the drought year in which you got 2 inches of rain. The important point might just be what happens in the 2-3 years following the drought. Or put more simply, will the system that you describe produce a higher total yield over a period of several years. I would have to see a peer-reviewed long-term study (including both yield and profitability), to convince me that a cover crop would not be robbing moisture needed for the next wheat crop. There are an awful lot of farmers in this region who have gone to chem fallow. Like any good scientist (and hopefully any good farmer), I remain skeptical. The comments that Karen Larson makes below only magnifies my skepticism. Oh, and you mention that the fallow ground in the study was bare. Apparently weeds were controlled by plowing. But currently, chem fallow seems to be the preferred method, and in chem fallow, plowing is eliminated and the wheat stubble remains standing throughout the fallow year. I have no data, but suspect that soil temp of chem fallow will be higher than seen in the cover crop, but may not be as high as seen in traditional fallow, so the check you describe above may no longer be considered the standard. I guess if you don’t like the idea of herbicide resistant crops, your gonna really hate the idea of chem fallow But the answer to that issue is the same as Eric suggests for GMO crops, those guys better be doing a good job of rotating their chemicals.
              I still get the feeling from your comment about GMOs being a secondary force that you consider GMOs to be only herbicide resistance and Bt. But what about all those things Mary mentions in her post. Looking at the things she mentions, don’t you think there is some potential for some really great traits if only fear-driven politics does not destroy the opportunity?

              • Ben Hadd

                Daryl
                The name escapes me on who did the trial. For some reason I thought it was an extension agent. I know there is some work being done in western Ne also. What I think could be going on is the crop uses water, but it shades the ground enough to make up for the usage. Then the cover traps and holds it over the winter. Also the rooting depth of the cover crop helps the next crop. Typically I see some sort of brassica with a long tap root used. Also you can get the build up of fauna and flora and nitrogen. “depending on what cover crop is used” Allot of times you lose the mycorrhiza and other fungi during fallow and it will show up as a nutrient deficiency in the following crop. Also will the cover crop build OM over time and what is that worth. I would call Gabe he should know the contact and see if they did anymore work with it. I just don’t want to speculate if it would work that far west. I don’t remember if the fallow was bare chemical sprayed or worked ground. I just know it didn’t have a crop growing on it. For some reason I think it was like over 110-17 degrees at its hottest. I use mycorrhiza on everything. I would bet it adds 6-10 ft of support beyond your roots. To me GMO’s has too much controversy attached to it. Attaching it too food doesn’t excite me, because I’ve got other choices. But if I could see cancer research I would be more excited. Thats not something I can get thats already here. I want to grow what the consumer wants right now. I wouldn’t want to be the venture firms that puts money into salmon, just to end up with no buyer. I really don’t know what the answer is for the GE crowd. Its going to be a tough row to hoe. If I was sending insect resistance corn to Africa, I would send chemical too. Nature always seems to win in the end. To me working with the system like Gabe does is the better choice.

                • Richard R

                  “Attaching it too food doesn’t excite me, because I’ve got other choices.”

                  Yes – other choices like using radiation or chemical mutagens on seeds to create random genetic mutations in the hopes that a beneficial mutation occurs and can be isolated for commercialization.

                  Going back to the point of the blog, activists have created a negative environment for GE technology. They want to ban any and all use of this technology. The entire point of the post is that the controversy attached to GMO’s, if it is allowed to continue unabated, will keep many potentially beneficial uses away from those who would benefit.

                  As Mary’s post says “how long are we gonna let these shouty and misinformed people keep us from having access to products with health, nutrition, and environmental benefits without telling them it’s not OK?

                  We need to work harder on spreading the word about the benefits.”

                  You speak of the venture firm putting money into salmon, just to end up with no buyer – that is the point. It’s the shouty misinformed people that are causing a controversy where there really shouldn’t be any controversy and it should be viewed as a great benefit (we can raise salmon on inland fish farms near consumers and these salmon reach maturity much earlier than wild salmon or ocean farmed salmon).

                  Look, if someone wants to critique the business practices of my employer, ok. I am glad to have that discussion. Hopefully those discussions work to keep us doing the right thing. However, when an entire technology is made into a pariah and my employer (or “big ag” in general) becomes the symbol around which the misinformed rally, then that is wrong. Monsanto is not the technology. The technology is not Monsanto.

                  Working with the system like Gabe does can include GM products. We shouldn’t drop a bunch of insect resistant seed in Africa and say “here you go.” But we also shouldn’t say “keep this technology out of Africa” if it can offer a benefit. It becomes a tool to use, not a silver bullet answer.

                  People argue that only the “big ag” companies have benefited. They say we haven’t seen any of these “so called benefits” that the technology promises. Well it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that only big ag will benefit when you have the shouty and misinformed opposing even the smaller companies like Arctic Apple and Aqua Advantage salmon or when you have Golden Rice test plots ripped out of the ground in the Philippines or when you have activists try and make Hawaii GMO free when they have been growing GMO papaya for years.

                  Again, as always – I work for Monsanto – my comments are my own.

