Myth busting on ‘contamination’: GMO farms’ halo effect often protects organic farms

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According to many activists, the crops of innocent organic farmers are about to overtaken (any moment now) by genetically modified invaders, and despoiled by the chemicals often paired with them. “Organic Farmers Pay the Price for Contamination,” screams a typical blog post headline, this one by Food and Water Watch.

Until genetically engineered crops (also described as GMOs) were introduced as a production method for U.S. farmers, “coexistence” between different sectors of agriculture was a fairly simple prospect. Today, the ability of organic, non-GMO or identity-preserved production to coexist with GMO production is in question.

a9cc931647d2ae69958e9714e894d572It’s one of the most familiar memes on the Internet: new government policies are putting organic farming at risk. According to an article in Civil Eats by Melody Meyer, “the policy allowing so-called “coexistence” of organic and GMO crops now in place in the U.S. Department of Agriculture is one-sided and precarious at best.” Why? Because, she and many other pro-organic supporters contend, the USDA is “proposing that organic growers pay for contamination done by the GMO patent holders!”

What is crop “contamination”?

Activists claim they are taken this position to protect innocent farmers who have not only found their crops contaminated, some of whom, they say, have been sued by Monsanto et al. after the contamination occurred — essentially victimized twice. In fact, there is not one recorded case of that happening — not one court case in the United States f13c6ff9a434471087dea1a69e31b1deor Canada in which a farmer whose crops were accidentally cross fertilized or otherwise were found to have GMO crops growing on their land were sued.

That was the contention in the now infamous Percy Schmeiser case, a Sakskatchawen canola farmer who claimed Monsanto sued him because he unknowingly grew GMO crops. Schmeiser lost his case after it was determined he had lied to the court and had knowingly allowed cross contamination or otherwise willingly planted GMO crops himself.

A key point to make: there is no scientific term as “contamination” in agriculture — it’s an ideological designation used to demonize the historically natural phenomenon of cross fertilization. Most organic farmers and conventional farmers exist cooperatively next to each other and many farms grow both GMOs and organic crops. Cross fertilization is a fact of agriculture, and it occurs from one farm to another all the time with no consequences. In the U.S., organic farmers cannot lose their organic status if cross fertilization occurs accidentally, although that’s not true in some countries where organic groups voluntarily set no tolerance policies. There is no record that any farmer in the U.S. has ever lost certification as a result of so-called “contamination” — although one would never know it based on the propaganda on the web

Trade concerns

Nonetheless, these fear-based stories have raised concerns among some organic farmers that they won’t be able to sell their organic produce to overseas markets, a more legitimate concern, although there have been only a few minor incidents to date, mostly embedded in trade politics.

At the extremes, these fears have provoked policy discussions that advocate a kind of agricultural apartheid, under which organic and (at least) GM-growing conventional farms would be separated for miles and operate under completely isolated processes and technologies. In a recent post from the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, two journalists, Aleks Shafer and Colin Carter, wrote:

In instances where price premiums for organic and conventional products and the risks of contamination are high, many private companies have instituted voluntary standards, known as identity preservation (IP) systems, to preserve the purity of highly valued product traits. These systems create stringent handling processes that require strict separation to be maintained from germplasm or breeding stock to the processed product on the retail shelf… Cross-fertilisation due to pollen flow between neighbouring fields of organic or conventional crops by GMOs is a threat to successful coexistence. Policymakers have proposed three alternative mechanisms by which to manage this risk: zoning restrictions, isolation distances, and pollen barriers.

Currently in the U.S. Congress, H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would open the door for a national voluntary labeling program, would also allow farmers to sue growers of genetically modified crop for alleged “contamination” of organic or otherwise non-GMO farms. The bill has passed the House of Representatives, and a companion bill is currently before the US Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry committee.

Anti-GMO advocacy groups are trying to leverage these cross-fertilization fears. Food and Water Watch touted a survey of farmers that it said “Reveal(s) that the risks and the effects of GMO contamination have unfairly burdened organic and non-GMO farmers with extra work, longer hours and financial insecurity.” field_crop_farmerThey claimed that one out of three farmers surveyed “have dealt with GMO contamination on their farm.” Since 268 farmers returned the survey, that would mean that 89 made this claim. Their report conveniently failed to address what was meant by “deal with GMO contamination“.

Non-invasive “invasion”

Cross-fertilization or “contamination” by GMO has never happened to any significant degree (unless a farmer intentionally planted GM crops). The only significant possibility of cross-over would be the finding of GM crops in an organic farm. The case of Marsh vs Baxter in Australia came the closest. In late 2010 Steve Marsh, an organic farmer, found evidence of seeds from the crop of his lifelong farmer neighbor, Michael Baxter, in his fields. Baxter was a conventional farmer who planted GMO seeds.

Later, Marsh found dead canola plants blown by the wind onto his property and 8 live plants. Marsh reported the seed and plants to his local organic certification board and lost the organic certification of some 70 percent of his 478 hectare farm. Marsh sued on the grounds that Baxter used a method of harvesting his crop that was substandard and negligent — in fact Baxter used standard conventional farming methods.

The region’s high court ruled the organic farmer was a victim of the Australian organic industry’s own self-chosen rules, and exculpated the conventional farmer. The summary judgment of the court, upheld on appeal, stated that the loss of organic certification “was occasioned by the erroneous application of governing NASAA Standards applicable to NASAA organic operators as regards GMOs (genetically modified organisms) at the time”. In other words, Marsh’s own organic standards association set unrealistic expectations of co-existence because cross fertilization is a fact of modern farming that long predates the introduction of GM crops.

Another lawsuit, a class action patent case, illustrated the fear-generating tactics of the strident organic activist wing of the anti-GMO movement. A group of organic growers and anti-GMO groups came together to sue Monsanto, alleging that Roundup Ready seeds and plants could be in their organic field; that they would not be able to sell their produce as organic; and that they could be sued by Monsanto because of the possible use of patented, GM seeds. In her dismissal of the case in 2012, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald noted that the suit was “the product of plaintiffs’ transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists.”

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) doesn’t use the term “contamination” in any official context. Instead, as NOP director Miles McEvoy explained, it focuses on cross-pollination or the inadvertent (or deliberate) presence of prohibited substances, including GMOs, on organic farmland. The NOP also underscored what activists know but dissimulate about in their anti-GMO campaigns — that the mere presence of GM seeds or crops does not necessarily mean a crop will lose its organic status.

Who’s wearing the halo now?

Ironically, if there is any contamination going on, it is often as likely to come from pest species that originated on organic cropland but spread to GMO farms that were otherwise protected from these pests. When it comes to contamination, organic pest control methods, including pesticides, have not been effective at controlling insects, weeds, and fungal pests. That point was made in the wake of the Marsh v. Baxter ruling, in which Baxer noted that he believed he had a powerful case that his farm faced “contamination” and not his neighbors organic property:

This should never have even gone to court because between farmers, we should’ve just had a chat over the fence, had a couple of beers, you know, this would’ve been all sorted out. He’s an organic farmer, he can’t spray, he can’t use chemicals, you know he’s got red mite, he’s got aphids, he’s got rust, he’s got all the diseases in the world, does he worry about that? They blow over the fence, I get them all the time. Do I whinge, do I complain? No, not at all.

Rather than promoting “contamination”, the close proximity of organic and GMO farms often covers considerable no cost advantages to organic farmers whose fields might otherwise be beset by various pests not easily controlled by organic pesticides. A follow-up article in an Australian newspaper outlined the actual benefits many non-GMO farmers get from having their farms in close proximity to GM fields:

Organic farmers, while environmentally more benign in some ways, are notoriously less efficient in controlling pests in their crops. GM farmers often raise crops that are effective in resisting specific pests without destroying helpful predator species, such as the ladybirds that eat marauders such as aphids. In this way, farmers growing conventional crops can benefit from a neighbour’s choice to plant GM, just by being in the same vicinity – they get fewer pests without paying the premium for GM seeds.

