Advocating for Truth: GMOs

Table of Contents

  1. What are GMOs?
  2. What are GMOs not? 
  3. Why do farmers use technology such as GMOs and pesticides? 
  4. My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GMOs 
  5. My perspective as a Christian on GMOs 
  6. Questions and comments from readers answered
  7. Additional Resources

 

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. Genetic engineering does not just exist in food, products such as insulin, aspartame, and the Hepititis B vaccine are all GMOs. This blog will mainly focus on GM crops, or 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 GM Crops 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 in the USA

  •   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.

Who Grows GMOs?

List of GM products

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

  • Food for Human Consumption: While the majority of GM crops to go biofuels and animal feed, GMO ingredients are found in many 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 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 crops 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 by livestock containing GM products. Not a single sickness or death has occured. Link: Trillion Meal Study
  • After reviewing thousands of studies, the following medical organizations support GMOs: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Australian Academy of Sciences, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, British Medical Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, European Commission, European Food Safety Authority, Federation of Animal Science Societies, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, French Academy of Science, Indian National Science Academy, Institute of Food Technologists, International Council for Science, International Union of Food Science and Technology, Italian National Academy of Science, Mexican Academy of Sciences, National Academies of Science (United States), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Royal Society (United Kingdom), World Health Organization
  • Click this link for: Over 600 published safety assessments

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. Nutritional value of a crop can vary due to many factors, but if raised with similar methods and in the same location as a non-GMO counterpart, GMO crops show little to no difference in nutrition.
One side of this picture is GM soybeans, the other side is non-GM. Can you tell the difference? (Picture from Missouri farmer Austin Lawrence)

One side of this picture is GM soybeans, the other side is non-GM. Can you tell the difference?  (Photo from Missouri farmer Austin Lawrence)

Only produced by Monsanto

  • There are hundreds of seed companies that a farm family like mine can purchase seeds from. While Monsanto is the largest of all of these companies, by no means do they have a monopoly on the market. As far as GMOs go, there are 3 main seed companies you can buy GMO seeds from, mainly because it is so expensive to bring GMOs to market. The point is that farmers have absolute freedom of choice in the company they buy their seed from. They are not forced to buy from Monsanto.
  • Read my full blog about Monsanto here: https://petersonfarmblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/15-myths-about-the-former-monsanto-company/

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).

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 technology like GMOs and pesticides? (Benefits) What are the issues? (Costs)

(By both Greg and Nathan Peterson) 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 that can be unreliable.

Benefit #1: Farmers use technology to increase yield potential

GMOs: 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 mainly 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 the full yield potential hybrids and breeding have given it.

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.

Issue #1: 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.

Solution: A lot of time and money are going into working on ways to fight resistance. The farming industry has dealt with problems like this 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.

Benefit #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 conservational 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!

 

Issue #2: Herbicide/Pesticide Usage is Required to No-Till Farm

However, you cannot practice no-till farming without the use of herbicides. Therefore, conservational farming has led to an increase in chemical usage in the last several decades. 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

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 are not no-till still use pesticides. This includes conventional tillage farmers as well as organic farmers (who use natural pesticides). These methods are used for many different management reasons and they are both completely viable practices. 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.)

Solution: Below you can read about how things like GMOs and cover crops are helping to reduce pesticide usage. It is clear we need to reduce our use of pesticides in agriculture, and the good news is that we will likely see a decrease in pesticide usage over the next several decades.

Benefit #3: Farmers use GM technology to reduce costly inputs like 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 (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. 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.
  • You can see all of these in action in Part 2 of our blog about chemicals:

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 things like cover c

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 this technology pays for itself. It doesn’t make sense for farmers to use more chemicals than they have to, because they cost so much. Farmers and manufacturers will continue to identify the problems in chemical application as well as continue to find solutions.

Issue #3: 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 pesticides). It is true that the ones benefitting the most from these technologies are chemical companies and seed companies. I wish it were 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 the large seed and pesticide companies 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” or “different” nutritionally 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 technology. 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.

My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GM Crops

My perspective on the safety and sustainability of GM crops is an opinion that I’ve formed based on the facts presented above. There is nothing wrong with having a different opinion than me! New information can change someone’s opinion, and I will try to keep an open mind about this if you do as well. I will now address the three main questions about GMOs.

Are GM Foods Healthy (Nutritious)?

In my opinion, 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. 

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 nutritious, valuable food products, the original core 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 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 section above (Why do farmers use GMOs?). 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, not every consumer can afford that choice. That is why one person’s beliefs should not determine another’s beliefs and choices. Every farmer and consumer should be allowed the freedom of what to grow and what to eat! (I talk about that more in the section below, “GMO labeling”)

Are GM Foods environmentally 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 instead be because, in your specific situation, the possible risks of eating GMOs outweigh the outlined benefits. This is not true for everyone, and I talk about that more in the section below (“GMO labeling”).

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, the amount of farmers and people who want to become farmers is declining each year.. The average age of a farmer is 55 years old and has been increasing for the last couple of decades. Where are the millions of 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?

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. Be thankful for farmers! Be thankful for choices! Be thankful for freedom!

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 each farmer, no matter what the type, is doing the best they 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. That’s why we feed our families what we grow!

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 our farm grows 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 those statistics will probably make you feel sad. There are two things we should all do after seeing those. 1. Be thankful for what we have. 2. Stop wasting our time complaining and start doing something positive to help reduce some of those 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. Completely 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. (Organic is a better alternative for a small population, but it is not the ultimate solution!) Until the day comes when we no longer need the technology, all types of farmers 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. In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the possible risks (for now)!

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!

Additional Blog: My perspective as a Christian on GMOs

Click here to read: My perspective as a Christian on GMOs

Questions and Comments From Readers Answered

If GMOs are so good, then why not label them?

My immediate answer to that question is: I believe GMOs are “good” (not proven to be dangerous), so therefore I do not think they need to be labeled. However, I am pro-freedom of choice for consumers. I believe consumers should have freedom to avoid any type of food product if they want to, and so I am not necessary against the idea of labeling. However….

-Consumers today are very uneducated about a lot of things in the food production system. Many people google search their questions about food, health, etc. and rely on answers from random people on the internet to base their views upon instead of facts and true expert opinions. I would be all for labeling of GMO products if it meant that as a result consumers were educated (correctly) about what they are, why farmers use them, and what benefits/risks they impose. The problem is the average consumer has no idea what GMOs are and therefore would be scared of a label that says “genetically modified.” Marketing companies take full advantage of this. We need people to be educated about their food, not scared of it!

-Most of the labeling of today has nothing to do with nutrition. It has everything to do with marketing. Terms placed on labels are misleading and are designed to sell a product by making consumers think that the anything that doesn’t have that label is bad for them. If we were to put a label on every GMO food product, I think the same would hold true. Consumers would assume that “GMOs must be bad if they have to put a label about them. I better buy non-GMO instead.” Again, this is fear based marketing instead of fact-based education. I am all for consumers having freedom of choice! If you have been informed correctly with facts about GMOs and still want to buy non-GMO, go for it! However, I am not for consumers being scared into avoiding a product they know nothing about.

-Nutritional labels are supposed to show nutrition! Biotechnology (GMOs) is not dealing in nutrition. As mentioned earlier in the blog, GMO and non-GMO are the same in appearance and nutrition. Biotechnology is dealing with the technology used to grow the food. Are we are going to start labeling every single type of technology used to grow our food?

-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) decision.

-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 consumers are not well educated on them and there has been no proven danger. Instead of labeling all GM products, we are currently labeling all the products that are GMO-free, giving people who want this choice the option to choose it! This provides a compromise between anti-GMO agendas (get rid of all GM products) and pro-GMO agendas (no need to eat non-GMO). If we get to a point where the majority of consumers have been adequately educated on GMOs and still desire labels on everything, then I would be for labeling everything.

The (educated) consumer is always right.

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

GMO Facts and Fiction

Advertisements

286 thoughts on “Advocating for Truth: GMOs

  1. Greg…I’ve been a fan of the Peterson Bros. youtube videos since you began the journey and share them as far and as wide as I can. Thank you for taking the time to further explain what and why you do what you do every day so the rest of us are able to go about our daily work as well. Because of the efficiencies of farmers in the U.S. – and many other countries as well – the rest of us are able to pursue our interests and use our God-given gifts in ways other than working every day to provide the food needed to sustain our families. The opportunity to access new technologies – like GM technology – allow farmers like you to do your job more effectively, efficiently, safely and sustainably. I am grateful. Keep up the great work!

    Mary Boote
    A northwest Iowa farm girl who benefits daily from her interactions with farmers from around the world.

  2. An incredible, thorough blog. Excellently written, well thought-out. I come from/live on small family farm of <1000 acres and trying to figure out how to fully take it over from my parents and get into it as my full time job rather than consulting engineering. It's quite difficult when there are mega-farmer families with excess of 20,000 acres and lots of money and can snap up land every time they want to because they can outbid smaller operations like us. That's the really sad part of the increases in farm size – when guys who want to get into it can't because others run you over. Definitely support and wish for the smaller farms which continue to go away. The other downside of the larger farmers is with fewer people in an area, the small towns suffer and die off. Ours has lost several businesses and probably will continue to. Keep up the great work you guys do with your parodies, blog, and also Greg's other music recordings. You guys are incredibly talented!

    • Thanks for the comment Kirk! Agree with everything you said. Kind of goes back the “imperfection” theme that is evident throughout my blog. There are always going to be problems in agriculture, and we need to always be working hard to fix them!

  3. Great job! Way to present ALL the information on GMO’s and really let people know what they want to know. My favorite part: Humans are imperfect. Animals are imperfect. Plants are imperfect. Food production is imperfect.
    Nothing in this world is perfect and I think people need to be reminded of that!
    Great job Greg! Keep on agvocating!

  4. Great blog, I recently wrote a research paper on this same subject in college. Like you, I am not advocating against organic, just trying to dispel the misinformation that is so rampant in the media.

    Something that you didn’t touch on, but is truly fascinating: what are the possibilities of genetic modification in agriculture? I believe that we have truly just scratched the surface, and that things will only get better.

    Another fun fact:Bt resistance IN GM corn is made possible by introducing the same thing that organic farmers use to spray their non GM corn!

    I’m 27, and a 5th generation family farmer from Utah.

  5. Incredible job Greg. Such a great collection of information. The only thing about GMO’s that is missing here and is often forgot about are the commonly used products of GMO’s that bring medicinal benefits like GM insulin. It’s a another great thing we’ve gained from this technology that people so often despise.

    Also, your post about your view on GM technology as a Christian is gold.

    Thanks for all of this, I’ll definitely be linking to your posts in the future =)

  6. Thank you! I am not a farmer, neither do I know anything about farming and I appreciate your honest opinion and Love your videos. I have wondered about GMO’s and enjoyed the educational way you presented it.

  7. Just the same, I prefer not to eat foods that are covered with herbicides and are patented pesticides in themselves. Label them. Then you can eat them and I can avoid them! The farmers I know don’t like to spray Roundup all over the place. They rotate their crops and use cover crops to handle pest problems, only spraying certain chemicals as (rarely) needed. They have the best yields in their counties.

    • Foods are not “covered with pesticides.” That doesn’t even make sense as the term “pesticide” simply means it can get rid of a pest, it does not mean “spray” or “chemical.” This was all clearly laid out in the blog. (Did you read it?)

      Non-GMO food is labeled. If you would like to purchase non-GMO food, shop in the organic food aisle of the grocery store! Until there is a safety issue associated with GMO food, it doesn’t need to be labeled, as it is no different nutritionally from non-GMO.

      No farmer likes to spray RoundUp all over the place. It is crazy expensive to use, and farmers are doing everything we can to reduce our use. (I talked about that in the blog, did you read it?) It only makes sense.

      We rotate our crops every year as do most farmers who grow GMOs. Many farmers who grow GMOs also use cover crops. (Again, I talked about that in the blog) I would like to see some proof about the “best yields in the county.” The best yields in every county I’ve been in are from conventionally raised crops.

