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Do you really understand modern farming? Scientist examines 10 truths of GMOs and organics

In my quest to learn about genetically modified foods and our food supply, many things have surprised me. Some of them may seem apparent and obvious, but as a city-dweller, I was unaware of numerous aspects of our food. I find comfort in the fact that many individuals that I share these gems with are equally surprised, leading me to believe that you may find some items as interesting as I do.

1) The vast majority of fruits and vegetables are not transgenics. I had heard so much about tomatoes with fish genes and strawberries that would never freeze that I just assumed that these genetically engineered items were in the market. Every time I picked up a fruit in the supermarket that was particularly large, I thought to myself “huh… that’s got to be a GMO”. You know those grapes the size of tennis balls that squirt juice everywhere when you bite into them? Every time I ate one, I’d close my eyes and thank the mysterious GMO gods for that sweet delicious nectar. Little did I know that none of these fruits was a GMO. They were genetically modified in the sense that they had been bred and selected to have optimal sweetness and size through cross-breeding. But they weren’t transgenic organisms. There are only a handful of transgenic food crops, such as corn, soy and papaya. The short list can be found in this database (note that you have to select the type of approval to determine if the GMO has been commercialized or not).

2) Organic food production uses pesticides. I had always believed that by definition, organic food production did not use pesticides. Not only that, but some of the pesticides used are more toxic than those applied in conventional farming. The difference is that the pesticides used in organic farming are not synthetic, yet they are not necessarily better. Here is a myth-busting blog in Scientific American about this. And here’s a list of pesticides approved for use in organic farming.

3) Many plant traits are developed using mutagenesis. And can be labeled “organic”. Mutagenesis is the use of radioactivity or chemicals to create random mutations in plants and selecting those with the desired trait. More than 2000 foods have been created by mutagenesis, including the durum wheat used to make fine Italian pasta. This article from the New York Times lists wheat, barley and even ruby red grapefruits as crops generated through mutagenesis. Imagine that!! The delicious, organic grapefruit from my farmers’ market was developed using radiation to randomly create mutations, and somehow that’s less scary than a GMO. Why the organic food movement isn’t fighting to label the mutant ruby reds seems hypocritical. The fact that GMOs are excluded from the USDA’s organic label, yet crops derived through mutagenesis can be happily certified as “organic” is astounding.

4) There’s lot of peer reviewed research on GMOs, both publically and privately funded. I mean a LOT. Searching for the term MON810 in PubMed (a database hosted by the NIH), finds over 150 hits. That’s 150+ studies that have looked into some aspect, such as identification or safety, on a single seed/trait (MON810 is Monsanto’s Bt corn). Because it’s a database search, let’s assume that some of them are only loosely related to MON810. But even if 50 percent are discarded, that still leaves us with 70+ studies on a single trait/seed. In a Q&A at GMO-Skeptiforum, the founders of mentioned that the most common misconception about GMOs is that there are few independent studies. In an attempt to address this misconception, Biofortified created a new database that provides links to papers that have examined genetically engineered crops, and allows users to search based on many different characteristics including the source of funding. It is worth stressing that the sparsity of credible studies suggesting that GMOs pose a potential health risk does not mean that we should stop studying them, both in terms of technical methods in their generation, as well as safety.

5) Types of traits used to generate GMOs are selected to improve farming conditions. There aren’t many GM crops in which the trait introduced was selected because it would make me want to buy it in the grocery store. There are several crops in the pipeline designed for me, such as non-browning apples. But at the moment, most crops are designed to help consumers indirectly by benefitting farmers, such as Bt crops that cut down on the amount of pesticides sprayed to fight worms, or glyphosate-resistant crops, which help farmers reduce the use of toxic chemicals to fight weeds. We, the consumers, see the benefits of these traits because reduced farming costs equate to savings at the grocery store. But we don’t see signs at the grocery store stating, “Buy this peanut butter! Its peanuts are modified to be allergen-free, just for you!” Those products are in the pipeline, though.