In fact, several studies have illustrated what’s known as a “halo effect,” in which organic farms adjacent to GM farms benefit from fewer insects and other problems:

  • In Hawaii, the papaya crop was devastated by the ringspot virus, cutting the crop by 50 percent between 1992 and 1998. A new, transgenic papaya containing a gene conferring resistance to the ringspot virus was introduced commercially in 1999 and saved the Hawaiian papaya crop from destruction. Today, the transgenic “Rainbow” papaya is grown successfully but some farmers still prefer to grow the non-transgenic “Kapoho” papaya trees. Not only has very little pollen drift from Rainbow to Kapoho occurred, farmers growing the non-transgenic papayas tend to situate their farms so that they are ringed by the GM “Rainbow” farms in order to protect themselves from various pests, especially the ringspot virus.
  • In China, transgenic Bt cotton plants (plants that contain a gene for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin) are able to resist attacks from the cotton bollworm, a pest that infects cotton, corn, and other vegetables and crops. The expression of Bt in the cotton plants not only reduces the cotton bollworm’s egg density, it also suppresses the occurrence of the cotton bollworm regionally, offering a benefit to other farms in the area. This protective effect also has dramatically reduced the need to spray insecticides on non-Bt crops, including corn, soybeans, peanuts and other vegetables.
  • In the U.S. Midwest, a research team found that the cultivation of transgenic Bt corn in Europe offered protection to non-Bt corn fields. By suppressing the European Corn Borer, Bt corn use provided $3.2 billion in benefits for corn growers in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Of that number, $2.4 billion benefited non-Bt corn growers.

In all of these examples, just like we saw in Australia, the issue of “contamination” is rarely the spread of GM seeds or plants to organic farms but rather the movement of pests, including fungus, from organic farms.

Why would the organic movement support lawsuits and mount a public relations effort to claim a contamination ‘disaster’ that hasn’t actually occurred? Val Giddings, senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, pointed to organics high costs of participating in organic certification programs (and the higher costs of maintaining organic farms themselves) as a potential motive:

Organic growers have decided to try and export those costs onto the shoulders of their neighbors growing crops improved through biotech. And then they complain about “contamination;” what cheek!

Andrew Porterfield is a writer, editor and communications consultant for academic institutions, companies and non-profits in the life sciences. He is based in Camarillo, California. Follow @AMPorterfield on Twitter.

  • Shadeburst

    Thank you for a comprehensively informative article that helps put to rest some of the qualms i had as a GM supporter.

    • Farmer Sue

      Yes, great article. Farmers – both conventional and GE – have known this for years. The organic guys can’t say it as much tho, because it’s not politically correct for an organic farmer to admit they get benefits from insect refuges and weed controls that come from neighboring GE farmers. Glad the article helped, Shadeburst. I am glad to see the article also.

      • Without all of the pest control being carried out by conventional and GMO farmers, organic farmers would quickly go broke.

        • Farmer Sue

          Mischa, If activists had their way, their beloved organic farmers would indeed go broke. Ironic, isn’t it?

          • Sadly, yes, it’s true. The true organic activists believes that any disturbance of the soil is a sin against Mother Earth, and want us to go back to primitive farming that basically relied on the gathering of seeds from the wild.

          • Farmer Sue

            Good. Let ’em do that. And let ’em stay far away from our fields and our modern sustainable methods of farming. They can eat seeds and roots and trap squirrels.

          • Well Mischa, I find you joining in the nonsense. “The true organic activists believes that any disturbance of the soil is a sin against Mother Earth, and want us to go back to primitive farming that basically relied on the gathering of seeds from the wild.” Give me a break.

        • Mark Smith

          You mean you’d go broke?

  • WeGotta

    If you feel the need to use the word “activist” in your article, you can be sure that you are one too.

    • Activists are those for whom the action is an end in itself.

      Scientists, by contrast, are those for whom action is taken for a purpose.

      • WeGotta

        Science is more an action than it is an end.

        • But it provides numerous ends along the way. Synthetic ammonium nitrate for fertilizer and gunpowder, for instance.

          • WeGotta

            Okay great. so scientists can be activists also.

            Now, since gunpowder can be used to kill children, is gunpowder “good” or “bad”?

          • Knives can also be used to kill children. Or you could use rocks if you lived in the Middle East under Sharia and the children were little girls trying to go to school.

          • WeGotta

            So are knives “good” or “bad”?

          • Technology is never good or bad.

          • WeGotta

            Exactly!

          • hyperzombie

            Knives are good.

          • WeGotta

            When you need a knife, they can be really really good!
            🙂

          • hyperzombie

            Yep it is tough to spread the peanut butter with a fork, and ripping your steak apart by hand is frowned upon in most upscale restaurants, or at family gatherings, I am speaking from personal experience here.

          • WeGotta

            But Sharia law is peer-reviewed and accepted by many experts in religion based upon their extensive and detailed understanding of Islam.

            How can you say they are wrong if you don’t know the first thing about Islam?

          • Stoning women to death was peer reviewed?
            When and where? Who were the “peers”? Mohammed and his generals?

          • WeGotta

            Peer: a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else
            So the peers are other religious figures of that faith.

            It’s essentially what geneticists are saying to all of the world. We think this is “good” so you must obey. If you don’t agree its because you don’t understand so tough shit. Me and my friends all say it’s perfectly fine.

          • But wait… surely you’re not saying Sharia is fine just because it was subject to “peer review” back in the seventh century… are you?

          • WeGotta

            I don’t know anything about it really except for what I hear from Western media.

            But my gut feeling is to reject it outright as religious fanaticism. I don’t want any human or any groups of humans (peers or otherwise) trying to tell me something is “good” based upon secret knowledge only available to a certain few.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            So, peer review in this context is irrelevant as the peers you refer to are terrorists. And their opinions do not matter unless they catch you.

          • hyperzombie

            Gravity can be used to kill children, along with almost everything created by man, even pillows.

          • WeGotta

            So let’s stop saying GM is “good” or “bad” and start talking about how we “should” be doing things like food growing.

            I’ll start:
            It should be healthy food.
            It should be regenerative.
            It should be local.
            It should be delicious.
            It should empower consumers and farmers.

          • hyperzombie

            “It should be healthy food.”

            All food is healthier than having no food, yep even sugar.

            “It should be regenerative.”

            What does that even mean? Can it grow? Reproduce? What? Apple pie is not regenerative..

            “It should be local.”

            What??? So are you saying that North Americans can’t have Mandarin Oranges, brazil nuts, Kiwis, and tons of other foods? Should people in the tropics be denied carrots and kale?

            “It should be delicious.”

            I agree, kale, squash, brussel sprouts, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, and rutabaga should be banned immediately. Kiwi fruits should be phased out, I don’t like them either.

            “It should empower consumers and farmers.”

            I don’t understand this. I believe food should feed consumers what they want and they should pay farmers for raising the crop.

          • WeGotta

            “All food is healthier than having no food, yep even sugar.”
            Of course. That’s the underlying assumption for even having such a discussion. Else we would be stuck just making random observations. You know I love doing that!

            “What does that even mean?”
            It means it should enhance the soil, water and air in the process of generating food. This way it becomes even more of a benefit and there is no downside to increasing the percentage of land under cultivation. It becomes a benefit actually.

            “So are you saying that North Americans can’t have Mandarin Oranges, brazil nuts, Kiwis, and tons of other foods?”
            We should be able to derive our main sustenance from nearby areas for resiliency. There’s many many options for all kinds of zones. Those other foods can be available based upon what the free market will bear. But I would say to you personally “man up son”! Grow a pair in addition to your crops of soy.

            “I agree, kale, squash, brussel sprouts, yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, and rutabaga should be banned immediately.”
            Okay, we will give you free cooking lessons. Those things can be freakin delicious!!! Kale I just grind up in a smoothie most of the time honestly. I have so much of it all the time for free.

