Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs

Readers,

Below is the outline for this comprehensive blog project. Please read this entire blog project in order. All comments should be posted on this page (The main GMO blog) and should only be posted after reading the entire blog project. Thanks! I appreciate all of you being here.

  1. Introduction (Please read first!!!)
  2. What are GMOs?
    • Video: What do GM Crops look like? Are GM Crops “poisonous” or “toxic?”
  3. What are GMOs not? 
  4. Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides? 
  5. My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GMOs 
  6. My perspective as a Christian on GMOs 
  7. Questions and comments from readers answered
  8. Additional Resources

Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Greg Peterson and I am the oldest brother of the Peterson Farm Brothers. You might know us from our parody music videos about farming on YouTube. Most of our videos are entertaining in nature, and stick mainly to all of the positive things that are happening in agriculture today. Today, however, I am going to take some time to discuss one of the most controversial subjects I’ve ever been around, genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. I have spent months pondering and questioning what I believe about this subject of extreme complexity, and I think I am finally ready to start sharing some answers.

Now, stop! Stop! Before anyone starts throwing stones at each other, let’s get a few things straight before we begin:

  • As the title of this blog states, I am an advocate for truth. I am writing this blog for one reason and one reason only, to promote the truth about GMOs based on the knowledge that I have gathered in my lifetime. I honestly believe that to my knowledge every piece of information in this blog is true and factual. Truth is my primary motivation. Which brings me to my next point….
  • I am not being paid by ANYONE to write this blog. This is of my own free will and is done under my own influence. My only agenda is truth. My parents taught me from a young age to stand for what I believe is the truth, no matter how much resistance or ridicule (I’m certain there will be some) comes my way. I am trying to approach this subject with as little bias as possible besides my own personal background as a conventional farmer. I am concerned only with facts, evidence, and where the truth leads. I am not interested in being pushed around by people with a lot of money, regardless of which side of the debate they are on. Which brings me to my next point….
  • I am a 23-year-old family farmer. While I do have quite a bit of experience with the leaders in the agriculture industry from all of my travels as a Peterson Farm Bro, I am not an industry CEO. I am not a corporate businessman trying to earn your money. I am a simply a young person who is searching for answers, just like you. I hope to be the mediator between the leaders in the agricultural industry and the average American consumer. We have to start listening to one another instead of fighting. Discussing instead of arguing. I hope I can be that someone in the middle ground whom you can trust to bring honest, truthful answers. However, I am by no means perfect, and I am fully aware that I may make mistakes throughout this process. Feel free to let me know if I have made a mistake. Which brings me to my next point…..
  • Please, please, please try your hardest not to leave hateful, offensive comments about me or about this blog. Civilized human beings should be able to have civilized conversations, even about controversial subjects. Not only that, but civilized human beings should be able to remain friends despite disagreeing on a certain topic. To clarify, even if you disagree with what I have to say about GMOs, we can still be friends! You can still follow the Peterson Farm Bros! Think if you ended every relationship in your life that encountered a conflict of opinion. You would be left with no friends at all! Plus, it is always beneficial to stay friends with people who have different opinions than you. You can learn a lot from them! So let’s keep this conversation friendly, respectful, polite and without any “I hate you. I’m unliking your page!” comments. Thanks!

Alright, so now that we have all of that out of the way we can focus on the matter at hand. Now, some of you may think you know a lot about GMOs. Others may have no idea what I am talking about. There is an abundance of misinformation out there on GMOs, especially on the Internet, and much of it is agenda driven from both sides of the argument. This means it can be heavily skewed one way or the other through methods such as photoshop, video editing, and twisting of words and data. Take everything you read on the Internet (including what I have to say) with a HUGE grain of salt! If you’ve never stepped foot in a field of GM Crops, never talked in person with real GM Crop farmers, or never spoken in person to any sort of GMO experts (from both sides of the argument) you are putting yourself at the risk of being misinformed by agenda driven information.

What I would like for everyone reading this blog to do is to try and put aside everything you’ve heard about GMOs up until this point and try to see if you can keep an open mind on the subject. We are first going to talk about some facts of GMOs. Facts. A.K.A. Truth. A.K.A. information that can be backed up by reliable proof. In other words, I don’t believe that this information can really be argued against.

What are GMOs?

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, will also be referred to in this blog as GM Food, GM Crops, GM Products, Genetic Engineering, and Biotechnology. Biotechnology in plant agriculture is the process of intentionally making a copy of a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism and using it in another plant. Humans have been intentionally changing the genetics of crops since the beginning of their existence. In fact, every single fruit, vegetable, and grain that is grown by farmers today has been genetically altered (through hybrids and selective breeding) to produce better taste, yield, or disease/drought/insect resistance. While GMOs are slightly different than hybrids, they are simply the newest form of this type of technology and have been around since the early 1990s.

Comprehensive list of GM Crops

  •   Corn (88 percent of USA crop)
  •   Soybeans (93 percent of USA crop)
  •   Cotton (94 percent of USA crop)
  •   Canola (90 percent of USA crop)
  •   Sugar Beets (90 percent of USA crop)
  •   Papayas (75 percent of USA crop)
  •   Alfalfa
  •   Squash

Wheat is not a GM crop, but as mentioned previously has been significantly genetically altered since the beginning of human history. If you know a farmer that grows one or more of these crops, there is a very good chance they are a GM crop farmer.

List of GM products

While it is possible (difficult, but possible) to avoid GM foods, it is practically impossible to avoid GM products altogether:

  • Food for Human Consumption: GMOs are found in the majority of food products in the grocery store. (Aside from the organic food aisle) Link: List of GM Foods
  • Food for Animal Consumption: The majority of U.S. corn, soybeans and alfalfa grown using GMO seed (as mentioned above) are used for livestock feed. Unless the meat is labeled “certified organic,” the chance that the livestock had consumed GM Crops is very high. Livestock by-products also account for thousands of products you use every day. Link: Livestock By-Products
  • Other Uses: GM products are used in fuel for your automobiles, fiber for your clothes, medicines, road/building construction materials, printer inks, adhesives, etc. An average person has more than likely consumed GM food or used GM products every single day in the last year.

What do GM crops look like? Are GM crops “poisonous” or “toxic?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj79vecUZv4

What are GMOs not? (Debunking common myths)

Under researched

  • There have been over 2,000 independent, peer-reviewed studies done on the safety of GM Crops. Link: GMO Safety Study
  • There have been over 1 trillion meals consumed containing GM products. Not a single sickness or death has ever occurred due to the ingestion of these products. Link: Trillion Meal Study

Different in Appearance and Nutritional Value to Non-GMO:

  • GM Crops are identical to non-GM Crops in appearance as well as nutritional value. When compared next to each other, there is literally no difference in physical makeup or nutrition.

Only produced by Monsanto

  • There are hundreds of seed companies that a farm family like mine can purchase GM seeds from. While Monsanto is the largest of all of these companies, by no means do they have a monopoly on the market. Farmers have absolute freedom of choice in the company they buy their seed from. GMOs ≠ Monsanto.
  • FYI, A full blog on my opinion of the Monsanto Company will be coming soon. But let’s leave Monsanto out of the conversation for now and focus strictly on GMOs. (Yes, it is possible to have a conversation about one without the other)

Banned in other countries

  • While certain countries have banned the production of GM Crops, most countries (Including the EU) at the very least allow imported goods to contain GM products. The reason GM Crop production has been banned in certain countries is not due to safety concerns, but rather because of negative public perceptions and emotions.