      • Greg, the very best herbicide and pesticide is the farmer’s shadow. That’s what I learned growing up. The fact is, if our country wasn’t made up of these “super” farms, but rather thousands or millions of tiny farms, there wouldn’t be as much need for all the ‘cides. It’s lamentable that such huge farms exist in my opinion. For me, it takes little talent to raise GM crops. It is impossible to have such super farms without the use of herbicides and pesticides because the very nature of the size of these farms means the crops will rarely if ever fall under the shadow of the farmer.

      • Kent, I agree with you that pesticides and herbicides would not be used nearly as much if there were more farms and more farmers. I am not against having millions more tiny farms, it’s just that the free market system doesn’t work like that. I talked about that in my blog. The other fact of the matter is that there simply aren’t enough people out there willing to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time into growing food, without a guarantee of profit. The amount of farmers has been on the decline for decades. How do you propose to fix this? The only answer I can think of is some sort of government subsidy to small farmers. But we all know how much everyone hates farm subsidies.

        As far as farmers who grow GM crops being lazy……you have absolutely no idea the amount of work it takes to grow crops, GMO or not. Yes, it is easier than it used to be (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but it is still extremely difficult to keep machinery running, to battle the elements, and to get your crops in on time. I have met thousands of GM crop farmers myself in my travels, and they are some of the hardest working people you can find. I’d love to see evidence from you to back up your statement!

      • Greg, there is no reply button for me to hit so I’m replying to the original comment you posted.

        Let me clear up a couple of misunderstandings. I never said it was lazy to use the ‘cides, I said it took no talent to use them. Its extremely difficult to maximize yield on a farm your size without using these “tools”, in fact, its impossible, thus my lamenting about the fact that super farms by their very nature require them.

        “The other fact of the matter is that there simply aren’t enough people out there willing to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time into growing food, without a guarantee of profit.”

        Two points on this, the money is a serious issue as you brought up, but people that have hundreds of thousands of dollars typically will have made that money in another industry and they will likely continue in that industry. Banks are the way farms your size are made (along with hardwork but don’t kid yourself, banks supply the working capital for most super farms), not by investing in one industry and then trying to be a farmer with the windfall. Secondly, there are many people that invest hundreds of hours of their time with no expectation of profit in growing food. I’m one of them. I grow because I love to grow. I invest a tremendous amount of my own resources into growing with little or no motivation for profit because I love it. There are many many small farms out there that do co-oping where the lifestyle is the reward, not the money.

        “The only answer I can think of is some sort of government subsidy to small farmers.” Agreed, but also a cultural change. Farming is not valued in our culture. I have no problem with farm subsidies to small farmers, corporate farms though? That is where people have problems with farm subsidies and rightly so in my opinion. When was the last time you saw a story where a small farmer was a hero printed in a mainstream paper or movie? We have to change the culture and expectations. Our society values money, it doesn’t value culture or lifestyle. If you think farming is hardwork, you’re in the wrong line of business. Farming is a joy, at least to me. I could work all day with little sleep when I’m growing because I’m obsessed by it and love it. I however, cannot make a living from it because I don’t want to go corporate. I grow because I love it.

        “I am not against having millions more tiny farms, it’s just that the free market system doesn’t work like that. ” Actually, the free market did work like that up until the 1920’s. There were no farm subsidies back then. Are you making the argument that the free market didn’t exist before the 20’s?

        “you have absolutely no idea the amount of work it takes to grow crops, GMO or not.” Your evidence for this is? I grew up on a farm much larger than yours, 50,000 acres. I have plenty of idea how hard it is. Your young, exploring these things for yourself. One day you may come to the same conclusion I have. Don’t pretend to know everything, because at your age, that’s not possible. Even in my advanced years, I don’t assume something I don’t know and still get things wrong. I came to my own conclusion growing up on such a super farm, you may come to a different conclusion, which is fine, but don’t assume ignorance because someone disagrees with you.

        “Yes, it is easier than it used to be (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but it is still extremely difficult to keep machinery running, to battle the elements, and to get your crops in on time.” I agree with you, it is much easier and the other obstacles you placed are no different than they were generations before you, except your use of GMO crops and ‘cides. Take away the GMO and the ‘cides and see how well you manage. That is a real challenge. I know backyard gardenders that spend hundreds of hours on their crops and they do it by hand and without the help of ‘cides. It would be impossible to do that on your scale, thus why I think its lamentable that there are so few farmers today and farming is now only done on a corporate size. In the case of growing food for your family and neighbors, the free market as you understand it has brought about changes that aren’t always welcomed.

        BTW, I don’t have any problem with GMO, as you rightly stated, farmers have been modifying their crops for thousands of years. The problem I have is with the ‘cides which no one can argue is good for the environment or for the soil. However, super farms could not exist today without it, but they somehow managed before without them because the farmer put his lively-hood at stake, which no farmer today on your size is willing to accept that risk. That too is lamentable.

      • Now we must reciprocate. Let’s discuss the “shadow” of the organic farmer. Organic farmers do not have a chemical control for weeds, that is true. Weeds on organic farms are removed by tilling up the ground between rows. However, the weeds that grow up within the rows require removal by hand. This is accomplished by hiring workers to pull up weeds in a bent over position. This hand weeding must be done throughout the season. That means that organic farmers require hundreds of hours of labor per acre to pull weeds.

        Leonard Gianessi explains:

        Now how about labeling how many hours of bent-over-worker-hours were required for you to have your designer planet-saving organic salad? Do you really want a salad or an organic cotton t-shirt with a label explaining that you wanted people bent over in fields for hundreds and hundreds of hours, so you could pay more for an “organic” product? Because I think these labels should include those thousands of hours manual labor – after all, conventional farmers accomplish this on their tractors in hours with herbicides. (There are other important labels which should be included on “organic” products, but perhaps another time.)

      • Yes, it is so much more work to be an organic farmer! That is why we need millions more people farming if we wanted to revert back to this type. But again, you cannot call conventional farmers lazy. During planting and harvest seasons, it is not uncommon to work 80 or 90 hour weeks!

      • This reply is for Zeke, again, this commenting system is a bit difficult to figure out.

        “Now we must reciprocate. Let’s discuss the “shadow” of the organic farmer. Organic farmers do not have a chemical control for weeds, that is true. Weeds on organic farms are removed by tilling up the ground between rows. However, the weeds that grow up within the rows require removal by hand. This is accomplished by hiring workers to pull up weeds in a bent over position. This hand weeding must be done throughout the season. That means that organic farmers require hundreds of hours of labor per acre to pull weeds.”

        This is partially true but not entirely. Raised rows with plastic mulch don’t require bent over workers to pull weeds. The farmers demonstrated in that video were large corporate farmers, not the type of farmers I’m discussing or advocating as a solution. I’m just as much against organic super farms as I am against non-organic super farms. I thought that could be inferred by my consistently “knocking” of how all these problems are caused by the very nature of the size of the farm. You can’t have very large farms without there being some sort of abuse to the environment, people and animals because super farms wasn’t what mother nature had intended in my opinion.

        “Now how about labeling how many hours of bent-over-worker-hours were required for you to have your designer planet-saving organic salad?”

        I’m not against labels. I think an informed consumer is a better consumer. Labels could help spur change in how farming is done, which is a good thing. More information people have about how their food is grown would highlight the problems that I point out in my previous posts and could garner public support for changes in the laws and spur public investment in smaller farms. Win-win as far as I’m concerned. However, as long as corporations are spending millions to convince the average person that “too much information isn’t good for them”, the public will continue to be ignorant of conditions their food is grown in.

        Large farms cause large problems whether they’re organic or non-organic.

  8. Hard to find the “Leave a Reply” place, but now I have it!

    Greg, I stand on the other side of this issue, but the first thing I want to tell you is that I am in total agreement with you on the possibility of having an honest and reasonable debate with people who believe other than the way I believe. I strongly resonate with “Celebrate Diversity and Create Community”. I am so often saddened by the insults, slurs and bad-tempered remarks that people post when they disagree with someone or some platform. So at least, from the beginning, what we are starting here is an open debate, a fair, democratic and honest discussion about this issue of GMO’s. I will only speak on a couple of issues, and see where this debate leads us.

    To my knowledge, there has never been a HUMAN study on the safety of GMO’s. If you know of a study where human subjects were used in a good scientific study, please send me the link.

    The proponents for the safety of GMO’s say that GMO food is identical to non GMO food, and you stated that near the beginning of your article. Yet, these companies felt it necessary to obtain patents on their GMO products, and the reason they were able to obtain patents is because their exists a significant difference between the two types of foods.

    Personally, I feel that seeds are for the people, like water, and should never be owned by anyone. Having access to food and water is a basic human right. But as you may have already guessed, I do NOT want GMO seeds. I want heirloom, organic seeds.

    When GMO fields spread into nearby organic fields (something the organic farmer absolutely does NOT want, as he then loses his organic certification due to his field being contaminated) then Monsanto takes the organic farmer to court for stealing his seeds. Sadly, this really happens. Even more sadly, Monsanto wins. The organic farmer is now out of business because (1) a seed he did not want migrated into his field and (2) the corporation that “owns” the seed that migrated maliciously places a lawsuit against this innocent organic farmer.

    Just a few topics for discussion, wondering how you might reply.

    Sincerely,

    Pamela Jackson, MM, MT-BC, NMT, CMT, CNA

    • Pamela, thanks for that intelligent, emotion-free response! I agree with your first paragraph for sure. Now to answer your questions:
      – There has been a scientific human study on GMOs and it has occurred over the last 20 years. Over 1 trillion meals over GM Food have been consumed. There has not been a single death or sickness related to this consumption. I talked about that in the blog. There are over 2,000 other studies that have been done to test the safety as well. I linked that in my blog too.
      -Yes, GMO food and non-GMO food are the exact same in nutritional composition. Where they are different is in their yield potential. The resistance that is in GM crops allow them to reach their yield potential much better than non-GMO. That is why farmers want to plant them! That is also why a patent is required, so that the seed companies can protect what they spent millions of dollars producing. It would be the same as if you came up with a new product that was extremely successful. You would get a patent on it so others did not take it and use it for free. I talked about this quite a bit in the blog as well.
      -Seeds are not “owned” by seed companies after farmers buy them. Farmers own the seed when they plant it, when it grows into a plant, and when they sell the grain that results. They are required to sign a stewardship agreement, but that is different than it being “owned” by someone else. (I talked about this in the blog as well! I’m beginning to think you didn’t read it!)
      -Humans and farmers alike DO have access to food and water and any type of seeds, including heirloom, organic. I don’t think that is up for debate. We live in a free country.
      -That last paragraph is not true. Monsanto has a company policy to never sue when small amounts of contamination occur like in the scenario you mention. They only sue when farmers deliberately break the rules of the “stewardship agreement” talked about in the blog. Link to support that here: http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/gm-seed-accidentally-in-farmers-fields.aspx

      Let me know if you have any other questions! I appreciate your politeness in the dialogue!

      • I did read your entire blog. I don’t know about the one trillion meals study. I question the results, but will look at the actual study myself. I question that no allergies resulted from eating GMO foods. I question the efficacy of the study. Until I look at the actual study, I cannot comment further. Send me a link to the study, please. The other studies were not done on humans

        Monsanto DOES sue Organic Farmers, and the Supreme court allows it.

        Supreme Court Hands Monsanto Victory Over Farmers on …
        http://www.globalresearch.ca/…court…monsanto…farmers…seed…/5364782

        Ans the Stewardship agreement makes Farmers buy seeds every year from Monsanto. Heirloom seeds can be saved and planted year after year, at no cost. They used the “Make more money” carrot to entice the farmers.

        I am late for work.Got to run.

  9. Thanks for being young and taking the time to study, however I believe you have drawn the incorrect conclusions, however based on what you quoted that cannot be helped, with time and more study you may do as I have changed my mind and understood more about how wholes function and how small changes to the whole, can cause it to collapse. Lots of the work you quoted is industry standard mis-information.
    Reminds me of the joke about the guy who studies fleas, he teaches them to jump when he says jump, then gradually removes their legs, each time he tells them to jump they do, when they finally have no legs he says jump, and they just lie there. He writes up the results, or conclusion of his research, ‘fleas with no legs are deaf’…..
    Keep questioning and learn from farmers who have learnt the power of managing the whole farm, with all it’s organisms working together, they are commercial, profitable without subsidies, and improving the land, people like Gabe and Paul Brown are good examples in ND.