6) The amount of misinformation and the distrust surrounding GMOs is staggering. And depressing. It ranges from the subtle, in which statements are taken out of context or the complete findings of a paper are not discussed, to outright lies. I expected that there would be misinformation, but I was pretty naïve and didn’t think it would be THAT bad. But it’s downright awful. For example, the Institute for Responsible Technology’s website —a one person NGO founded by anti-GMO activist Jeffrey Smith—states: “The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.” Smith completely misrepresents the paper’s findings, which conclude: “it is highly unlikely that the gene transfer events seen in this study would alter gastrointestinal function or pose a risk to human health”. GMO critics often peddle white lies as well as downright deceptive (and dangerous) statements such as claiming that GM insulin poses a health risk (Professor Kevin Folta reviewed this topic here).

Related article:  Roundup ban? Glyphosate-free farming would mean higher food prices

I still have a tough time understanding why certain organizations would use such deceptive means to attack a technology. I think Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it best in his recent Facebook post on the topic of GMOs:

“If your objection to GMOs is the morality of selling non-perennial seed stocks, then focus on that. If your objection to GMOs is the monopolistic conduct of agribusiness, then focus on that. But to paint the entire concept of GMO with these particular issues is to blind yourself to the underlying truth of what humans have been doing—and will continue to do—to nature so that it best serves our survival. That’s what all organisms do when they can, or would do, if they could. Those that didn’t, have gone extinct. In life, be cautious of how broad is the brush with which you paint the views of those you don’t agree with.”

I was surprised at how many people distrust GMOs because of their belief that Monsanto is an ‘evil’ company. That’s not a good reason for distrusting a technology with broad applications. It’s like saying that you don’t trust computers because of Microsoft. But conventional and even organic food growers buy Monsanto seeds too, and Monsanto doesn’t have a monopoly on GM technology. And what do life saving technologies, such as insulin, have to do with Monsanto? What about Golden Rice? What about bananas designed to combat nutritional deficiency in Uganda? I’ve been taken aback at how vehemently these consumer focused products are opposed, just because of the Monsanto-boogie-man.

7) Transgenic seeds are not sterile. I was certain that transgenic seeds could not be replanted, even if a farmer wanted to. I was dead wrong. When farmers buy seeds from a biotech company such as Syngenta, they sign an agreement, and they are not allowed to replant seeds. However, the seed is not sterile or unviable. (The topic of replanting seeds and terminator seeds was covered by the Genetic Literacy Project here).

8) Peer review often may not mean very much. Papers should be evaluated based on their quality. Even if you don’t factor in the issue of predatory or pay-for-play journals, peer review needs a new paradigm (check out this article for a great expose of predatory journals). In an article that sounds an awful lot like a story about drug trafficking, a “peer-review ring” was recently busted for abusing the academic review process. Although there’s a growing number of ways to share concerns or criticisms about a paper, that hasn’t led to a change in the review process. Setting aside the reason behind errors in scientific journals, be they deliberate or not, there needs to be a positive feedback loop.

Personally, I think that scientists in the private sector should be able to provide feedback to the reviewers and editors if a study tests or compares their goods. Companies generally provide press-statements anyway once the paper’s been published, so wouldn’t it make sense to have their feedback and criticism in hand as a non-voting voice in the review process? Do you know who would read every single sentence several times, including the Supporting Materials section, in a paper that suggests that a GM trait is harmful? Or that Coca-Cola causes cancer? Or that an Apple tablet is more durable than a Samsung tablet? The scientists or engineers who made these products and the company that commercialized them. If anyone is going to identify a flaw in a paper, it would be them. I don’t think that their statement should carry weight in the decision of whether a paper should be published. But it would make the editor’s job easier to have their observations in hand.

I know that there are many who will disagree with me on this issue. I want to stress that this is my own personal opinion, which is probably biased from having worked in biotech’s private sector and noting that we don’t have devil-like horns or carry pitchforks.

9) The world’s most reputable scientific organizations have evaluated the data on the safety of GMOs. That’s right, there’s a scientific consensus on the topic of GMO safety (see this infographic from the Genetic Literacy Project). This doesn’t surprise me as much as the fact that there’s still so much debate and controversy on a matter where there’s an established consensus. As with many other scientific matters, including the safety of vaccines, there are papers whose results are contrary to the consensus and these have to be individually evaluated and, if need be, replicated. If reproducible evidence is found to the contrary, then the consensus shifts. But right now it’s very strong and consistent: GMOs are safe.

