Best of both worlds: Farmer sees benefits in planting mix of GMO and non-GMO

For a Tolstoy farmer, the issue of whether to grow GMO crops isn’t as clear cut as it is for many others.

While some in the agriculture industry believe genetically modified organisms provide the best advantages for growing crops, others believe that philosophy is badly flawed. Meanwhile, Corey Johannsen grows both GMO and non-GMO crops.

“For those promoting non-GMO crops, there are some truths about the concerns,” he said.

But, he countered, “For well over 90 percent of farmers in South Dakota, using GMO crops is how we make our money.”

“It’s a touchy topic,” Johannsen said. “When you mention non-GMO crops at meetings, I love to see eyes roll.”

He said he thinks producers need to spend more time educating themselves about the differences between GMO and non-GMO crops.

“I think what happens is that we may overuse the GMO traits as a catch-all to solve the problems that we may find in the field,” Johannsen said. “I believe that many times we may be using GMO traits that we might not need in a particular field or area. Many times, we don’t have much of a choice, as GMO traits are usually bundled in the seed we plant.

As a farmer, Johannsen knows that GMO crops do what they are supposed to do. But he started questioning using them a couple of years ago when he went to a sustainable ag seminar.

Johannsen believes there are good arguments for using GMO crops. But when it comes down to the consumer, some want non-GMO soybeans. There’s an economic benefit for him to grow non-GMO beans, and that’s why he got interested.

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