    • Rodger, thanks for your comment. I would appreciate you being a little more specific about my “incorrect conclusions.” You claim work I quoted is “industry standard” information. Which specific works are industry standard? I used a variety of research information for this blog, and nearly all of it is independent research, including some of my own. (Are GMOs toxic? Video)

      You comparing me spending many, many hours researching and pondering fact-based information with an idiot who pulls the legs off of fleas and can’t figure out why they won’t jump doesn’t seem fair.

      I have been talking to, questioning and learning from farmers my entire life. That is literally my public speaking job description (I travel around the country and talk to farmers). I would really appreciate if you A) Were a little more specific in your accusations that I am misguided and B) Try to view things from my perspective

      I will do my best to see things from your perspective as well! Thanks!

  10. I will have to respectfully disagree with your post, based on my father-in-law’s personal experience. First, GMOs do affect the health of whatever or whoever consumes them. My father-in-law had lesions and other health issues with his dairy cow, his vet told him it was the gmo corn they eating. After switching to non-gmo corn his issues cleared up. I’ve also had farmers say that deer walked through their GMO corn to eat their non-gmo corn,why would they do that if there’s no difference in taste and (or) nutrition? These experiences don’t require any studies. Here’s some food for thought, although your motive was truth and nothing but, and I sincerely believe that it was, what was the motive of the person doing the studies that you read? We all know that big business pays to have studies done that promote their product or agenda.

    • Dennis, thanks for the comment. Your father-in-law may have had those experiences, but every farmer that I know of here in Kansas has never had these issues. The same thing goes for deer eating the non-GMO corn. Deer and raccoons eat our GMO corn like crazy. While we shouldn’t ignore the personal experiences we have, I’m not sure what your father-in-law’s experience is enough to deem GMOs unsafe or unhealthy. Especially when the majority of other farmers aren’t finding something different happening to their animals.

      I appreciate your “food for thought.” That is a very important question. I would agree that many of the studies that are pro-GMO are performed by people with pro-GMO motives. I wrote the blog with a pro-GMO mindset (although I tried hard to look at it from the other side). Here’s my question: What is your motive making this comment? What are the motives of every study that has been done against GMOs? What are the motives of everyone who commented negatively on this blog? Everyone’s opinion of something is greatly shaped by their perspective and motives. So your “food for thought” comment, while valid, goes both ways. That is why we must look at unbiased evidence instead of relying on feelings, emotions, and seeing through our own colored vision.

      • Scientific analysis can only occur outside the influences of profit. The entire scientific method is predicated on the idea that the observer is part of the equation and without acknowledging that relationship, the results are polluted.

        If you don’t understand the difference between selective breeding and the processes that create gmo crops, you should probably admit that in your opening lines to this blog.

    • Dennis, I can think of at least one possible response to both of the situations you mentioned. The dairy cow could have had a virus or something ( like canker sores in humans) and whatever it was cleared up in coincidence with the switch to non- GMO feed. As to the deer … one good reason to plant GMO corn is that it may have a shorter maturity, meaning it can be harvested sooner, meaning the non-GMO corn could have been younger and more tender. Deer have preferences just like we do, and I know I will eat dry or over-ripe corn if I have to, but prefer tender juicy corn. I’m not belittling your experiences, but since both instances can be explained easily by other factors, they are hardly proof of anything.

  11. Greg (& The other Petersons),

    First of all, I appreciate that you have taken the time to write this very comprehensive blog series aimed at educating people about GMOS! I am a 3rd year university undergrad studying Genetics and Ethics, with an interest in animal and plant science, so it’s fairly obvious that the issue of GMOs is one of which I am well aware. I have some criticisms of your blog post, not on the conclusion, but on the ways you attempted to prove your argument, but also would like to offer my congratulations on your ability to use new media as a method of educating people about the safety of genetic engineering. I hope you will find this critique useful in strengthening your argument in such a way as to help educate people who may be more skeptical.

    I particularly liked that you included information about your personal experience with GMOs. With the internet, for many, myself included, finding scholarly articles on the safety of GMOs is easy. What is typically more difficult is finding opinions by producers who actually use GMOs and their thoughts, because they usually don’t have as much of an online presence. However, I would like to point out that you walking into your corn field and eating an ear of corn is not ‘scientific research’, as you mentioned. It does not resemble in anyway a properly conducted scientific study. No control test was done, we did not witness in the video your health over a certain period of time etc. Most importantly though, anecdotal evidence is not a reliable source of scientific information, especially when we have only one account and this has not been repeated. I understand and applaud the intention of this segment, to show people that as a farmer you stand by your products and believe them to be safe, but be careful not to falsely claim that what you have done constitutes ‘scientific research’.

    Second, I was disappointed to see that the majority of the information you gave was without citations. There were many statements that I’m sure you have learned as common knowledge while being a farmer, but there are lots of statistics mentioned without any form of citation. This reduces the strength of your argument, as a statistic without context has very little meaning or validity. I understand that you are trying to appeal to a wide audience, and thus peer-reviewed in text citations on every sentence would not be well understood and is probably not necessary. But at least hyperlinking to the source of statistics and providing a list of ‘further reading’ for those who would like to learn more (and are capable of understanding the scientific jargon), seems like a manageable goal to me.

    Third, several times you cited the “One Trillion Meal Study”, I skimmed through the Forbes article that it was linked to and was not impressed. This article was not a specific study at all, rather it listed statistics from various other articles and made ‘an appeal to common sense’ in stating that if no health effects have been found after one million meals consumed, there must be no negative effects of GMOs and therefore, they are safe.
    Issues:
    1) The article itself offers no positive evidence for the safety of GMOs, in a properly conducted scientific study. It simply states that if we haven’t had an issue yet, it must be safe.
    2) ‘We haven’t noticed a problem yet’ is not give a very good reason for accepting GMOs as safe. Our current scientific belief is that they are safe, but we have absolutely no way of knowing that there will not be a problem identified in the future. It would be bad science to not continually try and disprove our current theories and I think it is a really bad idea to encourage the public misconception that science is static and not ever changing. That being said, we can’t predict the future and on the best available evidence we should conclude, for now, that they are safe.

    Lastly, I am curious why you didn’t include any of the current human allergenicity studies that have become a popular anti-gmo argument. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this point because when I was researching for a paper on GMOs last year, I noticed that these sorts of studies had dominated the current research against GMOs.

    Thank you again for bringing this issue into the spotlight, well done!

    Erin
    Ontario, Canada

    • Erin, thanks for the comment! I apologize if I ever indicated that me eating corn from our field is “scientific research.” I agree with you that it is not. It was, like you mentioned, done only to show that we as farmers stand by our products. It was also supposed to be something that was independently performed by us (to avoid accusation of relying on industry funded experiments, etc.). But I definitely see your point, and I am sorry it came off that way to you!

      Thanks for the heads up on the citations. I thought I’d used more but looking back through I see there are definitely spots that aren’t cited. When I find some more time, I will go back through and add some more citations. I wrote this blog amidst an extremely busy schedule and it was hard to be completely thorough. I will do my best to fix that!

      “Our current scientific belief is that they are safe, but we have absolutely no way of knowing that there will not be a problem identified in the future. It would be bad science to not continually try and disprove our current theories and I think it is a really bad idea to encourage the public misconception that science is static and not ever changing. That being said, we can’t predict the future and on the best available evidence we should conclude, for now, that they are safe.” — This is exactly my opinion on the matter and I thought I had communicated that in the blog. There is no confirmed evidence that GMOs are dangerous, only speculation. That doesn’t mean we can confirm them as safe. However, considering how many extra people they can feed and how many poverty stricken people they can help, it only makes sense to use that technology. Unless it is blatantly destroying humans and/or the environment, which I don’t think is happening. (Which also could prove to change over time).

      I need to look more into the allergy studies that people claim are GMO-related, I agree. I will look into that. It’s hard for me to understand how a genetically modified organism could make someone allergic to something, but I suppose that kind of science is beyond me. I think the rise in allergies could be coming a variety of different things, but if the evidence points strongly enough to GMOs, I will definitely have to rethink things.

      Thanks again for the comment!

      • Greg,
        Being a KSU student, I am sure you are well aware of the KSU Agriculture research facilities around the state. I worked at the one in Parsons, KS for a time. I would recommend to you to appeal to the researchers to conduct scientific unbiased studies. They are often times looking for material to do long-term studies on. This may be an option for this topic.

        Keep up the good work.

  12. Ok, I agree that GMO corn is probably no more dangerous than cell phones. Your reasoning seems to be that if we can produce better corn at a lesser cost to feed cattle which feeds humans then it is great.
    What about if someone told you that they could produce a genetically modified human being? Would you go along with that? If they told you that your child (if you plan to have one) could physically work twice as hard as you do with the same amount of calories input every day.
    Since you are religious people wouldn’t you say that is messing with God’s creation? Why stop with genetically modified food? Why not people too? Why not produce exactly the people we want or we think is best for the world? White, blue eyed, nice teeth, perfect health…?

    • I would not be okay with a genetically modified human being. Why? Because humans are set above animals and plants. Humans were created in God’s own image, and regardless of our imperfections, should not be modified and “produced” in the way you mention. However, doctors modify humans in all sorts of ways to repair their bodies or keep them alive. I agree it is hard to know where to draw the line. The point is that growing GMOs can feed and clothe a lot more hungry and homeless people in this world than not growing GMOs could. Why not use such a technology? I agree with you that you can go to far with it and we should be careful, but does what I am saying make sense?

      • Yes you make a lot of sense Greg. To your question ”Why not use such a technology?” I would say that in my opinion all the technology that we use today has been invented with good intentions at first but we can’t ignore the fact that our over reliance on technology and non renewable resources has created a lot of problems for us humans. And we are at a point right now that we can keep inventing new technology to deal with problems or stand back a little and have a look at what we are doing. Are we going in the right direction? Do we really want to keep making our world a more and more mechanized, industrialized and pollution producing entity? Of course if we only look at an ear of corn GMO is pretty meaningless but if we look at the big picture it is another story.

      • Bernard, I am interested in your statement, “Of course if we only look at an ear of corn GMO is pretty meaningless but if we look at the big picture it is another story.” What is the other story?

    • Donna, thanks for the comment! The point of eating the corn was to show that GMOs are not “poison.” They don’t make you sick or die by eating them. And keep in mind, this was not just a one time thing! I explained in the video that my family as well as many other families have eaten GM crops straight from the field. Every farm family that grows GM crops trusts their safety and sustainability, that is why we grow them!

      I appreciate the link you left. However, just as me citing a pro-GMO website (for instance “monsanto.com”) would make you automatically reject what it says, so does you citing a link from “trueactivist.org” – an anti-GMO website. In order to have this conversation, we need to find some common ground (Independent sites and research). Do you have any of that for me?

      • My beef is that you ate field corn…yuck! Go get some Obsession II, which is RR and Bt and plant it next to you field corn (upwind side of course). It tastes unbelievable, and you won’t kill it when you spray your Roundup on your field corn. Cheers to you and your work. You are better at keeping a level head and open mind than I would if I were writing this blog.

        One note: If Monsanto is evil and family farmers don’t want to grow GMO crops, then why are 96% of the farmers in the US family farms and such a high percentage of corn, soybeans, and cotton are GMO? It seems that something doesn’t add up.

  13. People who live in agricultural and dairy states like Washington have voted down these costly changes to the market that labeling would bring, for a lot of different reasons.

    For one, any supermarket can voluntarily label and carry foods that are organic and labeled non-GMO, for the niche organic market.

    Also, there is no physical lab test that can determine the difference between the GMO and non-GMO crop. And there is no test in existence that can verify the difference between meat or milk from GMO fed domestic animals, and that of any other animal. It is physically impossible to tell the difference. Without a real test to determine the difference, any one can see that this is whole system for labeling would be “process-based,” and would require extensive tracing, certification, and tracking to verify the labels. Voters and growers say no to labeling for those reasons. The bureaucracy for enforcement would not be insubstantial, and would only grow in its requirements and regulations.