For the final point, I interviewed my husband to find out what had surprised him most from all our discussions:

10) That the greatest tool in combating misinformation on scientific topics is for scientists to be better communicators and to better educate the public. I was surprised to see that the link between the public’s superstition regarding GMOs is directly related to its education or lack thereof. If we had better scientific literacy or better science education, there would be fewer freak-outs. As a non-science person, my AHA!-moment came when I finally understood how eating a “strawberry-fish” smoothie would be same thing as eating a strawberry with a fish gene in it, because we can process and digest proteins from both species. That’s such a small-little thing, but it created such a mental barrier.”

Well, there you have it. Feel free to comment on the things that have surprised you most on this topic.

Layla Katiraee, contributor to the Genetic Literacy Project, holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the University of Toronto and is a senior scientist in product development at a biotech company in California. All opinions and views expressed are her own. Her twitter handle is: @BioChicaGMO

50 thoughts on “Do you really understand modern farming? Scientist examines 10 truths of GMOs and organics”

  1. Good piece, thanks. I agree the public is very receptive to good science presented without jargon. I also think farmers need to get involved in this debate. The public would love to hear from those who use the technology and why they use it.

    • I agree. Particularly when it comes to the labeling debate, the loudest voices are those of consumers concerned about their right to know. I’m sure that the owner of the grain elevator is concerned about what labels would mean to his/her business and farmers are concerned about the impact it will have on them, and we seldom hear those perspectives (at least no where near as loudly), yet these are the individuals whose livelihood and day-to-day work might be impacted most.

      • Separating crops costs money.

        I already separate for beneficial reasons–forages for their Relative Feed Value, silages for their lignin content, potatoes for their variety—and some non-GMO is separated for a non-GMO customer. Separation is expensive and cumbersome.

        The separation strategy is not simple, it starts before planting.

        Where and when the separated crops will be harvested impacts the harvesting capacity.

        Crop storage is literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. With storage, location is important, and enough freeboard must be allowed for a high-yield scenario for each separated product.

        Freight out is a big deal, also.

        I’m doing all of this now for internal practical reasons–I can only imagine how cumbersome separation could get if prompted by law. Not only would my separation burden double, but it would have to be done by mandate and someone elses’ idea of what is proper separation.

        If consumers REALLY want to know, they will get labeling sooner and better through the market. The sales of items like GMO-free Cheerios will shoot up, and other items will quickly follow suite.

  2. Nice article. I think the one that gets me the most is #6. The misinformation and disdain for corporations trumps the actual science for many and has pressured governments into over-regulation driving up the cost of R&D for new varieties or preventing them altogether.

    Imagine the products which could be available if the ninnies got out of the way making it profitable to engineer for crops other than the economic crops… I’m all for safety and testing but to the point of #6 no amount of safety testing will suffice since they are not interested in the science at all anyways. Further to that point the approval process has become largely political, wasting time and money while not furthering the assurance of safety.

    • You have some really good points here. As alluded to in #6, the most readily available information on engineered crops is biased against them, simply because they are the most popular sources of information. People see these sources of information first, are convinced that GMOs are bad (often out of fear) and do not do any follow-up research to support that view. Like you said, this has complicated the regulatory process beyond what it needs to be.

      I agree with your opinions on safety testing. GM crops are engineered in more precise and controlled ways traditional methods, and in that way are actually safer than traditionally bred crops and shouldn’t need more rigorous testing. However, most people don’t realize the process behind making the GM crops, and because they are engineered “unnaturally” people think they are less safe. Actually the engineering process has more similarities to natural genetic processes than people think. For those who don’t believe me, you can look at the following article:

  3. I think this article would have been improved by stating the myth- then stating the accurate proven statement of fact. Some of the myths listed are actually issues concerning “organic farming” and GMO crop farming.

  4. RobertWager We (farmers) are involved! And we love the Genetic Literacy Project! Please anyone who has any questions about GMO’s or any other aspect of modern farming visit us at: Also on facebook: Ask the Farmers. We just launched and are excited to bridge the gap between farm and table!

  5. Getting paid to poison us with toxic genes implanted in our food. Great legacy to leave on the Earth…I helped destroy the health of mankind and the Earth that supported them.

    All your supportive comment are made by people making $$$$ off GMO poison and lies. We need ethics brought back to food. Food diversity gives people the nutrients they need. Poison kills them!

