Why farmers buy (OMG!) GMO seeds from (WTF) ‘evil’ corporations

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Around our home, spring is also known as planting season. Starting in a few weeks, and lasting a couple months, we will be planting full time. From early in the morning until late in the evening, our farmers will be in the field planting our corn and soybean crops. You can bet that those seeds are going to be genetically engineered varieties. Some of the seeds may even been varieties developed by Monsanto. Or Monsatan, according to its harshest critics.

But what you may not realize is that’s exactly how we as farmers want it.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Before farmers can plant their crop, they have to pick out their seeds. I’ve heard this criticism many times: farmers are either forced to choose genetically engineered seed by the big bad biotech companies, or we’re too stupid to make better choices. In other words, we aren’t making an informed and knowledgeable decision to cultivate genetically engineered crops; we’re being told we have to plant them.

In reality, farmers do have a choice – many of them – when it comes to the seeds we purchase.

Which seeds to use is probably one of the more complicated questions that a farmer has to figure out. The decision sets the stage for how well the crops are going to turn out and, quite literally, whether the farm is going to be profitable. Obviously, other factors will come into play throughout the growing and harvesting season, but choosing the right seeds is a crucial first step.

The salesman

Believe it or not, few (if any) farmers buy seed directly from Monsanto or any of the large biotech companies. Instead, each of the companies have subsidiary companies and also sell seed through regional dealerships. The regional dealership then usually has individual sales people that consult with farmers regarding the seed that might work best for the area. Those regional dealerships may sell seed from just one seed company, or they may sell from multiple companies.

At our farm, we have sales people that approach us each year from different regional dealerships that all service our area. Sometimes we buy all of our seed from one company and sometimes we buy from a few different companies. In any given year, including last year, we may plant seed from Monsanto/DeKalb, Sygenta/NK, Dupont/Pioneer, and Stine. Despite what you may  have heard, these companies are not twisting our arm to get our business or dominating the market in some other way. In fact, the companies are actually competing with each other to make the sale.

My dad’s preferred seed company this year, and for the several past years, is Stine Seed. You can check out an online version of their catalog here.

All those traits

No doubt we have all been to the local grocery or hardware store and come across the display stand for seeds – flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Want to grow carrots this year? Just grab the seed bag with the fresh carrots on the cover. Tomatoes? Aside from choosing blueberry, cherry, or regular, there probably are not a lot of options.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth when it comes to picking out seeds on the farm.

Once a farmer has picked a seed company to purchase from, there is another round of decisions that needs to be made. Above, I linked to the 2015 Stine Seed catalog. The catalog only features Stine’s corn and soybean seeds for this growing season. It has 48 different varieties of soybeans and 56 different varieties of corn. Each of the varieties is unique and have meaningful differences.

The differences between each variety highlights some of the issues and concerns farmers deal with during a typical season. Each variety is listed with a rating of how it performs for various factors. Let’s stick with corn for a minute. How long does the crop take to mature? Does it do well with high populations? How tall will the stalks get? What color is the cob? How quickly will it dry down? How strong is the root? How susceptible is it to different diseases? How will it respond if I have to plant corn two years in a row?

It doesn’t take much to realize that the process of selecting the seed can get a bit complicated. What happens if a particular field has really sandy ground? It may be necessary to pick a seed that performs well in dry conditions, even if that means sacrificing a variety that doesn’t do as well with harvest standability.

Oh, and while all of those factors and differences are being weighed, keep in mind that there are also biotechnology traits that need to be considered. If a farmer wants a crop that is herbicide resistant, there are several varieties and options available aside from the popular Round-Up Ready varieties. Will choosing Liberty Link over Round-Up Ready make a difference when it comes to the various factors already discussed? Maybe.

Other considerations

While all of that may seem like enough to consider, there are also other things that may influence what types of seed are chosen.

Price is a big one. A bag of genetically engineered corn seed can be significantly higher than the seed for a non-GMO variety. (Yes, despite what you may have heard, we always have a choice to purchase non-GMO seeds.) But the non-GMO variety is likely to have lower yields and may require more herbicide or pesticide applications throughout the growing season. The GMO varieties offer higher yields and less applications of herbicide in the fields, which translates to less fuel, less wear and tear on equipment, and less time.

Even the type of planter a farmer is using may influence the seed buying decision! For example, some planters work better with a specific type of seed, such as large round or small flat. Some planters are also  equipped with the ability to apply insecticide through the planter, which will also influence whether or not a farmer buys seed treatments or what kind of seed.

As you may have figured out by now, choosing which seed a farmer is going to plant is not one that can be taken lightly. It takes planning. It requires a good understanding of how the various traits can influence a crop. It means a farmer needs to be familiar with his fields, the weather, and the soil. It’s no wonder we need crop consultants!

Each farm is unique. To find the right seed, it usually also takes a little bit of experimenting. Do one company’s seeds perform better than another company? Are there some traits that work better in one kind of field, while others maximize yields for a different field? Is there something about the growing season that’s different this year and needs to be accounted for?

It also probably takes a little bit of luck.

No matter what the situation, however, it starts with a choice. Farmers have a choice to grow genetically modified crops or not to grow them. Considering all of the other factors and considerations that weigh into the decision, it takes an understanding of how all these different dynamics work within each unique farm. The choice is about doing what is right and works best for each farmer.

While the process of choosing a seed may be ridiculously complicated, the reality is simple: farmers plant genetically modified crops because they want to plant genetically modified crops.

Amanda Zaluckyj, an attorney who blogs at TheFarmersDaughterUSA, is from Southwest Michigan where her family farms 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. For 26 years, Amanda and her family ran a roadside market selling their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Her Twitter handle: @farmdaughterusa

  • Peter Kleiss

    If your primary concern when choosing seed is profitability, I can fully understand why a farmer would choose GM crops.