  14. The topic of GMO just came up today while we were eating at a restaurant. My friends brought up their concerns about GMO foods and I just rolled my eyes but realized that I did not have any real facts to combat their fears. I am an Iowa farm girl and get very discouraged with all the mounting fears that get press regarding the growing of our food crops. Your article gave me the facts to believe and trust in our four generation farm. I am going to repost this article so that the friends that raised all the fears and concerns can read the facts. However, I realize that facts cannot seem to change the minds of those who want to constantly live in fear and distrust regarding the everyday life decisions that are being made to actually enhance our lives. Thank you Greg for sharing the facts.

  15. A few years ago I wrote a paper for my college Christian Ethics class in which I defended the use of genetic modification in crops. That was my first real look into this topic and I’ve been digging and reading more ever since. Another student in that class completed the same assignment by writing the opposing view; we became good friends through the process and it really helped me think critically about the issue.
    Last winter I read the book “Viking in the Wheat Field” which is a biography of Bent Skovmand, a man who dedicated his life to helping humanity by breeding better crops. This story really made me realize that we are fighting the wrong battle entirely. The issue is not whether GMO’s are “safe” and “healthy”, it is about the politics and economics of patenting living things. Skovmand’s career overlapped with the beginning of genetic engineering and patenting. Prior to that, he traveled the world gathering and freely exchanging samples of genetic material for cross-breeding. Once companies began patenting and profiting from genes, Everyone all of a sudden was leery to give samples because they were afraid of being taken advantage of financially. The exchange of genetic material for breeding was shut down which halted the progress people like Skovmand were making. Now, with so much propriety information and virtually no open exchange progress has was slowed. This is not the fault of Monsanto or other companies; they are doing their business by using the system in place (not that I feel good about defending Monsanto). The system is flawed; living organisms should not be patented for profit, but freely available for human use.
    Through my personal research I have become convinced that genetic engineering is not required to feed the world’s population. The issues causing hunger are due to poverty, politics, and distribution; there is plenty of food produced to go around. However, I have nothing against the use of GMO crops. They have been fully approved as safe. I am an advocate for informed consumers who have access to all the facts about what they buy and eat. Fear-based decisions have no place in creating policy or informing consumers.
    I am from a corn and soybean farm in Minnesota. Although I’m currently finishing my masters degree in engineering, I plan to take over the family operation when it is ready to be passed on. Currently as a grad student I’m enrolled in my first ever official ag class. It is on sustainable agriculture. I see this as a great opportunity to learn and broaden my knowledge about agricultural practices.
    I’ve been following you guys for a few years now, enjoying the music as well as the promotion of agriculture. Thank you for using your platform to teach the world about modern farming and demonstrating good Christian faith; both are in need of strong voices.

    • It should be noted that companies and universities have been using patents, or PVPs, for conventionally bred plants for many decades (it predates the existence of Monsanto in the row crop arena). Companies and universities are still sharing parent lines, and in fact doing more so now than before (now that genes can be mapped, you can tell if another company stole your genetics without permission or agreement). The risk of losing proprietary parent lines is much lower now that identification is easier.

      Growing up on a farm is a seed production valley in Idaho, the idea that the company owns the genetics is not new. The old “brown bagging” was very prevalent in the Midwest with soybean farmers (because they are open-pollinated and can be recreated by growing them again), but for growers that grow hybrids or seeds for seed companies this is not a new concept. It is something that enables supply and demand to leave enough profit margin in the industry of breeding and plant selection to facility improvements in quality and yield. For example, if a breeder had an idea for how to increase a vitamin in a vegetable, he or his company would not spend the millions of dollars in R&D (yes, even conventional breeding is very expensive) to develop that line if you couldn’t profit from it. It is that situation that has led to most of the agricultural advancements we now know and appreciate.

  16. Developing a new variety of plant and obtaining a patent is an opportunity for amateurs and professionals alike in this country.

    It has been for almost 100 years. We have a wonderful variety of ornamentals, vegetables, fruits and crop plants to choose from in this country, and part of it is because of the opportunity hobbyists, amateurs, and professionals alike have to offer their plants to buyers.

    This has historically released the tremendous creativity and know-how of the people who really love a particular breed of plant. Some examples of plants which have patents are ever-bearing strawberries, seedless grapes, roses, day lilies, dahlias, and one of my favorites, the Thornless Blackberry. http://www.fruitsandberries.com/index.php?p=home

    I do however, think it would be wrong to ban the use of fertilizers, and then patent plants that use Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorous more efficiently. You cannot make the nutrients illegal and then create a patent for plants which use nutrients.

    reference: http://www.iowacorn.org/index.cfm/30321/28506/iowa_corn_promotion_board_receives_us_patent_for_nitrogen_gene

  17. Multiple readers have asked about safety studies. A.L Van Eenennaam and A.E. Young, Department of Animal Science, University of California – Davis, analyzed the impact of GE food on livestock health: “Globally, food-producing animals consume 70 to 90% of genetically engineered (GE) crop biomass. This review briefly summarizes the scientific literature on performance and health of animals consuming feed containing GE ingredients and composition of products derived from them. It also discusses the field experience of feeding GE feed sources to commercial livestock populations and summarizes the suppliers of GE and non-GE animal feed in global trade.” The article was published in the Journal of Animal Science and is openly available online (http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/92/10/4255.long). Bottom line – 100 Billion animals and no health issues at all. If you don’t want to read the entire article you can get the gist of it in this one: http://www.science20.com/science_20/cows_are_smarter_than_whole_foods_shoppers-145743

    • One disclaimer about your first linked study:
      “This work was supported by funds from the W. K. Kellogg endowment”

  18. I am currently going to college for Agriculture Education and the debate of GMOs has been brought up a lot, even in some of my classes that are not focused on agriculture. I once had to explain to a girl that farmers were not evil people who grew unhealthy food like Doritos right out of the ground; we just grew the corn, soybeans, wheat, etc… that was later processed. I have been trying to educate myself outside of my classes to better deal with questions like that girls, and this blog has been one of the most informative and down to earth articles I have read. Thank you for all the great work you have been doing! This blog will definitely help me to be a better Ag Advocate.

  19. Safe I dont think so, I don’t want GMO’s in my food or the food I feed my animals. Call it what it is Roundup Ready crops. These crops can withstand
    being sprayed with Roundup several times. Have you ever read the warnings on a jug of Roundup? http://tinyurl.com/Roundupstudy

    • Yes I have read the warnings! It takes hours of studying and passing a chemical applicators test to be able to apply chemicals. Farmers have to know what they are applying to their crops. We know everything that goes into the food we produce and we believe it is safe! (Please read the rest of the blog!) 🙂

  20. Greg, great job explaining the GMO concept. I’m a farmer with an educational background in biology and genetics. I agree with your thoughts. I’ve always said that if someone had discovered a mutant corn plant that produced the BT protein or RoundUP Ready trait “naturally” and used it in a conventional breeding program the organic people would claim it was the greatest thing and all those conventional farmers were trying to kill everyone. Wait that is what they say! btw the first GM crop was the ‘FlavrSavr’ tomato which was received popularly by the public but the company did not understand the ag market and did not do well. They sold the technology and the tomato was dropped in favor of more profitable crops. I’m old but you’re young so keep up the good job of educating your generation and others.
    Phil
    ps If you really want to be ‘natural’ get rid of your cell phone, computer, car, home, and clothes. Go to the woods. Forage for your food, defend yourself with sticks and stones, don’t seek a doctor if you become ill or are injured, and live in a cave. I

  21. I’m just entering the whole GMO good or bad scene so bare with me please. There’s massive amounts of information out there that supports both sides of the whole let the plants just grow vs. help the plants grow better. I do agree though that GMOs help farmers feed more people with the same amount of land. And all the people that holler about how they want only organic don’t take into account how many pounds food don’t make it to the produce aisle simply because it isn’t “pretty”.
    Now for my question…from what I understand GMO crops have a small amount of pesticide within the plant. Just enough to kill the insect that bites it but not anybody larger, what does this do to the environment? Insects are vital to all things living, if were slowing killing them off due to the large amount of GMO crops in our world what will happen in the long run? If a now “sick” bug is eaten by its predator ie: bug eats plant, bird eats bug, will the bird die from second hand poison just as a cat will from eating a poisoned rat? Do GMO crops have a negative effect on pollinators such as bees and butterflies? I know plants can pollinate each other with the use of wind but not as effectively as with the use of pollinators. I understand that when pollinating they simply carry the pollen on their bodies from one plant to another but they get covered in the pollen also they clean themselves so I’m sure amounts of it does get digested. In one year that’s not a lot of bugs, but it means less bugs to lay eggs, then a percentage of the newly hatched die to GMOs leading to less bugs to lay eggs again, and so on. Wouldn’t this cycle lead to the shortage of very important, although very annoying, bugs?

  22. Kent Adams says, “Raised rows with plastic mulch don’t require bent over workers to pull weeds. The farmers demonstrated in that video were large corporate farmers…”

    Just so we are clear, plastic mulch or plastic row covers are petroleum products. I find it difficult to see how hundreds of pounds of plastic is claimed to be environmentally less impactful than a liter of herbicide per acre. You also miss the main point that organic farmers still must remove weeds within the rows by hand.

    • Zeke, people don’t eat plastic but they do eat herbicides as does the natural ecosystem in the soil. I did not miss the main point about the weeds, that’s why I offered the plastic mulch as an argument against having to weed. Plastic is also renewable. As one example, that plastic mulch is turned into nursery containers, soda bottles etc.

      • The decision to eat organic food in order to avoid eating trace amounts of herbicides is a personal one. I understand how deeply people feel about their own dietary choices. God knows the diets my mother tried, from orange food to raw food, to ginseng and garlic, and of course organic-only, fruitarianism, and vegetarianism. Besides that, many religions have dietary requirements as well. I support people who wish to choose a special diet and even their freedom to find cures outside of the mainstream. You can sit around the fire telling tales about that.

        I do choose to totally avoid organic food. There are many, many reasons for this.
        I think it is a concern that it is not really known how long viruses and bacteria can live in even the best aged manure. I don’t want to buy food with manure applications done during the growing season, even though it is promised to be safe. I also like to buy food at the best price. For example, organic rice production yield is 60-70% less than for conventional growers. I wish others would stop harassing non-organic growers and support my decision! It has taken decades to develop and use the safe methods we have in this country to control rusts, smuts, mildews, powders, weevils, weeds, etc., and we have a truly wonderful food supply. Perhaps we can all agree that it is best to be thankful when we eat. And conversely, if you are eating while clouded with fear, uncertainty, and doubt it is probably bad for your digestion!

  23. Kent Adams says, “However, as long as corporations are spending millions to convince the average person that “too much information isn’t good for them”, the public will continue to be ignorant of conditions their food is grown in.”

    There are also international NonGovernmental Organizations spending billions around the world to install restrictive, cumbersome, and expensive environmental regulations on local communities – which the communities do not want. This is such a problem that recently India identified NGOs as foreign operatives who are actively harming the Indian economy who parachute activists in where ever any development or improvement is happening.

    NGOs have billions to spend, and they are not at all representative of local “women” or “indigenous” people, as they claim. Their policies always raise the price of water, energy, and agriculture. Also, contrary to the name, NGOs are indeed financed by governments in the European Union.

    • “There are also international NonGovernmental Organizations spending billions around the world to install restrictive, cumbersome, and expensive environmental regulations on local communities – which the communities do not want.”

      I’m not familiar with non governmental organizations with the legal power to install any public policy anywhere in the world.

      I would not hold up India as an example of insidious regulation run amuck. Its one of the most polluted countries in the world.

      • NGOs and the UN push for legislation in Europe and are passing hundreds of laws restricting harmless foods, such as home canned goods and cinnamon. Restaurant owners are struggling under all of the new regulations. Foreign NGOs and UN activists also testify to our Congress on legislation restricting growers. You can read a Wik article on NGOs. In general they are radical organic activists.

        India is trying to lift itself out of poverty and there is also a growing middle class. More inexpensive electricity and infrastructure will also allow for cleaner cities and towns. It is the way out. Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation are examples of huge foreign funded NGOs blocking the building of coal plants in Indian towns that need them, and opposing conventional farming options for farmers who are trying to increase yield.

