Without Glyphosate, What Would Farming Look Like?

Dave Walton, full-time Iowa farmer growing GM and non-GM corn, soybeans, alfalfa and hay and Director, Iowa Soybean Association | February 14, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS:

• On our farm we use what amounts to large soda-sized cup of glyphosate per acre
• GE crops and glyphosate allowed us to switch to more sustainable no-till farming
• "Superweed" problem no worse using glyphosate than other pest chemicals
• Our use of most toxic chemicals has gone down, as it has for most conventional farmers
• Banning glyphosate would result in using more toxic chemicals, abandoning no-till


The news earlier this year that the European Union stepped to the brink of banning the herbicide glyphosate got me thinking -- what would our farming operation look like if we had this herbicide tolerant crop system taken away? It's a question I've pondered for no other reason than to determine what my alternatives would be if the use of this chemical becomes a political football in the United States as it's become elsewhere.

How would the loss of glyphosate change what we do now? Are the alternatives better or worse than the current production model? To be sure, thinking this through was not a pleasant exercise, but it's a critical one considering how overheated the global discussion has become on this chemical.

Most people reading this are probably familiar with glyphosate. It goes by the trade name Roundup. It does a great job at killing weeds. If you do any gardening, you've probably bought it at your local hardware store and used it on your lawn safely for decades. We use glyphosate with crops, like soybeans, that are herbicide resistant. That means we can spray it after the weeds and/or the crop has emerged and it will kill the weeds but not harm the crops. For farmers and consumers, that's a good thing, I believe.

But if you're an anti-GMO activist, glyphosate is the root of all evil. They say that farmers, like me, drench our crops in this herbicide; turns farmers into chemical junkies; hurts beneficial insects; destroys the vitality of the soil; leads to a massive infestation of monstrous weeds; and worst of all that it will kill me of cancer. Science says none of these are true, and that's confirmed by my personal experience. But advocacy organizations are all over the Internet promoting these scare stories, and many of their claims are circulated by the mainstream news as if they are true. It hurts my brain to read that stuff.

There are people out there who truly believe that we farmers douse, drown, drench or saturate our crops in chemicals. Anti-GMO campaigners, organic activists and irresponsible news reports use those phrases all the time (see here, here, here, here). In graphic form it often looks something like this meme from GMOFreeUSA pictured here:

Really?

Does GMOFreeUSA actually think we load up big tankers of herbicide and drown our crops with the stuff? First, they don't understand the meaning of the word drown; second, to really drench a crop we would have to use one of those big tanker airplanes they use to fight forest fires. The video in this link, for example, would qualify as a drenching, probably not a drowning. Sorry, that simply is not what we do on a modern farm.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

On our farm, we grow both GMO and non-GMO crops. When planting season arrives in Iowa, I begin applying herbicides to prepare for planting. On our no-till ground -- the most sustainable form of agriculture, and it's been made possible by the use of GM crops -- we use a combination of glyphosate, 2,4-D and metalachlor for corn. Forsoybeans we add a pre-packaged mix of chlorimuron, flumioxazin and thifensulfuron. On our tilled ground, we leave out the glyphosate and 2,4-D, as it's not needed because tillage kills the weeds that are present.

So, what about this drowning of our fields with glyphosate that we've been reading so much about? On our corn ground, before planting we apply 16 ounces of glyphosate along with a small amount of these other chemicals. To put that in perspective, it's a little more than half a gallon of total herbicide spread out over an acre, or roughly the size of a football field.

In other words, per square foot, on the corn ground we apply what amounts to 1/3 of a drop per square foot. On soybean ground it's approximately 1/12 of a drop per square foot. What we do is a misting and not a "dousing." We're not "drowning" plants in pesticides; we're using what amounts to an eyedropper.

That's what we do now. But as a farmer, I have to be sober about this. What happens if the activists scare enough people, or members of Congress, and a ban is put in place, like what may very well happen in Europe after the 18-month temporary renewal ends. What's the worst case scenario?

Here's How I Used to Farm

I'm not saying it would be a full-on nuclear winter here, but it would be a regression to an earlier time, and I know a far less sustainable time, before glyphosate came into wider use in the late 1980s. To take a phrase from a show from a while back -- "Imagine if you will... a time not long ago..."

One of the biggest issues for all farmers, conventional and organic, is how to prepare the soil for seeding by clearing away, and preventing weed competition. Let's start at the beginning of the crop cycle and work through this. As a farmer, the first thing I need to decide before the season even begins, is what type of production model should I use: conventional tillage; conservation tillage; or no-till?

We used to rely a lot on conventional tillage (and many organic farmers still do). Conventional tillage is a system in which the ground is tilled either in the fall after the previous crop is harvested or early in the spring before planting. A plow rolls the ground, which doesn't do much good for the soil structure -- it speeds up the decomposition of crop residue and soil organic matter. That leads to increases in carbon release from the soil via CO2. Not good, and a practice that we've eliminated in our operation. In fact, we have not used a moldboard plow (like the one seen below) in probably 25 years.

Next, we used a disk to level the ground and remove any weeds that may have germinated after the primary tillage was complete. The secondary tillage step was always done in the spring, and the timing could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks prior to planting. If weeds were present, we would perform yet another tillage pass. Then we would plant.

After planting, but before the crop emerged, we would make a herbicide application to prevent weeds from germinating and competing with the crop. Weeds are a bitch. They really are. They steal water and nutrients from the crop, and can out-compete them because of their aggressive growth. Organic farmers say that they are their number one headache; they use a combination of soil management techniques, some of which we use as well, and natural chemicals (some of which are quite toxic, like copper sulfate).

Depending on the crop, we would usually use a wide variety of pre-emergent herbicides. These products were efficient in reducing broadleaf weeds and relatively good at preventing grass type weeds but they weren't 100 percent effective. Yep, it meant that we had to do one or two more tillage passes, this time with what we called a row-crop cultivator. So in total we made at times up to five tillage passes for each crop season. And once weeds emerged, we didn't have many crop-safe herbicide options. Weedy fields were common, and resulted in loss of yield, and another increase in weed pressure the next season.