Owned by the seed company while in production

  • I have never met a farmer who feels like they or their crops are “owned” by a GMO seed company. Seed companies do require “stewardship agreements” of farmers to make sure they are not stealing a product the seed company spent millions of dollars to research and produce. In other words, farmers are not allowed to reuse their GMO seeds, but they do own the crops from the purchase of the seed to the sale of the grain. Check out this great blog from a fellow farmer, Brian Scott: My Family Farm Is Not Under Corporate Control

Causing farmers to commit suicide

  • This was a widely publicized rumor about farmers in India who were growing GM Crops and is simply not correct. Read more here: India Farmer Myth

Tumor Producing

  • This was a widely publicized study that claimed rats developed tumors after digesting GMO corn. The study was funded by an anti-GMO organization, was heavily criticized by the scientific community, and was eventually retracted. Read more here: Retracted GMO Study

Pesticide (chemical) Producing

  • The term “pesticide” simply means to get rid of insects and pests. It does not mean that a GM crop contains or produces synthetic chemicals. Take Bt corn for instance. Bt corn produces a protein called Bt. The Bt protein is toxic to bugs, because bugs cannot digest it, so they die. Humans, as well as livestock, can digest Bt proteins, so they do not die (or get sick). So no, you are not eating synthetic chemicals when you eat GMOs, and neither are livestock!

Increasing pesticide/herbicide use

  • GMOs are not responsible for the sudden rise of pesticides and herbicides, but rather the decline in usage since the initial rise. (See section below: Why do farmers use GM Crops?)

Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides? 

Please click here to read the full blog: Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides?

My family chooses to grow GM crops because they are the best option for our farm. We also practice no-till and use pesticides and herbicides because it is the best option for our farm. As you saw in the video, we eat our own crops, therefore we believe they are safe. With all of the benefits listed in the “Why do farmers use technologies” blog, and our belief in their safety and reliability, it simply makes sense for us to grow them. Are certain technologies like GMOs for every farmer? No, every situation calls for something different. Are they the ultimate solution to a farmer’s problems? No, but farmers are always looking for better ways to grow food. Are they perfect? Of course not. (More on the subject of imperfection here: My Perspective as a Christian on GM Crops). However, GMOs, no-till farming and herbicides/pesticides are valuable technologies that are available to farmers. They are tools in a farmer’s toolbox. A farmer should have the freedom to use these tools, unless the tool is a threat to the survival of humans or the survival of the environment. Which brings me to my final 2 blog posts:

My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GM Crops (Opinion based on fact)

Please click here to read the whole thing: My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GM Crops

My perspective as a Christian on GMOs (Opinion based on fact)

Please click here to read the full blog: My perspective as a Christian on GMOs

Questions and Comments From Readers Answered

What is your opinion on labeling of GMOs?

Labeling of GM Products is so much more complex than people may realize. As mentioned in the “What are GMOs?” section of this blog, GMOs are found in so many products that labeling each and every one of them would be a costly (See: Cost of Labeling) and somewhat ridiculous decision. Especially considering there is no nutritional difference between Non-GMO and GMO. The only difference between the two is the methods used to produce them. The thing to remember is that labeling is desired almost exclusively by consumers who don’t want to buy GM products. It is a niche market. It wouldn’t make sense to label everything when only a small percentage of the population cares, especially when there is no proven danger. I believe that instead of labeling all GM products, we should instead label all the products that are GMO-free, giving people who want this choice the option to choose it. This would provide a compromise between anti-GMO agendas (get rid of all GM products) and pro-GMO agendas (no need to eat non-GMO). The cool thing is that this is already happening in most grocery stores!

Additional Resources

FAQ About GMOs

GMOs: An Introduction

600 Plus Safety Assessments on GMOs

Ex Anti-GMO Activist Mark Lynas On Why GMOs are Green and Sustainable

10 Truths About GMOs and Organics

This Is Why It Is Okay To Feed Your Family GMOs

Planting the Four Billionth Acre of GM Crops

Why do farmers use technologies such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides? What are the acknowledged issues?

By Nathan Peterson and Greg Peterson

(This blog is part of a larger blog project entitled: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs. Please read the entire blog project before passing judgement on anything you read here. All comments should be directed to the main page of the larger blog project.)

(Nathan) In joining this conversation, I want to mention that there is a lot of information here dealing with crop, soil, and weed science. A lot of this is information I have been taught in high-level college courses I have taken. Even after taking these classes, I still feel like I don’t know everything about these topics. That’s what the experts are for. There are experts doing research on the specific things we are discussing at universities (the professors who were teaching me) and research facilities (scientists) around the world. These are the people we should be going to with questions about GMOs, pesticides/herbicides, etc. Not celebrities, soccer moms, and “doctors” who are also talk show hosts trying to market their show.

I would also like to clarify that farmers are not unintelligent; they usually know their stuff! They’re using information and products that have been tested and developed by individual scientists/professionals in each area of farming. A farmer is not going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a product without knowing how it works. So if you are not able to visit with a professor or a scientist, the next best thing would be to talk to a farmer, whose information base comes from personal, real-life experience, not Internet blog-reading experience.

1. Farmers use technology to increase yield potential

The first and foremost reason farmers use GM crops is because they increase production. This is the same reason farmers and seed companies have been using traditional breeding for years. Hybrids and breeding are what are technically responsible for the massive yield increase we’ve seen over the last several decades, but genetic modification is what helps keep the plant from being eaten by insects or taken over by weeds. It allows the plant to reach its full potential.

When breeding for seed varieties, seed companies use plants that are most desirable. These are the ones that are able to endure through difficult circumstances like insects, disease, and drought. Seed breeding through genetic engineering is done in the same way, but geneticists are able to speed up the process. The traits that are currently being used for GM crops are traits that resist chemicals and/or resist insects. In both cases, the traits allow the crop to produce more with the resources they have. This is fundamental for increased food production.

The issue: We are (and will always be) experiencing issues with resistance

A common and very significant problem with this is that the insects have potential to become resistant to the resistant trait. In the same way, weeds can become resistant to herbicides. This is a concern and always has been a concern. Every farmer understands that diseases, insects and weeds are always changing, which is why we must keep improving our crops to keep up with them. Genetic engineering is simply the newest way to go about that. Resistance is a fundamental part of farming that is rooted in the imperfection of this world (This is explained in the “My Perspective on GMOs as a Christian” blog) and greatly affects the farming industry. That is why there is a lot of time and money going into it. However, the farming industry has dealt with problems since the beginning of time, and there have always been people ready to step up to solve them. This is the task that has been assigned to each one of us in the food industry! Finding solutions to problems.

2. Farmers use technology to better protect the environment

This requires a brief history lesson: Farming is an industry that is always changing. Farmers in the early 1900s used to till up their fields completely, no matter what, plant their crops (usually the same crop repeatedly, otherwise known as monocropping), cultivate in between the rows while the crop was growing, harvest the crop, and till the fields again. This left the soil bare and exposed for most of the year and was a lot of extra work. Each heavy rain or plastering windstorm (these are defining weather characteristics of the weather we farm in) would result in vast amounts of topsoil being washed or blown away. Huge dust storms caused the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Floods overwhelmed deltas with soil that could never be recovered. This was clearly unsustainable and quite frankly, an unethical way to treat the precious gift that is the earth. Farmers knew they must progress to better methods of raising crops. Tree lines were planted to slow down the wind, terraces and waterways were built to slow down and redirect runoff, and reservoirs were built to help contain floods. Farmers also started changing their tillage methods to leave residue on the soil for a larger part of the year. All of these new ideas shaped what is now known as “conservational farming,” a form of environmentally-friendly farming that is practiced widely across America, as well as many other countries, today.

In the late 20th century, a new method of farming was developed called “no-till.” The concept of no-till farming is to leave all residues on the soil throughout the year and never till it under. The idea is based off of how plants grow in natural environments. This type of farming not only protects the topsoil from wind and water erosion but also preserves the natural culture of the soil throughout the soil profile whereas tilling can disrupt it. Furthermore, root structure remains to give the soil more strength, water holding capacity, water infiltration, and higher organic matter content. It also promotes earthworms and microorganisms active in the soil. There is a lot going on below the surface!