  24. Correction: “This is such a problem that recently India identified NGOs as foreign operatives who are actively harming the Indian economy, by parachuting activists in where ever any development or improvement is happening, and stopping it.” Thanks

    Also, Kent Adams prefers small farms. This is not an argument, it is simply a preference. Use the internet to buy food from small farms. Read the article Greg Peterson wrote, and familiarize yourself with the expenses of owning and operating the farm machinery. He has also written a good article about the size of family farms in this series here:

    https://petersonfarmblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-peterson-farm-bros-beef-with-chipotle-part-1/

    Kent Adams, in the end, the land use in the US would be the same with small or large farms. What you seem to be advocating is a push for the US to become an agrarian society. But this again is just a preference of yours, which would best be satisfied by personally living in a small agrarian commune. It’s a free country.

    • I can tell you’ve never run a small farm if you think they don’t have the same issues as a large farm, but on a smaller scale. However, with the smaller farmer, he/she can control the environment better than a large farm because there are more “hours” in a day for a small farmer to do the right thing. Small farmers have equipment as well, and that equipment takes up a comparable amount of the expenses line on the P&L as does the large equipment of a large farm. I’m quite certain that repair expense for equipment is a rather small component of the Peterson’s expenses than repair expense is for a small farmer. Small farming isn’t done as widely as large farming for a reason, its less profitable because the expenses are larger in comparison to gross revenue size on a commonized basis.

      BTW, you can refer to me by my first name if you like.

      • Kent, thank you. I have not run a farm. And I never said you don’t have the same issues as a large farm. I said that land use to grow the same amount of row crops, orchard fruits, dairy and beef cattle, and vinyards would be about the same, whether there were small or large farms. In the US, we now grow as much as 5 times as much food on an acre as we did in the 20’s. And that is very good for the environments.

        You mentioned expenses for tractors.

        Here: S650 Corn Combine – HX (Model Year 2014 FT4)
        Total Suggested List Price*: $352,190.00

        seven family tractor
        Suggested List Price*: $317,791.00

        Sometimes I wish we had a Tractor Appreciation Day, because there was a time when 60 acres of a 100 acre farm was used to grow feed for the animals that pulled the plows. Now the full 100 acres can be used to grow food for people. If your argument really is that as a small farmer you are “doing the right thing,” and you wish to market your product as organic, that is also well and good. Those who want to buy your harvests will do so voluntarily. By the same token, it is wrong to use legislation and constant publicity attacks on conventional growers to take away people’s choices, and destroy their hard-earned purchasing power. Other people feel very deeply, after much consideration, that Peterson Farm Bros are the ones “doing the right thing.” Because of them, one parent can afford to stay home with the kids, and that is a truly wealthy life.

  25. Its great to see people actually talking about GMOs, I just wish it didn’t come across as so biased. If you wanted to find the truth, you would cite both sides and then draw your conclusions. I always have to ask if the person who doesn’t represent the other side, even if he does debunk it (which would be in his favour), if he is afraid to because he might have to “soften” his conclusions. I always tell people to look into the “other side” so that they have an idea how to respond, because responding to popular ‘myths’, if you will, is not as convincing as showing that you have researched both sides.
    Here is a great link that can be used. Show what they say is wrong, and you have an argument.
    http://rodaleinstitute.org/assets/FSTbooklet.pdf
    Personally, I’m more interested in the ethics of such matters,, but I find the above link interesting.

    Also, the videos are awesome. Keep it up!

  26. I am sorry guys, but you lost a subscriber 😦 GMOs have been proven to to be possibly health deteriorating. If thees guys are not total lies: http://youtu.be/FhHzkaP2KmU?t=4m45s it is possible that, if we are just unlucky enough, we COULD damage our health like this….

    Also, GMOs technically ARE playing God. Why? Because we are modifying is creation for no good cause other then, ‘we want more corn’. Surgery, for example, is not really modification of his creation, its only for the betterment of it…
    There are a lot more issues with GMOs, but I will start with these…

  27. Great blog! As someone who works in salmon farming, I understand and appreciate your struggle to respond to such emotional, myth-driven criticism. At the end of the day, we all want to produce food that’s healthy, nutritious and good quality. Thanks for continuing to put the facts out there for people to see, from a farmer’s perspective!

    • Salmon Farming in a pond is not farming. I have a salt water aquarium, that doesn’t make me a “trigger” fish farmer. http://www.farmedanddangerous.org/salmon-farming-problems/

      Like the GMO farmers, salmon farmers are simply lazy and looking for any excuse to justify their laziness and greed.

      You can’t simply dismiss critics as “believers in myths”. That’s intellectually lazy. You need to present independent research to support your opinion.

      • Claiming that Salmon farmers and GMO farmers are “lazy and greedy” is hurting your credibility for me. Have you ever visited these farms? Talked to these people in person? Every farmer, regardless of what he is growing, that I’ve ever met works harder than most. Using technology and modern methods is not laziness. I’d encourage you to visit these farms and have a conversation with these farmers!

      • There’s plenty of independent research presented here to support salmon farming, almost all of it more up to date than your link (which hasn’t been maintained or updated the “problems” page for nearly a decade). Try looking in the “Library” section. Also, calling a salmon farmer lazy is silly. Have you ever had to spend 10 days at a time in a remote location at sea during gale-force storms keeping 500,000 fish alive? That’s what BC salmon farmers have been doing this past fall and winter.

  28. I grew up on a farm and am now a molecular geneticist working at bringing new plant breeding tools to crop breeders. In this job I have been exposed to a lot of ideological and illogical arguments not just regarding GMOs but also directed at any molecular techniques. Its great to read such a down to earth, plain english, unemotional, rational and informed blog written by actual farmers. This debate requires more people who are involved in the food chain to vocally dismiss the irrational arguments put forward by uninformed anti-GMO advocates. What these people fail to understand is that without the type of farming used today millions of people would starve to death. Modern farming is NOT perfect, but we need to improve it not dismantle it.

  29. Greg, I commend you for doing what you are trying to do however I do believe there are a lot of holes in what has been said. I am a Crop and soil consultant for balanced nutrition and biologicals. There are several things that I would like to address quickly with out writing a full dissertation as I would then have to have it published. I will try to keep my comments short and directly to the point.
    Topics to discuss, Goss’s Wilt, Human health issues, nutritional deficiencies, problems we have noticed, yields,

    Goss’s Wilt-
    Let us first discuss the disease Goss’s wilt started in the corn belt (where the Glyphosate resistant corn has been used the longest) caused by the disease entering the plant at the point the glyphosate gene is spliced into the genetic makeup. This is also escalated by nutrient deficiencies caused from the glyphosate tying up over 12 nutrients both in the plant and the soil.
    Growing up we had a cultivator, now you just call the chemical man to do the job of eradication.
    I will not disagree other chemicals (Atrazine for example) have and still will cause trouble.

    Human health issues and studies-
    Disease is usually caused by a nutrient deficiency which goes back to the 12 nutrients tied up in the plant sprayed over the top with glyphosate and trans-located or sprayed directly to the soil
    Most all the research in the U.S. is less than 6 months long before turning out the findings. Numerous reports coming from outside the U.S. are over two year studies. The longer the study the more viable the report one would think?
    Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance
    http://www.intertox.sav.sk/ITX_pdf/06_04_2013/10102-Volume6_Issue_4-01_paper.pdf

    Animal reports
    Dennis Hochstetters Cow incident, deer etc. Take equal ripeness, protein etc and put the feed in front of the animal and let the research begin. I have done this myself on different species, (you will point out that it is non scientific as no data was kept), and every time the animal (cow, chicken, pig, crow, magpie) chooses the non-gmo feed pile side by side the gmo feed pile. I don’t need a lab study to tell me there is something different when it nutrient value when all the moisture, so called RFV, visually is all the same. If the animals both domesticated and wild know there is a difference why are we as humans so stupid? They don’t need reports to tell them which is best!
    The vet with a extensive educational background diagnosed the Hochstetters cow problem, I know other vets personally that feel the same and have much experience in the same area. Lets not discredit their education and experience.

    Export markets
    Why are we one of the only countries that allow GMO’s into our food system no matter what the hunger rate is or food import needs of other countries? China has rejected several barge loads of GM Hay and several GM barges of corn. Why, I honestly don’t know the WHOLE story but there must be reason. Japan hasn’t accepted GMO hay in the past and I could be wrong unless something recently changed still doesn’t. There are definitely tests to tell GMO apart from non GMO its just that there are fewer and fewer labs that want the liability of professing the results in the chance of corporate backlash. How else do you think these other countries can tell the difference, (just take the producers word for it)? So if our agriculturalists rely so highly on our export markets for price and market stability why when realistically looked at would any farmer want to grow something that is so controversial on the world wide market place.

    Crop yields have continued to decrease with the use of GMO’s not increased, if I thought it would help I will go find you some more documentation and even I have year after year, side by side corn trial results that prove this. Some of the reasons have been discussed above due to nutrient deficiencies, disease etc.
    What about chemical carryover or residual build up? Half life of glyphosate is 21-1/2 years +/-, what is the total chemical residual load if only one conservative application is applied per year at 22 years? This spiraling process that we are on is not good for the entire ecological system!

    GMO are different than Hybridization, that being said referring to a comment above there would be no difference between plants, animals, fish or humans being GM. Just think (good or bad) if we could GM Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, or any president, etc. Scientists have already GM animals, (Molly the sheep?), fish.

    One last issue, Patenting food, what has this world come to, how can this be legal? Yes, I will answer your comeback to this, they are just seeds! They are still food!

    Below are just a few articles that may help you understand some of the issues and topics covered.

    (1)Glyphosate Herbicide Causes Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Kidney Disease, and Infertility [2]
    http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/glyphosate-herbicide-causes-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-kidney-disease-and-infertility/
    (2)Is Glyphosate Responsible for your Health Problems? [3]
    http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/is-glyphosate-responsible-for-your-health-problems/
    (3)Common Weedkiller Used in Modern Agriculture Could be Main Factor in Gluten Intolerance [4]
    http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/common-weedkiller-used-in-modern-agriculture-could-be-main-factor-in-gluten-intolerance/

    • Joe, thanks for your detailed comment. I will try to address as much of it as I can.
      -Disease in crops has existed throughout all of history and while GMOs have actually helped a lot with preventing disease, things like Goss’s Wilt will continue to plague farmers, both conventional and organic alike.
      -The soil half-life of glyphosate is approximately 47 days (with a range of 2 to nearly 200 days depending on soil type and various environmental conditions). But it is not active for a vast majority of that time. In order for glyphosate to be active as a herbicide, it must first (obviously) enter the plant. But glyphosate binds very tightly to soil particles almost immediately upon reaching the soil, and pesticides are not absorbed by plants while they are bound to the soil. Glyphosate is degraded relatively quickly by soil microorganisms, so there is almost never enough available glyphosate in the soil to cause plant injury. So although glyphosate can be detected in the soil for quite some time after application, I don’t believe it can do any damage. Do you disagree?
      -Your “animal testing” doesn’t really address anything. I’ve done the same thing with our cattle (we have both GMO corn silage and non-GMO sorghum silage and there is no difference in response. Every veterinarian I have talked to in central Kansas is pro-GMO and so are the expert animal nutritionists who provide us with our silage rations.
      -I don’t know a whole lot about exports. But I do know that most of the issues with countries like China and Japan not accepting GMO imports are due to political pressure, not actual facts. Similar to Europe banning the use of GMOS (they still allow imports though).
      -Crops yields have done nothing but increase over the years, I would love to see information from you that states otherwise!
      -It isn’t patenting food, it is patenting technology. Once a GMO seed is sold to farmers, it belongs to the farmers (they just can’t replant it). Foods with GMOs are not owned by a seed company any more than a car with a part in it made by a specific brand is owned by that specific brand. (Hope that makes sense)
      -Thanks for the links, but “health impact news” isn’t a reliable site in my opinion. Browsed through it and right off the bat there were a lot of inaccuracies!

      • Greg, is all I can say is you hear what YOU are going to want to and I don’t have time to argue with someone that is seeing things only the way they want to. Go to this video on youtube and you will find more information than you will ever want to know, Howard Vlieger presentation on GMO’s and Family Farming. Hope you remain healthy and profitably in business.