    • This is an internet blog. It has nothing to do with science or agriculture in any authentic sense. The editors put out this piece for the purpose of titillating you so that they can reap profit via their sponsors, including your ISP subscription. They succeeded. Search for your own answers via science education.

  6. Great discussion piece. The misinformation that is circulating is truly unbelievable. Hopefully this along with other well researched pieces will enable those to become more informed in fact. I agree with Rob, farmers need to speak up.

  7. You know, the first thing you need to look at when evaluating information is bias. Why would anyone here take the word of Layla Katiraee on the safety of GMO’s when she is the senior scientist in product development for a biotech company?

    There is a study by Seralini which has shown the staggering dangers of Monsanto’s BT corn and glyphosphate. This study was done over two years rather than Monsanto’s 3 month study.

    If you trust a person who has a vested interest (ie: keeping their job) in a topic, then you are not very intelligent.

    Here is the study from Seralini:

    • What a strange post. Why would anyone take the words of Seralini whose research is funded by the organic industry which is openly hostile to GM technology and profits buy it? Why would anyone take seriously the work of Seralini which has been reviewed extensively by every major global independent science oversight agency of note and judged as poor quality research? Why would anyone take the word of an activist science whose most important work was retracted and then the author bought his way into a 4th rate anti-GM journal to avoid the peer review process, and then had that pay-for-play research eviscerated yet again by mainstream independent scientists? Seralini’s research is literally a laughing stock among independent scientists. As for Katiraee, she is an expert in biotechnology with no ties to the ag biotech tech sector—exactly the kind of scientist you want to comment on this issues….informed and independent.

  8. Was it “good science” for the anti-Prop 37 corporates to hire a Stanford professor to go on TV and say there was no difference between GMO tech and grafting a fruit tree onto root stock? No that was an example of the suffocating condescension and paternalistic attitude that characterizes mpst of what I hear from the industry.

    People perceive the Monsantos of the world to be driven by a motive to Sell More Stuff and damn the consequences. I think they’re right. The book “Salt Sugar Fat” is no confidence builder as it details the quite deliberate program of the food companies to engineer ever-more-addictive products which just happen to be the worst empty calories you can eat. Several of the MDs presenting on PBS these days argue that these GMO corn products punch holes in the small intestine causing “leaky gut syndrome” and a cascade of negative health consequences. If you venture into our schools these days you will find hypo/hype glycemia alerts on the walls of middle school classrooms–and a lot more obese kids that I remember (it’s actually showing up in the lower elementary grades now).

    The video “Symphony of the Soil” makes a strong case against RoundUp with respect to the health of the soil. This on top of the emerging “superweeds” which have been ignored by the popular media so far as I can tell but it’s enough of an issue for the AgAlert newsletter that circulates to college and high school programs to address this alarming (but entirely predictable) development.

    As far as “lower food costs” I don’t know where that is, I don’t see anything going down. Perhaps some fatter margins for some people? In any event all I hear from the locals in my CentCal area is pretty much doom and gloom on the cost pressure side; Monsanto is selling tons of product though. Once you go GMO there’s no going back, right?

    • Mark, you are easily led, even for a kid. Start learning something from an authentic science class, not from TV or internet blogs. If you really wish to learn, there are several educational institutions that teach the sciences that you can choose from. Good luck with your educational future.

  9. What about Golden Rice you say?? The supposed wonder rice that’s going to solve all the worlds Vit A deficiency??

    Monsanto evil you say??

    Of course they wouldn’t want control of a crop that 2/3 of the population rely on to survive, tell me like most gmo crops, does Golden Rice produce dead seed too and Is it, like many GMO crops, a weak plant that will rely on Monsanto fertiliser to survive?

    ‘Golden’ rice, as in it will make the GMO company who produce rich by enslaving populations of farmers (that’s human beings with families (into a buy every year chain and ball cycle)

    Thank you for bringing mutagenasis to my attention but as to GMO farming being a safe alternative , I AM NOT FOOLED. But then now I see what website I am on (How did i get here?)

    • Jeanine, you poor thing, you don’t know very much (anything) about agriculture. You know nothing about rice, or Monsanto. You have been watching too much TV, as in Dr. Oz and the like. I don’t think you even read the article above, which answered your questions.