As we farmers became more aware of the damage tillage could do, we added conservation tillage to the mix, which resulted in less turning of the soil. Herbicides improved but they still weren't 100 percent effective. However, we were able to cut the number of tillage steps down from five to as few as two.

In the late 1970's, the production system called no-till was being developed. It was interesting to me as it solved a few of the soil issues, but as a complete system it didn't seem workable when first introduced. It was heavily dependent on intense management. Even with all its ecological advantages, most conventional (and organic farmers, then and now) did not adopt it because it just didn't control weeds very well -- unless you used a lot of chemical applications, and few farmers, organic or conventional, want to do that.

Everything began to change in 1996, when herbicide tolerant (Ht) crops were introduced. The first to market were soybeans tweaked to have a tolerance to glyphosate, known as Roundup Ready. You could spray a field with glyphosate to prevent weeds from growing, and if you had to spray after the soybeans emerged, the crop was unharmed. This started to get interesting. Suddenly, as the chart below makes clear, the various systems started to come together in a great ecological package. I was able to cut down drastically on the use of far more toxic chemicals and substitute glyphosate, which was also more effective, and that enabled us to move to more no-till farming, a huge boost to our commitment to sustainability. Everything was coming together, as you can see here:

How Herbicide Resistant Farming Has Changed Farming, and Me

The older generation of farmers loved to see fields that were flat and free of surface residue prior to planting. They took great pride in the ability to plow and not have a single corn stalk on the surface. I get that, however I'm not as OCD as those old guys were. They liked things neat and orderly. That tendency went back for generations. You see, we have traced our farming lineage back to colonial days, and we've always been farmers in the New World. We worked our way through what is now known as Long Island, through New Jersey, then Ohio and Indiana, landing in East Central Iowa. When I say I had to fight some history, I really had to fight some history. Many farm families in the Midwest followed a similar path, and they equally hated disorder. No-till was first seen by many Midwest farmers as nearly sacrilegious; residue everywhere, and weeds were sometimes allowed to emerge. Scandalous!

I had to fight that perspective in our own operation. I'm not a traditional guy. I love to make hamburger out of sacred cows, and I try to do it nearly every day in my farming operation. Other farmers around us had begun to use no-till for planting soybeans into corn residue, but they still mostly tilled using conservation tillage prior to planting corn. For them, the traditional process was hard to break. But we jumped into the no-till production system with both feet.

Let's look for a second at the herbicides we used in the past, compared to what we use now -- what we would have to go back to if glyphosate were banned. We still use a range of older chemicals, primarily, acetachlor, metalachlor, pendimethalin, atrazine, dicamba, 2,4-D and glyphosate They've all been around since I started farming in the early 1980's, and most were produced much earlier -- including glyphosate. No, glyphosate is not new, despite what the activists say and it wasn't invented for use on herbicide tolerant crops. It's been on the market since 1974, and quickly became the best-selling herbicide in the world. Why? Because it is so effective, and allowed us to cut down on the use of far more toxic chemicals. For example, I've reduced my use of paraquat -- which, although safe for farming, is 1500 times more toxic than glyphosate -- to almost nothing.

What about claims that since the introduction of herbicide resistant GMO crops we use even more chemicals than we did before? That's not my experience, as I will explain, despite what you may read on some websites. Sure, it's use has gone up. How could it not! It's paired with GMO crops whose use has boomed.

But that's kind of a silly statistic. If critics were genuinely interested in sustainability, they'd ask, "Has the overall use of the chemicals and in particular the most toxic chemicals gone up?" Those are questions that really matter to the soil and humans. The answers are clear, according to independent government statistics. According to the USDA, in a 2014 report, pesticide use in the US peaked in 1981, and has trended downward since then. Here are two graphs they used to illustrate the trend. Note the drop off beginning in 1996 when GMO crops were introduced.

While glyphosate use has, of course, grown, it has not increased the use of chemicals, as some claim.

Glyphosate, a very mild toxicant, has replaced far harsher ones, as this chart of the usage of chemicals on corn in the US, though 2015, illustrates.


Source: Wyoming Weed Sciences

What about the claim, made as an accusation, that glyphosate causes "superweeds"? I hear it mentioned quite a bit. It's a genuine issue for farmers, but the reality is weed resistance is nothing new. Pests, whether they are weeds or insects, evolve. It's what they do. According to the Weed Science Society of America, weed resistance predates herbicide tolerant crops by at least 40 years. Our job as farmers is to be stewards of not only the land, but of the herbicide tolerant technology and herbicides themselves, it is also our responsibility to minimize the chance of resistance. Banning glyphosate won't solve the superweed problem. Soybean farmers who have switched away from glyphosate to other conventionally bred non-GMO herbicides such as ALS inhibitors have it even worse -- their superweed problem is far worse than with glyphosate. Beware of what you wish for.

Sustainability

That brings me to my last, and likely most important, point. Let's look forward instead of back. I dislike the term 'sustainability' because it's such an ill-defined buzzword. Sustainable farming is a nebulous term, because everything we do involves environmental trade-offs. Our operation attempts to embrace the three pillars of ecological farming: It has to be economically stable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable. The concept we've handed down for generations isn't unique to us; it's ingrained in our family to leave the land in a better condition than we found it. That means lots of things. I must take care of the soil so it remains fertile for my lifetime and for my children, and for all generations to come.

So then, what happens if herbicide tolerant crops, or specifically glyphosate, is taken away? Simply said, we can only use what's on the shelf already. We'd have to regress to a prior production model that includes one of several distasteful options. including more tillage and less environmentally smart chemicals.

That's simply not acting as a steward to our land and our children.

Dave Walton is a full-time Farmer in Cedar County Iowa, 6th Generation, growing GM and non-GM corn, soybeans, alfalfa and hay on 500 acres. Iowa State University, studied Animal Science. Director, Iowa Soybean Association and licensed Commercial Pesticide Applicator and former Certified Crop Advisor.