            ” I believe food should feed consumers what they want and they should pay farmers for raising the crop.”

            That would be nice. But that’s not what we have now. Right now it seems food producers and inept corrupt government officials have all the power over both consumers and farmers.

          • hyperzombie

            “This way it becomes even more of a benefit and there is no downside to increasing the percentage of land under cultivation.”

            LOL, tell that to all the wild critters that just had their habitat plowed under…

            “It becomes a benefit actually.”

            To whom? Not the wildlife that just lost their home.

            “We should be able to derive our main sustenance from nearby areas for resiliency.”

            We do that now, did you notice that people up north eat more wheat and people down south eat more rice… Wonder why that is?

            “Grow a pair in addition to your crops of soy.”

            I dont grow soy or any other GMO. Next year maybe GMO alfalfa.

            “Kale I just grind up in a smoothie most of the time honestly”

            Blech, i thing I just threw up into my mouth. How can you drink that poison?

            “Right now it seems food producers and inept corrupt government officials have all the power over both consumers and farmers.”

            How so?

          • WeGotta

            “LOL, tell that to all the wild critters that just had their habitat plowed under…”
            No plows needed. The areas actually become a wildlife haven since you don’t poison the bottom of the food chain.

            All wheat and rice Makes Zombie a dull boy.

            “Right now it seems food producers and inept corrupt government officials have all the power over both consumers and farmers.”

            Who sets your prices when you grow crops?

          • hyperzombie

            “No plows needed.”

            Really?? how are you going to establish a new farming regiment without tillage? Just hope that the introduced crops are going to out compete the native plants or are you going to use herbicides?

            Wheat, rice and corn provide over 50% of all calories consumed by man, you cant feed people with lettuce and Kale (barfed again)

            “Who sets your prices when you grow crops?”

            Well I do, if I don’t want to sell for the price that is offered, I can hold the crop till the price is better, or worse. I am fairly good at buying high and selling low, I might actually make more money if I could get that to turn around. Hmmm.

          • You’d be amazed at the number of hippies who are opposed to tillage of any kind. I kid you not!

          • hyperzombie

            “hippies who are opposed to tillage of any kind”

            seriously?? WTF. don’t want to harm the soil gods, I don’t get it.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Odd that it’s those saintly organic muddlers who still cling to the moldboard plow and manual cultivators. Can’t disturb the soil much more than that.

            Modern farmers have adopted low-till and no-till wherever we can. We hate to disturb soil if we can avoid it. It costs fuel and labor to stir soil. That’s a big part of why organic farming requires those big elitist price premiums to stay solvent, that and yield losses to weeds and bugs and high-minded mismanagement.

          • Yes, it is indeed odd, to say the least. You can read about the organic industry’s failure to develop min-till methods in this recent article I wrote: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/07/30/why-former-organic-farmer-food-inspector-turned-against-big-organic-to-embrace-gmos/

          • Martin Greenleaf

            Supply and demand .

          • WeGotta

            That’s definitely not what we have.
            We have something more like:
            Manufactured demand for a wide variety of a very limited number of food items, as purchased through grocery stores (who lobby government and distort choice), who got the food through a distributer (who lobbies government) who got it from a manufacturer (who lobbies government), who gets ingredients from processors (who lobby government) who get it from farmers.
            And each step along the way requires lots of oil, debt, cheap labor and subsidies.
            The most perverted part is when all those powerful lobbies actively try and change the demand side with media pieces, paid scientists, DARK laws, TTP, advertisements, etc.

            So not quite a “free” market.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            No, you still do not get to claim subsidies and debt. Some do some do not. You generalize without facts to back up your claims. Further unless you are willing to use Oil. Millions will die and large scale violence will break out. Just how are we supposed to feed folks in urban areas without shipping food to them. They do not want to live in rural areas, and quite frankly moving them out here would lead to exrensive environmental degradation.

          • Good4U

            I have to admire your (& others’) tenacity in responding to WeGotta, but he’s just one of those Hawaii hippies that survives on subsidies from the mainland. If he had to survive on “local” agriculture he would be reduced to eating pig & poi (neither of which by the way are native to the Hawaiian islands; they were both brought there by human invaders). Anyway, he’ll keep you up all night with his keyboard blatherings.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Were the bananas native or exotics. Also, what makes you think a fella. I have been thinking female.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            I’m convinced it’s a 12 year old kid screwing with us. No grown up could possibly be so naive about how the world actually works. Also, no adult could be so hopelessly infatuated with foodie fairy tales where food production is all unicorns and rainbows.

          • Farmer Sue

            “It should empower (consumers and) farmers.” Exactly. That’s why these idiots should let farmers farm. And they can do what they do best — eat our food, and carry picket signs against our food.

          • hyperzombie

            “It should be delicious.”

            Oh and we should use Nuke weapons on parsnips, to make sure that they never have a chance of coming back, eggplant should be eradicated with flamethrowers and napalm.

          • WeGotta

            Ha. Freakin eggplant! What the hell is up with those things?

          • hyperzombie

            After further thought Napalm may not be enough to get rid of that giant tasteless weed, they may have to use the new bunker buster bombs. Cant be too safe from the eggplant.

          • J. Randall Stewart

            Flagged. I love eggplant.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            And I grow eggplant. 3 varieties. I hope hyper and his napalm are confined to the tundra he normally inhabits.

          • hyperzombie

            Your lucky that you are out of my range…..But give me time…. Bwhahahwhahah

            And there is more than one kind of eggplant, blech, triple barf.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Hey, Did you receive my instructions on accessing the woo universe.

          • hyperzombie

            No, WTF, Discus has been messed up lately.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            I cant remember which argument it was in. Sorry

          • hyperzombie

            No prob, i will look for it.. Thanks for the link.

          • GMOs are all of those things.

            But you’ve really got to get off this “local” bandwagon. I grew up in Saskatchewan, a province of barely a million souls. We grew wheat, canola, barley and flax, and sold ALL OF IT overseas.

            Exporting grain is what the grain belt is all about my friend.

          • hyperzombie

            If he had his wish you would spend the winter eating nothing but local turnips.

          • And the Midwest would be buried under grain while California swims in salad fixings.

          • WeGotta

            Local economies build strong communities.
            Plenty of research being done now about that subject and plenty of local government officials finally catching on.

            They’ve figured out that courting some huge corporation with tax breaks and incentives actually has a net negative effect on the cities in most situations.

            Call me ol’ fashioned, but I think is’t just being a good American to be self reliant and take care of our own.

          • As soon as you figure out how to grow grain in the Napa Valley, and lettuce in Nebraska, get back to me.

          • hyperzombie

            Check out these id0ts, they were trying to grow grains in front yards in Vancouver, lucky they didn’t kill someone. Like come on hippies.

            https://lawnstoloaves.wordpress.com/

          • Wow. Whatta buncha morons! That’s what happens when a bunch of urban hippies think they can outsmart the farming community.

          • hyperzombie

            I know it is just bat crap insane… Did you see the photos if their crops,, pitiful. It is so embarrassing

          • Carl G Craver

            I’ve got to jump in here, I live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. We grow trees and salmon, we export them to other markets and get our fresh food in exchange. What’s wrong with this? We can’t grow fresh produce all year long. If we use green houses what is the carbon foot print of that because they have to be heated and lit (we don’t get enough daylight in the winter)?

          • We’re in agreement. Local food production is counterintuitive. Export far and wide, and you’ll never go hungry my friend.

          • hyperzombie

            What could be more environmentally friendly than selling stuff that grows very well in your region and trading it for stuff that grows better in their environment.

          • Martin Greenleaf

            EXACTLY !!! Whats wrong is that it just doesn’t fit their perfect world picture and the everything big is bad mentality.

          • hyperzombie

            True that, and they have this Disney centric view about agriculture.

          • Ray Linn

            So you, WG and HZ reduce the local food discussion to a fallacious “all or nothing” argument – great job!