    • agscienceliterate

      Um, please explain. Should there be another concern that is a driving factor?
      (if you don’t already know, farmers also buy gmo seeds because of gmo environmental sustainability characteristics; less tilling of the soil (a biggie), less pesticides, less-toxic pesticides, less passings over the soil with a tractor that would otherwise result in compaction of the soil.

      So yes, increased yields and profitability are a huge decision point, logically. You’re surprised at that? In our area, some sugarbeet farmers growing GE sugarbeets have seen a 40% yield increase. Combined with the environmental advantages, I’d say that’s a win-win. P.S. processed sugar from GE sugarbeets has no genetically engineered material in it (no protein).

      • Keith Cassinger

        The ONLY main concern should be the health of the public. I think you all are listening to too much propaganda.

    • Scott

      If us farmers only cared about profitability we’d all grow organic. However, it’s a good thing we care about things like feeding the world, sustainability and the environment so we instead use GMO’s.

      • Keith Cassinger

        Bwahahahaha! Puhleez. You don’t “only” care about profit, but it is your numero uno, and this is why the general public does not trust you. See video posted….we don’t trust you.

    • Vee

      Dude, if you don’t make money farming, you won’t be farming long. If you don’t take care of your soil, you won’t be farming long either. (Especially if you’re renting land) GMO is a factor that helps in both those areas.

      • Keith Cassinger

        This is why the public in general doesn’t trust you farmers.

    • Steven Blackthorne

      Of course, profitability is a primary concern in farming, just as it is in any business. Individuals make similar choices when choosing between job opportunities. Fortunately, the situation in the choice of GMO vs non-GMO seeds is not one of choosing an evil, but profitable path, vs a virtuous, but less profitable path. As agscienceliterate pointed out, there are many other factors that favor GMO seeds, environmental benefits being a big one.

    • Bugsy

      Dare I say that the Randje’s and Peter Kleiss’s of the world help us sharpen our well-reasoned, scientifically-supported, and ethically based arguments that chip away at the inarticulate, pseudo-scientific, and fear based arguments of their camp. Bravo! Encore! Encore!

      • Keith Cassinger

        How so? Actually as I read all of your responses I see a bunch of farmers who have a vested interest in only making cash. And it makes sense to me now why the general public does not trust you when asked in polls.

    • AZComicGeek

      Total costs, from seed to harvest, are a big reason to choose GMO. Fewer man hours, fewer chemicals, bigger yields are the reasons most of these were designed. Or are you making the argument that only non-profit organic communes should try and feed the world?

      • Keith Cassinger

        They can’t because there are too many humans now. But that would be a great world.

    • Only in agriculture do people assume that we should be doing all of this for fun. Do you go to work for free? Making a profit isn’t a bad thing but, as I demonstrated in the article, not the only consideration at all.

  • Farmer Sue

    Amanda, thank you for your clear and concise article, explaining the many reasons farmers choose gmo seeds, and also the many complex factors they need to consider in choosing which seeds they will buy for the next year’s crop. This is an excellent explanation. Thank you on behalf of all farmers, regardless of what individual farmers choose to grow.

  • Larkin Curtis Hannah

    Amanda, many thanks for taking the time and explaining all of this. As a member of a large family farm, I can say we go through all the same steps. As yes, we can use non-GMO seed but greatly prefer the GMO seeds for all the reasons you state. Having a smaller carbon footprint is important to us. Curt Hannah

    • Keith Cassinger

      How many kids do you have? They create massive carbon footprints too. GMO pushers piss me off.

      • Larkin Curtis Hannah

        why do you feel that way?

        • Keith Cassinger

          I feel that way because you say you use GMO seeds to thwart carbon footprints but people like you usually have kids which create way more of a carbon footprint than organic growing. Yet you don’t care in that case. In other words, if you REALLY cared about the environment/carbon footprint you would do what’s necessary in all cases. But it seems the GMO seed users mantra now is that we are saving the envirnonment when in actuality it is about money for them….nothing more.

          • Larkin Curtis Hannah

            Interesting points. However, I must say that population control and agricultural practices are quite different things. I support the new gene technology because it is a powerful tool in meeting the food supply of a growing human population in the face of adverse climate change. It keeps our food cheaper and it helps feed people in developing countries.

            I am not sure whether you are against making money in general or making money in agriculture. The reason the new gene technology is so popular among farmers is that they see it as a financial gain.

            Also note that the large seed companies (Monsanto et al.,) also sell non-GMO seeds, so the seed companies make money with both GMO and non-GMO seed.

          • Keith Cassinger

            I am against “making money” at the expense of others just for the sake of making money. Farmers are not exclusive in that aspect. My comparison of population control was an analogy to point out the moralistic stance of the ilk on this page. I do not believe for a minute the farmers here are concerned about the health of the people nor carbon footprints as much as that money making you pointed out. Thank you for the info about Monsanto seeds…makes sense to me though. I would gander a bet they promote those GMO seeds since they are their creation and somehow making more money on the back end somehow. Sort of like selling arms to your allies and your enemies. I am not anti capitalist, but the ego in control of that becomes melevolent. Does anyone really need a billion dollars? Even though there is proof happiness is actually lowered in it’s persuit and aquirement? From what I have seen I am open to the concept of GMO’s. I understand more now than ever. But I also feel the farmers here do NOT have our best interest in mind.