The Genetic Literacy Project is a 501(c)(3) non profit dedicated to helping the public, journalists, policy makers and scientists better communicate the advances and ethical and technological challenges ushered in by the biotechnology and genetics revolution, addressing both human genetics and food and farming. We are one of two websites overseen by the Science Literacy Project; our sister site, the Epigenetics Literacy Project, addresses the challenges surrounding emerging data-rich technologies.

  • Randy Oliver, beekeeper

    This is a very well-done and objective discussion, Dave. Especially valuable from a realistic and environmentally-conscious grower’s perspective.

    We beekeepers, of course, understand that highly-effective weed control in field margins also results in the elimination of pollinator forage and wildlife habitat, including the milkweeds essential for Monarch butterfly survival. Could you please address steps that growers could take to help pollinators and Monarchs?

    • FarmersSon63

      They could force city people into living underground where they cannot destroy the environment.

    • So I am guessing your solution is to make farmers keep weeds in the field margins, or grow a certain area of milkweed for every acre of farm land?

      You well fed city people forget who feeds you and how hard they work:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5bdf02d593c3b29d75c31ce89a383b3566d139d6a8e7e590074b2352d686c796.jpg

      • Randy Oliver, beekeeper

        Hi Effinell, your extremist answer is no better than that of the anti-glyphosate extremists, and wastes the time of those who wish to work together. We commercial beekeepers work closely with our landowners. Please do not try to put ridiculous words into my mouth– far be it from me to propose your silly solution.

        Since Dave had written a well thought-out article, I thought that he may also have had suggestions for landowners (of which there are many), who wish to provide some wildlife, pollinator, and Monarch habitat on their lands. For those who do, as Verna points out, there are organizations that may offer assistance.

        We beekeepers are collaborating with Pheasants Forever to help landowners to provide wildlife habitat on the unusable margins of their cropland. More information at http://beeandbutterflyfund.org/

        • David Walton

          Randy, we can and do provide habitat in marginal areas. In our own operation, we don’t have a lot of marginal areas within the crop fields, but have taken the initiative to re-plant some road ditches to a whole host of flowering plants to provide nutrition to pollinators. There is also a push at the state and national level to promote a pollinator-beneficial program on acres that for whatever reason are un-profitable. Areas like low-spots in fields that crops suffer from excessivee moisture, small odd-shaped areas that are difficult to farm efficiently, etc. Other potential areas are eroded hillsides where the crop cannot cover the cost of production. It doesn’t take large areas to help, and I’d think lots of smaller areas would be better.

          • Randy Oliver, beekeeper

            Thanks David, I suspected that you might : )
            I thank you for your clear-headed post. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist, and I have the greatest respect for those farmers who make an effort at striking a balance between agricultural production, and sustainable and ecologically-friendly practices. From my experience, there are many of you.

    • Verna Lang

      Monsanto actually funds and supports initiative to replace habitats that have been disrupted by agriculture. http://discover.monsanto.com/posts/planting-habitats-for-monarchs-and-pollinators They may be able to help your community find locations where milkweed and forage plants can be grown with minimal impact on crops.

  • Yes Maam

    Dave, I understand farmers want to farm and grow food in the manner which is most efficient for them. But at what point does one stop and think about the risk to the consumers? Is it worth growing food if you are not just feeding your family, but making them sick? I understand you do not believe you are making people sick, you believe the marketing and salesmen from Monsanto, but what if they are wrong? What is the consequence to you and your family and others who eat your food? If I ( and millions of others, including world renowned scientists and doctors) are wrong, the only consequence is that more people are spending a little more to eat organic. Organic farmers are profiting, conventional farmers are switching to organic, and they are averaging 40 more bushels per acre ( corn- $450 more per acre). The soil is not being depleted, more organic matter is being created, more carbon is being sequestered, reducing climate change, increasing water absorption, decreasing exposure to toxins, decreased technology fees, increased freedom, increased yield, lower input costs. THAT is a consequence I am willing to risk by being an activist FOR organic food and against glyphosate based herbicides. And by the way, Roundup has not been sprayed DIRECTLY on GMO crops since 1974. It was used on weeds, but the crops started to be affected by drift, so they had to genetically engineer the crop to resist Roundup. It was not until 1996 that GMO crops were directly sprayed and especially in the past 10 years when 2/3 of all glyphosate that has ever been used, was applied to crops. There was a 73% increase in 2013 alone. This was due to weed resistance and using glyphosate based herbicides as a drying agent. So just in the past ten years, there is a huge spike of glyphosate use, allowed on 160 crops, including oatmeal used in baby food ( tested by the FDA to have 1.67 ppm of GBH) and suddenly our babies are eating 15,000 times the amount that rats ate that were proven to get liver disease from Roundup, in one day. THAT is “new” compared to a hundred thousand years of farming without toxic chemicals. We have faith that modern farmers CAN farm, as has been done for thousands of years, WITHOUT toxic chemicals. You are ingenious. You CAN do it. PLEASE do. Protect our babies, our children, our water and our soil. Be the heros we know you to be.

    • WORSEKarma

      What if you had actually read and comprehended the article, rather than just regurgitating the Luddite talking points you read in Natural News and Mother Jones?

    • Well, it is not only the marketing and salesmen from Monsanto that says that there is no reason to think that glyphosate used according to regulations is harmful to human beings. Actually, this is the consensus among scientists and it’s been so for years.

      Oh, by the way, Monsanto doesn’t hold the monopole on glyphosate anymore! It’s been in the public domain for 20 years now. So, what makes you think Monsanto would so obsessively defend a product that anyone can manufacture and sell?

      Also, so-called “organic” products aren’t just a little more expensive than products from conventional agriculture. They are between 50% and 100% more expensive, and they aren’t even safer, healthier or more ecological!