No-till farmers spraying weeds at 10 mph with a 120 ft sprayer can cover a field roughly SIX times as fast as a tillage tool pulled behind a tractor going 5 mph and burn a lot less fuel as well. Herbicides are sprayed once or twice during a growing season with or without the crop already growing. This is so much easier for a farmer than the alternative: Tilling the soil 3-4 times prior to planting and cultivating between the rows after planting, which is difficult, slower and has to be done multiple times. As you can see, no-till farming can be of great value to the preservation of the environment!

(Side note: To be clear, farmers who do use tillage still use herbicides. Tillage is used for many different management reasons and is a completely viable practice. Whether or not a farmer decides to till is based on many different variables. We choose to no-till because of the contour of our land, the various weather factors we face, the amount of labor we have available, and the many advantages listed in the previous paragraph.)

The issue: Herbicide/Pesticide Usage is Required to No-Till Farm

However, you cannot practice no-till farming without the use of herbicides. See, without the practice of tilling the soil, a farmer has no way (unless by hand) to kill a crop’s number one enemy: weeds. It would require over 70 million people to hand weed the cropland acres in the USA alone (See below). Herbicides have allowed farmers to easily control weeds and practice no-till and conservational till practices.

Hand Weeding Commercial Crops

3. Farmers use technology to reduce costly inputs like herbicides/pesticides

GMO technology can actually help reduce the amount herbicide/pesticides. Bt corn and Bt cotton resist the corn borer itself so farmers don’t have to spray multiple times (less pesticides). Roundup Ready GM crops provide better weed control that can be provided while the crop is growing. Glyphosate (The Roundup Ready herbicide) is one of the least toxic chemicals available for use, which is why it is so popular among farmers. Safer, more effective chemicals like Glyphosate are being developed as we speak. If farmers were not allowed to use GM crops like these, they would have to use more potent chemicals that are active in the soil for a whole growing season and spray multiple times instead of just once, regardless of whether the field was tilled. This is why we say that GMOs reduce herbicide/pesticide usage.

GMOs are not the only way to reduce herbicide/pesticide usage. Chemicals and fertilizer are some of the highest expenses a farmer has to spend to plant a crop, so minimizing the use of them is a very high priority. Whenever a farmer applies chemicals they are always diluted with up to 97% water content. This means that the amount of actual herbicide that is applied per square foot of plants is extremely small. It also improves the accuracy and consistency of the spray.

Furthermore, equipment manufacturers are continually implementing new machinery and computer technology to increase the precision and accuracy of chemical application machines (sprayers) to apply these products. This technology extends all the way from inside of the cab to the output at the nozzles:

  • Monitors in sprayers can be calibrated to spray specific amounts of chemical/fertilizer in each part of the field to prevent the slightest amount of over-application.
  • They also keep track of each individual field, knowing where to turn on/off the application in sections to make sure no area is double applied.
  • There are also sensors called “green-seekers” being developed that can, for certain applications, detect green (weeds) and spray only in that one spot so chemical is not wasted empty spaces of the field.
  • Nozzles are always being developed to better apply the spray solution in an ideal consistency to cover the plants but not drift from the desired application area.
  • There is also boom-leveling technology that has been developed to prevent drift by automatically retaining the sprayer booms at a certain height off of the ground.

Another tool that is being developed to decrease herbicide usage is cover crops. Cover crops are plants that are grown in between growing seasons to help keep the ground covered and hold/provide nutrients in the soil for the future desired crop. There are many potential benefits to cover crops, however, they are still being tested and experimented with. One benefit is that if the ground is growing something throughout the entire year, it can dramatically reduce the opportunity for weeds to grow. This, of course, then reduces the need to spray the weeds. Livestock can also graze cover crops. In this way, the livestock are controlling the weeds/cover crops for the farmer instead of herbicides. Cover crops won’t eliminate the need for herbicides completely but they could potentially lower the use of them quite a bit. Farmers and agricultural researchers will continue to learn how cover crops can be used in a cost effective and benefitting ways.

More and more farmers are adopting these technologies as they become more and more available and affordable. Conveniently, less chemical usage is best for the environment as well as for a farmer’s pocketbook so these technologies pay for themselves. It doesn’t make sense for farmers to use more chemicals than they have to, because they cost so much. Farmers and manufacturers continue to find the problems in chemical application and will continue to respond to finding solutions.

The issue: Herbicide/Pesticide use in farming is still very high. Large, Agri-Business companies are taking home most of the profit. The whole process caters to larger, more efficient farms and larger, more efficient businesses.

There is, of course, the issue of who is profiting from selling these expensive technologies (such as GMOs and herbicides/pesticides). It is true that the ones benefitting the most from these technologies are chemical companies and seed companies. I wish it was different, that the farmers were the ones taking home most of the profit. However, this is simply a result of the free market society we have in place. These companies have created products that help farmers grow more food with less inputs. Farmers are willing to pay these companies thousands of dollars for their products. That is why they are making a lot of money. There is no “buying out” of farmers happening, and farmers still have all sorts of freedom to choose what kind of crops to plant. If farmers want to make more money, we have to find a way to make our product appealing enough to consumers, so that they will spend higher amounts of money. That is essentially what organic farmers are doing. (Although I mentioned earlier that organic food at its core isn’t “better” than conventional food)

This system, along with many other variables, has resulted in less farms with more acreage. Does this mean that these farms are taking over family farms? Not necessarily. What I have seen in my travels is that most of the time it is the family farms becoming larger to adapt to the changes being made in the agricultural industry. Family farms still make up 96% of all farms in America, and that percentage doesn’t seem to be going down. (See: The Definition of Family Farming)

The free market system caters to larger, more efficient farms and larger, more efficient businesses. That is why there are so many successful businesses in America that are huge (Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, etc). That is just how industry in the free market works. Keep in mind that a lot of the money these companies make is poured back into research of new products and new technologies. You can hate on this system if you want, but in my opinion, without these huge companies, our country (and other countries around the world) would not be as well off.

It is the same thing in agriculture. There are huge companies in agriculture with a lot of money (John Deere, Case IH, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow) and it doesn’t always seem fair that they are making most of the profit. But these companies (as well as all of the other large companies I failed to mention) are responsible for most of the research, technology, and development that we’ve seen in the last several decades. GMOs cost millions of dollars and take many years to get approved. Who else has millions of dollars to fund this research besides these large agricultural companies? Farming has progressed so much in the last few decades. We’ve talked about all of the great things that are happening and why they are happening. We’ve also talked about the issues that are happening, and how we are working to solve them. Next, we will talk about the health, safety, and sustainability of GMOs.

Feel free to post comments on the main GMO blog: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs

 

My Perspective on the Safety and Sustainability of GM Crops

(This blog is part of a larger blog project entitled: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs. Please read the entire blog project before passing judgement on anything you read here. All comments should be directed to the main page of the larger blog project.)

Alright, now that we (hopefully) have some common ground in terms of the facts about GMOs, we can talk about the 3 biggest questions I know everyone has: Are GM foods healthy? Are they safe? Are they sustainable?

Are GM Foods Healthy (Nutritious)?

I believe the answer to this question is a resounding yes. As mentioned earlier in the blog, GM products are exactly the same in nutritional value and physical makeup as their non-GMO counterparts. The argument of whether or not GM products are “healthy” can’t really exist in my opinion, because they are literally the same thing (nutrition-wise) as non-GMO products. A nutrition label on an ear of GM corn would be exactly the same as the label on an ear of non-GM corn. Inserting a gene into a plant does not change its appearance or nutritional value. 

I’ve eaten GM food since I was a kid. Millions of people have eaten GM food since they were kids. In fact, there have been over ONE TRILLION meals containing GMO products consumed over the past 20 years with absolutely no negative health impact found. (Read more here: Trillion Meal Study) There have been zero instances of sickness or death. The debate on the “health” of GM products should be really put to rest, in my opinion. Inserting a gene into a plant does not change the “healthiness” of a food.