  30. I appreciate the time you have taken to research this topic and respect that as a farmer who grows these crops, you have a vested interest in showing people why they should buy them. I’m a consumer who is concerned about the impact of the growing of genetically modified crops on human health as well as the environment. I’m doing my own research so that I can make informed decisions about what I want to buy and feed my myself and my loved ones.

    I wanted to point something out about the link you provided to the Forbes article regarding the so-called “trillion meal study.” You source this study as proof that “Not a single sickness or death has ever occurred due to the ingestion of these products.” I took a look at the study’s abstract, and I must say, you simply cannot make that claim based on the results of this study. The study looked at the impact of GMOs on livestock, not their effects on human health, and there were no controls used, either. I’m curious how you came to the conclusion that this study proves the safety of consuming GMOs as it relates to human health. In the interest of promoting only the truth, I might suggest removing that sentence from your post.

    If you do have a link to a peer-reviewed study that assesses the long-term impact of consuming GMOs on human health, I would be very interested to look at it. I haven’t found any in my research thus far.

    I did a little digging into this particular study since I’ve found several pro-GMO farmers and bloggers referencing it. Your readers may be interested in the following facts, to which they may draw their own conclusions:
    1. Dr. Van Eenennaam, the scientist who published the study, is a former Monsanto employee. She worked there as a project leader and research scientist before working at UC Davis.
    2. The study was funded by a W.K. Kellogg endowment. Yes, the same Kellogg that manufacturers breakfast cereals and snack foods using GM grains. The same company that has spent millions of dollars to combat GMO labeling initiatives in several states.
    3. Dr. Van Eenennaam concluded with her study that, ““To avoid international trade disruptions, it is critical that the regulatory approval process for genetically engineered products be established in countries importing these feeds at the same time that regulatory approvals are passed in the countries that are major exporters of animal feed.” To me, it seems like the purpose of the study was less about proving safety and more about supporting GMO lobbyists who are involved in trade deal negotiations. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/05/eu-gm-food-imports-us-canada

    I personally don’t find this study to be a reliable source to prove anything given its biases, much less a tool to convince consumers that GMOs are safe for human consumption. There definitely is a need for studies that take a look at the human health impacts of GMOs, but until we have them, I believe consumers should be be provided information about where their food comes from.

    It doesn’t look like GMOs are going away any time soon, but as a consumer I would at least like to know which foods in the grocery store contain them. It’s one thing to avoid foods that contain soy, canola, or corn, but many other ingredients are sourced from these crops, but the average consumer would not know this (things like maltodextrin, dextrose, and lecithin). Packaged foods should be clearly identified as containing GM ingredients. If you think buying foods with the USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified label is the answer, I implore you to go to grocery store and attempt this. What you will find is it is nearly impossible to find such foods in conventional grocery stores (you may find some, but definitely not every item the average family consumes). We need to make it easy for the average American to make informed choices about the food they eat, and I believe accurate labeling is the only way to do this.

      • Your blog is so heavily moderated, you come across as someone not “sure” of their position. It’s ok to be unsure of something. Approving comments long after they were made so you can research you’re rebuttal just means you have a lot to learn. You’re falling into a trap of only hearing yourself or those resources that support your point of view, which I might add is pure industry propaganda.

        Yes food labels are often misleading, but its not because consumer protection advocates are against accurate labeling, its because industry lobbyists are successful at getting regulations and requirements watered down. This happens in all industries. Just take a look at the recent leaked Sony emails as an example:
        http://gizmodo.com/sony-leak-the-secret-meetings-that-set-hollywoods-anti-1671041498

      • Kent, I appreciate each comment that is left on this blog and try my best to respond to each one. If that is what you consider “heavily moderating” then I am sorry. I only delete comments that have profanity or hateful threats. The reason I wait to approve comments is so I can provide an answer so that both sides of the opinion can be expressed at once. There is no need to attack me for this method. I am not unsure about GMOs, but I do understand that there is always risk and that sometimes evidence can change. However, the evidence as of today clearly shows that GMOs have yet to cause any sicknesses or deaths to anyone.

        Just curious, how do you know that you haven’t fallen into the same “trap” of believing yourself, the resources that support your point of view, and anti-GMO propaganda? The non-GMO industry is a big one and I have seen just as many distortions of facts coming from that side than from the other side. I’m just saying you have to look at this from both sides.

        I agree that politics and big industry lobbying have a lot of power, but I tried to write this blog from a perspective of a farmer who works with GMOs everyday, not an industry-driven executive. Also, keep in mind that organic and non-GMO lobbyists are working just as hard to lobby and deceive lawmakers.

      • I appreciate the reply. Do you have any comments on how you came to the conclusion that the “trillion meal study” demonstrates that “not a single sickness or death has ever occurred due to the ingestion of these products?” Like you, I am an advocate for the truth and I don’t feel that your blog post is in fact stating the truth unless you can substantiate this claim. Based on my research, we simply do not know whether GM foods are or safe or not.
        I agree that food labeling is not a perfect system. The labels as they exist today are misleading in many ways (another story for another day!). 🙂 The FDA is currently reviewing the nutrition facts panel to reflect new dietary recommendations, so new labeling requirements are coming regardless, and yes, there will be costs involved. This isn’t the first time there has been a change, and it won’t be the last. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm387533.htm

        I can see why you would be afraid of what GMO labeling could do. It’s the same fear that has driven the food manufacturers and biotech companies to spend millions of dollars to fight labeling initiatives. You’re afraid that if people see GMO labels on their food, that they won’t buy it, and ultimately this could hurt the way you do business. This may or may not be the case, as we know that many people ignore labels anyway. But for those who do care and do read labels carefully, it matters deeply to them. Nobody likes being kept in the dark, especially when it comes to food you’re feeding your family.

        I can’t speak for everyone who is concerned about GMOs, but here is my main concern. History has proven that Americans have been told that certain things were safe when in fact, nobody knew if they were safe because they either weren’t tested at all, or they weren’t tested sufficiently. Thousands of people have died as a result of this lack of information. I can think of several examples, but one in particular resonates with this conversation as it relates to food and labeling. It involves partially hydrogenated oils (also known as trans fats). These lab-created oils were first introduced into the food supply in 1911. Consumers were told that these oils were healthier, cheaper, more shelf-stable, and resulted in better tasting food. It created a use for the byproduct of soy protein manufacturing. Butterfat was in short supply already, people got cheaper food, and companies made huge profits. Sounds great, right? Well, it took decades of humans consuming these foods until we starting seeing a correlation between consumption of trans fats and coronary heart disease. Several studies demonstrating negative health effects started popping up in the 40s and 50s, but the FDA said there was no cause for concern. It took until 2006 until food labels were updated to show the amount of trans fat in processed foods. 95 YEARS after they were introduced! Other countries banned trans fats before we even had a label in the United States. Finally, just last year, the FDA issued a preliminary determination that trans fats are not “generally recognized as safe” (but yet they still are allowed in foods). How many thousands or millions of people died before they started labeling these foods? This is simply unacceptable. And unless we as consumers demand that foods are labeled so that we can make informed choices about what we eat, more atrocities like this are bound to happen. We must learn from our past mistakes and exercise extreme caution when it comes to new technology, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the food supply.

      • Sorry for not replying more thoroughly to your first comment, I have been busy! Again, I appreciate your response. The trillion meal study does not prove the safety of GMOs, I understand that. I guess if that is how I come across, then I need to change something. The trillion meal study does show that “no one has ever died or gotten sick from GMO consumption.” I have never seen any information that states otherwise, have you? I realize that this study (as most studies on both sides of the argument) is funded by pro-GMO people, but do you know of anyone who has been proven to have died or gotten sick from GMO food? There would definitely be a huge news story in the media if someone died of “eating GMOS.” I agree with your statement that we simply do not know for sure if GMOs are safe. But up until this point in time, all evidence points to them being, in fact, safe. Are smart phones safe? Are hours and hours of being on electronics good for your body? There are no long term studies on these technologies and yet here we sit unconcerned because no evidence has shown any harm. I mention risk in the blog. Everything we do involves some sort of risk. If you want to purchase non-GMO food because you feel there is less risk, I can understand that. But just like I cannot say that “GMOs have been proven to be safe,” you cannot say that “GMOS have been proven to be dangerous.” Like you say, we must proceed with caution until the evidence leads to different conclusions. I have examined the evidence and don’t believe that has happened.

        Again, as far as labeling goes I am not unopposed to labeling by any means. If the public could be educated with facts about GMOS -and not propaganda driven opinions- then I think consumers would be capable of reading labels and making an informed choice. But as of right now, most consumers are sheep. If a label says “Contains GMO products” and they don’t know what that means, they will be scared into not buying it. Is this fair to the companies that produce these products? That kind of label would also increase fear of our food. If consumers believe that something deadly is making it into our food supply (The FDA prevents this), then there would be pandemonium. I still feel like this whole thing is driven by the organic food industry in efforts to make more profits (Whole foods has almost surpassed Monsanto in yearly profits). Why not label all non-GMO products as a specialty item? The same way we label other products certain consumers decide to label? Is that not a compromise and a solution?

        I agree with your last paragraph as well. Mistakes can be made and politics can prevent the truth from being told. However, I don’t feel as though I am making a mistake with my blog. It is not driven by politics or money and I am relying on facts and information I’ve gleaned from working with the crops themselves. I truly believe GMOs to be safe, that’s why my family eats them (and so do thousands of other farm families) and why I produce them. What is your solution? Should we as farmers have to wait a half-century before being allowed to use new seed technology? I understand we need to be cautious, and I believe we have been. Millions and millions of dollars are put into research of GMOS and it takes years before a new one can enter the market. They’ve been around for 20 years now and I just don’t how people are determining that they are destroying anything. I’ve covered as much of that in my blog as I can. But, again I am an advocate for truth and if there is something out there that clearly, objectively says otherwise, I will change my opinion!

      • Well, Greg, I guess we are just going to have to agree to disagree for now. It bears repeating that the “trillion meal study” says nothing about whether or not people have been harmed by the consumption of GMOs. I’m not sure why you keep saying that. It’s a livestock study, nothing more.

        I agree that everything comes with risk, and we do not know the risks of everything just yet. If the FDA protected us as you suggest, then nobody would have had to lose their lives because of poisoning from PCBs, DDT, radium, trans fats, Vioxx, agent orange, or asbestos (to name a few). The sad truth is that industry pressure pushes government agencies to make decisions without having all the facts. As you know, the safety studies conducted on many of these substances come from the companies themselves. The FDA isn’t conducting their own research; they simply review what is provided to them. We may not have enough proof yet to ban GMOs or pesticides like glyphosate, but there is enough evidence out there for people to want to avoid exposure to them. I see where you’re coming from as a farmer who uses this technology. If you weren’t so invested in it, maybe you’d be able to see it from the standpoint of a consumer, or a mom who just discovered her child has a food allergy, or a dad whose child was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or autism. Real families out there are changing their diets, eliminating certain foods, and finding that symptoms are being reversed and healing from disease is possible by changing the diet. Consumers rely on information on food labels to make decisions about what they feed their families. There are legitimate concerns out there about what has happened to our food supply in the last few decades. Consumers are outraged that they’ve been eating foods without knowing what’s been done to them. To call your fellow Americans “sheep” and dismiss their concerns by basically saying they are too stupid to understand labels is unfair.

        If you don’t think people are smart enough to understand what labels mean, I would encourage you to research the existing labels we use today. Ask yourself why we label things like irradiated food, country of origin, “not from concentrate,” “processed in a facility that produces nuts,” and so on. This information may not say anything about the safety or quality of the product, but lawmakers decided it was information that consumers want and need to know. Yes, there is a ton of industry and political pressure that goes into labeling. Shouldn’t the burden of proof be placed on the industry that is introducing a new ingredient into the food supply, instead of the other way around? Why should companies who do not use these ingredients have to go through expensive third-party verification to prove their products don’t contain these ingredients? If you as a farmer feel that your product is superior because of the way you produced it, why wouldn’t you want the food to proudly bear a label “Produced with genetically modified ingredients?”

      • Okay, I see your point now. It is a livestock study. I need to change that in the blog. My bad.

        What evidence is out there that people should “avoid exposure to GMOs?”