                  • Ben Hadd

                    Richard.
                    I have friends that work for Mon, so I know you pain. I think allot of times people don’t complain as much about the GE’s as they do the company producing them. It looks to them like a company that bought up and cornered the seed industry to insert genes and sell chemical to make a profit. They think that the rest of their food could end up the same way. That in itself may cloud peoples thinking. Now what if Mon would get together with the experts on the SARE link and universities and take chemical and fertilizer issues head on with the goal of making a rotation the greatly reduces their use and help prevent further contamination of our ground water. A simple corn, soybean, wheat rotation does wonders for weed and insect control, and adding N back to the soil, and building OM. A cover crop after wheat can produce almost all N for the corn crop. Now some would argue that wheat isn’t going to be profitable enough. What crop could Mon bioengineer to replace it and be a cool season crop. Maybe a fuel crop. I think the city person would change their perception of Mon, and say look what they are doing for our health and water. It would be positive for everyone. When I ask universities why they don’t do research on this, they just say theres no grant money. “guess where the grant money goes” I think Mon could make a huge difference in agri if they look at what Gabe did, and help make a model to work with. As a society we can’t wait till all of the water is undrinkable. When I go down to the town hall meeting to see who’s going to pay the 100 million to build the new water cleaning plant. Should I run for the door with the rest of the farmers and ag industry, or should I say, yes we do have a plan. I myself would be very impressed if Mon had a vision. Everyone is full of ya-buts on why they can’t change what they are doing. If we don’t change, then down the road the local NRD’s will eventually tell us we have to live with their restrictions and then we will be back against the wall. As I drive down the road the first 7 houses I go past have farmers that have cancer, including my wife. At what point does society change the way they are doing things for the benefit of society, and not for their personal wealth? Just going out and saying that we saved one spraying this year with GE’ crops and I did my part. Is like a smoker cutting back 1 pack to only five packs a day.

              • Ben

                Daryl, check out these soil carbon cowboys. http://vimeo.com/80518559 I’ve seen Neil and Gabe speak. We’ve spent the last 40 years confining animals, we may spend the next 40 getting them back on pasture. Just think of the carbon credits they could get. There has been talk about 990 million acres in Africa that could be farmed to feed the world. I think they would be better off to learn from these three over trying to sell them equipment, fertilizer, chemicals, gmo seed, and financing.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Hopefully this assumption that I often read posted by anti g.e. folks that g.e.farmers do not rotate properly is incorrect. Or will be soon. If someone develops a tool that I find valuable enough to repeatedly purchase. I will not behave in such a manner as to deliberately break it. That is what not rotating essentially is. Actually I should be more aware of protecting the tool. Whether it be glyphosate or g.e. seed. Therefore I should occasionally consider going a year without using those tools in the same areas. So as to reduce the risk of losing it’s effectiveness.

    • isn’t this the tragedy of the commons? people keep doing the best thing for them even though everyone suffers in the end :(

    • Ben Hadd

      Eric
      You make a good point. We are losing tools that could be beneficial. There was so much money to be made by inserting the roundup gene in every crop we raised and selling the chemical that we ruined a tool that we had. Its pure greed on Monsanto’s part IMO. Now they want to put the dicamba gene in with the roundup gene so that we can now spray a combination of 2-4D and roundup on weeds that no longer die. How smart is that. Then the BT gene is getting so over used that it won’t even be a control for the organic farmer. Maybe the genetics industry should be hammering the chemical industry for giving them a bad name. I flat out have a bad taste in my mouth about GMO’s because what it has done in my industry. Right or wrong I take it out on all GE crops now. I see these kids come out of the universities and all they know is what was funded through the state sponsored school funded by the chemical industry. They have no idea what a rotation does, and the older people that used it are long gone. They are full of smarts but don’t know a damn thing. Even when I try to show somehow how the rotation works it goes completely over their head. And sadly theres no money in promoting rotations. If the chemical industry could make money off the idea it would taught in all the schools. end of rant!

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        “bad taste in my mouth about gmos because of what it has done” Gmos have done nothing. You are blaming the tools for the actions of those who IMO have used them incorrectly. Somewhat like blaming the auto for the speeding offense of the driver. There is money in promoting rotations. It is in the long run and hard to quantify. However if I use cover drops, manures, low or no till, when appropriate, I will eventually have less trouble with pests and diseases. Problem is I can’t prove exactly how much I didn’t spray, or which crops didn’t fail because of lack of disease problems etc.

  • Bill

    Ben – if you and/or your neighbors truly saw resistance problems with corn containing two rootworm events you need to contact EPA immediately. That is a huge development. You should also contact Aaron Gassman, a top researcher in the IRM field. Please let us know what they have to say.

    What events and what hybrids are you talking about? Was this with a structured refuge or RIB?

    Also, in what state are you farming? The ones where rootworm resistance have been reported do not have yields anywhere near what you describe. States with rootworm do not have yields like that either.

    • Joel Starr

      Yes, there were resistance problems several places in Nebraska last year. I would of thought you would have been well aware of them. A Monsanto rep came out to one problem field (corn was severely lodged) last year and acted dumbfounded. He never saw such a thing. The agronomist (Gary Golter from Ag Tech inc.) was upset with the dumbfounded rep. Corn with 2 traits were having problems. Now you want them to use a corn insecticide. Then they don’t need the trait that isn’t working. Call the researchers in the following study and ask them what they have seen in NE. You can talk to the EPA! It seems like the diverse genetics of the root worms will always develop resistance to your traits in time.

      http://cropwatch.unl.edu/archive/-/asset_publisher/VHeSpfv0Agju/content/corn-rootworm-management-update

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        Joel, I’m disappointed in you. I clicked on the Ne. link and in the second paragrqaph, the highlighted one, I found this. “A consistent pattern was observed at all Cry3Bb1 problem sites: All sites had been in continuous corn production and hybrids expressing the Cry3Bb1 toxin had been planted for multiple years (often three to six consecutive years).” Could a problem be lack of rotation? Now look at the conclusions. Nowhere does it say to quit using g.e. seeds. It does seem to mention rotations and refuges. Also, as in the medical field no one quits developing new antibiotics when resistance develops. Why would you want to stop analagous progress in agriculture? Because someone wrecked a model T. was not a good enough reason to stop development of better autos. Neither is lack of rotation a reason to stop development of new g.e. products. Just as overuse of antibiotics does not give reason quit developing them. I know I sure appreciate not dying from ear infections as a child. I also suppose there are some who appreciate their g.e. food. Get used to it. BTW how do the minerals removed from the soil when harvesting get replaced by those 2 products you claimed gave you what you need to maintain your yields?