Now, please realize that there are going to be unhealthy foods containing GM products in them (Energy drinks for example). However, this does not mean that the raw GM products (like corn) in these drinks are unhealthy. It is the processing, cooking, and/or mixing of other ingredients with the GM products that can create an unhealthy food or drink. This is one of the main misconceptions I see with the organic food industry. While organic farmers work extremely hard and create valuable food products, the original products of organic food and regular food are the exact same in composition. It is the end product (as well as the production methods used to grow them) that separates the two in the grocery store. You can cook just as wholesome of a meal with GM food products as you can with organic food products. But we’ll save that conversation for a separate blog post coming soon

To summarize, if you are determined to find a reason to stop eating GM food, it should not be because you believe it is a less nutritious product (because it’s not), it should be due more to safety and sustainability concerns, which I will address next.

Are GM Foods safe?

As of today, all signs point to GMOs being safe to consume. There have been over 2,000 independent studies over the last 20 years on this topic. (Link: 2,000 Studies) As shown in the “Eating GM Crops from the Field” video, I have been around GMOs my entire life and I have never seen any indication of any type of danger associated with their production and consumption. I believe most (if not all) GM crop farmers feel the same way. Are there issues with GMOs? Yes, of course. Many of those were explained in the “Why do farmers use GM Crops?” blog. However, in my opinion, the evidence that currently exists does nothing but support the stance of GM foods being safe.

I do realize that this does not guarantee the absolute safety of GMOs. There are new tests on GMOs being performed every day and it may be that some day one of them will come back with a negative side effect. At that point, I would change my opinion on GMOs, because new evidence would show me that there is new truth to be believed. However, until then I will remain convinced that they are indeed “safe.”

I put safe in quotations because, you see, most of what we do in life isn’t safe.

For instance, is it safe to:

  • Ride in or drive an automobile? (Reckless drivers, malfunction)
  • Wear “safety” belts in an automobile? (Seat belts are not 100% effective)
  • To be outside? (Heat, cold, earthquakes, poisonous animals, etc.)
  • To be inside? (Mold, poisonous spiders, etc.)
  • To use medicine? (Side effects anyone?)
  • To use a cell phone? (Where are the long term studies?
  • To fall in love? (Broken relationships can be detrimental to your health)

Hopefully you get my point. Nothing in this life is really “safe” and without risk. But we participate in these activities because we feel the benefits truly outweigh the perceived risks! Seriously, if you only worry about living “safe” all the time then you probably aren’t truly living. Life is full of risk. Every type of technology comes with risk. That includes GMOs. GM food has never been shown to be dangerous, but that does not mean the risk isn’t still there. I realize there are alternatives to GMOs that some people believe carry less risk, and that is where the organic food (non-GMO) industry comes into play. (Although there are still risks taken by consuming organic food as well) However, every farmer and consumer should be allowed choices of what to grow and what to eat, and that is why I will now address sustainability.

Are GM Foods sustainable?

The decision of whether or not to eat GM products is up to you. It is your personal choice. If you choose not to eat them, you can purchase food from the organic aisle in the grocery store. I have no problem with that! Organic producers are some of the hardest working people out there, and I have a lot of respect for them. I just hope you know why you are making that organic food purchase. It cannot be because GMOs are evil, unhealthy, toxic, poisonous, etc. They aren’t. It should only be because you believe there is less risk involved in your purchase.

What I do have a problem with is people trying to ban GMOs from being produced. Especially when they use false information to accomplish their agenda. (See: What are GMOs not? Debunking GMO Myths) Until there is sufficient evidence that GMOs are harmful to people or to the environment, farmers should be allowed to produce them and consumers should be allowed to consume them. First of all, because we live in a free country. Second of all…

Sustainability. Both for humans and the environment. The population of the world is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. To feed this population, it is estimated that we will need to produce twice as much food then as we are producing now. Available farmland is shrinking back each day due to issues such as urban sprawl. How are we going to sustainably feed this many people? There are 2 options (that I can see) to accomplishing that:

Option 1: Revert back to smaller farms and more farmers. I believe this is what believers on the organic side of things desire. It is definitely the most romantic of the two options. However, there are some issues with this option. You see, there are fewer farmers each year and the trend doesn’t seem to be changing. The average age of a farmer is 55 years old and has been increasing for the last couple of decades. Where are the 10 million extra farmers (that I think would be required to farm entirely organic) going to come from in 30 years when the older generation of farmers passes away? Farming is a very difficult job, and most people would rather be spending their time working weekdays 9-5, enjoying free weekends, and relying on others to grow their food. Another problem is that the current structure of the agricultural industry would have to be overthrown. It’s hard to explain this in detail as the agricultural industry is ridiculously complex, but transforming the operating systems, transportation, storage, etc away from large farms and technology like GM crops would cost trillions of dollars, huge government involvement, and simply isn’t something that could happen over a few years or even decades. Finally, a free market system like we have in the USA does not cater well to smaller farms. Just like in every other industry, it favors larger, more efficient farms that can produce food at a lower cost. It is also not possible to force farmers to downsize their operation and to grow their food organically. Farmers are never happy when they are told to change their operation after they have worked for decades to try and perfect it. I could go on and on with more issues. The point is that, in my opinion, option 1 is highly unlikely to ever happen. However, I have no problem with people trying to make it happen, as long as they go about it ethically. (This means no false, agenda-driven information, focusing on solutions and benefits to this option, not attacking Option 2. Remember, over 90% of farmers in Option 2 are family farmers like me. It makes me sad when people attack the farm families who are part of the foundation of our society.)

Option 2: Use technologies like GM crops to continue to increase yields, reduce chemical usage, and improve efficiency. The benefits of using technology to farm have been clearly outlined in this blog. Is there risk? Yes. But the risks that are possible are, in my opinion, completely overshadowed by the benefits of technology. If GM crops are supported, they will provide a huge impact to farmers in underdeveloped countries in the future. They will be able to solve a lot of hunger crises throughout the world. (Link: GMO impact in underdeveloped countries)

The agricultural community is a community that has fought through many difficulties together and I believe we have the tools to solve this dilemma. However, we must be allowed to use those tools.

Conclusion: What then should we do?

(The following is repeated information from the “My Perspective on GMOs as a Christian” blog)

Today, in 2014, we enjoy the safest, most abundant, food supply in the history of the entire world! Never before have we seen the amount of choices of food we have today and the ease of which it’s available. It’s quite amazing to be honest. But yet, millions of people spend their time complaining about their food supply. I don’t get it! I realize that farmers and agribusinesses should be held accountable and that questions should be asked about the safety and quality of food, but at some point thankfulness needs to come into play.

For some perspective, picture in your mind your ancestors from the Great Depression, or the people from the original thirteen colonies of America, or even the people from ancient times. What do you think they would say about today’s food supply? I don’t think their first response would be negative. They would be blown away by the quantity, diversity, and availability of the food in our grocery stores.

People today (including myself) take so much for granted and complain about things we have. We repeatedly bite the hand that feeds us. A middle class person in America lives a more comfortable life than 99% of people in the history of humanity. Can’t that be enough? When are we going to be satisfied? When are we going to be thankful for what we have? I realize farmers and the food industry needs to be held in check. Asking questions is great! Attacking us based on false information? Not so great.

Farmers are working harder than you know every day trying to feed you. The least you could do is say thank you. Not complain about what they’re feeding you. (Asking questions and keeping us in check is not complaining) If you do feel we are making bad decisions, then you are absolutely free to grow your own food or buy from another type of farmer (organic). But I hope that you can understand that we are doing the best we can, and we are making the decisions we feel are the right ones, not only for us, but also for the environment and for the consumer. And that includes decisions about GMOs.

It’s Time to Find A Real Problem to Fight Against

Whether or not you agree with what I have to say about GMOs in this blog post, the real truth I want to get at here is that you really shouldn’t be wasting your time fighting against GMOs. (And to be honest, I shouldn’t have to be spending time defending why I grow them) Why has this become such a priority? Aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Here is a list of some of the real issues that I believe each and every one of us, including myself, should be investing more time and energy into stopping:

  • Human Slavery: There are 30 million human slaves in the world today. 30 million.
  • Poverty: 1 billion children are born into poverty. 22,000 children die each year because of it.
  • Hunger: 805 million people do not have enough available food to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • Abuse: 6 million children are reported to have been abused in the United States alone. 1 in 4 women will experience some type of abuse in their lifetime.