      Indeed, organic farming also uses “toxic chemicals”, some of them actually way more toxic than their “industrial” counterpart, like, for example, copper sulfate, a “traditional” fungicide used since the 18th century, which has been recognized as heavily toxic not only for the soil, but also for insects (mostly the bumble bee) and human beings. Also, as illustrated by the multiple food contamination scandals of these last 2 decades, they can actually be pretty dangerous to human beings. Germany still remembers how thousands of people were poisoned with organic soy sprouts contaminated with a virulent type of e-coli. And why was it contaminated? Because the organic labels forbid producers from using chlorinated water to clean up vegetables that have been exposed to “natural” fertilizers of animal origin! The result: 4000 people ended up in the hospital within two months, of which 800 had serious health complications, of which 40 died! The day just one person gets a stomach ache from eating a GMO, all hell would break loose, but 40 people die from eating contaminated organic soy sprouts and no one really reacts among the proponents of organic farming!

      Organic products are not healthier either, as what defines healthy in our feeding isn’t the way things are grown, but their inherent properties, when they are harvested and how we eat them. It is perfectly possible to have organic junk food. The fact that your hamburger is made of organic products isn’t going to make it healthier. It’s still the same junk food as the conventional hamburger from McDonald.

      Finally, organic agriculture isn’t more ecological, as it relies heavily on tillage, which is bad for the soil, requires more surface than conventional agriculture (bad for the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity) and often requires more frequent uses of so-called “natural” pesticides, because they are less efficient than the industrial ones. So, I don’t see the point to pay so much more for products that bring no added values except empty claims!

      Weed resistance, as has been specified in the text, isn’t specific to the use of glyphosate or GMO. It’s been an issue for farmers ever since the beginning of agriculture, which, by the way, was 10’000 years ago, not a hundred thousands years ago. And in that fantasized past of yours, with no “toxic” chemicals, farmers were facing very regular complete crop losses, famines and starvation. By the way, in some countries, where farmers still live from subsistance farming, with “traditional” technics, they still have that kind of issues on a regular basis! Can you remind us when was the last time you were confronted with a famine? Maybe, you should think about that before making ridiculous demands on a farmer!

      • Yes Maam

        People are not only getting stomach aches from eating GMO chemically farmed food, they are dying. SriLanka BANNED glyphosate based herbicides ( 80% of GMOs are engineered to withstand GBH’s) due to 20,000 people dying of liver and kidney disease from GBH exposure. The EPA’s own fact sheet acknowledges “liver and kidney damage”. According to the Liver Disease Foundation 1 out of 10 children in the USA now have NAFLD- and Antoniou’s and Seralini’s teams just proved Roundup CAUSES liver disease. All food used to be organic. Organic food does not kill people. Bacteria overgrowth does. FYI Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic which destroys beneficial bacteria and allows for the proliferation of pathogenic gut bacteria, specifically ecoli and salmonella. That is scientifically proven. All hell is breaking lose from the connections of GMO /Glyphosate to autism, allergies, autoimmune disease, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and cancer. Half of Americans are now impacted by these issues. Ask any family dealing with these issues, they will tell you it’s hell.

        • FarmersSon63

          Sri Lanka lifted their ban, because they had no proof.
          http://www.economynext.com/Sri_Lanka_to_relax_glyphosate_weedicide_ban__report-3-6143-9.html
          GMO’s have been on the market for over 20 years and there still has not been even ONE confirmed illness or death.
          Autism is caused by eating organic food.
          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hCH3zudPvnU/UMolIlzvT3I/AAAAAAAAA8M/aJV9eZO9VNA/s400/Autism-Organic.png

          • Lucy7

            Pure nonsense!

          • FarmersSon63

            I know, right?

        • SageThinker

          In fact, Monsanto’s own early 1980s studies on lab animals show gut disturbance from glyphosate exposure (fairly high doses, to be honest, for this is toxicology) but Monsanto’s “scientists” did not count this as an “adverse effect” in their setting of the NOAEL levels from the experiments. This is dishonest. Gut disturbance is indeed an adverse effect. Those are also unpublished, so we cannot review them. I only know this from digging into a review article:

          Kimmel, Gary L., et al. “Evaluation of developmental toxicity studies of glyphosate with attention to cardiovascular development.” Critical reviews in toxicology 43.2 (2013): 79-95.

          You can find this paper online in PDF form — search on Google Scholar. Then read the descriptions of the unpublished Monsanto studies reported.

          This secrecy, this hidden non-science is very immoral and is the breeding ground for bias when there is a ulti-billion dollar per year product to be protected.

          Monsanto has never researched gut microbiota disturbance from glyphosate. They would rather not turn over that stone because they’re not legally required to.

          Glyphosate is a selective microbicide — it inhibits greatly some species, like B subtilis and not others like Pseudomonas spp. It is reasonable to expect that over time even a small amount of exposure daily would change the ecology of a bacterial community such as lives in the human distal gut in the form of biofilms in the chyme.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Citations please! Just hook us up with some scientifically valid references that confirm this bodgy alarmist hypothesis of yours, Daft Tinkler. You may as well be telling us glyphosate causes space junk and we all are being crushed by it, one by one.

    • Chet Beardman

      What is your view on the scientific consensus on global climate change? And how is that different from the general scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs and glyphosate?

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        Not relevant questions.

        • Stuart M.

          I think what Chet is driving at is the schizophrenia of the anti-GMO crowd who readily accept the scientific consensus on global warming (that it is real and man-made), yet they deny the scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered crops for human consumption and the environment. FarmersSon63 has listed some of the mountains of research studies which make up this consensus. The AAAS which has 120,000 science members says so. Even the European Commission says so. But the anti-GMO activists have scrounged together about 10 very poorly designed studies, which have been heavily criticized in peer reviews, which they trot out every time to “prove” that there is a scientist or two who are opposed to GMOs. That is not a scientific consensus.

          • Good4U

            Not only that, the Seralini experimentation (which in itself was unethical) was not a “study” in the true meaning of the term. The experiments weren’t even done in accordance with Good Laboratory Practice. That means the raw data, if in fact there were any, are not subject to external audit. His publications on those experiments could just as well be fake, just like the fraudulent, ginned-up dry-lab stuff that predated the codification of GLP criteria to begin with, more than 4 decades ago.