          • I never said there was anything wrong with local food. It’s the local-organic foodie crowd that wants all food to be local, which will lead to civilizational suicide, plain and simple.

          • Ray Linn

            Why paint with the word “all?” The “local-organic foodie crowd” position is probably more along the lines of better utilization of local resources. Why let local producers struggle while importing greens from 1000’s of miles away?

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            No one wants local producers to struggle. However they must be able to compete on their own. Absent government intervention. The customers will decide which farmers are most efficient and, or providing the best quality.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            You’re dreaming. The “local-organic foodie crowd” position is to destroy successful modern agriculture by denying technology to commercial farmers. Those foodie assclowns only THINK they can feed themselves and everyone else by having everyone grow food on their window sills. All dreamers. A luxury they can afford only because some of us are still out here making abundant, safe, affordable food happen. Easy to talk trash with your belly full. A little different when you’re crawling around naked desperately foraging for weeds and grubs to eat. Goddam foodies.

          • How ironic… you just described the organic industry which relies heavily on imported organic product form faraway lands like China, Turkey and Brazil. The majority of organic food sold in America is, in fact, imported.

          • hyperzombie

            All I am trying to say is that is is far better to grow local what does grow well, and import foods that don’t grow well into your area. Especially for commodity crops. Wheat, rice, barley, and corn.

          • Quite right hyperzombie. This has been proven over and over again by hippies in the province of British Columbia who have tried repeatedly to grow grain in areas better suited to fruit orchards. The result was poor-grade grain at 10-times the price!

          • Ray Linn

            100% agreement with that.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            What they are talking about is economies of scale. There will be local exceptions. Especially for higher priced stuff that can not be machine harvested. I buy local when feasible and cost effective. However wheat, canola, and many other crops do not do well here. Or only have a short season.

          • Martin Greenleaf

            I totally agree. No local food for NYC in January ! I also live in a relative “breadbasket” area. I see little local growers who don’t really know what they are doing hauling produce into Philadelphia farmers markets. I know what they are like and I and most neighbors would never touch what he grows. Every one thinks big is bad. Maybe big knows what its doing. Would you build your own car or have your neighbor do it or would you buy a Toyota ?

          • Quite right Martin.

            Here’s how I put it in a recent article: “Imagine buying a car that was manufactured and assembled by a blacksmith. Just another way to build a car, right?” http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2011/06/20/is_organic_food_industry_a_scam_106244.html

          • Martin Greenleaf

            Where will NY city get its local food in January ?

          • WeGotta

            From NY City, New York State, a neighbor state and/or the United States, then the nearest country and so on.

            Why do you give the most extreme example? Most places in the us are not like nyc.

            What do you have against local communities being as self sufficient as possible? Sounds very American to me. You want our food to be dependent on people and situations in other countries?

            What do you have against people wanting to support their neighbors rather than an international corporation that dodges taxes and offshores anything not nailed down?

            Why not a butcher, baker, brewer, fermenter, cheese maker and aquaponic fish monger on every corner rather than Starbucks and McDonald’s?

            Why not stack functions rather than doing everything the hard way?

          • Goody FANFan

            Food distribution via supermarket is efficient compared to the village model you propose. Nothing wrong with a village model if people don’t mind spending an afternoon going from the butcher to the baker to the greengrocer to the fishmonger to the cheesemonger. Most people don’t have that kind of time or live close enough to the village to want that. People want convenience and it’s not going out on a limb to suggest that they don’t mind sacrificing quality to get it.

          • WeGotta

            “Village model”? What the hell is that?

            Most people don’t have the time because they are working in useless, joyless, tenuous jobs most of their adult life for businesses that couldn’t care less about them personally or about their neighborhood or about their family. They have bills and debt that keeps them tied down. This is the way our system has been created so please spare me the “personal choice” thing. Where are people even supposed to hear about new ideas and ways of doing things if we are all trapped in what has been marketed to us as the “American Dream”?

            And what are people doing with their free time now? Rush home after a stop at McDonalds for “dinner” so that you can turn on the TV and sit on your ass all night?

            And what quality? It’s mostly cheap crap that doesn’t last, eventually ending up in the landfill and/or oceans.
            Things I make for myself and do for myself excel in quality. Way more quality than most things I can buy. And each thing I do gives me even more skill that can be applied in all kinds of situations which is a fantastic investment. I find I can work less now by doing more for myself.

            Hell ya! That’s the American way if you ask me. Strong individualism and local government. Provide for your own self and for our own country. Do it right the first time. Make it last.
            I don’t need people in other countries making cheap shit for me.

            Hey, do what you want. I don’t care.
            But why are you being a naysayer and trying to poo poo everything?
            What’s it to you anyway?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Yeah, having to work really sucks. But what is the alternative, really? We have about all of you on the dole in government jobs or on public assistance outright that we can afford, even with all the rest of us working our asses off the way we do. How can we all just quit working and everyone of us be handed a living?

            And as for stuff you make being higher quality than stuff in the market, well you can be excused, I suppose, for letting your maternal instincts cloud your objectivity. Trust me, you’re the only one who thinks your stuff is worth a damn. Tell you what, why don’t you build yourself a dynamite new car out of sticks and mud from your side yard and drive it over and show it off to us. That might convince us of your prowess as a cottage craftsman, routinely exceeding the quality and cost of manufactured goods. Nothing quite like a good honest demonstration at scale to reform the non-believers!

            I gotta stop typing now. You have me laughing so hard at you I’m having difficulty seeing the monitor.

          • WeGotta

            Work doesn’t have to suck. We could all do meaningful work at a more sane pace with better balance.
            The beginning of this just might be a pause for reflection as to where we are and where are we heading.

            Please spare me the extreme examples such as a car.
            Of course no one is going to build a car at home. That’s preposterous.
            But many people could grow food, build furniture, build a house, cook for themselves, run basic plumbing like water catchment and grey water recycling, wire PV solar or other energy sources, sweep a floor instead of owning a vacuum, walk instead of drive, minimize instead of expand, do with less, sew their own clothes, fix appliances, etc.

            If you are good at one of those things you could make a living doing that.

            How could that possibly be anything but a good thing?

            This saves you money which is actually even more than you think since there is no debt needed and most income is taxed before you even see it.

            I’m confused by your example. What are you advocating for?
            Is it “modern” to have a new car every year or vanity? Does every family need two cars? Is it smart to need so many of these things that come with baggage such as endless roads and parking lots (which themselves need maintenance and equipment) and oil dependence (which comes with its own huge costs)?
            Don’t forget all the mining operations, transportation systems and manufacturing costs associated with cars. And don’t forget that car ownership itself requires even more working at that job you hate in order to cover car payments, maintenance costs, fuel, insurance and registration fees.
            And definitely don’t forget about the environmental costs of all that.

            This way of living is not “advanced” or even feasible for the rest of the world. There’s not enough to go around for every family on earth to live like us.

          • Goody FANFan

            Touchy? A little? People like efficiency–like shopping at a supermarket.

            “Why not a butcher, baker, brewer, fermenter, cheese maker and aquaponic fish monger on every corner…?” Because people like to shop at the supermarket.

            I happen to live in Portland and while it is a foodie city, please point me to the huge urban agricultural oasis you seem to think exists here.

          • WeGotta

            I said ‘huge city’ urban agriculture. Not “huge agriculture” in the city.

            Portland is leading the way.
            https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/41480
            http://bangordailynews.com/2015/03/18/news/portland/portland-poised-as-leader-in-improving-local-food-economy/

            Why would anyone would be against such things?

          • Goody FANFan

            Epic fail, dude. You DO know there are TWO significant cities named Portland in the U.S., right? If you’re trying to make a point about Portland, you need to decide which one you’re talking about.

            Interesting that you appear to have edited out your specific reference to Boston, Portland and (if I remember correctly,) Detroit as places where urban agriculture is feeding the masses.

          • WeGotta

            You have a little problem with reading and comprehension but I wouldn’t call you an “epic fail”. Keep trying.