A lesser, non-proven issue? GMOs: Responsible for 0 deaths and 0 sicknesses since they were introduced.

Reading these things will probably make you feel sad. There are two things we should all do after reading these statistics. 1. Be thankful for what we have. 2. Stop wasting time complaining and start doing something positive to help reduce some of these numbers! A song I think of when I write this is Matthew West’s “Do Something.”

The Reality of Sustainable Food Production

As human beings, we have to understand that this world is not perfect. Sustainable food production, while theoretically possible, is never going to be perfect either. Are GMOs perfect? No. Is it possible that someday we will find a better alternative? Yes. However, until the day comes when we no longer need the technology, we must continue to improve our methods of production. I believe GMOs to be better for the soil environment, better for farmers, better for poverty-ravished communities, and overall better for producing safe, high-quality, affordable food. That’s why I grow them, eat them myself, and promote the truth about them. I hope you have learned something from reading this blog. Please direct all questions and comments to the main blog: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs. We will be answering those as part of the blog. Also, feel free to follow us on Facebook to keep in touch!

Thank you so much for reading. I will appreciate hearing feedback from all of you. Let’s get this conversation started and find some solutions to the real world problems we are facing today!

-Greg Peterson

My Perspective as a Christian on GMOs

(This blog is part of a larger blog project entitled: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs. Please read the entire blog project in order before passing judgement on anything you read hear. All comments should be directed to the main page of the larger blog project.)

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth……God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” – Genesis 1:1,11-12

One of the biggest arguments that Christians (and many other people) use against genetically modified organisms is that modifying the genetics of plants is “playing God,” and that changing something God created isn’t right, because it is saying we don’t believe that God’s creation is “good enough.” I do believe this argument would have been true in the beginning of time. As mentioned in the verse above, God saw that what He had created was good, and was by no means in need of modification. It was perfect! Adam and Eve (The first 2 humans) lived in a perfect world, the Garden of Eden. There was no sickness, disease, or lack of comfort. Food was readily available to them and they did not have to toil to feed themselves.

The Fall of Mankind: Fighting against imperfection

But then something happened. God gave the first created humans a choice, and they chose wrong, otherwise known as the Fall of Mankind. Their punishment was as follows:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19

Ever since the Fall of Man, the world and everything in it has been riddled with imperfections. It is no longer perfect, and neither are humans. Look around. Both humans and animals encounter all sorts of sickness and injury throughout their lives and can only live so long before they must face death. Sin has run rampant throughout the world ever since that fateful day in the Garden. Our bodies, our minds, our thoughts, our actions, our very souls have all fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We live in an imperfect, broken world. Full of imperfect people, imperfect animals and yes, you guessed it, imperfect plants. Someday a Savior is coming to make all things new. To restore the perfection that once was. This is what we place our hope in! But until that day, we must face the imperfection that plagues this world.

How Does Imperfection Affect Farmers?

Farmers are called to be the best stewards of the land, animals, and plants that we can be. However, the dilemma of imperfection plays a very significant role in the task that farmers have been assigned with: Feeding the World.

You see, imperfect plants are susceptible to drought, floods, disease, insects, weeds, wind, hail, too much sun, too little sun, etc. Farmers have been dealing with these enemies of food production ever since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. But, (as mentioned in the main GMO blog) farmers have gradually developed methods of fighting against these things over time. Evidence shows that farmers have been using different techniques (like selective breeding) to genetically alter seeds and crops for thousands of years to make them better yielding and more resistant to things like drought, disease, and insects. We’ve developed irrigation systems to provide water, cultivators to remove weeds, and drainage methods to fight against floods. However, even as late as the mid 1900’s, farmers were barely producing enough food for everyone. And this was when the majority of the population were farmers. Today, farmers make up only 2 percent of the population. 2 percent. How in the world are we still producing enough food with so few people farming?

Technology

The technological revolution in farming has transformed agriculture, and consequently the world. Today, one farmer feeds about 160 people! (Compared to 25 in 1960 and even less prior to 1900) Farmers have reached this transformation by using many different technologies to improve food production. (Link: Technologies Used in Agriculture)

GM crops are the newest agricultural technology that can fight against the imperfections of food production. GM crops are engineered to be increasingly drought-resistant, insect-resistant, and disease-resistant. This kind of resistance leads to increased yields and better food products. In order to feed a growing population, we must embrace this kind of technology.

You see, in Biblical times, as well as later in history, there are mentions of widespread drought and famine that killed off whole communities of people. While we have come a long way since that time and rarely encounter such a catastrophe, there are still millions of people and communities here and in the rest of the world that encounter hunger, sickness, and poverty. The crops that farmers grow not only provide food for hunger; they also provide medicine for sickness and money for communities in poverty. The technology, such as GMO crops, is being developed to reach these types of communities, and could result in millions of lives being saved. Which brings us to the main question……

Should Christians support GMOs?

So, should Christians support GMOs? In my opinion, yes. We’ve already talked about how The Fall threw a wrench into God’s original perfection of creation. Therefore, it is not “playing God” to create and use GMOs. It is being a good steward. Christians are called to use their talents and skills to improve what God has given them. Just like in the Parable of the Talents, if farmers are not looking to utilize the gifts and ideas that God has given them, they are not living out their calling.

And it’s not just farmers. There are plant geneticists out there who are strong Christians. Are we supposed to believe that the knowledge God has given them about how to improve a plant is wrong and misguided? What about doctors? Should doctors not be allowed to modify the human body (through surgery, transplant, therapy, etc)? Should we be modifying ecosystems to build cities? Roads? Churches? Cooking in itself is modifying food. Virtually every food product you buy in a store has technically been “modified” from its original form. Where do you draw the line of “modification?” Where does it stop being okay and start being wrong? Just some food for thought. (Sorry for the pun)

Stop Complaining

Today, in 2014, we enjoy the safest, most abundant, food supply in the history of the entire world! Never before have we seen the amount of choices of food we have today and the ease of which it’s available. It’s quite amazing to be honest. But yet, millions of Americans (And Christians) spend their time complaining about their food supply. I don’t get it! Whatever happened to:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

For some perspective, picture in your mind your ancestors from the Great Depression, or the people from the original thirteen colonies of America, or even the people from ancient times. What do you think they would say about today’s food supply? I don’t think their first response would be negative. (Except the Israelites, who famously complained about food that literally fell from the sky) They would be blown away by the quantity, quality, and the availability of the food in our grocery stores.

People today (including myself) take so much for granted and complain about things we have. We repeatedly bite the hand that feeds us. A middle class person in America lives a more comfortable life than 99% of people in the history of humanity. Can’t that be enough? When are we going to be satisfied? To be thankful?

Farmers are working harder than you know every day trying to feed you. The least you could do is say thank you. Not complain about what they’re feeding you. If you do feel we are making bad decisions, then you are absolutely free to grow your own food! But I hope that you can understand that we are doing the best we can, and making the decisions we feel are the right ones. And that includes decisions about GMOs.

Find A Real Problem to Fight Against

Whether or not you agree with what I have to say about GMOs in these blog posts, the real truth I want to get at here is that you really shouldn’t be wasting your time fighting against GMOs. (And to be honest, I shouldn’t have to be spending my time writing this blog to defend them.) Where in the Bible is this listed as a priority? I’ve talked about the brokenness and the imperfection in this world. Here is a list of some of the real issues that I believe each and every one of us should be investing our time and energy into stopping:

  • Human Slavery: There are 30 million human slaves in the world today. 30 million.
  • Poverty: 1 billion children are born into poverty. 22,000 children die each year because of it.
  • Hunger: 805 million people do not have enough available food to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • Abuse: 6 million children are reported to have been abused in the United States alone. 1 in 4 women will experience some type of abuse in their lifetime.