          • SageThinker

            See my answer above. It is not “schizophrenia” and it’s fully consistent to see that industry in each case pushes an agenda toward their product being perceived as harmless. It’s a masterpiece of propaganda to claim a “consensus” that GMOs and agrochemicals are all perfectly safe. It’s also the product of a very long and massive propaganda campaign, as well as doctoring and biasing of the science. Not saying glyphosate is super-toxic nor am i saying Bt trait corn is super-toxic, but there is not a guarantee of total safety either, as claimed by the industry and its messengers.

          • Stuart M.

            The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is not an industry group. The European Commission is not an industry group. Anti-GMO dance instructors and levitating gurus are bought and paid for by the organics industry. Seralini is bought and paid for by the homeopathy industry. There is no industry I know of that loves the global warming theory and is making propaganda for it. SCIENTISTS are ringing the alarm bells about it. Consensus means simply “general agreement,” it is a FACT, not a masterpiece of anything. The PEW Polling outfit did a survey of the 120,000 scientist members of the AAAS and 88% agreed that GMOs are safe to eat, 86% said that global warming is real and man-made. Until you came along, most “progressives” were schizophrenic in accepting the scientific consensus on global warming but rejecting it on GMO safety. You, by rejecting the scientific consensus on BOTH issues, have proved yourself to be an unscientific crank.

          • SageThinker

            I think you misunderstand and misrepresent me.

            Climate change is real. The industry in question sought to deny it and even now they delay action on it and public acceptance.

            There is not a full consensus on “GMO and agrochemical safety” but the indusry seeks to make it seem as if there is.

            By the way, AAAS members are not all “scientists” and there’s also not anything magical about scientists who do not specialize in the topic at hand. So that one is a little statistic with some meaning but not quite what you want it to mean.

            There is another problem with the false parallel:

            1. With climate change, the relevant scientists are climate scientists.

            2. With GMOs and agrochemicals, the relevant scientists are ecologists and toxicologists.

            However, people pushing the industry agenda tend to speak the opinions of plant geneticists and other people in the industry itself, and to make this out as the “consensus” on the alleged safety of the technologies.

            This is like having petrochemical industry chemists determine whether climate change is real! Surely you can see the problem there.

            Anyway, now that i have clarified that i see climate change as real, please retract your incorrect statement. We’ll see if you have the integrity to do that.

          • Stuart M.

            You weren’t very clear now were you. Yes, I will be happy to return you to the status of “schizophrenic” from “unscientific crank.” Ha! You can’t hold a candle to the scientists in the AAAS. Everyone knows “ecologist” is a wishy-washy “soft” science that is mainly a default major for hippies who wasted too much of their time smoking pot. Neat how you moved the goal posts to connect “GMO and agrochemical safety” when we are talking about the safety of GMOs. There is a virtually unanimous consensus on the safety of GMOs for human and animal consumption. You are an anti-GMO propagandist, pure and simple.

          • SageThinker

            You are a sick person slinging insults and speaking without integrity. I was very clear previously. You don’t get to judge me. You’ve got nothing but insults to sling. No logic, nothing worth reading. Goodbye, loser propaganda pusher. Don’t waste my time any more. I tried but you’re not worth it.

          • Stuart M.

            You have so much integrity, you are now stalking me all over the Internet calling me “sick” and a “propagandist.” Go sit at the children’s table until you can act like an adult.

          • SageThinker

            No, i followed you to 1 or 2 replies elsewhere because you ticked me off with your lack of integrity. So i called you out. You’re a loser.

          • Stuart M.

            Stalking someone is a sign of “integrity?” All you have “called out” is your woeful lack of integrity. I’m a loser? Hmm, then being a loser ain’t so bad! I have a wonderful job teaching elementary school, a beautiful wife, a nice retirement account, good health, and I have sad Food Nazis like you to exercise my brain cells with. Have a nice day!

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Well, we certainly can see how you push your agenda and your own self-interest. So, by your own standards that makes you an evil propagandist, doesn’t it Tinkler?

      • Yes Maam

        The scientists that show global climate change from pollution don’t profit from those claims. Monsanto and GMO chemical farmers do profit from their claims that GMOs are safe. There is no consensus. There are thousands of studies showing harm from GMOs and Glyphosate and chemicals used in GMO farming. There are tens, if not hundreds of millions of consumers against GMOs and chemical farming. To say that there is a consensus that GMOs are safe is being a sheep of chemical manufacturers. GMO chemical farming is on it’s way out.

      • SageThinker

        I will tell you how it’s different:

        1. With climate change, the industry preference is to deny its reality.
        2. With agrochemicals, the industry preference is to claim its total safety.

        In other words, the goals of the propaganda are somewhat different.

        It’s the same in the sense that in both cases they desire to claim their products to be harmless. It’s different in the sense that they’ve gotten the public perception around GMOs and agrochemicals to the point where they claim consensus even though that is a fake consensus. In reality, there are many GMO traits and agrochemicals and every one must be considered separately, and there are also synergistic effects to be considered, and there are ecological effects to be considered. It’s not a simple question like “Is emission of carbon dioxide at high rates causing climate change?”

        So… there you have it.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          Yep, and so “there we have it” — another contorted tin foil hat conspiracy mongering steaming hot mess of daft Tinkler-think. We don’t need it, we didn’t want it, we only have to scrape it up and dispose of it, but “there we have it”. Ugh!

    • Stuart M.

      It’s amazing how much propaganda can be packed into one comment. You obviously didn’t read the article before cutting and pasting your talking points. The article said that if Glyphosate were banned, farmers would have to go back to using far worse chemicals and to heavy soil tillage. Tillage, or plowing, doesn’t just “upset the structure” of the soil, it is the leading cause of erosion by rain and wind, leading to loss of productive farmland. Yes, that means we will have to find more farmland somewhere. I wonder where? Crazy scientists like Gilles-Éric Séralini, who you wouldn’t name, are in a small minority. His Glyphosate-fed rat studies were totally discredited. Your claim that organic farmers have higher yields is totally bogus too, serious comparisons show that conventional and GE crops have yield advantages well into the double digits. More yield that can be gotten from an acre means means more sustainability and lower prices for consumers. I thank Dave Walton and all American farmers for providing us with plentiful, safe and sustainable food. Organic is “boutique food” for the gullible who want to pay more. I wish ignorant amateurs would shut up and listen to real farmers, not mindlessly repeat talking points from checkbook activist groups.