          • Good4U

            Keith, here’s a suggestion: Take a trip to Venezuela. Better yet, move there. See how long you like living in a capitalist-hating, communistic swillhole, where people are starving. See how long you last without the work of honest people who grow your food, and those who support those honest people with modern technology, which is a lot less polluting and degradative to the environment than outdated “organic” ways of farming (I know that for a fact, because I once did it).

            The one point that you made which resonates with me is the need for population control. As I have frequently posted, anyone who truly cares about the environmental integrity of our planet should a) do everything possible (short of abortion) to limit human population growth; b) promote and utilize biotechnology for its potential to grow food with the least impact on the natural environment. The second part means that using biotech leads to less use of pesticides, less energy inputs, less waste of resources, and less reliance on human enslavement to produce our food supplies.

          • Keith Cassinger

            Aside from a bit of condescending beginning I agree with your last paragraph (except for abortion which I still think should always remain legal) although a last resort.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Real sorry you feel that way, Keith, about us farmers earning a living for our families and putting our kids through college and all that. The only billionaire farmer I know of would be Howard Buffett (son of the Oracle of Omaha). And your distrust of our genuine concern for the safety and environmental impact of foods we produce is a little puzzling, as if you don’t know we also live in the environment you live in and eat the foods you eat. We have kids too, and grandkids…and aim to have future generations continue in the family business. Why would we trash the place and poison anyone? Your accusations make no sense.

            One sincere question Keith, if you don’t mind my asking — what line of work are you in to bring in money for your family? Does your employer and their/your customers swear off profit or business growth to keep only “our best interests in mind”? And how is that working out for you all?

          • agscienceliterate

            I would love to know what he thinks farmers WOULD do if they had “our best interests in mind.” Or maybe I already pretty much know what he thinks. He is entirely ignorant of the unsustainably and disproportionally large carbon footprint from organic, and how that footprint is much less with GE crops. But then again, he probably has some strong activist opinion about what farmers “should” be doing.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Oh, I reckon he figures us quaint farmers should demurely take up our pointed sticks and gently plant organic granola seeds in the deep rich humic tilth of abundant naturally occurring forest clearings and next week send the kids out to harvest plastic blister packs of organic trail mix, but only after the grasshoppers, birds and cervids have had their fill. Either that or live out a Little House on the Prairie fantasy for him. You know, just get back to basics the way it never was in the imaginary halcyon days of yore. Wouldn’t be a problem if farmers weren’t so caught up with food, shelter, security…all that unnecessary stuff farmers (and scientists) don’t deserve if they are properly altruistic in feeding Keith’s effete palate and growing his sasquatch sized carbon footprint.

          • Keith Cassinger

            Another Moronic response and accusation. You just love trying to put me into a liberal; role don’t you? I am so far from that and you just can’t stand it. I disagree with you is all on one point. However you feel berating me about things you have no clue about is just the route to go? This shows your lack of security and credibility. You morons gang up against people who disagree with you. THAT says more to me about your positions and mindsets than anything. So far Larkin is the only one that has convinced me to go take a look deeper into what you state.

            Hey Mod, take a look at the attacks for a minute. You have done nothing to sway anyone today…you have however taught me you are only interested in creating your own narrative about ME.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Oh ‘cmon Keith. What’s with the emotional melt down and running to hide in momma’s skirts to cry and tattle? What the hell kind of psychologist are you, anyway?

            How do you expect me to farm and feed your family with all the dainty delicacies you demand if I am not allowed a reasonable profit? Why must you confine farmers as a class to a stereotype of perpetually struggling impoverished altruists? That is a very unrealistic and unfair stereotype, Keith, probably more unfair than my stereotype of grasping over-privileged psychologists.

            I’ll make you a deal Keith — if you don’t make me wear this silly ‘Little House on the Prairie’ bonnet while trading at the general store I will not make you prance your ego about your penthouse office suite with that stick up your butt.

          • Keith Cassinger

            Am I? I love this third person stuff. Some of you like Larkin are worth a response since they have been respectful, however you don’t since you have been a condescending shmoe. Am I an activist?” Hahahahaha! See my Avatar, I am a loving American who served his Country as Marine for 20 years who is now a practicing Psychologist.

            The argument of a coward is to try and berate his opponent with a title or role so he needs not use any intelligence. You don’t deserve much of a response.

          • agscienceliterate

            Ah, a psychologist. Then you are fully aware that you are avoiding the question and gaslighting my motives.
            I am not interested in your avatar. I am interested in your explanation to your curious statement about farmers and farming.
            I will ask the question again. What do you think farmers would do if they had “our best interest in mind” regarding farming practices? What do you think farmers “should” be doing instead of growing GE crops?
            Oh, and as a a psychologist, you undoubtedly charge money for your work, in the belief that you are providing a service for people. Do you not attribute the same rationale to farmers who are growing food for the rest of us? Should not they also make a profit from their work?

          • Keith Cassinger

            Real sorry you feel that way, Keith, about us farmers earning a living for our families and putting our kids through college and all that.

            So you felt what I said? Wow, talk about hearing only what we wish to hear. Stop trying to make me into some liberal whackjob so it fits your narrative. It’s something I am far from.

            I am a Psychologist with my own practice. And no, they do not swear off profit nor do I. I actually make quite a bit of money. However I help people 15 hours a day. I don’t feel I can say the same for you with this attitude. I can see below you were not interested in a discussion, you and this other guy just want to attack.

            Stop using the American way to support your attack. I’m more of a conservative than you’ll ever be.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Well Keith, I help people by producing abundant safe affordable food to nourish their families (and mine, too). I only work about 75 or 80 hours a week myself these days but our dairy runs 24 hours a day, staffed with good dedicated skilled people who work in shifts routinely producing and delivering into the food industry the finest quality dairy products in the history of commercial scale food production. I enjoy a profit most years but I am not greedy or unscrupulous.