A lesser, non-proven issue? GMOs: Responsible for 0 deaths and 0 sicknesses since they were introduced.

Reading these things will probably make you feel sad. There are two things we should all do after reading these statistics. 1. Be thankful for what we have. 2. Stop wasting time complaining and start doing something positive to help reduce some of these numbers! A song I think of when I write this is Matthew West’s “Do Something.”

The Reality of Sustainable Food Production

As Christians, we have to understand that this world is broken and will remain that way until the second coming of our Lord. Sustainable food production, while possible in theory, is never going to be perfect. Are GMOs perfect? No. Is it possible that someday we will find a better alternative? Yes. However, until the day comes when we no longer need the technology, we must continue to improve our methods of production. I believe GMOs to be better for the soil environment, easier to grow for farmers, higher food production for poverty-ravished communities, and overall better for producing safe, high-quality, affordable food. That’s why I grow them, eat them myself, and promote the truth about them. However, I look forward and wait eagerly for the day in which I no longer need to fight against imperfection! Behold, He is coming to make all things new!

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” –Romans 8:18-23

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi there! My name is Greg, and I am the eldest of the Peterson Farm Brothers. This blog will be my best attempt at explaining what the lyrics to our parody music video, “All I Do is Farm” are all about!

Watch the parody: 

This blog will focus mainly on family farmers like us who live in the Midwest and grow typical Midwest crops and livestock (wheat, corn, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, etc). There are countless other farmers out there who grow all sorts of different things (fruits, veggies, nuts, etc.) and raise all sorts of different animals (swine, poultry, dairy, etc.), but since my expertise lies solely on Midwest USA farmers, that’s what I will generally be referencing! The point to take away here is that we need to appreciate all farmers, no matter what kind they are, and we should all do our best to thank those who help grow our food!

I know a lot of you will disagree with at least one thing I will talk about on this blog. And that’s okay! But I beg you, please do not think that simply because you disagree with us on something, you can no longer be one of our friends! I disagree on something with pretty much everyone I know. If I didn’t talk to everyone I disagreed with, I’d be a pretty lonely person! It is important that we listen to different perspectives and keep an open mind. If you want to discuss something with us, visit our Facebook page!

It was extremely hard to fit all of my thoughts into one blog, so I have included several links to future blog posts where I will fully discuss my thoughts on why farmers do what we do! You can sign up to be notified when these blog posts are done by subscribing to this blog and following our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/petersonfarmbros

Okay, let’s take a look at the lyrics:

Peterson Farm Brothers goin’ in cause you know that we can’t stop, won’t stop now

I’m gonna make it clear for you like the black and white on a Holstein cow

That I ain’t goin nowhere, farmers have got yo’ back!

I’m raising crops and livestock so that you have food to snack

My brothers and I are your typical college age farm kids from Kansas who live on a 5th generation family farm in Kansas. We also just happen to have a YouTube channel! We have been doing farm music video parodies for about the last 2 years. It has been a crazy ride since our first video “I’m Farming and I Grow It” came out in June of 2012. It received 5 million views in just over a week and took our lifelong message of advocating agriculture and spread it all over the world. It was definitely a surprise to us that so many people enjoyed watching our videos. 30 million views and 5 parody videos later, we still don’t really know what we are doing but what we do know is this: We love agriculture and believe it is one of the most important things each and every human being needs to survive. And we try to show that in our videos and in our blogs as well. We also believe that farmers are some of the most misunderstood and underappreciated people in the world, and it is our goal to shed some light on why you shouldn’t take the millions of farmers raising crops and livestock in this world for granted! We hope you’ll continue reading….

All I do is farm, farm, farm no matter what!

All they do is farm. That’s what a lot of people think about farmers. “Yeah, they work hard and they are important and stuff, but they’re just farmers, right?”

There are thousands of professions out there, many of which are higher paying, more respected jobs. But where would all the people working in those jobs be without farmers? That’s right, they would be spending their time growing their own food. Today, the average farmer feeds over 155 people and the average American spends only about 6% of their income on their food, compared to 17% in 1960. Less expensive food has allowed for 98% of the population to spend all of their time doing something else besides raising their own food. How would you like it if you spent each day of your life growing your own food, instead of working at your current job and spending loads of time and money on family, leisure, and entertainment? So yes, all we do is farm, but without us farming, you all would be starving! (Or at least growing your own food!)

And not only do we farm, we farm no matter what! In heat, cold, sleet, rain, snow, weekends, holidays, and everything in between farmers are working hard to take care of animals, crops, and people! Thank a farmer!!!

Got farming on my mind I can never get enough.

I still love to farm, farm, farm

And if you know the charm put your hands in the air

Make ‘em stay there!

So what makes one want to farm? The long hours, dirty clothes, hot sun, bitter cold, and high levels of financial risk don’t sound very desirable, do they? Farming certainly isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t always profitable. But farmers love their jobs. There aren’t many farmers who don’t love farming because if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be much incentive to farm! There is just something about putting seeds in the ground in the spring and reaping the harvest in the fall, as well as caring for animals and feeding people, that makes farming one of the most rewarding, satisfying jobs out there.

Watch “So God Made a Farmer:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sillEgUHGC4

And every time I step up in the building

Tractors make my eyes light up!

‘Cuz they so big!

And they so fine!

Though sometimes they break down, break down, break down…

Anyone who knows a farmer knows that farmers love tractors, combines, and basically any type of farm machinery! Walking into a dealership full of new equipment makes a farmer feel like a kid in a candy store. However, new farm equipment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, making it extremely hard for any farmer to afford. This leaves a lot of farmers with older equipment that is very susceptible to breakdowns. Breakdowns can be very frustrating (you can see us throw up our hands in the video!) and can also be very expensive. But again, once you’ve fixed a broken down piece of equipment, that feeling of accomplishment sweeps over you and you remember why you love to farm!

Working lightning pace to harvest at the right time is the battle

I’m bouncing up and down like bobbin’ heads of cattle

I fly like Julius Erving, so that you get a servin’

Of fresh and healthy food that’s what you call the agricultural version

Harvest time is one of the most exciting times on the farm! The crops that need to be brought in can be wiped out in minutes by water, wind, fire, and other weather elements. Farmers spend a lot of time stressing out about how they are going to get their harvesting done. The weather never seems to cooperate and the aforementioned breakdowns always seem to get in the way! But most of the time, through hard work and patience, the farmer is able to bring in the harvest and take it to market, where crops like corn, wheat, soybeans, etc. will be made into a lot of the foods and products you use every day! Check out these different links:

Products made from Corn: http://www.businessinsider.com/corn-product-infographic-2012-7

Facts about Wheat: http://www.kswheat.com/consumerspageid220_WheatFacts.shtml

Products made from Soybeans: http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/soybean/uses_soyproducts.html

You see, it’s not just food that farmers are raising; it’s thousands of other products that we use in every day life as well! This remarkably efficient system has developed over the last couple hundred years, and is one of the major things responsible for the advancement of our society.

And farming’s not just for the old, it’s for the young and for the girls!

There are kids and women helping out on farms around the world!

There are thousands and thousands of women and children helping out on farms! Our mom and sister both know how to drive tractors and help us out whenever we need them. Everyone knows that a farm wife is one of the most important parts of a farm and many women are actually the head operator of a farm!

Here are some neat statistics about women in agriculture: http://www.americanagriwomen.org/files/women%20in%20ag%20census%20data%202007.pdf

All 3 of us brothers have enjoyed helping out on the farm since we were 4 or 5. Our roles have gradually grown from riding in the tractor with dad, to driving the tractor ourselves, to helping make big decisions on the farm! Many family farms often have several kids helping out with the production! It is truly one of the neatest parts about the agricultural community.

