It seems every few years there is a new trend or buzzword that floats around that really grabs the public’s attention. Lately it seems this on going argument of GMO vs. Non-GMO has been one of those trends. The last few years this ongoing debate has really been gaining steam. Internet and social media has been the main contributor in the momentum this topic has gained, but it is time we all take a good hard look at what all this really means. This article in no way is meant to sway the reader to think one way or the other on the topic but rather is an attempt to get some open-minded discussion on the topic.
At the end of the day many of you have already decided whether or not you are in favor or are against GMO crops and nothing I say is likely to change your opinion. It is no secret that I am not against GMO crops, however, up until now I have tried to remain as uninvolved in the debate as possible. I am not out to start arguments, get in Facebook fights, start name calling, etc. Unfortunately my un-involvement came to an end fairly quickly when an Anti-GMO individual decided to bring the fight to me on my personal Google+ account. A little background information for you, I recently posted a picture on Google Plus of 2 ears of corn taken from a field near my hometown in Northwest Iowa. One ear was taken from a plant that had been treated with Conklin’s Amplify seed treatment at planting time, the other ear was taken from a plant that had not been treated, same soil, same hybrid, same everything except the Amplify. I posted the picture to demonstrate the advantages of using Amplify and market my business.
This is when the trouble began. Right off the bat there was a gentleman asking if it was GMO or Non-GMO corn. I responded stating that as he may already know that many of the corn acres planted for production agriculture in the US is what is commonly called GMO. He continued to go off into a tirade against Monsanto, attacked my business and myself personally, and wouldn’t let the facts get in the way of his beliefs. He accused me of selling seed that would “ruin the world,” when in fact I do not sell seed or have anything to do with any product related to GMO’s. No product that I offer changes the genetic make-up of any organism.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph and have often observed, many of the people involved in the Anti-GMO campaign don’t let facts hinder their beliefs. I believe much of this comes from the passion they have for the topic, but do they really know much about these GMO’s that they love to hate so much? I recently watched a video clip on youtube titled “What’s a GMO?” by Jimmy Kimmel Live. This 4 minute video proves the fact that many people against GMO’s:
1. Don’t know why they are against GMO’s and
2. Don’t even know what GMO stands for
Now, I know this video was created strictly for entertainment purposes but I suspect if I went and did the same thing right now my results would be very similar. So what is a GMO? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Did you know that diabetics around the world are using GMO produced insulin? This practice has taken place since the late 1970’s and there is absolutely zero evidence of any harm, nothing proved dangerous in the last 40 years of study, and not one of the millions of diabetics who are using it have had a single issue with GMO produced insulin. However many of the anti-GMO community would insist it is bad for you based solely on the fact that it didn’t come from “natural” sources. Did you know that hairless cats are considered a GMO? We have also used genetic engineering technology to enhance cattle to be more resistant to the deadly mad-cow disease.There are even some that consider many dog breeds to be GMO animals due to the genetic engineering that took place many many years ago to produce a certain breed of dog with the trait they were after.
The agriculture industry as well as the world sure would be vastly different without GMO crops. We likely wouldn’t be able to get high enough yields necessary to keep our farms from going under. Most farmers would probably have to have a 2nd source of income to feed their families. We wouldn’t have glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup) resistant crops. Many of our crops would succumb to disease and insect infestation. It would be even harder to feed the 7+ billion people on this planet. Food that we enjoy everyday would cost much more due to the increased cost of production. I’m not blindly saying there is no negative consequences to raising GMO crops as there are some environmental concerns that need to be studied more. We have more common weeds that are developing a resistance to glyphosate herbicides, however there are multiple causes to glyphosate resistance that I may write an article solely on later. We have noticed a decrease in Monarch butterflies as well as bees, and many believe that is due to the fact of increased pesticide use. Some also say that insects we are targeting are becoming resistant to common pesticides. I haven’t seen enough research to say with 100% certainty that GMO crops are linked to these or any other environmental concerns but is something that we, in agriculture, need to keep an open mind and watchful eye for.
I just read this morning that Hershey’s is making a move towards “simpler ingredients” due to the pressure from anti-GMO organizations. Hershey’s isn’t alone in caving to these organizations though, companies like Chipotle, General Mills, Chick-fil-a, and Panera, to name a few, have also made changes in an effort to keep such organizations off their backs. It saddens me to see such drastic measures taken by corporations to appease the few and with no substantial scientific evidence to show any dangers of eating foods made from GMO crops. The fact is the vast majority of the public is not against GMOs. Oregon and California both have had failed campaigns pushing for labeling of GMOs on food. Ballot initiatives across the country to require GMO labeling have also failed, further proving that it is a minority of people concerned about GMO safety.
If you are for GMOs or whole heartedly against them I respect your opinion. The minute you start any name calling, mud slinging, personal attacks on people and businesses that don’t agree with your point of view, all respect is lost. I for one support GMO crop production because in my eyes it is the only way the family farms in this country are going to be able to survive, the only way we are going to continue to produce enough food to feed the 7 billion people of this world, and the only way we can continue to produce food that is affordable to so many people. If you don’t agree with me that is perfectly fine, you have the right to your opinion after all. If you don’t want to eat foods that may contain ingredients from GMO crops, then by all means please don’t eat them and find sources of food that fit your beliefs. Some people simply can’t afford organic or natural food but if you can and thats what you want go for it. I see no reason to argue, fight and name call, no reason to require special labeling, no reason for protest or boycott. If you don’t like it then don’t eat it!