            I didn’t edit anything out. Urban agriculture is happening and is giving jobs to people and is giving previously unavailable fresh food to inner city people.
            Again, why would anyone try and argue that’s a bad thing?

          • Goody FANFan

            I take issue with your assertion that any more than very low single digits worth of any major city’s food production will be satisfied by urban agriculture. I’ve got no problem with people doing it–more power to them–but it will not feed the city to any appreciable degree.

          • WeGotta

            Okay little naysayer, thanks for nothing.

          • Martin Greenleaf

            Want more examples ? NYC, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Seattle …….
            I buy stuff from NYC that they are good at and do better than me. They buy food from me because I am better. Somebody in CA grows lettuce for NYC. That CA person buys their car insurance from a NY business. Get it from whoever does it best. You can’t get everything from a neighbor, get real. What you can, great more power to you. If you live in CA be glad a NY buyer helps your CA neighbor. Leave those best able to do it DO IT. This system has evolved for a reason. This is not 1920. Face reality.

          • WeGotta

            Buy whatever you want. I don’t care what you do or what NY City people do. But don’t think that your limited knowledge and your extremely limited imagination is “the only way” or “the best way”.

            Don’t try that old line about “1920”. I’m arguing for new improved ways and you are the one trying to hold everything in the 1900’s.

            And definitely don’t try and tell me the markets are free.

            “Want more examples?” No, I don’t need more examples of the same thing.

            “U.S. Cities [population >50,000) are Home to 62.7 Percent of the U.S. Population, but Comprise Just 3.5 Percent of Land Area”. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-33.html

            And there’s lots and lot’s of land around big cities too.

          • Martin Greenleaf

            You just proved my point. 62.7 % live in cities and can’t buy local food. AND bonehead, the only thing around cities are suburbs and they are just as bad. And I didn’t say its the only way or the best way. You are the one that said everyone should buy local. BUT THEY CAN’T. My knowledge isn’t too limited. I have lived in Chicago. Went to college in Philadelphia. And live on and operate a farm in the country. I buy from who I want. Grow what I want and sell when, where and what I want. I have advanced degrees, my son is a neurosurgeon, my daughter a teacher with advanced degrees so I don’t need to be called “limited knowledge” by anyone, especially someone whose best argument is belittling others.

          • WeGotta

            “Bonehead”? Why the insults?
            Do you think you would convince someone by insulting them?

            Local doesn’t have to mean from Ms Walker next door. Usually it means 100 mile radius but that’s only someone’s made up definition.
            As local as possible would be more complete.
            And you obviously don’t know about the huge city agriculture projects springing up all over large US cities like Portland, Detroit and Boston.
            These cities felt the true costs of reliance on large corporations, huge supply networks and rigged markets. Sucks for all those people doesn’t it? But not for the huge corporations that have no qualms about picking up and leaving if they can make another penny per pound.

            And what if food production was combined with parks and wetland/storm protection, energy creation and efficient building design? What about the other 19,880 edible plants in the world?
            It’s time to rethink lot’s of things and get our heads out of the 19th century.

          • Martin Greenleaf

            I lowered myself to insults because you initiated it by saying I have “very limited knowledge and imagination”. You don’t know anything about me. You started the insults. I have an engineering degree from an outstanding university. I think that qualifies me with some knowledge and imagination. I have been involved in production agriculture for 45 years. I have seen it evolve and evolved with it. I don’t work for or get income from any large corp. but have benefited throughout my life from the innovation and investment American corporations have put into agriculture. I prefer not to go back to living in the 1920’s. I will no longer waste my time to reply to your obvious shortage of common sense.

          • WeGotta

            I didn’t mean it as an insult but I can see how you feel that way. Sorry.

            But I have no idea what you are trying to get across to me or why you are trying to pigeonhole me.
            Are you saying it’s not possible to make a city more self sufficient? Even 5% more would be huge for ny city I would think. Mega cities make all kinds of allowances whether they be for cars, for security or for weather. So they couldn’t make some allowances for more food production? Are you saying there is no solution to that problem? If you think there is no way to make things better than I would say you lack imagination and knowledge.

            Are you saying it would be “bad” to have many more people in a huge city producing food? That produces jobs. That’s giving to your neighbor. What would be wrong with that?

            Or are you saying it’s not good to be more self suffucient? So all things being equal you would just as soon rather rely on food grown and made in other countries on the other side of the earth as long as this saved you a dollar?

            I’d rather have important things like food and energy more near to me and more under my control. For many reasons.

            And please spare me the references to the past. Yes, let’s honor the past. But progress towards a goal (such as self sufficiency, community resilience, nature restoration, human relationships with other people and to their food) is not moving backwards and is not a denial of, or insult to, things that have been before.

            People in NY City also think it’s a good idea and that its possible.
            http://www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/ourmarkets/whylocal
            http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/l/local_food/index.html
            http://www.justfood.org

          • Farmer with a Dell

            There is nothing sustainable or self-sufficient about a city. Nothing. Sure, you can try to be more self-reliant but your finest efforts won’t amount to a good sized piss hole in the snow. We don’t care if you try it or if you don’t. We really aren’t interested. There are any number of selfish spoiled 12-year-olds like yourself out there with oversimplified ideas about how the world should scrape and bow serve them, who cares about you?

          • WeGotta

            Actually, there is lots of research that suggests it is more efficient when people live more closely together. It’s a huge lack of imagination to suggest a city couldn’t be self sufficient.
            Luckily there are people that want to continue to evolve instead of staying stuck in the past.

            “12 year olds”? That’s rich.
            I don’t know many 12 year old people that would want to do more work for themselves rather than rely on mommy and daddy to do it all for them.

            Our society is definitely in the adolescent phase though. Time for us to grow up and stand on our own.Time to clean up after ourselves. Time to stop caring so much about how we look and care more about what we do. Time to stop thinking we know it all and start listening to new ideas. Time to start talking like an adult instead of a juvenile.

            “I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up.
            I think what we do is mostly grow old.

            We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.

            We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.”
            -Maya Angelou

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Nonsense, WeGotta. If we stopped shipping supplies into and wastes out of cities it is a tossup whether your noble urbanites would succumb earlier from thirst & starvation or by drowning in their own excrement. In the dark without electricity, I might add.

            No amount of “imagination” can conjure any realistic model of self sufficiency for a city of any size. Any efficiency virtues claimed by urbanization would have to be predicated upon efficient input chains into cities and effective waste carry offs. This, in turn, mandates a well-organized and efficient rural topography. Not some endlessly sprawling feudal village mired down in medieval farming practices, as you prescribe. Dream on, WeGotta, dream on.

          • WeGotta

            The problem is the solution.
            Why spend billions on crumbling sewer systems when we could capture that free resource (water from storms) and use it for energy (storage where it falls at higher elevations in the city such as on hills, rooftops, etc), move it slowly across a network of green spaces (where food is grown, people can walk and ride bikes, kids can play, etc) before the clean pacified water returns to the aquifer?

            Why spend billions heating and cooling conventional buildings when you could have green roofs, attached green houses, or more perennial fruit/nut trees for shade?

            And you’re still trying to hedge me into some kind of notion that support for local food and local economies means 100% self sufficiency for super high density areas like giant cities. No. But even 20% would be huge. Huge savings for people and huge economic benefits.

            Smaller cities could definitely reach something closer to 100% if we rethink what farming is supposed to look like and provide us.

            If anyone is interested, I would recommend Toby Hemenway’s book “The Permaculture City”.
            http://www.chelseagreen.com/the-permaculture-city

          • Farmer with a Dell

            No one is interested.

            Cram your wishful science fiction.

            You dream of impractical futuristic claptrap and insist others should be doing that for you. When we give you a practical, sophisticated, promising advances in technology like genetic engineering you stick up your nose and crap all over it . Go to hell WeGotta. Puke your preposterous dreams, theatrical fears and elitist demands all over someone else. I grow weary of your childish diversion.