      • Yes Maam

        Have a talk with farmers who farm organically. Check out http://www.advancingecoag.com. John Kempf, Or Dr. MIchael McNeil or Gabe Brown. Organic farming not only brings a higher yield, 40 acres of corn per acre on average, but the soil is healthier ( no toxic chemicals killing the microbes), the crops have a higher nutrient value ( better for livestock and people and less food needs to be eaten as they are more fullfilled with nutrients). Organic soil needs less fertilizer, reducing toxic run off and the soil contains more carbon and therefor sequesters more carbon. Organically farmed soil absorbs more water, reducing drought too. The alternative to tillage is not only toxic chemicals. Check out cover crops, permaculture and steam weed control. Farmers are ingenius, Check out the many alternatives. Stop thinking there is only one way- the way that is exposing yourself ( if you are a conventional farmer) and other to toxic chemicals. Check out https://www.no-tillfarmer.com/keywords/687-gabe-brown

        • Stuart M.

          You can repeat your talking points ad nauseam. There are big problems with many of those yield comparison studies the organics industry touts. They usually compare the highest yield ever achieved on an organic plot with the average yield that conventional farmers get every year. The studies often ignore the fact that organic fields must be allowed to lie fallow to recover. Real scientific studies reveal the yield gap is more like 25% less with organic methods. You haven’t really wrapped your head around the fact that tillage destroys soil structure and releases carbon. Minimum or no-till has a big advantage there. Insects and weeds are a big problem for the organic industry and they use many “approved” pesticides. The biggest problem with organic farming is its unsustainability. That isn’t just compost tea they are putting on their fields. Vast quantities of manure would be required if farmers were going to switch to organic methods. There simply wouldn’t be enough manure to restore the fertility of the ground and manuring brings its own problems with it like salmonella. Advocating organic farming is a recipe for mass starvation and famine.

        • FarmersSon63

          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-cSP2QfocNjo/UXRYoKgujoI/AAAAAAAAAf4/3icYkVSVvlE/s1600/Some+Organic+Yields.jpg
          It has been proven over and over that organic farming results in a major yield drag.
          Multiple tillage passes in organic farming absolutely destroys soil structure.
          Currently, US farmers are using 100% of all available manure and organic fertilizers.
          This accounts for 4% of all fertilizer use.
          Where are you going to get the other 96% of fertilizer needed to maintain crop yields?
          This is basic chemistry. An organic crop and a conventional crop need the same amounts of nutrients to create thus crop. Crops cannot uptake organic fertilizers until they are broken down into inorganic forms of nutrients.
          Modern no-till farming reduces erosion, increases water infiltration, increases soil organic matter (reducing CO2 pollution). All this is due to the use of glyphosate.
          Ask yourself why do over 98% of all farmers choose to use pesticides and or manufactured fertilizers?
          Maybe you should get out of the city for the first time in your life to see why?

        • “Organic farming not only brings a higher yield, 40 acres of corn per acre on average, but the soil is healthier ( no toxic chemicals killing the microbes), the crops have a higher nutrient value”

          So much wrong in one sentence, congratulations.

          I didn’t read the rest, I assume it was also wrong.

          • Jackson

            40 acres of corn per acre on average

            Yes maam must be describing a super advanced indoor vertical farming operation. Figure 20 feet per floor for growing corn, that would be an 800 foot, 40 floor building to get 40 acres of corn per acre of land.

        • SageThinker

          Organic or holistic farming is a beautiful thing, and it’s counter to the goals of capitalism and its manifestation in food production, which is industrial agriculture, which seeks to maximize profit and has no other goals. We could have a better world if we would temper the greed orientation of capitalism and how it plays out in food production. More people could be involved in their food production and live on farms — which a great number of disillusioned young people these days long for — and our food could be cleaner and healthier and produced with love. But don’t say the word love to these folks here who are biotech and agrochemical industry cheerleaders. It’s not in their wheelhouse.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Your ephemeral “organic or holistic farming” is not so much a “beautiful thing”, as it is a pipe dream and illusion. When you say food “produced with love”, what you’re really suggesting is food produced by stoop labor mule farming. No thanks, Daft Tinkler, we’re not lovin’ it — you can keep all that imaginary nostalgia.

          • What a pile of nonsense. Organic companies like Whole Foods only care about making money, which is why they charged $6 for a bottle of water with three asparagus stalks in it. Grow up, act your age and stop being so gullible.

          • Damo

            “But don’t say the word love to these folks here who are biotech and agrochemical industry cheerleaders. ”

            On behalf of the farmers that I know that use and promote the use of modern ag tools, shut up. You are a liar. They love the earth, the soil, and growing food. They pick the best, most efficient, least harmful way to do it because of that love.

            Stop being dishonest.

        • Damo

          I love the fact that you link to a website that advocates the use of glyphosate–after you lecture about the dangers. I am very familiar with no-tillfarmer.com

    • Good4U

      In addition to the correct points made by others previously, your post misses the most important point regarding the regulation of safety of pesticides (including herbicides) to humans and the environment. In the U.S., the safety determinations are made by a regulatory agency, not by “salesmen from Monsanto” as you wildly charge. That sort of statement is a quick indicator that you don’t really know very much about agriculture, particularly about the relative safety of “organic” farming practices vs. those which are designed to protect human safety and the integrity of our environment. If you really did know about those things you would campaign IN FAVOR of biotechnology, even as it could be applied to make “organic” farming safe. As it is today, the rhetoric which supports “organic” farming is tantamount to bull manure.