            That profit you are taking to “help” people, Keith, where do you suppose all of these troubled people get the money they are handing over to you? Do you suppose some of them work for greedy unscrupulous evil corporations? Could some of them be tax cheats, embezzlers, charlatans, insurance scammers, welfare cheats, ponzi schemers? Could some of that sanitized profit you enjoy be tainted with the evils you detest so vehemently, some of those same evils that bedevil you each time your spouse makes a purchase at the supermarket? Oh well, perception is reality, as you dedicated social scientists prefer to opine. Out here in the real world, Keith, reality is reality most of the time.

          • Larkin Curtis Hannah

            Having been raised on a farm (and remaining active in its operation) and as a professor in a College of Agriculture at the University of Florida, I find your comments interesting. I agree with you that the number one goal of a farmer is not looking out for others but rather supporting him(her) self and her/his family. Farmers are no different than others in that regard. I must emphasize though that part of supporting a productive farm is making sure soils are fertile, are not eroded and farm animals are healthy. From experience, I can tell you that a sick animal is a money pit. Farmers are actually quite good neighbors, better than most. Their work is out on display; they undergo peer review everyday.People watch how their crops grow and whether there is any erosion or other problems. Neighbors watch their animals. If someone wants their car pulled out of a ditch or jump started or their road plowed quickly, they ask a farmer because equipment for this can be found on a farm. I would simply ask that you spend some time with a conventional farmer. They are smart, hard working and can’t hide behind a big organization or union. They pay if they make a mistake. Farmers must be a good manager and understand all aspects of a complicated and complex operation. There are lots of moving parts on a farm and things can go bad quickly. People can get hurt or killed easily. A farm is not the safest place to be. Farmers have earned my highest respect. I would simply ask that you go out and meet some conventional farmers. I think you also will be impressed.

          • Keith Cassinger

            Thanks Larkin, for being the only non condescending jackass on this forum. I will…I live in SC and have contacted a person at Clemson at the Vegetable labratory to check into what you say and more about GMO’s.

          • Mark Campbell

            I too grew up on a farm. As a boy, during springtime, I remember the smell of Thimet in the morning as Dad prepared for planting. As a graduate student/tree hugger in plant breeding, transgenic crops together with old fashioned selection and what remains of plant genetic resources it seemed like an exciting approach that could lessen our dependence on those nasty cholinesterase inhibitors or those with a land ethic (I recently learned that didn’t include me) interested in a reduction in tillage of the land via herbicide technologies utilizing herbicide resistance transgenes that could might reduce soil erosion. Your lucky. I gave up attempting plant breeding (non GMO) on our University. I grow it on my own land, like my grandparents. Apparently it’s all GMO now. So much for supporting alternatives to big corporations that control the food supply. P.S. The young unjaded critical thinking students nowadays are beginning to see the emperor indeed wears no cloths.

      • Damo

        Wow, you are an imbecile.

        • Keith Cassinger

          Why, because I state the truth? Coward you are, nothing more.

          • agscienceliterate

            Your activist pseudoscience is not “the truth.” I’m sure it’s your religion, though. Go evangelize your “truth” somewhere else.

          • Keith Cassinger

            What a self righteous entitled prick you are. Truth is truth, and you and your ilk are cowards. So no, go pound salt and deal with it. Or ignore me, I could care less coward.

          • agscienceliterate

            “Truth is truth.” OK, Keith, tell us your “truth.” Why do farmers buy GE seeds, then? (Which is what this article is about)
            Do support your mind-fart with some kind of citation, ok? Or just admit “I made it up.” C’mon, be brave.

          • Keith Cassinger

            LOL! Oh is this what you’re all pissed off about? The fact that most people on Earth don’t want yout GMO swill? You’re greatly outnumbered moron. Label food with GMO and your type loss millions. That’s my argument, like it or not.

          • agscienceliterate

            “…most people on earth don’t want….”. Well, that doesn’t happen to be true, now, does it? Billions of animals and people eat GE foods every day, and have been for over 2 decades. Your little factoid is something you made up or read in some anti-GE propaganda pamphlet, but is way off base.
            You somehow overlooked the fact that Obama signed a labeling bill a few months ago? Where have you been — off searching for Aleppo with Gary Johnson?
            C’mon, show another one of your “truths.” Bring ’em on.

          • Keith Cassinger

            Man, you are so biased it’s pathetic. As are others on this board, so I really don’t give a rats a$$ what you are saying. You think you’re right, you sit here in a forum with your kind defending it, which is pathetic in itself. I checked my disqus after months and I responsed to someone else and your pathetic self came out of the woodwork defending your irrelevant position. I don’t care about farming, and your job. I work and make an excellent living not pissing off an entire group of people in this world. You do. Your job is to defend a truly unpopular point of view and I feel sorry for the pathetic farmers on here which HAVE to come here to feel powerful and important. You all drooled over me being your “everyman” and prototype for some liberal hippie patchouli wearing anti blah blah blah. Funny, I actually don’t care enough about you. I am nobody in this. I don’t even really care much about it. I spoke with the vegetable labratory here in regards to a farmers market my clients operate and he educated me as to the truth. Some of what you say is true. So what? Why get so pissed at people having differing opinions than you? My god you can’t even see how your life is runned by this stupidity. Well, I will take my leave and let you little pathetic boys have your last word. I will go to work tomorrow and not think of you at all. But you, obviously will think of me and millions of others who hate you and are diametrically opposed to what you are doing. Me? I just don’t care enough about you. To me this was a street fight, but I found quickly you people take it so seriously. I don’t know whether to laugh or feel extremely sorry for you. So, I will opt to feel sorry for you. So say what you will little one. I will not defend nor attack any longer. You, can have the last word and I will not see it.