          • WeGotta

            Feel better?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            “…huge city agriculture projects springing up…” Huge? Really, did you actually describe these as “huge”? How clueless can you possibly be?

            Over 900 million acres in the U.S. are engaged in food production in one way or another. Only someone with their head permanently jammed up their butt could imagine a few rooftop and vacant lot garden patches are going to feed any city. These silly kindergarten projects make no significant contribution to actually nourishing the teeming masses of the inner city. And they all pride themselves on being struggling, precarious enterprises, dependent upon grants, donations and volunteer labor. How could this possibly be a model for the future of American agriculture?

            Fine if you want to fart around with growing a few garlic bulbs and knobby tomatoes in the ‘hood. Nobody’s stopping you and nobody really cares. Just privately do your elitist yuppie thing and shut the hell up. You’re too many bricks shy of a load to be telling us how to farm out here in America. You haven’t the first good idea what goes on out here but that doesn’t stop you from showing us your ass every chance you get. With all the time you waste trolling and cyber-lecturing I doubt you find opportunity to do anything constructive at all, much less revolutionize the world with live demonstrations of your dreams for urban agriculture and local food. Yours is decidedly a first world perspective defiling a planet peopled predominantly with 2nd and 3rd world human souls. Your effete foodie proclamations sicken me. Show us, don’t tell us.

          • Martin Greenleaf

            THANK YOU. I have been trying to get this across to him with no avail. I was sitting here trying to imagine these garden plots feeding Detroit and Boston. My son lived in Boston 3 yrs. There’s no room for anything there . Could maybe feed 0.1% of them with your garden plots. Lets talk about what it takes to feed millions, not the local yippie.

          • WeGotta

            Could you have stuck in anymore stereotypes and innuendos?

            It’s “first world” to want more of our food grown nearer to the eaters???
            I thought first world meant huge GMO farms, long supply lines and predominantly junk food provided by huge international corporations.

            It’s “elitist” to want more farmers in the world?
            It’s “elitist” to want to rely on ourselves instead of poor people to do our dirty work?
            It’s “elitist” to support your neighbors?

            It’s “defiling the planet” to support local farms and permaculture practices instead of mega farms of round up ready soy?
            It’s “defiling the planet” to support shorter supply lines and more efficiency?

            I think you’ve got the whole thing mixed up.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Yes, it is “elitist” to insist one’s effete 1st world foods be produced by one’s neighbors who have been systematically reduced to 3rd world subsistence farming. Elitist and cruelly impractical. There is a certain exquisitely defiling quality to that attitude. That is the undertone stench that emanates from your narcissistic foodie evangelizing.

            As for stereotypes and innuendo, your selfish foodie agenda is the mother lode — what with your ridiculous imagery of evil monopolistic food factories operated by diabolical people intent on poisoning the earth. All that smarmy nonsense.

            OK, now go move the goalposts some more and come back with another puerile argument. I would ask you to try to get a clue but that, obviously, is hopeless.

          • WeGotta

            Now you are going to double down on stereotypes and innuendos?
            It’s “selfish” to advocate for more self reliance and support of your neighbors over international corporations who dodge taxes and exploit the weak?
            It’s a “foodie agenda” to want to eat healthy food that tastes good over wanting to eat manufactured junk food that tastes like crap?

            Don’t blame me for your profession being reduced to “3rd world subsistence farming”. That’s exactly what you get when you let large powerful multinational corporations operate with impunity. They couldn’t care less about you personally. They’d gladly take a small loss in one quarter if it meant they could squeeze you out and bring in another who would accept less.

            I’ve seen it and heard it from many US farmers. They see increased yields but decreased profits. Welcome to everyone else’s world farmers. There are millions of people experiencing this same thing. American workers are being asked to do more yet they are getting less rewards for their work.
            It’s a symptom of the cancer that is greed and corruption. You can’t control it when you are so detached from it and powerless.

            If it was up to me there would be way more farmers who would sell directly to the customer. You would be much more free to set your own prices and have more control over your farm.
            Again, I don’t know why you have a problem with that.

            And again with the “elitist” claim. I couldn’t disagree more.
            It’s NOT elitist to advocate for more self sufficiency.
            It’s NOT elitist to learn new skills.
            It’s NOT elitist to want your neighbors to prosper.
            It’s NOT elitist to want healthy food.
            It’s NOT elitist to want clean air, water and healthy soil.
            It’s NOT elitist to want no poisons on your food.
            It’s NOT elitist to examine your choices and find better ways of doing things in order to save time, money, resources and decrease the suffering of other people.

            Elitist: being or characteristic of a person who has an
            offensive air of superiority and tends to ignore or disdain anyone
            regarded as inferior.
            Like geneticists who insist we all must eat what they say we should eat.
            Like politicians who insist labels will lead to confusion.
            Like farmers who insist we eat junk food made inexpensive and plentiful only because of the exploitation of the weak and destruction of the planet.
            Like comments filled with name calling and false accusations.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Typical twisting on your part, WeGotta. Your bald-faced misinterpretation must be admired by accomplished shysters and cranks everywhere.

            Oh well, contrary to your stereotypic representation, those of us engaged in modern agriculture are doing OK these days. And that’s what you seem to object to. If it were up to you we would all be reduced to 3rd world status. On the other hand we farmers have no interest in telling anyone what to eat and what not to, unlike you and your cult sisters.

            If I were your neighbor (and that’s a truly demoralizing thought) you would despise me for my successful use of technology. You would insist I be stripped of effective modern techniques, made to grovel in the dirt on hands and knees to produce food to for you to eat. That’s the only food you elitists find acceptable — boutique food produced with archaic practices calculated to impoverish the farm family next door to you and keep them struggling (just like the “good old days”).

            Nope, I will keep farming with the most efficient methods I can safely and profitably apply. I have put my kids through college by doing so and will see my grandkids educated, too. And I will keep improving the farm to pass it to the next generation.

            Under no circumstance will I suffer some loud mouthed Luddite chucklehead forcing me back into the dark ages just because he/she fears technology he/she deliberately misunderstands. You will have to get your selfish yuppie needs met by someone else. Someone who is no smarter about agriculture than you are. And that’s not going to be economically sustainable, by the way. Your foolish dreams will be measured in months, not years and certainly not generations…if you ever dare to try the experiment (which, of course, you never will). All talk from you fools. Just dreams and worthless talk.

          • gmoeater

            Right! This guy thinks just because he says “more yield less profits” that it makes it true. Of course it’s all baloney. It’s really “more yield/ more profits,” which is why biotech farmers do it. (DUHHHHHHH) His “if it was up to me…” shows his egomanic sense of entitlement. He does not get that it really is not about him. All his comments really go back to one irrational fear he has, driven by his corporate conspiracy theories. Has nothing to do with science, reality, or food safety. A fearful luddite, cowering in his cave. Eating grubs, I guess. Ah well…. as they say, “you are what you eat,” and so it appears to be.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Ha, ha! Love it gmoeater.

            Maybe a larvacide is indicated in this case?

            I hate to see grubs undermine all my hard work or have beetles chewing and dumping all over everything. No redeeming qualities in either phase of the life cycle.

          • WeGotta

            Triple down on the innuendos and stereotypes.

            I’m trying to find one thing in your comment that applies to anything I’ve said or advocated for and I can’t. Just keep accusing me of doing the very thing you are doing.

            Could anyone possibly be an elitist yuppie Luddite? Those are opposites.

            You are so bipolar in your arguments.
            “Modern” agriculture means relying heavily on slave labor and environmental destruction while growing mostly junk food?
            Advocating for more farmers who are more free to grow what they want for the price they want in ways that require fewer expenses means reducing them to “3rd world status”?
            Wanting my money to go directly to my neighbor is “impoverishing” them?
            Farmers who tell people what to eat via comments on public websites “have no interest in telling anyone what to eat and what not to [eat]?
            Improving a farm means destroying the soil?
            Economically sustainable means heavy reliance on diminishing resources and sending our money overseas?