      • Bill

        Joel,
        Help me understand what you’re describing. Are you saying corn with two rootworm events was exhibiting signs of greater than expected damage from rootworms in Nebraska? What were the traits in the stacked variety?

  • Ben Hadd

    The rootworm gmo is used in corn and us used as prescribed and not working, so I have to guess its the GMO’s fault. I don’t know how else to blame it. Thats what its there for?

    • Actually the first resistance to Bt was found in the Bt spray method:
      http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.en.39.010194.000403?journalCode=ento

      You’ll note that was before GMOs. So should we abandon that use of Bt and claim it’s a failure? I have to guess it’s the applied Bt’s fault. I don’t know who else to blame for it. This is your logic, right? Will you please go to organic blogs and denounce that now too?

      There’s good news though. Stacking traits seems effective, and that’s rolling out. And there isn’t any resistance to corn borer reported. So that’s excellent. I think we are all in favor of effective non-chemical pesticides. Rachel Carson was in favor of those too.

      • Ben Hadd

        Fields in my area were under heavy pressure last year and the single traited fields had damage. The Seed reps excuse was “well you should have had both events”. And in fields that had both events it was better but not controlled. So the next line of defense this year is to use both coupled with a insecticide. The BT sprays do work in the organic fields. But organic fields are few and far between. But when you expose the insects to it in every field there is a larger group of insect population that is resistance that we didn’t have before. Thus at some point will make the product useless for both systems.

        • Oh, so now you are saying you don’t blame the tool? Well, once again we can agree on something.

          • Ben Hadd

            So what you are saying if I pay for a product that doesn’t work as claimed, its not necessarily the products fault.

            • Can you show me what the claim was? And can you show me the evidence that you’ve followed all the guidelines for use?

              And please don’t just don’t free range on what you think the claims were. If you have a case, you’ll need to be specific. Please copy and link to the manufacturer’s exact language.

              I’d be very surprised to know if the claim was that your trait would kill every rootworm ever–it would be great to have that evidence.

              But are you also saying that anyone who sprays Bt but gets damage anyway should sue the Bt provider?

        • Richard R

          “And in fields that had both events it was better but not controlled. So the next line of defense this year is to use both coupled with a insecticide.”

          However, if you look at Monsanto’s recommendations, that is the 3rd recommendation, not the first.

          “Our lead BMP practice is rotating the field to a non-host crop such as soybeans, which breaks the corn rootworm cycle.” http://www.monsanto.com/products/pages/crw-bmp.aspx

          You also did not mention the option of switching to a different Bt trait from a different technology provider, or switching out of traited corn. These are both recommended on the Monsanto website.

          All the items you mentioned previously – cover crops, rotations – those will work whether it is GMO or not. It reminds me of a post by Steve Savage suggesting that renting farmland is a disincentive to building soil quality. “The problem is that most lease arrangements don’t provide the mechanisms to favor a long-term, soil-building protocol. ” If you are a landowner, you want to maximize your annual rent. If you are a farmer, you want to maximize your 1-year return from renting the land if you are on a year-by-year lease. That is not the fault of the technology. I would have to agree with Mary that you can’t blame the tool.

          http://appliedmythology.blogspot.ca/2011/11/who-owns-americas-farmland.html

          Disclosure – Monsanto employee. My comments are my own.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Anastasia, I see what you mean. many keep throwing straws on the camel’s back until….But mine didn’t do any damage they say. But my gov’t benefit didn’t cause taxes to go up. and on it goes.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Ben, you don’t know, as I don’t, how many use or don’t use the seed correctly. Neither of us knows whether or how many rootworms were given sublethal doses of bt from folks spraying it carelessly coupled with unexpected rainstorms washing it into the soil before the sun killed it. If bt is a naturally occurring soil bacteria the rootworms may occasionally be exposed to low doses of bt. I suspect that these factors or perhaps the rootworm is just more adaptable than the earworms to be more likely to be causal factors in resistance buildup than any problem with the seed itself.

  • Great blog Mary and thanks for calling out the double standard that exists in the food and farm discussion. I love the soup Nazi in the context of the Seinfeld show but not in the food discussion. I find it very elitist that those who believe biotech should not be part of the solution, it certainly is a valuable tool in the tool box and farmers should have all the tools available to them to make the best decisions for their family farms regardless of their size or scope of diversity.

    Our seed choices are pegged to our soil types. That is our top priority and most sustainable approach, followed then by the farming practices we execute on that ground. Soil tilth and soil health are our #1 priority because that is what leads yield. The numbers Ben is citing is a perfect example of why there should be all tools available to us. We seldom avg over 200 bpa corn. Those are expected avg for Midwest farmers, but not MidAtlantic except in very good years without a hurricane to flatten the crop.

    We decertified our organic aces because 40 bpa is equal to throwing money away even with a price premium. We do better with our nonGMO grains and seeds than our organic grains. Traits haven’t failed us. We do 100% no till on our grains and 100% cover crop on all our non bean ground. Beans come off in late November after the deadline when covercrops can be planted and expected to germinate before winter dieback.

    Bottom line for us is to have all tools available as options and use those that are successful for each farmer. We make that decision every year by doing test plots and working with the university who does research on our farm.

    If we want our kids to continue the farm into the next generation, then it has to be economically sustainable. Family farms are businesses that generations of us are proud of and who supply safe and healthy foods for consumers. Farming is a challenging business and at less than 2% of the population doing it, those of us who are have proven to be good at it or we would have gone under or sold out for housing developments.

    • I thank you so much for your helpful outreach. I’ve learned a lot!

      You are certainly the best judge of your situation, and it drives me crazy that keyboard commandos think they know better than you do about what tools you should be able to choose.