          • agscienceliterate

            Still waiting for one of your “truths.” Hating me ain’t enough.
            And yes, it is quite obvious you do not care about farming, just as you state.
            You are entitled to your opinions. You are not entitled to defining the “truth.”
            And yes, I take modern farming and GE technology quite seriously. I am grateful they feed us.
            You should stick with organic and non-gmo certified. Labeled in big green letters. You don’t even have to think.

          • Damo

            Yeah, you don’t care at all.

          • hyperzombie

            Label food with GMO and your type loss millions.

            Really? There has been labels claiming to be GMO free for 20 years now, they are less than 6% of the food market. EPIC FAIL.

          • agscienceliterate

            And there’s always organic. But sounds like that’s not good enough for our guy, who knows the “truth” about GE foods. The truth is all he’s good at is name calling, and he knows squat about farming or GE technology. Worse, he has no curiosity or desire to learn.

          • Keith Cassinger

            No, no, no….label items CONTAINING GMO’s genius. Why not that? This forum is ludicrous, a bunch of loser farmers defending their bias stupididty. I don’t check on disqus save once every few months and you goons live here. Bwahahaha!

          • hyperzombie

            Define GMO? I have no problem labeling GMOs based on content, but not source. All oils,,starches, and sugars have no GMO content in them. would this be agreeable to you?

            armers defending their bias

            Yeah, cause farmers don’t know anything about farming……

          • Damo

            I am not a farmer, but I do support responsible ag. So, what exactly is wrong with GMOs?

          • Keith Cassinger

            PS- You username is laughable, trying to convince others of your “expertise” moron? Hahahaha!

          • agscienceliterate

            I know quite a bit about farming and GE technology. I don’t need to convince anyone of anything. And you have stated you know the “truth,” so let’s hear it. What’s the “truth,” big mouth?

          • Keith Cassinger

            Not sure…..you’re calling me the “big mouth” yet you’ve made no points at all whatsoever. WTF do you want?

          • agscienceliterate

            My points are these: You haven’t said squat about the article, which is about why farmers choose GE seeds. (This is the third time I have pointed this out to you)
            You claim to know the “truth” about GE (or farming, or something). State it. Defend it. Show us your “truth.”
            You call peope “coward” — for what? Buying GE seeds??
            All mouth, no substance.
            Now ya got it?

          • Keith Cassinger

            Honestly, this may shock you. But I don’t care about this subject, you or any of this to do that. You on the other hand spend all your time doing that. I mean, look at your username. Wow, what a lost soul. Like I stated in another post, I’m done. You win, you are the king and top banana on a gmo forum and won against someone who didn’t even care. You didn’t change his mind, you alienated them and they left. But you’ll feel so much better. My gosh I think I just puked in my mouth.

          • agscienceliterate

            ?? Why are you even here babbling, then? You have any comments about this article? About farming? About GE technology? What the heck is your point?
            Oh yeah, the “truth.”
            Still waiting.

          • Keith Cassinger

            The truth is you are pathetic because you are wasting your time on this subject which dos not matter at all. I didn’t think it was possible someone would take this so seriously, I feel sorry for you. Take care, and take your meds. You win.

          • agscienceliterate

            Of course I take it seriously. I take farming and food production seriously. I take the environment seriously. I take GE technology seriously.
            You didn’t think it was possible.
            So much for your “truth.”
            Trot along, now.

          • Damo

            What truth? That living uses carbon? They covered that in 5th grade science class. So, unless you are a fifth grader, I stand by my words.

            What exactly makes me a coward?

  • Great article Amanda! BTW I met Harry Stine, the founder of Stine Seed, at a meeting last fall. He is a real character and also a very important individual in the history of the seed industry

  • morelambchops

    Bravo, Amanda! Well said and thanks for sharing this. We too choose GMO for the decreased use of pesticides and herbicides. Thanks to our asgrow/DeKalb GMO seeds we haven’t had to apply insecticides in 5 years! If people out there are concerned with pesticides, they should be praising them, not fighting against them! We are industry professionals and know what we are doing. Yes organic uses pesticides and its so sad that the organic industry lies to consumers and scares them about this brilliant farming technology to boost their own profits. Thanks for getting this information out there :)

  • Bolirvia

    For the cropping system in my region, one of the primary issues is choosing a suitable break crop to reduce the burden of soil borne disease in future cereal crops. The key is a crop which will allow the control of grass weeds. Roundup Ready Canola offers that ability. This year canola doesn’t look all that profitable, but it will be sown anyway to benefit the following crops.

  • William

    Excellent article and great insights.

  • Randje K Randje

    A lawyer, Amanda? I’ll try not to let that influence my reaction. Though the ‘art’ and success of lawyering is known to be focused on persuasion of a certain perspective, not necessarily getting to the truth. Its more than interesting that, among all those here who weighed in as farmers, not one viewpoint considered the consuming public to whom this food goes out–much less their health & well-being–to be a factor in the decision to use GMO’s or not. As though the safety of GMO’s is a given. Because the makers of GMO’s say it is. And the FDA–which does not test GMO’s and is riddled with GMO corporate insiders–gave it a green light. Nothing to see there. I realize and acknowledge there are two sides to this issue. But the side I have seen right here is utterly & completely self-interested. Not at all concerned in the welfare of the consumer, in any way shape or form. Please spare me your attacks, and sarcastic responses. I know you are ‘up against it’, and doing the best you can with the information you have. The system you operate in has been designed to make your survival the chief (and frequently only) consideration. But is what you are doing in the best interest of the whole? Many believe it is not, and in regard to GMOs the world at large operates from a different root assumption. (Yes there is a larger farmer viewpoint than America’s). And I am thankful for those in your profession for whom the health of the general public is a fundamental consideration. Question for Amanda: is your success wholly dependent on keeping the knowledge of the (non)nature of what you are selling away from the potential buyer, as in non-labeling of GMO’s? That amounts to government-sanctioned fraud. A reasonable person would detect more than a slight discrepancy in that.

