25 years of GMOs: 4 farmers weigh in on the costs and benefits of biotech crops

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[29-year-old Lewis] Stearns is part of a generation of farmers that has grown up with GM technology, which now is engineered into most primary row crops with multiple modes of action against pests and weeds.

However, documented cases of resistant insect and weed populations are on the rise because of overreliance on certain traits and not diversifying management practices.

That’s causing Stearns’ generation to pivot and think back to control measures their fathers used as resistant pests and weeds make life more complicated even with transgenic crops.

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Kari Olson, 24, farms with her father near Hawley, Minnesota, on less than 3,000 acres growing corn, soybeans and wheat. She’s thankful for the GM seed options that she’s grown up with, especially because the operation is 100% no-till.

“This modern technology has allowed us to maximize our yields on less acres and resources while reducing crop loss, pesticide and fertilizer use,” Olson said. She conceded that weed resistance has started to become an issue in the region… Olson isn’t certain they would use GM wheat were it available.

“I am hesitant to have another variety tolerant to glyphosate,” she said. “My reasoning being, we need different modes of action from chemicals in a crop rotation to prevent the increase in glyphosate-resistant weeds.”

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Related article:  ‘Green’ politics and consumer uncertainty keep GM crops outlawed in Europe. Will gene editing change the legal landscape?
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