  • Karen Larson

    Well I guess I’ve (BEEN HADD) all these years by reputable companies. Oh BEN….. You’re such a contridiction. On our farm we gave yield data that goes back quite a few years ago. Our yields on corn increased very nicely with the advent of seed technology. Our fertilizer and chemical use decreased. We raised no GMO soybeans for several years. We knew the yield would be a kick in the shorts but premium paid to raise them was supposed to offset or surpase local market prices. 1. We did have a decreased yield by nearly 10 bushels per acre ( you might argue location and conditions but field across road of GMO variety of beans had “normal” yield for location, conditions etc). 2. So $10 bu(hypothetical number) x 10. = $100 loss per acre on 130 acre field. 3. Market premium of $2 per bushel of non GMO DID MOT MAKE UP DIFFERENCE. 4. Those non GMO FOOD grade beans got sprayed 2x more during the growing season than the GMO beans.

    On our farm we’ve not grown corn specifically labeled GMO so I can’t give you experience on that

    • Thank you for bringing your data and experience Karen! I’m delighted that you can try out different things and choose what’s right for you. It really bugs me when people assume farmers have just been victims of marketing and don’t actually watch their own production numbers to make decisions.

    • Ben Hadd

      Karen
      I won’t argue with you on your bean results. They don’t often offer the latest bean varieties in both gmo, and non-gmo. If they did then the yields could be the same. It wasn’t the absence of a gene that lowered the yield. We’ve got RR resistant weeds and that does make it harder to make that system work. Corn generally seems to work better, and has shown a yield bump just because the non-gmo variety gets to market quicker. Theres usually a lag time to get the genes in one or both parents before the gmo varieties are released. One thing that bothers me is I’ve seen the seed being produced before the gene is approved. If it doesn’t get approved then the seed goes to waste and the pollen has already crossed with other corn in the area. I just shake my head and look the other way.

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        Ben, How would you know the cross pollenization had taken place? Were the fields closer than 600 feet? Did you have some ears tested? By whom? Will you post the reports? Why do you consider it wrong to try to time seed production with approval? Seems like something I would try if it meant beating a competitor to market and a greater market share/better return on the millions invested.

      • Ben Hadd

        Karen
        My seed rep was here this morning and he swears that the new varieties they have are yielding the same. I haven’t had non-gmo beans for a while since we switched to organic beans. But I do have 2 fields of non-gmo beans this year. So I’m curious if he will be right. You haven’t been had until the insects and weeds become resistant to the events.

      • Benjamin Edge

        Is it common to let people outside the company know that a seed production field is growing a non-approved trait? I would think that would be a major security risk for a seed company.

  • Ben Hadd

    If you corn is next to white corn and you get pollen from 3/4 mile away, then you visibly see it. So if mine is shedding at the same time as a neighbor and the winds blowing their way, I’d say theres a 100% chance he got some too. At harvest they worry if your picker is kernel clean. And I’m going what difference does that make, my pollen blew around. But its a feel good attempt. In the whole realm of things it probably does make a difference, its just the ethics issue.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    So, those who contend that 600 feet is roughly the limit for corn pollen travel are incorrect? Ethics issue?

  • chouaneur

    Good afternoon/evening

    Very interesting your article Mary.

    I read that some stakeholders refer to French specificity.Following this allow me a few words about the French approach which I admit you makes me ashamed.

    In France we know very well how politically magouiller to smoke citizens (who have a deplorable scientific culture) on matters relating to the PGM.

    Our policies (all parties) follow alarmist obscurantist Green parties and NGO anti-GMO trying to get of the additional ballots during the election at all levels.
    The scientific considerations (the sound only for me) are flouted and ignored knowingly under the guise of the famous “precautionary principle to the French”.

    Our Government has found a scientific argument to ban the Mon 810 in France which deserves inclusion in the bloopers of the wacky of the anti-GMO arguments if there is one.
    There’s GM Bt corn that are more effective to combat certain… African borers (pyrales) in Africa. Simple! Non?
    This case of African proven resistance (campagne et al., 2013) thus became a scientific argument of authority in France to justify the prohibition of the GM Bt corn (Yes all!). Incredible! Non? And Yes we the french we have!

    I am ashamed!

    The story:
    http://www.senat.fr/rap/L13-362/L13-362_mono.html (same proposal made to members)
    http://www.senat.fr/rap/L13-362/L13-3621.PDF

    http://www.francetvinfo.fr/Monde/Environnement/l-Assemblee-Nationale-interdit-la-culture-de-mais-transgenique_577935.html

    A critical analysis of the posturing of our leader that I agree completely:
    http://www.pseudo-sciences.org/SPIP.php?article2269

    ,12/ogm-un-senateur-peut-il-ignorer-la-loi,919.html http://www.Agriculture-Environnement.fr/actualites

    In Europe:
    http://www.EurActiv.com/Science-policymaking/politics-trumps-science-curious-analysis-533472
    http://www.Marcel-Kuntz-OGM.fr/article-articles-in-English-104471344.html

    Well cordially

    • Thanks for coming by with those details chouaneur! Yes, we’ve been watching some of the strange things that seem to go on in France. I’m sad for your farmers who might want to use this technology.

      But I guess you are now safe from that African pest–by not using Bt corn somehow?? Heh.

      We were also surprised to see this story out of France a few years ago: http://reason.com/blog/2010/07/28/french-anti-biotech-protests-a

      I’m not sure science can help you there. The pathology seems to be resistant to evidence. But it’s very comforting to know you are trying to be a voice of reason–thanks!

  • Paul

    Ben, I’m an organic farmer and I’d like to know what your secret is to getting 260 bushel organic corn. What are you using for nitrogen?