      • Yes Maam

        Salesman of Monsanto will absolutely claim it is safe to spray these pesticides and herbicides on our food crops. Are you saying they would sell something to spray on food that they believe not to be safe? Their claim and the EPA’s claim is completely unfounded. What most farmers and consumer do not realize or consider is that the EPA does not require or conduct any long term animal studies with blood analysis of the FINAL formulations of the chemical products. They only ask for studies ( from the manufacturer who stands to profit) on ONE declared active chemical ingredient of the chemical products. Even a third grader knows that when you put more than one chemical together there is a very different reaction- often unpredictable and uncontrollable. I have been to the EPA and met with the Pesticide board and they have admitted to not having ANY long term animal studies of the final formulation of Roundup. It is not their policy to do so. So ANY claims made by anyone that the EPA has approved Roundup or other pest/herbicides and therefore they are safe, is making an unfounded claim that cannot be backed up by any science that the EPA has. Because they don’t have it. What we do have are studies from independent scientists, funded by concerned citizens with no profit to gain, who show that the co formulants of Roundup are 1000X more toxic than glyphosate ( the declared “active” chemical ingredient in Roundup and 750+ other glyphosate based herbicides). You see, Monsanto picked the least immediately toxic chemical to be the chemical tested…hiding the fact that the other chemicals in the product are so toxic, and hiding that glyphosate, as a patented chelator and antibiotic and reproductive effector, causes serious long term harm. You can either chose to believe Roundup and GMO chemical farming is unsafe, or not. The question to ask is which belief/actions based on that belief will cause the least amount of harm to babies and children, and you? I prefer to take precaution and avoid GMO and toxic chemicals and I have seen tremendous health changes in my family. Millions have. All food used to be organic. Think about that.

        • FarmersSon63

          You really need to spend a few minutes researching the process that the EPA goes through to evaluate the safety of pesticides.
          https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/about-pesticide-registration
          Absolutely clueless.

        • Stuart M.

          Oh yes, play the violins. You have personally seen “tremendous” health changes in your family. Is that your last resort? Aren’t you even going to accuse us of being shills for Monsanto?

          • SageThinker

            Stuart is a sick person. Ignore him.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Ah yes, here it comes oozing out — the nasty grotesque inner core of the Daft Tinkler. This happens ever time, every single time the Tinkler engages reality. He lays out his laughable opinions and conspiracy theories…his unique, tormented ‘Tinkler-think’. All that hot mess is readily debunked by conscientious readers. Tinkler argues, squirms, movers the goalposts, denies, denies, denies…but never, never ever supplies peer reviewed documentation for any of his Tinkler-think. The debunking intensifies until the Tinkler is fully depantzed, at which point his vulgar true nature is brought to bear.

            Only a few comments more before the Tinkler is publishing the crassest vulgarities and blocking Stuart M. — that’s the Tinkler’s solution, simple to stick his head back up his…er…in the sand…so he cannot see or hear truth debunking him. Heh, talk about a sick person!

          • Stuart M.

            This man is a stalker who lost an argument with me and can’t get over it.

          • SageThinker

            I didn’t lose any argument. You failed to dialog with integrity. You lost.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Is anyone here prepared to empower the Daft Tinkler as the designated judge of integrity?

            Yeah, me neither.

          • Stuart M.

            Is stalking someone a sign of “dialoging with integrity?” I think it is a sign of childishness. Careful you don’t get yourself banned from Disqus.

          • SageThinker

            Dude. I’m not stalking you. Get a grip. You were a dick to me first. Let it go. This is a waste of space for everyone.

          • Stuart M.

            You go to a comment where I praised some African scientists who are using GE techniques to cure crop diseases and told them to “Ignore him, he is sick.” You didn’t even bother to read the article or my comment. That is the definition of stalking. You have admitted you posted to 1 or 2 of my comments elsewhere because you were angry with me. That is the definition of stalking. YOU ARE A STALKER. OWN IT. Or you could apologize…

          • SageThinker

            If you own up to something first, which you did first, then i would.

          • Damo

            Wonder why he is even still talking to you. I pointed out a fact he got wrong and he announced that I was unethical and dangerous and as such he was blocking me immediately. He hasn’t responded to any post since, so I assume he followed through on his threat (which is fine by me, the guy is logic deficient). But he seems to enjoy harassing you.

          • Stuart M.

            Thanks for the info. I thought about blocking him, but it is too much fun to point out he is a stalker. I wonder what set him off. Maybe it was my comment that “ecology” was a soft science preferred by hippies.

        • Are you aware that the cost of developing a new crop protection product is $286 million and takes 11 years of research and development.

          Do you know why that is? you clearly don’t so I will tell you.

          A large proportion of that money is used for safety studies, including environmental impact, environmental fate, toxicology, crop residue, etc etc. Independent contract research organisations do a large amount of these studies and operate under strict accreditation’s.

          So a salesman claiming a product is safe has $286 million of research and development to back up his claim.

          • SageThinker

            Oh is it $286 million? Well the glyphosate annual sales are $6 billion now and $10 billion projected in 2020. So it was a huge winner — the “herbicide of the century” — and of course the industry wants to protect that success, so it makes sure to spend a few mil on propaganda annually to delay any public perception of probably harm from the product and to game governance and science. Your logic is flawed, by the way, EFFNELL. It doesn’t speak accurately about human nature or the way things really are.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Yep, that’s the Daft Tinkler for ya: EFFNNELL’s “logic is flawed” (and so, too, the rest of the world’s) whenever the facts contradict Tinkler-think.

        • Good4U

          For your information, there is no “pesticide board” at the EPA. You must be imagining that there could be so that you can claim to have met with such sort of “board”. As for toxicology testing and how Monsanto “picked” a chemical for testing and hid things about glyphosate, all of what you have posted above has been lifted from anti-GMO blog sites….you know, those websites that are presented as manifestos, which do not allow any comments or rebuttals. They resemble papal bulls (pun intended), which during the middle ages were sort of like executive orders, subject to no review or edit. At least here on this blog site you get the privilege of regurgitating someone else’s drivel. Your attempt at rhetoric falls flat with anyone who knows anything about the regulatory process pertaining to pesticides. Maybe you should learn something about how the regulatory agencies function before flailing the air with wild imaginings.

    • FarmersSon63

      Pesticides have been used extensively for over 80 years.
      Over 96% of farm acres have been receiving pesticide applications for over 50 years.
      To date, there has not been even one confirmed illness or death from consuming pesticide residues on foods.
      Quit being such a Drama Queen.