  10. Thank you very much for this article, Dr.Katiraee. Many of the points mentioned here are crucial toward bringing clarity for people who tend to believe what others tell them, as opposed to independently researching the subject matter and deciding whether or not to support the GMO movement.

    You also mentioned something that is also important towards an individuals personal investigation of this subject matter: the filtering of search engine results. When doing personal research on GMO’s, to see what the internet offered, I found that the results list was indeed incredibly inflammatory against GMO’s. Why? Because they were the most popular hits on the interest. Many of our information sources that we use to learn about current event don’t sort the information based on the truthless and un-biased subject matter, but rather what is the most popular. This can lead to the spread of incorrect and extremely negative information. I’m glad there are search engines that arenow starting to find information that reveals a balanced approach to this subject.

    Again, thank you for this well-written article. I will share it with my friends.

  11. I see this is an old article that has been reposted. Maybe you can fix #4 where it says “publically.” There is no such word. It should be “publicly.”

  12. I’m not unequivocally against genetic engineering.

    But let’s face it, Monsanto and their ilk have really botched the public relations part of their business.

    Anyone who has studied Edward Bernays would proudly stamp “NEW! IMPROVED! Now with GMOs!” on their products.

    Could it possibly be that there are no consumer benefits to common GMOs that they can tout? The “benefits” to common GMOs seem to accrue only to AgriBiz stockholders.

    (Note my unequivocal criticism here; I’m not talking golden rice or synthesizing insulin; I’m talking about the 90% of GMOs that are engineered for two traits only: glyphosate resistance, and BT toxin inclusion.)

    • Well, that would have been a novel approach, indeed. We’ve never been in the habit of expecting consumers to look beyond abundance, safety and affordability of food and understand that’s routinely achieved by technological advancement in production methods. We didn’t label food in 1850: “NEW! IMPROVED! Now planted and harvested by horses instead of oxen”. Nor did we advise consumers in 1925 “NEW! IMPROVED! Now may contain ingredients produced with RUBBER TIRED tractors!” Nor in 2000 did we stick on labels saying “NEW! IMPROVED! Now enhanced with ingredients grown using no-till technology” I suppose you would give a whoop if this year we label foods “NEW! IMPROVED! Now produced using GPS precision farming.”. Because all of those things and your GMO example represent important production advances. Efficiencies that increased our capacity to produce and reduced cost of production…and that trickles down to mean retail food remains affordable (sometimes even cheap) and abundant on store shelves (see Jan, not ALL of the benefit goes directly in the pockets of greedy sadistic “AgriBiz” stockholders)..

      • reduced cost of production…

        I’m afraid the jury is still out on that one… more like a belief than supported by evidence.

        Consumer Reports seems to be a non-polarized source of information, claiming little or no benefit to consumers (possibly a slight cost increase), while siding with Big Agribiz that GMOs are perfectly safe to end consumers.

        We do label the food we produce with “benefit to consumer” information, but our market loves that. I’d have to agree with you that the Mall*Wart shoppers couldn’t care less about what’s in the highly processed food they buy, as long as it’s dirt cheap.

        I’m constantly amazed that price appears to be the major driver in the thing that has the most impact on one’s health.

        • I am not even going to attempt to educate you on that point, Jan. I’ve produced, sold and balanced the books on one hell of a lot of production around here over the years (and I have old farm ledgers from various ancestors going back to 1820). And you, Jan, have produced, sold and double-entry accounted for how much? I didn’t think so.

          Around here we primarily adopt technology that works to increase production and/or reduce cost of production. We adopt technology that conserves resources (including soil, etc.) as we can afford those investments (obviously we have to have a profit in order to fund these). Every once in a while we will splurge on something that makes life easier or more fun, but we can’t afford to make a habit of it.

          As a consequence, since 1820 our farm’s land base and crops have grown larger and more productive (obviously soils have not been depleted or otherwise ruined). Our wagons and teams grew larger, easier rolling and faster just as our farm trucks have become larger and more fuel efficient. So too, our field equipment. Our livestock has become larger, more docile, more productive, healthier and of better physical conformation because of investment in genetic technology and veterinary technology. Our livestock housing has grown larger, more open, more comfortable and convenient for the livestock as a result of repeated and dramatic remodeling and replacement projects, all representing an enormous capital investment (and proven by enhanced livestock performance to be worth every penny).