    • Ben Hadd

      Paul
      We plant corn, soybeans and rye or wheat. Between each crop we plant a cover crop. Mix of hairy vetch, rye, radish/turnip, rape, or whatever we can get to add to it. This way we are growing N between each crop. In the spring we let it grow and rotovate it in. Allot of times the crop is 2-3 ft tall. A week or more later we plant the cash crop. We use Mycorrhizal Inoculant and Azospirillum, a free-living nitrogen-fixing bacterium closely associated with grasses, on the corn. Last year we got some winter kill on the vetch and the stand wasn’t impressive, so we added 80lbs N of chicken litter. The previous crop was beans. So you have bean ground, litter, Myco and Azos producing all the N. When you take a soil test it really doesn’t show much N. It was the best looking corn we had. Comparing it to non-gmo corn, and GMO corn on our farm. It was green to the ground when the others were yellow, and it wasn’t planted till late May. I have no idea why it did so well. The Rootworms were the worst we have seen in the conventional corn. We didn’t see any in the organic, and thats because of rotation. Thats why I harp so much that rotation should be the first line of defense against weeds and insects, not chemicals and gmo’s. My pioneer rep says that because of the parent lines used in whites they are the best choice for disease resistance too. I really think the soil life that gets sustained in the covercrops, and Myco + Azo pushed the crop over the top. We never saw that back before we used them. It just proves that “hi-tech” isn’t the answer. And we can thank them for the boom in organic sales.

    • Joel Starr

      Dave Brant tries to show how you can grow your own Nitrogen. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hiffwu52udU The organic form of Nitrogen out performs all synthetic forms. There is enough N for 260 bu corn. After hairy vetch we have organic corn that is green all the way to the ground. Gabe Brown in North Dakota uses cover crop cocktails to supply all his fertility. In a study where radishes were grown in rows there was significantly higher levels of P and K than between the rows. I also use mycorrhizae, Quickroots, and azospirillum (produces N and plant hormones on grasses etc.). Sometimes I use 1 ton/ac of chicken manure if there is a poor stand of cover crop. Radishes and mustards act as soil fumingants killing nematodes but stimulating soil biology. Dr. Jill Clapperton said radishes make the soil biology act like it is on steroids. When you get the soil biology working, you don’t need GMO’s Roundup etc.

  • chouaneur

    Good afternoon/evening

    Mary anything it is always with great interest that I come on this site.

    If you want to laugh a bit after a day’s work.
    Here is a story on the website of Greenpeace France (very obscurantism with a very strong anti-GMO and conventional anti-farming mobilization.Nothing comparable with Greenpeace USA) in which the french debate on the GMP is very fiery.
    It is also a demonstration of the low level in scientific culture of the anti-GMO french and their share an anthology with comments received and preconceived ideas.

    http://www.microsofttranslator.com/BV.aspx?from=&to=en&a=http%3A%2f%2Fagriculture.Greenpeace.fr%2Fles-OGM-contaminent-aussi-la-France

    Kind regards

  • Joel Starr

    Applause and tears of joy erupted yesterday on the floor of the Vermont House http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XmQ0smfKOmw&feature=youtu.be .

    • Joel, have you looked at the text of the Vermont law?

      It seems to say that a food product must say “Produced with genetic engineering” under various defined circumstance, but one of the specific provisions says that it does not require the label to identify the ingredient involved.

      I think that should be an embarrassment to those who claim this is just about giving people more information.

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        What is a shame Mr. Rader, is that some would stoop to the level of attacking businesses without facts to back them up. This is fundamentally dishonest and increases the power of gov’t to regulate us all. Thus it is also short sighted as sooner or later Joel will be on the nongloating side of an issue whereby his opponents have used the gov’t to defy common sense. We have a current ex. of that being attempted in Fl. as “big beer” is attempting to limit the ability of craft brewers to market their products without using the distributor system. This is as disgusting as what the “activists” are attempting in Vermont and elsewhere. When science and facts fail to produce what you want turning to the gov’ts monopoly to use force to back you up is the pathetic opposite of how americans are supposed to behave. Keep spreading the ignorance Joel as my biolically active soil has sprouted some weeds that are not cost effective to control mechanically. Roundup will be necessary today.

    • I guess it’s really impressive that Vermont has the kind of time and money to pass bad legislation that’s sure to be shot down.

      And we’ve been saying how it will be great for this one to get to court and get crushed because that should also eliminate the clones.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    They’s trying to take away the soup of freedom. My favorite flavor.

  • MattT

    Mary,

    Although you characterize the problem as people wanting to “keep these products out of stores”, that’s not really true. What is true is that they don’t want to mistakenly buy them themselves.

    You can’t make someone buy something they don’t want. The reason they don’t want the product, whether it be misinformation or the desire to boycott a companie’s products, is irrelevant.

    There would be 0% opposition to these items being brought to market if they were labeled as GMO’s.

    Ironically, your opposition to GMO labeling makes you one of the people who is keeping these items out of your hands.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      Matt, you are mistaken. The reasons many want the labels is very relevant. It goes to motivation and integrity or lack thereof. It goes to the fact that alleged “problems” with G.E.foods and methods are often a cover for socialism and maybe more importantly the “I hate Monsanto” motivation. It goes to invading company property in Argentina and hiring thugs to vandalize rice in the Phillipines. Goggle “war on gmos” and see if you can repeat your claim with a straight face. I have read many postings by William Petersen, Lucia De Souza, Bradley Mitchell and others over the past 3 years and to my knowledge am only one of 2 who have accepted the truth. The other guy admitted this by replying privately. Tjhe rest involved on that forum are still defending serralini and carman. Still posting stuff from Shiva, Smith etc. with all the brilliance of an Al Sharpton follower. One even claimed that she has a “right” to choose which scientists to believe. I wonder if I would have graduated junior high by asserting that right on tests. If the labeling movement succeeds it will be twisted into a base for the next level of attack. Also, because Tom, Joe , “Mary” and Freddie’s gmo products will often be mixed together in the same silos, and therefore products. It will be impossible to ID individual companies to boycott on most labels. The labels will simply serve as targets for the next round of the “War” The real goal is deprivation of soup choices.
      Charles. Well said, and I have noticed your name out there occasionally attempting to spread truth. Thanks.