    • Dean

      Randje, I’m a farmer and the consumer health and well being is an integral part of my decision making process. Why is it? Because myself and my family are consumers of the food we produce. What is also integral in my decision making process; sound science from reputable researchers (mostly tax payer based and not the likes of food babe or green peace), environmental stewardship of the land, environmental and financial sustainability.
      Labelling is already present in everyday food. If the label says organic, then it PROBABLY doesn’t contain gmo’s or sprayed with synthetic chemicals/fertilizers. If it’s not labeled organic, then it more than likely contains gmo breeding or has been in contact with synthetic chemicals/fertilizers in a regulated manner. What most consumers don’t understand is that non synthetic chemicals used in organic farming are less regulated and used at higher frequency and levels than ones used in modern day farming system. Just because it’s an organic chemical didn’t mean that it’s any safer. Take for instance botulinum toxin, it’s not a chemical used in organic farming, but something that is completely organic. It’s the most toxic substance known to man, but not made by man.
      I’m a farmer, my dad’s a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer, my great grandfather was a farmer….And more than likely my son and/or daughter will be a farmer. What ticks me off is people such as yourself that assume that if you Farm in the modern day, that we as farmers have no concern for the environment or the consumers we serve. I can probably speak for each and every farmer out there, that we’ve learnt from generations of family farming members that the well being of the land and food we produce is put in the forefront of what we believe in and do.
      I have a feeling I wasted my time with writing this reply. Maybe I should start a blog and post some computer science researcher findings on gmo farming. When I get enough followers I’ll write a bogus book and make a profit from selling conspiracy wisdom.
      If you have time, research “golden rice” and tell me all gmo breeding is bad and done for profit only. It’s an amazing opportunity to save millions of third world children, with a technology that will be given out for free from the creator.

      • JoeFarmer

        Well said, Dean!

      • Rick Sundberg

        Can’t believe you spent so much time explaining common sense Dean. It is really easy to critique how others run their land from the comfort of a sofa in a densely populated city or suburban neighborhood. The anti-GMO crowd wants to starve the world so a few bodies can eat what they consider healthy. Never mind that the life expectancy today is higher than it has ever been and it is trending towards longer life in the future. There’s never science, there’s always nonsensical rhetoric. Only way you can win these people over is if you grow organic marijuana and learn to play reggae music.

    • Good4U

      In addition to the rebuttal by Dean (below), I’m openly challenging your references to terms such as “best interest of the whole”, and your allegation about “government-sanctioned fraud”. Apparently you don’t address the best interests of the whole. You represent merely the best interests of the “organic” industry, which would like nothing better than to see biotechnology shut down so that they can enjoy an artificially inflated marketing advantage. The air-headed spewings of that TV entertainer Dr. Oz come to mind when I read your post above.

      Your post paints you as a bully, and I’m quite sure you are a pompous, sanctimonious, self-serving bully at that. You just don’t know very much about the regulatory framework that pertains to food crops, and you know nothing at all about agriculture. Ethical people such as the author of this article don’t need blowhards like you telling them how to grow food that the vast majority of people benefit from. If you really are an attorney, I’m sure you fit right in. On the topic of this article, though, instead of wasting everyone’s time banging away on your computer like a trained chimp, here’s a suggestion: Go out and make your own food. I mean ALL of it. Amanda & the other good growers who produce the vast majority of what feeds the world don’t need or want you as a customer.

    • AZComicGeek

      Can you offer one logical, scientific reason for differentiating between GMO and non-GMO products. There is no proof that they don’t cause harm but there is also no proof that dragons don’t exist. Show a credible study that shows GMO products contain harmful substances in significantly higher quantities than non-GMO. Mandatory labelling laws only help to further fear and ignorance.

      • Solutions not judgements

        Our testing instruments today can’t even detect the difference between table salt and road salt. So even saying they are safe is rhetoric.

        We are currently working on a formulated system to understand the trillions of microbes in our guts. We cannot even say they are 100% safe. Once you read this you will finally understand that many scientists are speaking only on observation. There is insufficient evidence when it comes to observation. It’s just asinine to make such claims.
        http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002050

        • Rick Sundberg

          Spectroscopy offers a great way to differential between magnesium chloride and sodium chloride. Monitoring oxidation, a common practice for testing water.

    • Keith Cassinger

      This is by far the best, most accurate and honest post here. Unfortunately it will fall on deaf, closed minded farmer ears who are more interested in making a buck. I get that, but at the expense of the population…..this is why we don’t trust them.

  • Very well written and I encourage everyone to bookmark this article when the myth that “farmers have no choices” comes up!

    • First Officer

      Dr. Bodnar brings up Interesting points about biodiversity even in a, “monocrop”, such as corn

      She mentions that the same farmer may use several strains in a single season for the different conditions he/she encounters in the planted field. Low lying areas may get a less drought tolerant strain while the drier areas do so, etc, etc.

      • Mike C

        Planting slightly different varieties of corn in the same massive monoculture field does not equal biodiversity. The fact that this woman has a doctorate is kind of terrifying.