Some like to count me out

Y’all better count me in

Got empty bank accounts, but I’ll just trust in Him

I’m feedin’ hundreds every year, there’s no need for alarm

cause all I do, all I, all I do, all I do is farm.

As I mentioned previously, it can be hard to make a profit sometimes as a farmer. All the costs of farming have risen extremely in the last couple of decades, making the risk of farming extremely high. Land can cost up to $10,000/acre (or close to $1,000,000 for one large field). New tractors or combines can cost around $400,000. This means that sometimes (or a lot of times!) a farmer’s bank account will be drained or even in debt. Farmers have to trust that their next crop or their next livestock sale will pay their bills. Since those are never a guarantee, it never hurts to trust in a Higher Power as well!

All of these financial extremes in the farming community have led to fewer farms and bigger farmers. Farmers today on average feed hundreds of people (And this average is taking into account all of the small hobby farmers out there, an average Midwest farm is likely feeding thousands per year) and can consist of thousands of acres of land and thousands of animals as well.

Some like to question my methods

And that is perfectly fine

As long as you make sure you are polite, respectful, and kind

See farming is a family affair, you know we’re just like you!

The only difference is this farming thing is what we do! (Whole fam together)

You may now be thinking: “Wait, you said thousands of animals and thousands of acres of land? That sounds like factory and industrial farming to me, not family farming.”

Not really! Family farming is as alive as it has ever been! 96% of farms in the United States are family farms and I cannot name a single farm in our area here in Kansas that isn’t a family farm! The key point here is that family farms are getting bigger and many of them fall into the “industrial/factory farm” label, giving them a bit of a bad reputation. But I can assure you that farm families across the Midwest are doing everything they can to raise your food as ethically as possible! If you are interested in learning more about this, check out our family farm blog by clicking the following link:

Read our full blog post about Family Farming

All I do is farm farm farm no matter what

Got cattle on mind, caring for them when it’s tough

Feeding the cattle a healthy ration, in typical farmer fashion

Caring for my animals has always been a number one passion

We love our cattle. Yes, we have over 1,000 head of cattle in our feedlots when we are at maximum capacity. Yes, that means we are considered a factory farm. (Please read the aforementioned “family farming” blog post!) But, like I mentioned earlier, most large cattle operations are family owned and operated and provide cattle with everything they need to live happy lives. We care for our cattle in every type of weather and season! Our cattle (as well as nearly all cattle here in America) spend the first half of their lives on pasture grass as calves before they are transferred to our farm to be grown into healthy, strong, beef cattle! We eat our own homegrown beef all the time and would highly recommend it to anybody! While it would be nice to have all of our cattle on pasture grass for their entire lives, we treat the animals in our feedlot with the utmost respect, and you can read about what we do and why we do it in the following blog posts:

Read our full blog post on Animal Welfare: (Coming Soon)

Read our full blog post on “Real Sustainability: Why It is Not Practical For All Beef Cattle To Spend Their Entire Lifetimes on Free-Range Grass”: (Coming Soon)

All I do is farm farm farm no matter what

Conservation on my mind i take care of what I got

So every time I see water erosion

I go build my terraces up!

So it runs there!

And it runs there!

And I practice no-till, no-till, no-till

Cause that’s just how I farm, farm, farm

Many people think farmers could care less about the environment. This could not be further from the truth! One of the ways farmers like us practice conservation is through no-till planting methods. No-till allows the farmer to keep residue on the soil, protecting it from water and wind erosion, and prevents catastrophes like the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s from happening.

Here are some of the cool benefits of no-till farming: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/nvswcd/newsletter/notill.htm

Another way farmers are helping the environment is by minimizing mono cropping. Most farmers today practice what is called crop rotation. In the old days of farming, the same crop was planted year after year, draining the soil of certain nutrients. Today, farmers plant different crops in different fields every year, which, like no-till, is much healthier for the soil.

A lot of people do not realize, however, that these extremely important conservation methods of no-till and crop rotation are what are responsible for things like herbicide and pesticide usage and genetically engineered plants. You see, no-till farming is impossible without a way to kill weeds and bugs, and herbicides, pesticides, and genetically engineered seeds help solve this problem! They also allow for easier crop rotations. Contrary to popular belief, however, farmers are as conservative as possible with these tools, as they are very expensive. Modern day GPS technology (as seen in the video) allows for precise application of sprays and fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds have been adapted so that fewer applications of the sprays must be administered. Another thing to remember is that the spray you see farmers putting on their crops usually consists of over 90% water, and one sprayer tank usually covers an entire field, meaning the chemical application is very minimal. Of course, we realize that the concern is that chemical residue from the spray will somehow make it into your food and that genetically engineered food is somehow bad for you. We strongly believe neither of these to be true (based on thousands of peer reviewed studies) as there have never been any traces of sickness resulting from consumption of food from any of these farming practices. In fact, we regularly eat our crops straight from the field! To keep this paragraph short, we hope that you can see that if we can trust our crops healthiness and environmental safety enough to consume them ourselves straight from the field, you should be able to as well. To further discuss these very controversial subjects, however, we will be devoting an entire blog post to them soon.

Read this blog post on GMOs from my friend Nicole 

10 GMO myths debunked

2,000+ Peer Reviewed GMO safety studies

Read our full blog post on GMOs, pesticides, and herbicides: (Coming Soon)

Billions of more people will be on this planet years from now

With farmland shrinking back each day, how we gonna feed ‘em, how?

Farmers use technology, and input less to produce more

Keeping carbon footprint down is what we use our methods for!

We all need to work together, to feed the human race

Sustainability to make the world a better place

In the battle against hunger, what will you use for armor?

Paul Harvey said it best, “So God Made a Farmer”

The population of the world will increase to more than 9 billion by the year 2050. Farmland is being taken away all over the place by cities, highways, and houses. We WILL be able to feed this population, but only if we as the population allow farmers to continue to use the technology (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) we are using! Farmers have drastically reduced inputs over the years, and yet have continued to produce more food each year. Today’s farmers produce 262 percent more food with 2 percent fewer inputs (labor, seeds, feed, fertilizer, etc.), compared to 1950. That’s crazy!

Check this page out: http://www.fb.org/index.php/index.php?action=newsroom.fastfacts

We also are trying to do our best to keep our carbon footprint down. Newer farm machinery releases less emissions, thousands of regulations have been put on farmers to make sure our practices are safe and environmentally friendly, and beef producers have made huge strides to improve sustainability: http://www.explorebeef.org/CMDocs/ExploreBeef/Environmental%20Sustainability%20of%20Beef%20Production%20Has%20Improved%20Considerably%20Over%20Last%2030%20Years.pdf

Many people believe that “organic farming” alone is sustainable. However, if you truly step back and take a look at the data, you will see that we need ALL types of farming and farmers to be able to be sustainable! We need to work together! Not fight about which is better or worse. The only way we could feed the world with only organic farming is if the majority of the population became farmers again, as organic farming does not work well on a large scale. (This would severely cut back on the advancement of society, as mentioned in the first part of the blog, and just simply isn’t going to happen unless you force people to become farmers)

See our full blog post on Organic Farming and Conventional Farming: (Coming Soon)

All I do is farm farm farm no matter what

Got people on mind I’m just tryna feed enough

So every time you step up to your next meal

Send a farmer thank you up!

Cuz we work hard!

So you stay fed!

Though this life can go down, up, down, up down

We still love to farm, farm, farm

And if you know the charm put your hands in the air

Make ‘em stay there!

In conclusion, I would just like to ask for you to put your food security trust in the hands of farmers. There are probably bad farmers out there, farmers who abuse their land, their animals, and are not viable stewards of what has been given them (I’ve certainly never met one, and I’ve met thousands of farmers when we visit places to speak). But those farmers are few and far in between and the agricultural community will do our best to help stop those terrible practices. If you don’t remember anything else from this blog, remember this: The absolute overwhelming majority of farmers in this world are real, wholesome, good-natured farm families who are “just trying to feed enough.” And they need your support! My challenge to the reader of this blog is to get to know your local farmers! Meet an organic producer and meet a conventional producer. Meet a large farmer and then a small farmer. Talk to them about what they do and why they do it! (If you want to visit our farm and talk to us, head to http://www.petersonfarmbros.com and click the farm tours tab!) I am sure you will find that 99% of farmers, whether big or small, are good people just like you and I who deserve thanks for what they are doing.