  • Charles Rader

    “What is true is that they don’t want to mistakenly buy them themselves.”

    Labels are meant to give information. Somebody might advocate for a label because he wants to have the information, but alternatively perhaps it’s because he wants others to have the information.

    Mary has collected a whole bunch of quotes from leaders of the anti-GMO side that makes it clear that they see labeling as serving the second purpose (and to facilitate their ultimate goal of eliminating all GMOs from agriculture).

    It’s hard to miss the fact that the same people who are pushing hardest for the public’s “right to know” are either actively spreading misinformation, or at least doing nothing to correct it. When I talk to people who have watched this issue from the sidelines, people who haven’t been involved, I regularly hear about sterile seeds, about the lawsuits about cross-pollination, about Indian farmers driven to suicide, etc. The icky tomato with a fish gene never survived the laboratory trials, but it has lived on and thrived in the anti-GMO propaganda and even has mythical offspring like fish-strawberries and corn with scorpion venom.

    No law, about mandatory labels or anything else, should be designed to facilitate a propaganda campaign.

  • Charles,

    I hate to say it but, as I stated in my other post, the reason these people want labels is irrelevant, even if they are being coerced by others with an agenda.

    When the lawsuits are over in Vermont and the GMO labeling law has been defeated, which scenario do you think is more likely:

    The people who wanted GMO labeling will carefully read all the discussions that took place in the courtroom and say, “Hey, I didn’t realize GMO’s have been proven safe on numerous occasions, actually reduce the amount of pesticides used, and can actually make products more nutritious and weather-resistant!”

    OR

    They will read only the headline and say “Monsanto sued to keep us from finding out which products their crap is in! They must be trying to hide something!” And then they will become even further entrenched in their false beliefs, renewing their efforts with fresh vigor.

    The only way to stop it is to give the consumer what they want so you can control the message. The skepticism about GMO’s will increase in direct proportion to the efforts to resist labeling.

    As a side note, I also know some people who are opposed to GMO’s for the false reasons you stated, but I also know many who want labeling for other reasons such as:

    - They would like to boycott certain companies, but have no way of knowing which products use materials from said companies

    - They don’t believe centralized farming is good for the country and see this as a way to bring about diversity in our farming

    - They resent only just now having a discussion about the GMO’s a decade or more after they have been unwittingly consuming them

    - They are opposed to genetic manipulation on religious and/or moral grounds

    - They are worried that a genetically altered organism could contaminate the unaltered ones to a point that there are none left.

    • I certainly think that bad science policy alone is enough to be opposed to it. I think that making policy on stuff you are afraid of is a terrible strategy that has misfired over and over again.

      There are many examples, but I would say the most recent is fear of terrorists has led to awful policies that have destroyed civil liberties. These have been based on nothing but fear, facts show that no one has actually been saved by these dreadful NSA methods.

      Some companies are morally opposed to birth control. They fear that Obamacare will make them pay for it. Do we let that kind of philosophical objection impact everyone?

      There are real consequences to bad policy.

      And yes, I am quite certain that people are using the label as a veneer of reasonableness on devious actual motives. I’ve been collecting their statements: https://storify.com/mem_somerville/gmo-labels-the-purpose-is

      But placating people in the attempt to stop the shouting will not work. They will only then target specific providers as you point out. Because the label is not the goal.

      • I agree that policies should not be based on fear and misinformation, but they are, as you pointed out, and they will be, as I believe will eventually be the case with labeling.

        Who is passionately defending GMOs? People who feel their profession is being besmirched, entities who profit from them, and pretty much no one else. The passion and momentum is on the other side.

        I know I won’t be changing your mind on this subject, but I think labeling should be embraced before it becomes the law, because at that point the industry will be viewed as having fought it tooth and nail every step of the way and to a consumer that looks suspicious. A label could convey a much more positive message if it were done voluntarily in response to what consumer were requesting.

        • Well, I still think it’s worth fighting against terrible policy–even if the misinformed folks with pitchforks want it.

          And I’m sorry that people don’t understand the broad support among public scientists, public health folks, farmers, and ultimately consumers who benefit from all sorts of aspects of this. Lots of people have tried to explain it. But as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make ‘em think….

          And I guess we agree on voluntary labeling then–that should be the way this is handled. I was under the impression you were for the bad legislation. However, I don’t believe for a second that a voluntary label stops the shouting either.

          • Its worth reiterating that any GMO labeling is meaningless unless grains are segregated by trait. The “right to know” claim is otherwise false and misleading because the traits derived from transgenic proteins are not the same. Truth in labeling to detect some hypothetical problem or health issue would mandate that the traits be segregated all along the food supply chain so IF some issue arises, u will know which protein was the cause. Otherwise the inverse makes more sense, companies who want can use the nonGMO label and the small number oh consumers who care have that choice or organic.

            Thus my premise all along, this isn’t about labeling whatsoever.

            • Eric Bjerregaard

              And I’m guessing that that would be real expensive. Thus this may well be the next target. As It would give nongmo products a price advantage.

              • @

                $2/bushel avg installation cost for a grain bin, so a 50,000 bushel storage bin will cost around $100,000.00 Considering the U.S. grew 13.9 billion bushels of corn, 3.3 billion bushels of soybeans, and a million bushels of canola in 2013, all of which have various traits. There is currently 23.6 billion bushels of on and off farm storage in the U.S. that is needed to store all grains, seeds and legumes, so not just the 3 I listed. Segregation along the entire food chain so that ingredients are “traceable” back to the farm (as in tracing corn starch in Cheerios back to one of my fields of corn)would be exponentially expensive (and unnecessary considering the safety record of these crops) I blogged about it on my Foodie Farmer blog if you can to read by rudimentary summary.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          The main advantage to Matt’s suggestion is that the punitive language wanted by the anti folks may be avoided. If the “proudly” label Matt suggested is already in place. The anti folks may find it necessary to prove potential harm in order to get the wording changed. Assuming no unexpected surprises from the researchers, This would not be possible. This might be worth it just to see the anger and frustration from the antis as they search for a new line of attack. So mandatory–bever. Agressive voluntary p.r. campaign may be the least evil alternative.