  • sharon abair

    thank you Amanda. this is very well written and very informative. I am not a farmer but I am a consumer, and a label reader. Farmers should know that those of us who are able, look for the little green, blue and white symbol signifying “non GMO project verified” on the food products that we purchase- especially for those of us with young children or young adults in their child-bearing years. It is nice to know not only what is on our food but what is IN it. choice and knowledge are wonderful things in our country.

    • RJB

      Choice and knowledge are indeed wonderful. Please describe how “non-GMO” protects you, & cite relevant sources.

      • sharon abair

        when GMO food is banned in nearly every country in Europe, the message to me is that there must be something going on. the only folks in this country who are touting the safety of GMO are owned by Monsanto so they do not count, as far as I am concerned. I prefer my food without round-up. it is simply a personal preference.

        • Sharon, not one European country bans GMOs. More than 50 GMOs marketed in Europe and another 19 ready for approval including food, animal feed and GM FLOWERS. You are reading too much propaganda. Politicians have moved to block some GMOs but more than 50 approved after health and safety reviews.

          • Keith Cassinger

            But they DO label them. So why do farmers and Monsantoites fight that?

  • Rick Sundberg

    We all know this was written by a clever Monsanto agent masquerading as a common farmer.

    • RJB

      Excellent example of Shill Accusation Syndrome!

      • Rick Sundberg

        I was making an effort at comedy there. What the “other” side of the argument might say. It would be a good example of Shill Accusation Syndrome though.

        • RJB

          I suspected as much, thank you for the clarification!

  • Tracy Johnson

    Oh, I see that “Amanda” has a last name now. Up until earlier this year, she didn’t. Although according to Genetic Literacy Project, of it’s 37 contributing writers, she is still the only one that doesn’t have a last name. It would seem that “Amanda” may be a fictitious personification, bought and paid for by the US GMO industry. Yes, I know how crazy this sounds, but check out this “farmers daughter” for yourself. “Amanda Zaluckyj” doesn’t seem to exist.

    Also, I might suggest checking out the comments section of one of her other blogs. This is from Fitzala, a health and fitness website.
    http://fitzala.com/blog/organic-always-better-evidence/

    • I assure you, I am a real live farmer’s daughter and I’m flattered that you follow me so closely.

      • Tracy Johnson

        Yes, I’m sure that you are. Where is your family’s farm located?

        • agscienceliterate

          Tracy, why in heaven’s name should she tell you where her family’s farm is located? So you and other zealous activists can go and destroy it? Get real.
          Oh, and I have a last name, too. And a first name. But that does not mean you have a right to know what it is.

  • Mike C

    Or here’s a thought: how about you farm according to the principles of nature instead of constantly trying to outsmart it in order to squeeze every last ounce of profit out of your land?

    The author states her family runs a 2000 acre corn and soybean farm. That’s the problem right there, and is why her family is so utterly dependent on Monsanto for their survival. Monocultures are completely unnatural and terrible for the environment and lead to all sorts of problems, the three largest being soil erosion, consistently-declining fertility that requires ever-increasing amounts of fertilizer, and continually increasing problems with disease and pests, which leads to a greater and greater need for pesticides. Go outside and look at nature, real nature, and tell me what you see. I bet it won’t be one single type of plant grown in hundreds of rows, hundreds of feet long, spread across thousands of acres. That system is never seen in nature, yet we humans expect to force nature to do it our way, and when it doesn’t, we douse the land in dangerous chemicals that harm the health of not only humans, but the environment as a whole.

    Read “The One Straw Revolution” or any other books on permaculture and/or biodynamic agriculture and learn how to farm the right way. People were growing food for millennia before Monsanto, yet now so many farmers like the author are completely brainwashed into believing they are completely helpless without an endless array of chemicals and GE seeds. You don’t NEED chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or GE seeds. You don’t NEED a billion-dollar, profit-driven, monstrosity of a corporation to help you grow food. None of that is the least bit necessary. Just observe nature and do as it does, and you will have healthy, environmentally-friendly, bountiful food.

    • Opus Buddly Sr.

      Another thing…I know the owner of that 2000 acre farm is getting a fortune in government subsidies so the real costs of growing a crop is passed on the the taxpayer.

  • Marji

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2013/07/02/gmo-crops-mean-more-herbicide-not-less/#3d116df1a371

    More, not less, herbicides.

    Funny, big corporations get slammed for being greedy and motivated by profit but it’s ok for farmers.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      Marji, why did you cite an article that complains more GE crops are being grown with one herbicide being substituted for others? It doesn’t support your incorrect assertion “more, not less herbicides’ are being used.

      Here on the farm we’re delighted to have GE crops paired up with a safe effective herbicide. That modern system permits us to transition away from antiquated soil eroding practices like moldboard plowing and cultivating to control weeds.

      Also Marji, please describe your vision for how farmers like me can raise our families and send our kids to college if we are expected to not make a profit? How does your family get by without accepting pay from an employer who makes a profit? Or are you, Marji, running a business that makes no profit and if so, how do you feed and clothe your kids and eventually send them off to college? Please explain yourself.

      • Marji

        The title of the article is “GMO Crops Mean More Herbicide, Not Less”.
        Doesn’t mean it’s the gospel, as statistics can be made to say anything. It’s just another view that doesn’t seem to line up with what I’m reading here.

        What do I think? “Safe chemicals” seems like an oxymoron. I’d rather pay more for food that is SAFE and healthy, and I don’t think it’s healthy to use chemicals in our homes or environment, and certainly not our food. I can’t think of any that are good for you. Only time will tell the far-reaching effects of using chemicals but one doesn’t have to dig far to learn about all the effects we are already seeing. Same goes for GMO… We just don’t know enough about the ripple effects of modifying DNA.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          That’s why you have to read beyond the title to learn what the article is really saying and showing. You did pick a good article to demonstrate how data can be misinterpreted, though,

          You didn’t explain why you think farmers like me shouldn’t concern ourselves with profit, nor did you explain how I can feed and educate my family without making some profit. Also you forgot to explain your own situation regarding income and profit taking.