          In 1820 our ancestor, “one farmer” produced food sufficient to feed maybe 20-30 people each year in town, more or less.. Today around here “one farmer” produces food sufficient to feed upward of 500 people each year around the world. In 1820 we sold a bushel of wheat for about 65 cents. Today, 200 years later, we sell a bushel of wheat for just under $5.00. Our wheat made affordable bread then, and it makes affordable bread now. Consumers have benefited and so have we because our adopted technologies have kept us profitable, on average, producing that wheat. Likewise our livestock, dairy and field crops.

          So, Jan, what have you and your people been doing during the past 2 centuries that amounts to anything?

          EDIT, additional comment:
          BTW, I don’t give a crap for Consumer Reports’ opinion. They have about as much knowledge, experience and appreciation for the business of agriculture as does the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra. When Consumer reports delivers their 10 millionth bushel of corn or soy or wheat to the elevator or when they deliver their 100 millionth CWT of milk to the plant, then I just might begin to take them seriously. Until then they can take their biased novice opinions and go screw.

          • Sorry, I didn’t realize this was a “get out the rulers and pull down the zippers” sort of discussion.

            You have identified your biases and your unwillingness to dialogue in a most unpleasant manner, so I must humbly take leave in light of your overwhelming prideful awesomeness.

            Good day to you, sir!

          • You ain’t begun to see unpleasantness, arsehole.

            By the way, in beating your hasty retreat you failed to inform us of your curriculum vitae to justify lecturing me and other ag producers (and misinforming the public) regarding how you seem to know all about how we mismanage our farm businesses. You’re all hat and no head and you were cruisin’ to earn a good trimming up. You came to just the right barber this time, sister.

            So run a safe distance away back to your echo chamber and shove your head back up your bung before teeing up to broadcast your choreographed talking points defaming family farmers and American agriculture. I’ve taken about all the “awesome unpleasantness” these past 8 or 10 years from you and your hateful Luddite ilk that I intend to. Seems I’m not the only one beginning to feel that way…


          • you failed to inform us of your curriculum vitae

            Waaal, I woulda gragyated 8th grade, if there warn’t so much readin’, ritin’, and rithmatik on the durned test! And the tar fell off the ol’ Massey Ferg, so’s the taters is rottin’ in th’field, ’cause it’s been pouring since th’ginnin of hay season. An’ ma waaf run off with ma best friend (ma dawg) and took the kids with her, although they’re all hunchback and blind in one eye — just laak the mailman, strange, thet! But thangs is lookin’ up! Ah just bought a $100 lot’ry ticket, and ah won $50! Recon I’ll jes keep farmin’ ’till it’s all gone…

            You seem like the sort of person who can only feel big by making others feel small. So I’m trying to help you out, here, feller! You’re welcome.

          • OK, so you’ve lashed out in frustration and demonstrated your well-practiced puerile taunting skills. I guess that’s a handy smoke screen to avoid enlightening us as to just why, exactly, you are uniquely qualified to misinform everyone about how successful modern farms are operated and how successful modern agricultural business entities conduct themselves in real life.

            If you feel small Jan, well, obviously that’s because right now, standing with your shorts yanked down around your ankles, you have to admit you are small. Impotent and small.

            That doesn’t make any of the rest of us feel big. Makes us feel embarrassed for you and your cronies who have deluded yourselves into fearing and hating something you don’t understand. Oh, and you being so unceremoniously depantzed makes us feel amused, vindicated just a little bit to see you back yourself into a buzzsaw. Heh, jethro, ya never even saw it coming, you were just maneuvering around setting up your sniper’s nest for an ambush and before you could even get your range, ‘buzzzzzzz splat’. Oh, waaaa, it just isn’t fair, waaaaa!

            Go suck an alpaca, you ignorant troll. Maybe go back and edit more comments to erase a little bit of your stupidity and replace it with some of your other hateful stupidity. Go do whatever, but just go;

          • Well, this has been entertaining, sorta like poking a tomato hornworm with a stick and watching it react in utterly predictable ways.