        I am not a farmer invested in the technology, I just work on the farm for my dad. I’ve just been around it my whole life and so I have a perspective that comes from that. I’ve never bought any farm products, GMO or non-GMO, myself. I own some cattle that the farm feeds for me, that’s it.

        There are also many, many people out there (including myself) who haven’t seen any adverse health effects from GMOs. I see many adverse effects from processed foods, sugars, and fats, but those have nothing to do with the original product that comes from the farmer’s fields. What effects are families seeing?

        If we decide to label GMOs, then fine. I’m not going to have a problem with that. But when a consumer sees that and googles “GMOs” they are going to find a completely lopsided, deceiving, truth-lacking results that will scare them into buying food that is non-GMO (resulting in mass profits for non-GMO companies, aka marketing scheme). Is that right? Is that what we want? What I desire, labels or not, is for truths about GMOs to be promoted. And right now that is not happening. So I guess in conclusion, labeling isn’t the issue for me, it’s the deceiving of consumers and the miseducation that is happening right now. I would definitely be proud of a “produced with gm ingredients” label, but most consumers aren’t going to know the truth behind that statement. 😦

  31. I have another question/comment. You stated in your blog that “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.” Do you have a source for this claim?

    I did a quick search and found a study that shows that Bt corn and non-Bt corn have significant differences in their nutrition status. I would love to know what your take is on this.

    http://www.academia.edu/3341205/Chemical_Analysis_of_Bt_corn_Mon-810_Ajeeb-YG_and_its_counterpart_non-Bt_corn_Ajeeb_

    Thanks!

    • good points. people also try saying that to label things gmo is expensive, its not. companies change labels constantly and i read that at most it would cost 10 cents more to the consumer, but the company probably wouldnt pass the expense down to the consumer because its a part of their everyday marketing expense.
      There is definitely a nutritional and physical difference. not that i want to brag, but we constantly get higher nutritional analysis then most people in the area.
      Of course, if they were concerned about the truth, they would logically give BOTH views, explain their bias’, and have their conclusions… But they want to protect their image and, unfortunately, some people do that by attacking people who farm differently. give me a break, stop acting like children. Next you’re going to try telling me that the yaqui valley study is irrelevant to the truth…

      its also more complex than what they would have you believe, the politics and marketing involved are insane.

      but here is a peer reviewed study, http://rodaleinstitute.org/assets/FSTbooklet.pdf

      • GMO Answers is a website sponsored by the very corporations that stand to gain from the sale of GMO seeds. The website is part of a campaign of the biotech industry to combat GMO labeling initiatives. The response that you linked to was written by a scientist at Monsanto. With such a heavy bias, it’s difficult to trust this source of information.

        I find that GMO Answers has a primary goal of “debunking” all of the scientific studies that make their industry look bad, while singing the praises of studies (many funded by them) that give them a defense.

      • Yes, it is an industry sponsored website. Yes, it combats people who are anti-GMO. Yes, it is biased. But does that discount the information it provides? Not entirely. If so, then every anti-GMO website should be discounted as well (because of the bias). I think GMO Answers primary goal is to literally provide answers to people’s questions about GMOs. I find that most of their answers are fact-based, no? Meanwhile, many anti-GMO information I read has information that simply isn’t true. We talked earlier about searching for truth. Where can we find truth that isn’t coming from biased sources? You have to focus on the facts.

  32. rubbish,..you’re far too young and naïve,..you have not found the truth on gmo and the moronic idea that one company should be allowed to own the worlds food seed.Aust already are forced to have fluoride in our water(do you advocate that rubbish too?),and now without conversation our food supply is being messed with,..Since when are antibiotics healthy in the food chain???..And I don’t see what religion has anything to do with food Wasted my time.Sorry.I’m shocked actually.Perhaps think about the planet.Monsanto has paid huge amounts of $$$ for corrupt endorsements on this.Why no labels ???,You are a fool,..your comments re; labeling…Trust your FDA,.a absolute joke.And my country Australia and the current leaders are following your country’s tainted steps and corrupt policy .Note; if my rights as a human being are taken from me I will retaliate .If our friendship means I have to eat and drink your water /food ,.we’re no friends at all.Thats what is happening now.Dog help us.So ,..who paid you?
    if you were a cow,..would you prefer grass or corn to eat?Its the antibiotics in food chain,livestock,agriculture 80% responsible for our current drama with the lessening effects ,..and you want more ,.in every seed.Plz get informed ,..Japan has said,quote;..we will watch the American children for 10yrs ,…before we agree to this mass intervention of food .

    p

    • One company does not own the world’s seed, far from it. You can still purchase seed from thousands of seed companies and that does not look to be changing any time soon. Monsanto has paid millions to advocate for their product, as any company would. The organic industry has also paid millions to advocate for their product. You call me a fool for trusting the FDA. Are you saying every person that works for the FDA is a fool as well? No one’s rights are being taken away from anybody. Farmers still have a right to purchase what they want. Consumers still have a right to buy what they want. And again, no one has paid me to write any of this. I am trying my best to approach it independently. If I were a cow, I would prefer to be fed nutritious food, cared for when I am sick, and provided with shelter. Thankfully, that is what 99% of livestock in this country receive! The rest of your comment is a little hard to read! Thanks!

      • “You can still purchase seed from thousands of seed companies and that does not look to be changing any time soon.”

        Monsanto reported in 2008-2009 that there were only 173 seed companies for corn, 157 for soybeans, and 10 for cotton. This number has probably decreased since the report because the smaller companies are being acquired from the biotech giants Dow, Syngenta, BASF, Dupont, Bayer, and Monsanto.
        http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/monsanto-submission-doj.aspx

        Another report shows, “. . .the top 10 multinational seed companies now control 73 percent of the world’s commercial seed market, up from 37 percent in 1995 (p. 22). The worlds 10 biggest pesticide firms now control a whopping 90 percent of the global 44 billion dollar pesticide market (p.25). 10 companies control 76 percent of animal pharmaceutical sales (p.34). 10 animal feed companies control 52 percent of the global animal feed market (p.33)”
        http://www.etcgroup.org/content/who-will-control-green-economy-0

      • You are correct, I apologize. Hundreds of seed companies is what I should’ve said. That comment was in response to him saying that one company controlled farmers, which I do not believe to be true. We’ve never felt pressured on our farm to buy from a specific seed company. We just choose what we believe is the best product!

        In many industries, the top 5 or 10 companies control most of the supply. That’s how the free market system works. I agree though, that we do need to be careful.

  33. Pingback: Welcome to the Peterson Farm Blog! | The Peterson Farm Blog

  34. as to a few comment made earlier about how free market farmers were able to make a living off a few acres without this technology back in the 1920`s .

    although this statement is very true people truly do forget that the average family farm in the 1920 feed about 10 families per acre .

    now a farm has to produce enough nearly 10 times that amount per acre to meet the demand of the market .

    I myself own a 100 acre farm( equal to what most family farms in the 20`s would have been) and there is absolutely no way I can make enough of a living off this much land to support my family and create a stable future for them . unless I started a vegetable and produce operation were I sold my produce for three times what I myself could afford to pay for the same produce off the store shelf .
    here were I live in Ontario there is a huge debate over gmo seed because people for some reason believe the seeds are responsible for the decline in local bee populations . I have listened to many of the arguments and like you I believe that the problem is more from the people be uninformed and being misled by people with an agenda .
    facts are simple genetic modification has been going on with plants and animal since man started cultivating ether . this is because there has always been a desire to get more from less . it is good business no matter what business your in .

    • yes, the problem is from people being, or rather, choosing to be misinformed. You see, genetic modification is not “simple.” basic plant breeding could be called simple, but you undermine your own argument by saying that “genetic modification has been going on since mankind…” Glycine Methyl phosphate was developed as a descaling agent in boilers in 1964. In 1969, Monsanto re-patented it as a herbicide. Then, in 1996, they came out with roundup ready crops which is a very short time in scientific terms. The deactivation of EPSP synthases and the insertion of an engineered bacteria gene that resists glyphosphate experiment has been less then 20 years tried. And salmonella and clostridia are already resistant to it (glyphosphate was developed as an antibiotic in 2010). As the the Ontario reference, ya, i guess it doesn’t matter that 200,000 acres worth of Ontario farmers are ruined by gm alfalfa. That’s only around 800 family farms, no big deal. The irony of it all is that corporate farms are replacing these family farms and now they can’t even spray their alfalfa to kill it; their gonna have to pull out the old plow, talk about an outrage. But you will fail to see the irony as science has lost all objectivity and neutrality and become a political issue.

      • yes and it was only in the 1950 that’s computer used to be the size of a gymnasium now they fit on a watch . were live in an ere of great advancement some good some bad and people on both sides looking to make money off overly emotional people looking to jump on the lastest band wagon . as this blog has stated there has been no proven evidence for or against gmo products at this time which to me means if your for it keep going with it if your against it get busy and prove why everyone else should be without passion and emotion but with cold hard fact and proof that cant be mistaken

    • And no, its not because of the gmo seed. the debate is caused over the insecticides applied to the seed, namely neonicotinoids, that pollute the air (usually caused by air seeders) and get on the bees or by way of the plant as it grows (some of the nicotides end up in the pollen of the plant).

      • My wife is an executive for the company that makes those neonicotinoids. She is conflicted and I am adamant. However, the seed in itself is a problem that is more of a symptom of the larger issue, which is giant commercial farms.

  35. In response to complaints about pesticides, may I remind readers that today only 1% of the nation’s food is supplied by organic growers. There is a reason for this. Organic growing is inefficient and wastes tremendous amounts of food which cannot be eaten or go to market because it is destroyed by weeds, pests, molds, and thousands of pre-and post-harvest pests.

    Activists and NGOs campaigning against agriculture as now practiced are very vicious and focused, but obviously the adoption of their radical policies would result in shortages, loss of farms and orchards, rising costs and enormous waste.

    The countries which do not have access to conventional farming using large farms, pesticides, fertilizers, and tractors are all suffering from malnutrition, and in particular deficiencies in Vit A and B, and proteins and fats from dairy, beef and poultry. People who do not know what it is to be malnourished are attempting to impose an organic and local only agricultural system on our country.

    Our pesticides have been developed over many decades and work well. To see what really impairs the human body and causes disease world wide, look at malnutrition – blindness, nerve damage, and dementia – and look at the harmful effects of recreational drugs. Those are the real destroyers of heath for less developed countries and for young people today.

    • No one is advocating for organic only policies (maybe in your small world, but that’s only because you want to use it to attack freedom of choice). you’re arguments are mostly irrelevant. If you did your research, you would find that organic producers waste the least amount of food, if nothing else because they value it. And please, do not throw away any credibility you may have by mentioning the so called “third world.” We both know that hunger is more of a problem than malnutrition in these countries. malnutrition is more of an american problem. over there, we have a big companies trying to impose their ways of farming on them and the land is different over there so the conventional crops don’t produce as well. they have been farming it their way for ages and they do not need monsanto either forcing them to grow their seeds or suing them for growing them. As awesome as it sounds to just fly over there with cool genetics that promise higher production and, therefore alleviating hunger, its not that easy. they have been trying it for some time now with failure. so maybe instead of imposing we should just support them in doing it their way. But you wont have that because that would mean its not your way.

    • Zeke you cannot be farther from the truth! The NGO activists goals are not “organic only” they are “non GMO only”. You should do some deep research and quit listening to the guys like Greg so much. I don’t have the kind of time to sit here and educate the unwilling to listen and learn so I will not write anymore on this particular comment at this time.

    • what you have said is completely untrue Zeke. All Plants already produce their own natural pesticide; its called sugar! plant eating bugs cannot digest sugar! and the only place you will ever hear anyone talk about sugars in plants is at an organic farmers convention (not all do but some) and guess where you will never hear it? at a conventional/zerotill/GMO convention. Why? because a chemical or GMO company cant make money off of you if your plants already make a natural pesticide (sugar) but you need to have a healthy soil and a large amount of microbes in your soil for your plant to accomplish a high sugar level. so instead we spend millions of dollars developing GMOs that defend themselves from pests when a normal healthy plant would do the exact same! you have to start with a healthy soil and you will get a healthy competitive plant, you cant make a competive plant and expect to have a healthy soil. you start from the bottom up not the top down.