          I can assure you we have a much, much better knowledge and understanding of ‘the far-reaching use of chemicals’ and ‘the ripple effects of modifying DNA’ than you have about business and economics. Marji,

          Oh, BTW, when you mentioned ‘SAFE’ food I trust you were not including organic food in that category. We have no long term safety studies of organic food even though it is proven deadly. Organic is decidedly UNSAFE food.

          • Marji

            Wow, the insults are certainly endearing! I thought I was having a discussion but clearly not. No worries, I won’t be responding to your thread anymore!
            How many times do I have to say that I never said farmers shouldn’t earn a profit?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            All facts with nary an insult in sight, Marji. When I lay an insult on you, trust me, you’ll know it. So, you’re just bailing out of a discussion you started by slamming farmers, I might point out. Figures.

          • Marji

            This is not a discussion. I thought you might have something useful to say but maybe I missed the facts like you missed the insults. Perhaps you are just lacking in social grace as well as facts? So yes, I’m punting this stream of worthless babble since you don’t seem capable of a discussion.
            And I did not once slam farmers, not once. How do you know I’m not one?
            Moron (is that an insult or fact?)

        • hyperzombie

          and I don’t think it’s healthy to use chemicals in our homes or environment, and certainly not our food.

          So you don”t clean your house, just use a dry rag?

          Water is a chemical, all vitamins are chemicals, spices are chemicals, did you really think before you posted this?

        • agscienceliterate

          Like what kind of food do you delude yourself are “safe and healthy” ? Sure would like to know some specific examples.
          Do you know what a chemical is?
          Do you have probs with organic mutagenisis?

    • agscienceliterate

      Wrong on the herbicides.
      And, I would certainly hope farmers make a profit.
      Otherwise, Marji, you and I are not going to be able to buy food.

      • Marji

        I never said it was wrong to make a profit, only that it’s odd that big corps are the only ones that get nailed for profit over public welfare.

        • agscienceliterate

          “….odd that big corps are the only ones that get nailed for profit …” As opposed to who else? Who else should be in that category? First you implied farmers, and then you back pedaled pretty darn fast. So, who DO you think should get “nailed” for profit? And why? Corporations that provide NON-“essential” commodities? Like your car or your cell phone?

      • Marji

        Didn’t say I thought farmers shouldn’t earn a profit. I only said that big corps seem to be the only ones that get nailed.
        I think farmers provide an essential commodity and should, therefore, be paid more to produce safe, healthy food.

  • WHAT?

    Wow. The condescension from both sides just on this, the first article I’ve read on this site, means I won’t be bothering to come back. Even the article has a pretty negative tone. Yeah, home gardeners just go to the hardware store and pick a package by the picture on it. Right. If anyone wants to show some respect for others, you might actually change a few minds. You’ve lost me. Both sides.

  • Angie Be

    What pisses me off is that fact that yields, money and the BS lines Monsanto fed everyone as to why to use GMO seeds came first versus the long term testing of how it affects our bodies.

    Studies have shown large tumors in rats and pig intestines basically fried from eating 100% GMO foods. ANY human being that believes anything out of Monsantan’s mouth is a fool. Why is a chemical company in charge of our food???? Why did the FDA give approval of this garbage without LONG term data? It’s all about the Benjamins and it’s disgusting.

    IBS and colon cancer are both on the rise. Doctors and scientists can not say for 100% certainty as to why. The only thing that has changed throughtout the years is our food supply. I for one, will only buy from local farmers that sell GMO FREE food or purchase only certified GMO free food at natural food stores. I’d rather pay more for safer food than to buy any crap Monsanto and the like are selling.

    • JP

      Congratulations, you have successfully parroted everything the organic and alt-“health” industry want you to believe.

      • Angie Be

        Really? I’m not part of any “organic and alt-health” industry nor do I subscribe to any of their newsletters, magazines or YouTube channels. It’s called common sense.

        Common sense tells me a PESTICIDE COMPANY should have zero control over our food supply.

        • agscienceliterate

          Good. Then you won’t eat organic either. Lots of very toxic pesticides. Look up USDA approved organic pesticides.
          Then come back and brag about your “common sense.”

    • agscienceliterate

      Citations, please.

    • Twan

      Right, so the Tumors in rats that’s Seralini and the piggie one that was Carman, and the IBS and colon Cancer, more difficult, but I tip on Seneff & Amsel. Mind you, those studies were so bad that already now hardly anyone mentions them anymore. So just curious, where and when did you pick them up and why of all places you choose this site to present them, again? Those papers have been discussed over and over, they’re dead and burried. At the best some bored Responses but is that what you want? Dress more seductive if you want to have a date.

      • Angie Be

        Where’s the studies of long term effects of GMO foods prior to being dumped into our grocery stores. No one mentions the studies anymore because our media is ran by a bunch of low life, money hungry crooks.

        Oh, wait, I guess you believe everything the news tells you like our economy is soaring and there are no terrorist.

        And glad your also obviously sexist to think a woman needs to dress more seductive to get a date. Laughable. Good thing I’m married because if I had to be in the dating scene with people like you, I’d gladly remain single.

    • Damo

      Please, let’s see these studies.

  • Trevor Franklin

    so the farmers are kind of pushed into gmo to stay economically competitive without really dealing with any health considerations. i’m not saying all gmo is bad but some of it is being shown to undeniably cause a range of health problems.