            But I was told I couldn’t ride my bike until I loaded the manure spreader, so I can’t keep poking the hornworm all day. There’s crawdads to catch in the creek, berries to feast on, and a nest of baby kittens wedged between hay bales in the barn to play with.

            Not sure if you’re the tomato hornworm, or the manure waiting to be spread, but I got work to do, so I’ll grant your request to “go do whatever.” I’ve used up my “goofin’ off time” today. Got baby animals and baby plants to care for.

            Looking at your history, you sure must be an efficient farmer! My computer tells me you’ve typed 16,751 characters into Disqus comments in the past day. Surely, that doesn’t leave much time for farming, does it? I limit myself to a couple hours around meal times, and I still can’t get everything done around here.

          • If you’d modernize your little muck and mire alpaca farm to keep up with the times you could get your damned work done…and put the kids through college while you’re at it.

            If you would learn to handle a computer keyboard typing 20,000, even 200,000 characters takes no effort at all, no more difficult than handling a planter monitor or GPS precision steering. Fast, smooth, accurate…and informed. You ought to try being informed, Jan, you can’t imagine how gratifying it can be, you might even give up being an angry skulking sniping Luddite hate monger. Oh well, sucks to be you.

        • Hmmm, came skulking back around after I’d responded and surreptitiously edited the content of your comment significantly up here instead of daring to continue the thread with your revised thoughts. You anti-GMO cranks really are the lowest form of weasels! Whenever you get the factual ass kicking you deserve you whine and cry like you are being abused, bitch that you’re not offered a fair dialogue, then you sneak around and discretely rearrange the scene of the crime. Some sick puppy! Only a fool would let himself/herself be sucked into a disingenuous “dialogue” with the likes of you. You know what you can do with your revised comment.

    • Jan: The reason that 90% of GMOs involve “two traits only” is because there is so much screaming & fitful gnashing of teeth over this technology that only the big boys in the agricultural support industry can play the game. There are many, many more biotech traits just waiting to be developed that could make our food supplies safer, more nutritious, more diverse, more efficient to grow, and less destructive of the environment, yet the academic institutions and small businesses who would develop them for the marketplace can’t even afford the cost to get them through the approval process, much less face the tidal wave of anti-GMO sentiment that has been artificially whipped up by the “organic” industry. The “organic” marketeers have poisoned the water against biotechnology, to the detriment of both human health and the integrity of the environment. If you would take the time to learn something about biotechnology and get on the right side of the issue instead of playing stupid games, everyone would be better off.

      • only the big boys in the agricultural support industry can play the game

        That doesn’t really seem to be the case.

        The Arctic™ non-browning apple was developed by a husband-wife team, growing to a whopping dozen or so employees over twenty years. It has recently sailed through regulatory approval, with little public opposition.

        Could it be that puny little OSF managed public perception better than big, bad Monsanto? Could it be that a tiny team of orchardists managed to get the public to want non-browning fruit, even though the main beneficiaries will be retailers?

        And thanks for the sermon. I think for myself, thank you.

        If Monsanto had half the sensitivity to public concern as Neal and Louisa Carter, people would be begging for GMO products! They’d happily label GMOs, just like computers come with “Intel Inside” stickers. But instead, they lied, cheated, bribed, and bullied. The public is rightfully asking, “What are they hiding with all this bad behaviour?” instead of “Wow! This stuff is 33,000 times less dangerous than driving a car!”

        Monsanto and Big Agribiz made this bed, now they have to sleep in it.

        • You’re still playing stupid games. You make no sense. You’re still railing against the 90% of GMOs that are based on Bt and glyphosate related traits. Why don’t you try advocating in support of the Arctic(R) apple technology? Why don’t you try speaking up for the Innate(R) potatoes? Why don’t you try sermonizing the benefits of GMOs to the “organic” freaks who are simply opposed to biotechnology because they want an artificial price advantage in the marketplace, i.e. “labeling” of GMOs. If you really knew shit from shinola you would be out there campaigning in favor of biotechnology. As it is, you’re nothing but a crank, attempting to foist off all your anger against an entity (Monsanto) that probably won’t be around for long (see the Bayer acquisition articles). It’s easy to beat up on Monsanto because of some Hollywood style movie that demonizes anything that’s not communistic. It’s hard to learn for yourself. Try the latter, if you can stand yourself.

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