          • Yeah, but I think a funny consequence of the “May contain…” label is that they’d realize was a stupid and useless label that is. And most people will drop their Oreos in their cart anyway. It would be amusing to watch the collective deflation of the Team Outrage.

            And I could totally support the QR code type of label I’ve heard discussed. But as I am not someone who thinks that we need labels for this, I don’t feel the need to fight very hard for this.

            • Eric Bjerregaard

              Mary, “Team Outrage” Good one, much better than the anti I have been using. QR code?

              • Yeah, so I haven’t seen any actual proposals for this, but there was chatter recently at an Ag event where Vilsack mentioned the idea of QR codes that people could scan with their phones if they need the level of detail about the product that labelers claim they want (but don’t actually get from their terrible proposals).

                So you could put one of those square thingies on a package: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code

                This doesn’t scream “BE AFRAID” like the other messages, so I don’t expect it to be warmly received. And this won’t drive enough people towards their products, so I’m sure it will lead to more outrage. But I could live with this (assuming the rest of the details are science and evidence based).

              • Oh, forgot to add the meeting where I saw this discussion was going on:

                https://twitter.com/PhilipBrasher/status/422760308474531840

                Have never seen any more expansion on this.

  • Forgot a couple:

    - They are against the concept of being able to patent life, especially since it’s actually just a slight alteration of an existing lifeform.

    - They see little to no value for the end consumer, while the value to the company who produced it is apparent in their earnings and the fact that their ‘ownership’ of the lifeform grants them a near monlopoly in some cases.

    - They find it offensive that their concerns, no matter how unfounded, are met with some variation of, “It’s safe, you don’t need to know what products contain it, just eat it, and feed it to your kids too.” This is especially true when you consider the very real track-record of some of the companies involved in the production of GMOs.

    I know GMO labeling isn’t the answer to most of these concerns, but people believe labeling will in one way or another help to remedy them.

    • Charles Rader

      Matt, I agree with every prediction in your last two posts. Do you agree with me that there is something wrong with making a law to facilitate somebody’s propaganda campaign? How about the state legislators who have filed laws requiring a presidential candidate to produce his birth certificate?

      • Yes, I absolutely agree with that! And I also understand the frustration involved in the prospect of labeling something that has been proven safe.

        I was just thinking that if it’s an inevitability, which I believe it to be, that the industry should just get out ahead of it and control their message with something like – “Made Proudly with GMOs!” Something concise and positive to erase the stigma that’s been attached to them.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      “it’s safe” you don’t need to know. Bottom line is that if one really wants to know. One can find out. I did. Many don’t care and are more concerned asbout having enough gas for the jet ski, fishing boat etc. There has been plenty of fuss over gmos for many years. Anyone who really cares could have done the research. In spite of jeffrey smith and the other liars out there.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      “patent life” They are not patenting life. Just the use of a gene. And besides that slightly different should not matter to one who had a sincere objection to a gene patent. I used to have a bit of trouble with this one until I realized it is just a cleverly worded attempt to get one to make emotional instead of logical decisions.
      Value to end consumer. Another attempt to reach emotions. Anything that positively effects a group of producers eventually effects consumers prices or choices. Often not as I think it should. But that is my opinion and I do not have the right to seek gov’t intervention to enforce my opinion, by effecting the labels on your soups. “monopoly” While the existence of monopolies invites problems. Remember that all patents expire. Also there is no monopoly in this case as there are other gm and nongmo alternatives. So, the anti folks are still blowing smoke without a joint so’s to make it hard to see through their propaganda. Be careful Matt, you may have Ben Hadd.

      • Eric,

        I have read all three of your posts and will reply here.

        I googled “war on gmos” as you instructed and the first sentence from the website that was the top result (farmwars.info) says this:

        “We are losing our ability to choose as we quickly advance, DNA in hand, towards a terminator planet filled with only genetically engineered, artificial constructs controlled by the very rapist that forced it’s polluted genetic material into it the first place.”

        Now do you really think you are going to change that person’s mind with a reasoned argument?

        That’s why I’m saying that their motivation doesn’t matter, because they are unreasonable and they want what they want. And if enough of them want it they will eventually get it.

        I don’t disagree with anything you said about those who are spreading disinformation.

        “Bottom line is that if one really wants to know. One can find out” – That is true, but I think those who want labeling want the work to be done for them, hence the desire for the label.

        “While the existence of monopolies invites problems. Remember that all patents expire. Also there is no monopoly in this case as there are other gm and nongmo alternatives.”– 88% of corn and 94% of soy in US is gm and controlled by one company, as I said ‘a near monopoly’. And personally I do think it’s troubling for one company to have so much control over our food supply.

        “They are not patenting life. Just the use of a gene.” – I’m not quite sure what you’re saying here as a gene patent would be effectively patenting the whole organism that contains the gene would it not?