I am also challenging farmers everywhere to be transparent to consumers and people who know nothing about agriculture. It’s time we show people why we do what we do. We have nothing to hide! It’s time we start working together to feed the world! Stop the fighting and start uniting!

If you have any comments or questions about this blog, please head over to http://www.facebook.com/petersonfarmbros and post on our wall. We will do our best to reply to your comments in an honest, transparent way. But remember, questioning our methods is perfectly fine, as long as you are polite, respectful, and kind!

What is a Factory Farm? Corporate farm? Industrial Farm? Family farm?

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are?

Understand this: The vast majority of farms are operated just like the family farm that I live and work on. We have many videos about how our operation works on our YouTube Channel and we hope that this can give you an idea of what a typical family farm actually looks like!

These family farms are not the family farms from fifty years ago, however. Higher land prices and higher input costs have made it extremely tough to make much of a profit as a farmer, especially on a small farm. Few farming opportunities and the draw of a higher salary in the city have also led to a decline of young people returning to their family’s farm. These factors contributed to a decline in the number of farms and the growth of the average size of a typical family farm. Many family farms joined together to farm “corporately” (Our father and grandfather farmed together as a corporation, as will the Peterson Farm Bros) to help absorb the massive costs of running a modern day farm. So, as you can see, “corporate farms” can be family farms at the same time, and corporate farming can actually encourage family farming! There are true corporate farms that operate as a large business, but they are not nearly as common as family farms. Don’t believe me? Come out here to the Midwest and try to find a corporate farmer!

New technology such as larger equipment, GPS technology, and automated processes have allowed for farmers to farm more acres and raise more livestock per farmer, which has allowed agricultural production to thrive in recent years. Many family farms have thousands of acres of land and over a thousand head of livestock, including ours.

An “industrial farm” or “factory farm” is considered a large-scale farming operation with over 1,000 acres of ground or over 1,000 head of livestock (otherwise known as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). This definition fits our family farm and many others I know of. These bigger farms have allowed for greater food production on less land. In 1960, one farmer fed just 25 people. Today, the average family farmer feeds over 155 people and the average American spends only about 6% of their income on their food, compared to 17% in 1960. Less expensive food has allowed for 98% of the population to spend all of their time doing something else besides raising their own food. How would you like it if you spent each day of your life growing your own food, instead of working at your current job and spending loads of time and money on family, leisure, and entertainment?

As you can see, the “industrial, corporate, factory” farming everyone seems to be so against is actually taking place on family farms just like ours. However, please hear me out! Just because farms these days are big, do not mean they are unethical, only concerned about money, or rich and spoiled. In fact, many large family farms still have trouble making a profit. Droughts, floods, blizzards, market prices, and equipment breakdowns can wipe away all of our profit in an instant. Farmers, no matter how big or small, still have to work crazy long hours, still have to get their clothes dirty, and still have to deal with the defeat and sadness of losing a crop or losing an animal to sickness. It’s not an easy job. And that is why farmers use these methods and new technology, to make their job a little easier!

I firmly believe there is no better place to raise a child than on a farm, big or small. I was outside helping my dad feed cattle before I went to preschool. I learned to drive a tractor when I was 5. I put in my first 10-hour workday when I was in fifth grade. And I loved every minute of it! The farming community that I have experienced in my travels throughout the country is one represented by strong ethical values, hard work ethic, and legendary perseverance no matter what the size, type, or location. If you’ve met a farmer that doesn’t exhibit these qualities, I would be extremely surprised!

Our farm is a 5th generation farm that started out with just a few acres and just a few animals. Nearly everyone in this country was a farmer back then, and so not as much food needed to be produced. It was also a lot easier to make a profit. Today, farmers make up less than 2 percent of the population, meaning farms have had to grow to keep up with food demand. Our farm, as I mentioned is pretty big! But of course, you can see in the videos that we are as “family farm” as you can get! My dad, my brothers, and I operate our farm, with occasional help from our relative Terry and our mom and sister. All family! And of the thousands upon thousands of Midwest farms, the majority of them look essentially like ours. So, here is the big takeaway: If you are going to hate on “big, modern day agriculture” and “large farms,” just know that the majority of the farms you are hating on are down to earth, Midwest families just like ours who are just trying to work hard to make a living!

Check out this page for more info about family farms: http://findourcommonground.com/food-facts/corporate-farms/

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)

By Greg Peterson

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. As a 5th generation family farmer in central Kansas, I along with my family raise cattle for beef production. Our farm is quite large, with an operation of over 1,000 head, and yes, we raise our livestock “conventionally.” That means our cattle are confined in pens, antibiotics are given to revive them when they are sick, and hormones are administered to them to promote healthy growth. These are all methods Chipotle has deemed “unhealthy, unsustainable, and unethical” and are some of the main things they attack in their video series. So……

While it may seem that Chipotle is on the side of family farmers, the truth is that they are attacking thousands of family farms across America like ours that fit the definition of an “industrial farm.”

If you were to Google these conventional methods, I’m sure most of what you would find is negativity. The “Google search” certainly supports Chipotle’s claims. There are many out there who have created videos and written blogs about these methods that are very misinformed, twisted to fit an agenda, and sometimes even outright lies.

Before you read these articles, you should always ask yourself:

  • How many of these people have actually visited real farms (like ours) in person that use these methods? (Most are relying on Internet content and other’s opinions)
  • Where is the scientific proof (not opinions) that these methods are bad?

Nearly everyone who believes these methods are wrong (including Chipotle) are basing their beliefs on what seems to be everyone’s collective emotions toward the concepts, and have never actually seen the way the overwhelming majority of conventional beef is raised in person. I do say majority because there are exceptions where animals are not treated correctly, and I will address that later on. There are so many misconceptions on this topic, believe me.

“Believe me.”

Why am I, Greg Peterson, asking the people reading this to trust what I have to say on this topic? Well first of all, I am a real farmer, and I have been all of my life. I base my beliefs off of personal experience on a real farm and the real, independent, scientific research that has been done on the topics. The reality of who I am compared to the propaganda (from both sides of the argument) of what you might read on the Internet is what should set me apart. As a farmer, I will actually do as much research as anyone into what I grow as food. It’s my livelihood. Who do you think is more of an expert on farming, a blogger from the city, an overpaid celebrity, a giant fast food corporation, or a real life family farmer? I’m not a corporate spokesman, a paid journalist, or a crazed activist. I’m a down-to-earth, hard-working farmer, who isn’t getting paid a dime to write any of this. Quite honestly, I am literally writing this article for the sole purpose of promoting the truth and correcting the false information that so many believe about some of the most valuable people in the world, family farmers.

Furthermore, my own family eats our own beef and our own crops (straight from the field!) and we have never doubted the quality of them for a second. I definitely understand why people are scared of what Chipotle and others are claiming is happening in agriculture and are concerned about what they are eating, but if my family trusts what we are growing and the methods that we use enough to eat it ourselves, then why shouldn’t you?

I’m asking for your trust in reading this, and I know that is a hard thing to gain these days. There is so much misinformation out there anymore. But I hope that most of you have followed my brothers and I for awhile now and understand who we are, what we are about, and where we are coming from. Please, keep an open mind with what you are about to read, because it will probably contradict a lot of different things you have heard about large agriculture operations.

Let’s talk about the 3 different definitions I believe Chipotle has gotten wrong:

Part 1: The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle

Part 2: The Definition of a Family Farmer

Part 3: The Definition of a Humanely Raised Animal

Part 4: The Definition of Ethical Behavior