            You are the one mixed up.

      • Farmer Sue

        Exactly. We farm because we want to produce healthy, sustainable, affordable food. Not because we are trying to make a political statement. Thanks!

      • Give me a break, because this is idiotic.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          Chicken Little is a bird of action. Possibly a bird of purpose…if the purpose is self humiliation.

          OK, Chicken Little, now run and tell the king!

          • .

          • Are you a child? You sound like you are.

            Actually, this is serious stuff.

            Your arguments are bankrupt, so throw out fluff.

  • RobertWager

    How would you describe the multi-billion dollar anti-GMO industry if not activists?

    • Farmer Sue

      Not only activists, but activism based on the ignorance of urban yuppie cement-dwellers who have never set foot on a farm or talked to a farmer. And who have been swayed by internet woo to believe that organic is good and transgenic is bad. Truth is mostly a lot more complex, as any farmer will tell you. (Not you, Robert, but the activists whose minds are closed to information like that presented in this article!)
      Farmers are pretty active, but they generally are not activists. They’re too busy growing food.

      • Quite right Farmer Sue.

        Anyone who has ever worked on a farm – even organic farmers! – appreciates the usefulness of technology in saving on work, fuel, land and the use of toxic crop inputs.

        Only those who have never worked a day on a farm could ever see clear to opposing something as useful as GMOs.

        • Farmer Sue

          Like the concrete-dwelling ignorant urban yuppie activists who have never seen a farm, wouldn’t know a broadcast seeder from a garbage truck, and won’t even pick up the phone to call their farm bureau to get accurate info. Lazy. But we feed them anyway …

          • As my grandpa used to say, “They don’t even know the difference between hay and straw.”

          • alcari

            Excuse me, but I’ll have to defend my urban, never-worked-a-day-on-a-farm peers as not being completely ignorant 😉

            Some of us office workers without a clue about farming still support gentech and grasp that going back to the ’40’s isn’t a great idea in any field.

          • And we appreciate the support. Believe me.

          • Ray Linn

            Love’em when they support you, morons when they don’t – so typical of Popoff et al.

          • Right… because I never bother examining a person’s underlying arguments… do I?

          • Ray Linn

            That knife cuts both ways.

          • Farmer Sue

            Farmers appreciate that! I was referring to those that have never stepped on a farm, and are yet so uninterested in learning anything about biotech that they will believe any misinformation about modern farming that they read on the internet. You are not one of those, and we are grateful! Thank you for supporting science.

          • Thank you for supporting Western civilization.

    • gmoeater

      Organic industry, which is the same as the anti-GE industry, makes $40 Billion a year. Richly paid activists.

  • Rob Bright

    The Genetic Lunacy Project strikes again! Keep pumping out that anti-science, pro-corporate propaganda guys! (You get more ridiculous by the day…)

    • Farmer Sue

      Rob, if you do not believe this info is correct, talk to farmers. Call your local farm bureau. This phenomenon of GE crop protection has been known among farmers for years.

    • And keep making comments without substance Rob. We love hearing from the urban organic sect. It’s actually quite entertaining.

  • Garrett Osborn

    “…a Sakskatchawen canola farmer…” should be Saskatchewan.
    It is not unusual to find pest insect/disease pressures 1st on crops fertilized with synthetic N, particularly in conjunction with severe weather prior to seeing insect/disease pressures in organic/non-synthetic N fertilized crops in our area. If the conventional operators scout & treat early enough it may help out the organic neighbour.

    • agscienceliterate

      That old Percy Schmeiser case, the Saskatchewan canola farmer who illegally stole and replanted GE seeds, and then complained of contamination. The jury saw right through his arguments. He was fined.

      Here is the case:

      http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2147/index.do

      • As a former organic grain farmer from Saskatchewan, let me just say that Percy Schmeiser is a disgrace to the organic industry. He is nothing but a huckster and a shyster.

        It never ceases to amaze me that he has been embraced by organic activists when he himself was never an organic farmer.

        Strange bedfellows…

  • “H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which would open the door for a national voluntary labeling program, would also allow farmers to sue growers of genetically modified crop for alleged “contamination” of organic or otherwise non-GMO farms.”

    Bang on Andrew. Bang on!

    And yet… every farm bureau and commodity group across the land supports this bill. It’s as if they haven’t even bothered to read it.

  • “The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) doesn’t use the term “contamination” in any official context.” This is not entirely accurate. It is possible for an organic crop to become contaminated by pesticides.

    But not ever by GMOs.

    So, when you point out “that the mere presence of GM seeds or crops does not necessarily mean a crop will lose its organic status…” it is actually more accurate to say that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for GMOs to contaminate an organic crop at any level.

    There is, to put it simply, no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs, not legally, not scientifically.

    Case closed.

    • alcari

      what if I were to “accidentally contaminate” my organic crops by “mistakenly” sowing 99% modern GMO seed?

      • You’d have to prove it was an accident. It’s against the standards for an organic farmer to plant GMO seed.

      • Farmer Sue

        Where would you get the GE seed? When you buy GE seeds, from any number of seed companies, you sign an agreement that you will not re-use seeds from your crop. There are also requirements for adequate buffers. You would be violating these agreements with the seed companies if you made such a “mistake,” and under those conditions, you could then be sued.
        These technology use agreement requirements are there specifically for the purpose of maintaining crop integrity and preventing inadvertent cross-pollination, as well as protecting the patented seed. (and seeds have been patented for 85 years).

  • “Why would the organic movement support lawsuits and mount a public relations effort to claim a contamination ‘disaster’ that hasn’t actually occurred?”

    Great question!

    And the answer is as simple as it is devastating: the organic industry FAILED to develop its own version of min-till or no-till farming back in the early 2000s. So organic activists have decided that they now have no choice but to attack their competition, and try to discourage further development of GMO technology which increasingly makes organic farming look anti-environmental with all of the erosion it causes.

    Click here for the full story: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/07/30/why-former-organic-farmer-food-inspector-turned-against-big-organic-to-embrace-gmos/

  • Brad

    There was an instance South of Sutton, NE where a farmer failed to plant the buffer strip for Sygenta’s Endogen ethanol GMO. The corn cross pollinated with a neighbors food grade white corn. One Endogen kernel in 10,000 will prevent snack chips from holding together and the processor rejected the farmer’s corn. The farmer lost his $.40 food grade white corn premium and took a $.40 discount to deliver white corn to an ethanol plant for a total loss of $.80 per bushel.

    • The first problem here is the very idea of growing corn for ethanol. Taxpayers have poured more money into this dead-end, net-net-negative undertaking than we did into the Korean War.

      After that, the situation you describe has nothing to do with the fact that Syngenta’s “Endogen” corn is a GMO. It was a simple case of incompatible varieties of corn being allowed to cross-breed, rendering one of them unmarketable.

      Which brings us to the farmer who failed to plant the buffer strip… was he sued by his neighbor for negligence? Seems to me it would have been an open-and-shut case.

      • Brad

        The farmer talked to Sygenta about damages, and the referred him to the farmer’s technology agreement requiring refuges. I talked to a different attorney and he still thought he had a case against Sygenta. Farmers tend to refrain from suing their neighbors.

        Ummm… as for the erroneous fact that tax payers are pouring money into Ethanol: Farmers are taxed via withholding fund from our grain checks to pay for ethanol subsidies. Consumers receive a windfall, compliments of farmers, for clean, cheap and renewable energy. Further, livestock produces get a cheap, nutrient rich, high protein co-product that greatly increase feed efficient and weight gains. Conversely, oil companies receive huge subsidies from the government too (at tax payers, not farmers, expense). Making gas from oil is net-energy-negative too. To each their own…

        • hyperzombie

          He has no case.

        • Ethanol fuel is neither clean nor cheap, and it is most definitely subsidized heavily by taxpayers.

          If the farmer whose crop was damaged won’t sue his neighbor, then the case ends there. I repeat, this is not a case of GMO contamination.

