Kevin Folta: If GMO crops don’t meet expectations, why do so many farmers grow them?

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Kevin Folta is a professor in and chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He got his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998, and he previously worked at University of Wisconsin.

The New York Times failed again, publishing a less-than-scientific ball of bias that states genetically engineered crops fail to produce as expected. It is a great way to get clicks.  But reporter Danny Hakim’s analysis contrasts with that of the folks that really understand the benefits and limitations of the technologies– farmers that use it.

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We could spend a lot of time reviewing the data he used to reach those conclusions.  Instead, to discuss this intelligently you only need to know a couple of points:

No genes for yield were ever installed.  The current suite of biotech traits were not meant to improve yields, they were made to ensure yields.  In other words, they help ag producers farm with lower costs, fewer insecticides, improved weed control and virus resistance in some cases.  Same yield at lower cost = better for farmers.

. . . .

Farmers are shrewd business men and women.  There is a certain arrogance in proclaiming a technology is a failure, when millions of people use it because it works…


The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Rehashing a Tired Argument

The pie charts are from a separate post on Folta’s blog titled: Some Actual Yield Data


  • Dave

    At least where i’m location we have no real choice. When buying corn seed we’re left little options. The main seed corn companies don’t offer a single hybrid that is conventional (non gmo). If you want new elite genetics you’re forced to purchase traited corn varieties.

    Only a very small few genetic lines are even available as straight RR.

    Have to trust that the double pro or smart stax is worth the extra $$.
    Little to Zero 3 party plot data is available to compare the traited variety vs a conventional or straight RR.
    Only a very small few genetic lines are even available as straight RR….
    All the top hybrids this season don’t have a conventional counterpart in the seed guide.

    Soybeans are a different story. Many conventional varieties are available. Lots of strong end user demand for IP and non gm.
    We get a significant premium to grow those varieties. More than pays for increased herbicide use……