    • SageThinker

      Contrary to the other responses, there is not a consensus among scientists that glyphosate is harmless to humans. That is a highly constructed fake “consensus” created by public relations (read, propaganda) by continuous pushing on all levels by industry operatives. Monsanto’s own science on the topic is doctored and biased. The agencies are pressured (Lamar Smith) and infiltrated (Michael R Taylor….).

      Yes, what you’re talking about is an economic externality quite similar to the effect of fossil fuels causing global warming. The fossil fuels industry fought the inconvenient truth with an extensive propaganda campaign to sow climate change denialism and the biotech / agrochemical industry is doing the same now. It’s called “product protection” and it is quite evil. Same thing played out with many chemicals and with asbestos and with tobacco cigarettes. It’s the same pattern — a billion dollar industry threatened by probable risks will spend a few million to extend their profits through smokescreens.

      • Farmer with a Dell

        Ah, a splendid conspiracy theory you have there Daft Tinkler! So, what do you figure — 2 layers of tinfoil on your hat enough or should you be extra sure and apply a third layer?

  • anthony samsel

    Glyphosate should be banned. It is a synthetic amino acid that integrates and accumulates in biology changing the character of proteins. Food contaminated with Glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides is NOT safe. Glyphosate is deleterious to biology. It can be found in every tissue of those consuming a contaminated diet…

    Between 1% to 1-1/2% of every residue dose integrates with and accumulates in tissues with highest accumulations in bone. Glyphosate also disrupts and inhibits our main digestive enzymes especially lipase where it irreversibly inhibits the enzyme ….. Glyphosate inhibits many, many enzymes not just those involved with the Shikimate Pathway …

    Monsanto lied about bioaccumulation their own pathologists noted glyphosate’s integration in proteins as did DUPONT >>> I have also confirmed their work in the lab… Glyphosate as an amino acid analog of glycine, becomes an integral part of the collagens, as well as an enzyme inhibitor in all species ….

    This website has banned me from commenting … I am not able to respond further to the comments being posted. The action taken against me is pure discrimination at a public website and my freedom of speech.. I guess they don’t like the TRUTH …

    • Guest

      Citations, please.

    • Interesting stuff, I once read about it in a thoroughly debunked study.

    • SageThinker

      Anthony, the real thing that needs to be investigated is whether glyphosate disrupts the human gut microbiome.

      It disrupts the endophytic bacteria in Roundup Ready crops. Look up the paper on this topic in Glycine max. It’s fascinating. Pseudomonas survives but B subtilis dies. We have these in our gut microbiome. Please get on this topic, Anthony.

      And yes, glyphosate does appear to bioaccumulate. The only good study (on rats) shows 1% of the dose in bones and carcass after one week.

      • Farmer with a Dell

        What’s to investigate Tinkler? Glyphosate is no more disruptive to the gut microbiome than is a bowl of red hot chili chased down with a couple of beers — and we all know what that does for your gut microbiome the next morning. Heh, capsicum in chili peppers has far more impact on microbiota than glyphosate…and the effects of capsicum are documented

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12745238

        Heck if ordinary old chili powder has been proven antibacterial why are you having to only speculate about glyphosate? Now, Tinkler, where’s the documentation for your bogus claims?

        Yeah, we thought so.

      • Damo

        You guys can’t even agree with which imagined alternative fact is the truth, not really doing a good job here spreading the word.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      All very imaginative Samsel, but there’s a whole lot of daylight showing through the fabric of your theory. In fact, you are merely lurching from one unsubstantiated clue to another and then to a bogus assertion of disease. You have more than a few crucial steps missing in your pathway, old fella.

      https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8DC7BGRvU4w/VtCNB31BFvI/AAAAAAAAB38/JFQEGpVMU_w/s1600/cartoon-science-communication.gif

    • FarmersSon63

      40 years and still not even one confirmed illness or death from consuming it’s residues on foods.
      The EPA deserves a pat on the back for a job well done. Their extensive 7 year evaluation of glyphosate before it was released over 40 years has proven to be correct.

  • SageThinker

    Well, if you assume the chemical farming model, then not using glyphosate would cause more tillage and/or more chemical herbicide other than glyphosate to be used. But that lacks imagination and inspiration. We could reform the agriculture sector in holistic ways. But that would fly in the face of the number one priority of the biotech and agrochemical industry –> greed. Profit from their super-product, Roundup and Roundup-Ready crops. Roundup is a $6 BILLION industry now and may be a $9 BILLION product by 2022. Nothing should get in the way of these profits by the industry, so let’s spend a few million and buy off some inconvenient truths. Smells like the fossil fuels industry climate change denialism. It’s propaganda.

    We could have a better world if we were not in the throes of propaganda in all realms. We could grow food more locally and holistically. It’s holographic with capitalism itself. There are other worlds possible if we free our world from the agents of greed.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      A truly touching pipe dream there, Tinkler. But your fabled “holisitic” agriculture doesn’t scale up. In fact, the surrogate for “holistic” agriculture is organic farming, and that’s reliant upon fossil fuels and toxic chemicals and is unsustainable. So, what are you talking about with “holistic” farming, Tinkler, just spell it out for us. Maybe draw us a diagram?

  • Tony

    All we need right now is extra weeds in Europe….. What are we going to use to get rid of weeds until something safer than Glyphosate can be found. Something to keep plebs like ‘Occupy Wall Street’ fat and ‘happy’. It is a lot better than Atrazine. Given there is more people I don’t think we have don’t have a choice to use Round Up. The supply of Soylent Green is exhausted!!!!! Ok aside from a few jokes when I was in college my son quit drinking milk when he was 1 and had Knudsen Organic apply juice. When I was in Arkansas and apple farmer said they have a patent and knew of them. Knudsen Organic wasn’t that much more expensive than non organic. Agphd said people make money off organic; fine. If people don’t want to use glyphosate on their farm fine. Some of the anti organics say more people can be supported using conventional farming. What they are trying to say is there is too many people for everyone to have organic food that cost more money and is harder to make in many cases.

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