          • Brad

            I looked it up- ethanol tax subsides to producer ended in 2011. In 2015, the government is providing 200 million for pipeline infrastructure and 15 million of fuel pumps. The multi-billion dollar ethanol industry now provides more tax revenue than it receives from the government. It was very smart for the government to build up the ethanal industry to provide jobs and economic development for rural economies as now it’s providing a sizable return on investment. (This is in addition to the revenue from the ethanol tax.)

            Now, the reason ethanol needs its’ own pipeline is it’s a tremendous solvent (i.e. a cleaner). IF you send it through a gas pipeline, it would come out dirty junk. That’s why it’s transported by truck or train. The same applies to a car engine, it removes gunk and deposit make the engine run more efficiently. It also boost octane, which increases fuel efficiency/ fuel economy. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/flexible_fuel_emissions.html

          • (OMG… this can’t be happening.)

            The ethanol industry would never have come into existence were it not for DECADES of tax subsidies, totaling more than a billion dollars per-annum over the last 40 years.

            And now, the only reason the ethanol industry still exists is because fuel retailers are required by law to include a certain amount of ethanol in the fuel we burn in our cars, even though it ruins our car’s engines.

            I could run any business and claim to be profitable if the government forced people to use my product.

          • Brad
          • hyperzombie

            Not contamination. Wheat is self pollinating.

          • This is a common mistake Brad. The farmer’s wheat crop was not “contaminated” because Monsanto’s wheat was GMO, rather, because Monsanto’s wheat in this case was not a registered variety.

          • Brad

            What’s the point of linking something you’re not going to read? Your last comment is way off base and demonstrates you have no clue what you’re talking about. No offense, but I’ll get agricultural technology advice from fellow producers and people who are actually in the industry.

          • Brad

            If all else fails, google.scholar.com “Despite the low rates of gene flow, a maximum cross-pollination distance of 2.75 km has been reported in the literature [27].” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246478/ while their is partial truth in what your saying, proper safe guards should remain in place.

          • Brad

            Humm…. Turns out Monsanto admitted guilt in 2014, paid millions of dollars in damages and settled out of court over damages from lost exports due to GMO Roundup ready wheat contamination. This lawsuit reached class actions status and paid hundreds of farmers.

          • Boulder7777

            Corn pollen does not travel very far, as it is quite heavy. Even in strong winds, as in Boulder County, CO. Here is a corn pollen drift study between conventional yellow corn and conventional blue corn, showing what % of pollen falls at what distance from the original. And refuges are required in technology agreements when farmers buy seeds. The doofus referred to above by Brad, that didn’t plant a refuge of non-GE corn, not only violated his agreement with the GE corn seed company, but also isn’t working very hard to be a good neighbor re: growing his crop, even if it is true that pollen doesn’t drift very far:

            http://world-food.net/wfl/download/journals/2003-issue_2/j2-agriculture-99.pdf

          • hyperzombie

            I think both farmers are asshats, this could have been solved in the spring before planting with a simple phone call. Corn only releases pollen for a week, they could have timed the crops to pollinate at different times leading to 0 contamination for either farmer. But that would take a bit of communication, so difficult today with our limited communication options.

          • I think the USDA should establish a fund so neighboring farmers can start using smoke signals to warn each other BEFORE they seed their crops!

          • And his neighbor appears to have let him off the hook.

          • Brad

            I had a field of non RR corn and the neighbor had RR corn to the East. The next year I had Roundup resistant volunteer corn (from cross pollination) 3/8 of a mile into the field. Yes, the wind loves to blow in Nebraska. Monsanto paid for the chemical to treat those few plant when we made our second application of Roundup.

    • hyperzombie

      It was the food grade farmer’s fault, he should have had maintained his buffers to maintain the quality of his crop. It is always the farmer with the crop that need its identity preserved to maintain proper buffers, not the other way round. It has always been this way in farming.

      • Brad

        Not under the law…

        • hyperzombie

          Yep under the law as well. It has been this way since the 1300s.
          If you grow a crop that has to be maintained in any way, it is up to you to protect that crop. All hell will break out if it was the other way. habenario farmers suing jalapeno farmers, popcorn farmers suing all other corn farmers, it would be insane.

          • Brad

            Tort: Special damages basically include the compensatory and punitive damages for the tort committed in lieu of the injury or harm to the plaintiff. Damages in tort are awarded generally to place the claimant in the position in which he would have been had the tort not taken place.

          • hyperzombie

            No there is no damage, if the food grade farmer wanted a premium he should have maintained HIS buffers, There is no damage. What the heck don’t you understand about this…

          • Brad

            With all due respect, between my mom and myself, we’ve talk to 8 ag lawyers and they all agree the white corn farmer is entitled to damages. You obviously didn’t read, or understand, the link I provided. However, I tend to agree with their findings, as they are very qualified attorneys. Thank you for your “legal advise”, but I’ve already have guys on retainer for that….

          • hyperzombie

            Well good luck. But I am sure am hoping that the lawyers are working pro bono. None of the cases in the law review have anything to do with incidental cross contamination.

          • Brad

            The Enodgen farmer failed to plant the REQUIRED buffer strip, so his cross contamination was intensional, which is a tort. The white corn farmer is entitled to damages. It’s a slam dunk case with several legal precedents to follow. Chances are the Endogen farmer will have to pay the white corn farmer’s court cost and lawyer fees too (if the matter goes to trial).

          • hyperzombie

            Once again the white corn farmer should have planted his own buffers or timed his crop to prevent any contamination from any near by corn source. Not that hard to do.
            He was being a greedy shit and now he is crying like a big baby, serves him right, he should get squat.

          • Brad
          • hyperzombie

            Once again it doesn’t matter what your neighbors grow, it only matters what you grow. You are responsible for maintaining your crops identity, it doesn’t matter if it is GMO, dent, popcorn, MBR corn or fancy assed flint corn. It is always up the the grower to maintain identity.. So once again it is the white corn growers fault that his crop was contaminated.
            WTF don’t you understand about this..

    • Bill Pilacinski

      Any sweet corn grower still in business knows not to grow their sweet corn next to their neighbor’s field corn or their sh2 next to their su1. I assume the South of Sutton food grade corn grower is no longer in business or should not be.

      • Brad

        Food grade #1 white corn is ground to make white corn flour (to make tortilla), white corn chips, hominy and grits. Yes, he is still in business and was paid damages for his neighbor’s negligence (because he failed to planted the buffer strip he agreed to plant when he signed the contract). Also, the farmer is a large operator with other crops to spread out his risk. http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CCD/introsheets/foodcorn.pdf

  • Stuart M.

    I tried growing barley and oats in my garden, just for the heck of it. The aphids just murdered the barley kernels, but the straw was okay for the compost pile. The oats were not attacked by aphids but trying to get the kernels out of the florets just about murdered me! The straw was very excellent though. So what did I learn? Leave the grain farming to the experts.

    • hyperzombie

      Now you are going to have volunteer oats growing everywhere, warm up the weed wacker.

    • If organic and local-food activists tried what you describe, they’d have a better understanding of what farming is all about.

      • Mark Smith

        Mischa, still getting paid by the post, or did they move you to hourly?

  • Schratboy

    All of nature is the GM buffer zone. Since when do organisms and biologicals obey some defined tract of land?

  • Mark Smith

    You left out that GMO’s have never had any testing done on humans … other than to note that cancer rates have gone up at exactly the same rate as GMO use. But why listen to science? GMO’s have never been based in science. Just money and profit for a few old hwite guys.

    • RobertWager

      Please Mark explain how such testing could be done as world food safety experts say the confounding variables make it virtually impossible.

      Please tell us who will be the test subjects and for how long, ethicists want to know considering point one above.

      No food in the history of food has been “tested on humans” so why should GE crops and derived foods be any different.

    • Bill Pilacinski

      Actually the apparent increase in cancer rates (more likely related to increases in life expectancy) much more closely tract organic food production.