        Anyway, I think you might also be mistaken in assuming that all the points I stated were my beliefs, they are not. I was just giving reasons that have been mentioned to me for people’s opposition to GMOs or their desire for labeling.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          Matt, I wondered a bit about what you actually believed. My point is exactly what you came up with when I asked you to google the phrase. These people are unreasonable and the mentality is somewhat akin to al quaida. Yes, I know mentality and al quiada is oxymoron. I have heard all those reasons and quite frankly have a chip on my shoulder. I question the sincerety and integrity of the leadership of those who should know better. Which means anyone with an I.Q.or education level roughly equal to mine or higher. I understand that there are some who don’t know much of this and tend to believe the hype. Those are the ones who may be reachable. I used to be one. I should use the term mandatory more often to prevent some from misunderstanding me. As far as Voluntary labeling as a preemptive move by the food industry. I don’t understand why they didn’t start out that way. Yes it would have meant slower market penetration. But would have taken away a big crying point from the antis.
          Food Supply They may sell a lot of seeds. But they do not retain any inherent control over the food supply. Control over the food supply is a phrase designed to bring up negative emotions and questions. What will they do with that control? Will they reduce the food supply? Will they “force” us to accept products that are harmful? The anti folks want the OMG reaction. While I think we have a few too many eggs in one basket regarding seed supply. This is the farmers own fault. When buying seed for refugia why not buy from another supplier? One of the discussions [This one?] had info regarding farmers growing the same crop and trait for 3 to 6 consecutive seasons.
          Patenting life. This is also designed to raise bigger issues such as patenting adjustments to human genes. It’s only a gene in an annual corn plant. There are plenty of other options available in non patented varieties. Yeah the gene is in all the plant. However other than propagation of that gene no control is retained.

    • Ah, “patenting life”. Yeah–we’ve been over that too. Do you know who holds more patents than Monsanto on “life”? Well–a bunch of people, including the US government and the University of California system.

      http://www.biofortified.org/community/forum/genetic-engineering-group3/politics-forum1/patents-thread396.1/#postid-2479

      Again, just because people have bad information is no basis for bad policy.

      But patting people on the head just to assuage their fears does not help them. It’s like letting Jenny McCarthy and pals make vaccine policy just so they feel better. It’s still a bad idea with real consequences.

      • I’m guessing that those who are opposed to “patenting life”, would find very little comfort in your pie-chart. They are probably using it right now to frighten others!

        • Well, that’s a guarantee that they’ll misuse and misinterpret data. But that doesn’t make the data any different.

          If they hate patents, their misfire at Monsanto (including the labeling efforts) will do absolutely nothing for them. But hey–if they want to be ineffective, that’s their money I guess.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    Matt, BTW I have read that farmwars stuff. Can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Had I ever bothered to go visit an antib gmo website with similar wording. I may have learned the truth much sooner. The stuff was so bad it helped me open up to what others were saying. A good propagandist needs to be a bit slicker and sneakier. Perhaps we should all archive some of the anti soup stuff for future reference in case they improve the sites. I think we understand each a bit better now. Thanks for your response.

  • Not sure why this crossed my mind today, but no bacon soup for you…

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/university-of-guelph-left-foraging-for-enviropig-funding/article4097328/

    I didn’t see the Enviropig in your post (apologies if I missed it). I haven’t thought about the Enviropigs for a while. Here was a case where phosphorous supplements could be eliminated from pig feed and excess phosphorous could be reduced from pig waste. Excess phosphorous in pig waste had the potential to leach into the water and contribute to algae blooms in lakes. “Therefore the enviropig biotechnology has two beneficial attributes, it reduces feed cost and reduces the potential of water pollution.” http://www.uoguelph.ca/enviropig/

    Enjoy your algae soup.

  • Roger

    Heres an interesting study that shows the amount of roundup residue in soybeans. And shows there is a big difference in the nutrient makeup of beans grown under 3 different farming systems. I would think if the same study was done on corn, it would show the same results. I can’t imagine what chemicals our food crops have in them. Would you want to feed a soy product to your infant? This study rejects that GM soy is “substantially equivalent” to non-GM soybeans. Remember how the industry got any further testing of its products stopped when they claimed to the courts that GMO’s are substantially equivalent. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613019201

    • Obviously the only solution is to have a full genome browser as the label, as well as a full proteome browser. I don’t know what you’ll do for the chemicals, maybe you can get Mike Adams to turn his trusty mass spec on every single package of everything so you’ll have every possible compound.

      You’ll never get out of the grocery store aisle.

    • Chris Preston

      Roger, I agree with you that if the same study was done with corn differences would occur in the nutrient make-up of the crops.

      This is because nutrient of crop species is very variable and highly dependent on soil type, fertilizer regime, year the crop was grown, temperature, water availability and cultivar grown. In fact the specific cropping system (other than fertilizer regime and irrigation usage) makes little difference.

      This makes the study you linked to useless for any sort of analysis for substantial equivalence, because they did not control for any of the factors above. They just selected material from the market that were different varieties and grown in different locations. The only useful question the authors could have addressed would have been whether the compositions were within the normal range for that crop species – yet they signally failed to address that.

      As to the glyphosate content of the grain. That was all below the maximum residue limit for soybeans. So from a toxicological viewpoint, the values are of no concern.

  • Roger

    Im curious what the epa’s long term studies have shown for those levels of roundup and ampa and how it affects the developing fetus and new born children?

    • Roger,

      Data on the toxicological assessment of glyphosate can be found here http://www.inchem.org/documents/pds/pds/pest91_e.htm

      If you have access to the scientific literature, there is a recent (2012) review here http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10937404.2012.632361

      I expect you don’t so I will just highlight a couple of bits from the conclusion to give you an idea of what the review identified:

      An extensive, in-depth analysis of the available scientific literature provides no apparent evidence to indicate that exposure to glyphosate is associated with the potential to produce adverse developmental and reproductive effects in humans.

      Now the review points out that the body of epidemiological data on humans is a bit thin, but there is extensive data from animal studies.

      Similarly, review of the available mechanistic data related to glyphosate fails to find a plausible MOA by which glyphosate may be able to induce adverse developmental or reproductive outcomes.

      It then goes on to criticise studies that exposed cell lines to formulated glyphosate as being inappropriate and providing little relevant information.

      Finally, a review of the limited body of available biomonitoring studies shows that, via reasonably anticipated exposure routes, human exposure to glyphosate is likely to be well below the daily oral reference dose for glyphosate of 2 mg/kg/d, as set by the U.S. EPA.

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