      If you talked look at a conventional farm and notice the way he sprays and cultivates and fertillizes you would think that 300 years ago on the native prarie the natives had to go out there and spray herbicides and pesticides so the grass would survive! Bugs eat low sugar plants because they are weak and sickly, just like wolves will eat the sick and unhealthy deer. it is natural selection the weak survive ad the strong thrive. but we as farmers have found a great way to stop nature from eating our crops because they are unhealthy by protecting our fields and spoon feeding them nutrients and developing GMOs that produce pesticide instead of embracing the pestice that the plant already has! we humans are fools
      we think that a high yield represents a healthy soil which is wrong because you have proven that that soil is not healthy because of all the killicides and sythetic fertilizers you put on it to give it that high yield! if it truly was a healthy soil and a healthy plant it would yield high on its own with little if any pampering and protection because it would defend and compete for itself and it would thrive!

      • George, do you have proof that plants growing in the soil you are talking about defend themselves from pests? Do they defend themselves from weeds too? It would be awesome if you could provide a link to pictures or videos of a farm like this that protects itself with no pesticides used. (E.g. corn that resists corn borers on its own)

      • as i said earlier most plant eating bugs cannot eat sugar, they cannot digest it because they lack a pancreas. They can eat plants with very low amount of sugar content in nature these low brix plants would be classified as unhealthy and weak and so like the sick deer in the herd the coyotes will kill it and eat it because it is easy to kill because it is unhealthy. it is natural selection.

        we as humans because we are smart and stupid enough to have figured out ways to keep these sickly plants protected and alive. we provide them all the nutrients they need because they are not strong enough to do it themselves and we protect them from bugs that are just doing what nature does cull the weak from the strong.

        in nature there is no such thing as a weed, weeds grow in harsh conditions like saline soil and if you leave the weeds alone for a couple seasons that soil will be balanced and will be able to support the cash crop because it can now outcompete the weeds. Brix (sugar) levels of plants do not fight off weeds the high sugar level gives the plant the energy and means to out compete the weeds. Our neibor is converting to organic and does test plots of third thing and he has averaged 60 bu/acre of spring wheat with no inputs other than a tillage pass in the spring and sugar water and calcium. the average yield in our area throughout those 3 years was about 50bu/acre conventionaly.

        we do not grow corn so i cannot tell you exactly how a corn bore will react to a high brix corn plant but as far as i know they do not have a pancreas either so the theory should still stand.

        here is the link to the University of Manitoba with zero till organic (they did not test brix levels) they just used the cover crop mulch for nutrients and weed suppression. I think a Zero till organic and a Birx level system is a good mix, it is not perfect and it has some disadvantages but i think it is by far the best out there yet (the UofM is also doing some exciting research on perrenial grain crops)
        http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/naturalagriculture/articles/organic_no-till.html

        Back to your roots soil solutions does seminars every year and they speak and teach about brix levels and microbes and other stuff i would definitly reccomend you attend one next year.

  36. And no matter what these activists and NGOs promise about health, the fact is that the adoption of local only and organic only policies would mean that no one would have year-round produce and fruit again.

    The vegetarian and vegan activists would cause widespread Vit B12 deficiencies, which impair mental abilities and brain development. This vitamin is only supplied by animal products! It is all natural to eat eggs, beef, and dairy. If you don’t you will get sick!

    So please remember that the NGOs and activists’ goals are organic-only and local-only, even if the activists promise you better food. Your diet would suffer badly. Think about that next time you go to the produce isle in winter and spring.

  37. Well done Greg

    There is much here. Didn’t read every last line but I’ve done my research as well. A couple points I’d add to the topic… You are correct, not one single incident of death or sickness proven to be associated with GM crops, yet 100’s if not 1000’s die from consuming organics every year due primarily to contamination of the fertilizers, etc. I find this hypocritical from the organic side. Also, another point… Correlation does not equal causation. If it did, you could utilize the example out there with the graph that shows direct correlation between autism and the increase in the consumption of organics. Of course we know this is absurd, but the naysayers try to utilize this stunt all the time.

    Then there is the whole concept of sustainability. I have organic growers of corn and soybeans as neighbors. Their yields are typical at 50-75% of conventionally grown crops. So right off the bat, production shortfalls exist. Next, let’s get nutrients to this crop. I utilize manure from one of the largest feedyards in the state of Nebraska, Gottsch Feedlot, to obtain a portion of my nitrogen source for 2 years and other nutrients for 5 years, spreading about 24 ton/acre. I asked the company how many acres they can spread and for Adams County, they only have enough for around 5-7% of the acres. So the point is, where will the nutrients come from to grow this organic crop? And what if you want “organic” based manure? That shuts the door hard! So the come back would be… rotate crops. Well you and I know that will also limit the ability to produce.

    Dr Kevin Folta, University of Florida Horticulture Dept has an excellent blog, “Illumination” that addresses much of what you are sharing from a strictly science orientation. http://kfolta.blogspot.com/. He has links to other science based sites like “Genetic Literacy Project” and “Biofortified” that are excellent resources.

    Thanks… keep up the good work

  38. a good follow up blog would be on the difference between genetically modified organisms and genetically engienered ones. Terms that are being viewed as the same but are not.

  39. Hi I once thought the same way about gmo crops. Me and my husband have farmed for 45 years I remember wondering why other countries didn’t want our gmo crops. They seemed the same to me and they made farming far easier. I have 4 children, number 4 was fed soy formula as an infant, was suppose to be so much better for you. She is the only one of the 4 with several medical issues that have been reported to be caused from gmo crops. My husband became allergic to soy beans at least that’s what we thought. He can plant them and harvest them but can never get into a grain bin with them ever again or he may not survive. About 4 years after issues in the bin he planted some non gmo beans and he has no problem in that grain bin. That’s when I realized theres far more to gmo than I ever realized. Yes it makes farming much easier but for the sake of peoples health I will still run a cultivator. A lot more work yes but I know the money is important to continue farming and Im sure theres a lot of healthy young farmers out there but would never think of farming the old fashioned way. I hope you all stay healthy but time will tell. And everyone always says were using less chemicals because of gmo. Well maybe less different kinds but the weeds are becoming immune to round up so the crops are sprayed several more times. I know in our operation before gmo we’d get a good kill and if weeds came up we cultivate and no problems now the fields can be sprayed 3 to 4 times.
    Thanks
    No longer a supporter of gmo

  40. Reblogged this on Codi Miller and commented:
    There are varying opinions of genetically modified organisms, from production to consumption. Each person has the right to their own opinion, but to be educated when defending your opinion is a must. Even after writing a paper on GMOs last semester for an Honors seminar class, I am still learning more about GMOs. Here is a truthful view on GMOs. This post is six months old, but the information is worth the to read it.

  41. Pingback: GMOs: Food for Thought | Through the Eyes of a Farm Girl

  42. thank you for writing this blog, i am a fan of your videos and i find them hilarious. I am an organic farmer and i have looked through many studies been to seminars and read many a book on soil health, pesticies, microbes, Brix levels in plants, and of course GMO’s. But lets start about whether GMOs are safe or not for consumption.

    first off i would like to say that Michael Taylor who is a head guy in the FDA was a head lawer who worked for Monsanto, talk about a conflict of interest. so i really dont care what kind of studies that have been done by the FDA because they are obviously biased. Who would you trust to tell you whether somthing is bad or not; somebody who has nothing to lose either way? or somebody who has been in contact and has been cosy with the leading GMO companys.
    I recommend for you watch Seeds of Death and studies written by Árpád Pusztai.

    Secondly i would like to say that yes people have been breeding and crossbreeding plants for hundreds of years and i would like to point out that breeding for high yields is a little different that genetically engineering and splicing the “glow gene’ of a firefly into the genes of a tobacco plant so that it glows when it needs water (and yes that has been done). so please dont ever say that GMOs are at all similar to normal plants. when i drive around I see guys spraying their GMO crops more than the regular farmers why? because the whole point of a gmo is so that you can spray the crap out of it without hurting the cash crop!

    Now i shall get into the true problem with GMOS. now if you listened to what GMO activists are saying you would think that 200 years ago all that would grow in north a america was weeds! i mean how did all that grass survive with being heavily tilled and sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides every month. i will tell you how. it out competed the competition by wither the weeds out and by being aggressive by growing deep thick roots and growing as fast as possible. And now you ask, ‘well how could they deal with bugs like grasshoppers without being sprayed with pesticides.’ its simple really…Brix levels. now for almost all commercial farmers, agriculture profs, and GMO companies this is a foriegn term. Brix is a term that measures the sugar content of plants. and this protects the plants of plant eating bugs and fungi. How? why dont modern crops have this ability?
    again (like most things in nature) the answer is quite simple. Plant eating bugs like grasshoppers, aphids, beetles, corn bores, etc. do not have a pancreas. the pancreas digests and deals with sugar in the blood. A plant with high Brix (sugar) is inedible to those bugs and fungi because they cannot digest it. so therefore if you have a healthy soil you can grow a healthy plant that can fend for itself against bugs and fungi and outcompete weeds. Now how did all those plants in the native praries get all their plant nutrients like nitrogen? one source was the buffalo but even the millions of them could not provide enough for all that grass. another theory is Legumes and in part that is also correct but there actually arne’t many native legumes in the praries. So what really contributed all that nitrogen…microbes. Azotobactor microbes convert nitrogen from the air into a plant usable form called ammonia.
    so why do we put synthetic granular Nitrogen and ammonia in the soil?
    Because beacues of our ancesters excessive plowing, the killing of essential microbes by spraying, and the death of almost all the plant assisting fungi in the soil by spraying fugicides. the arerobic zones of the soil are smaller, the microbes are few, and the fungi and beneficial insects are oppressed.
    how do we create an enviroment that produces good high yielding crops without the use of heavy tillage, GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and sythetic fertillizers?
    Minimal till organic.
    -You grow a high legume cover crop
    -midsummer you get a roller/crimper and kill the cover crop so it lays flat upon the soil like a mulch. this mulch does three things; it shades out weeds stopping them from ever germinating, the legumes can fix up to 120lbs of N per acre which when the cover crop is killed all that N is now available for your cash crop, and the cover crop builds organic matter in our soil at a very fast rate which brings back essential Fungi, microbs, bees, spiders, etc.
    -the next season you seed your cash crop into the mulch with a disc drill
    -the year after that you minimal till using a Pro-till or something and you seed another cash crop while spraying calcium, microbial tea, sugar water, etc. all to help raise your plants brix with create a healthy and aggressive high yielding plant (spring wheat consistantly yields around 50 bu/acre with this system).

    what does this have to do with GMOs?
    GMOS basically slap nature and God in the face saying that your way isnt good enough and our way is better. instead of letting the plants and microbes get the nutrients themselves (95% of plants nutrients come from the air in a healthy soil) defend for themselves and feed themselves. GMO’S and the chemical companies that make them say that we should go in there and spray their toxins like glyphosate and give each seed its own little grain of N to have, and then we make sure none of the bad bugs eat it by nuking the field and killing every beneficial bug along with the only 5% bad ones that would actually be harmfull to the plant. Thes plants we grow would be dead in two days if they were in nature! the only reason they are alive when harvest rolls around is because we be there mommy and spoon feed them nutrients and protect them from the mean old grasshoppe. When in a natural system you grow your topsoil, build up healthy populations of microbes and fungi, grow a healthy nutrient dense competitive good yielding plant, provide weed resistance using two natural, cheap and incredible effective methods (shading them out and competition), and providing all nutients that plant needs to survive. now you tell me which system is better;the organic minimal till one which builds the soil, is better for your plant, better for you, safer for consumption, and is more profitable and healthy. OR is planting a crop of GMOs which most likley not good for you and is definitly dangerous for the enciroment, spraying glyphosate and other chemicals which kills your soil and ties up all your nutrients in your soil, and having to buy expensive fertilizers, and chemicals to control weeds, and not being able to keep your own seeds. now you tell me the supirior system work with nature or against nature, with Gods design or against.

    another interesting note on Glyphosate (most common herbice uesd in conjunction with GMOs) Which is actually patented by monsanto as a antibiotic (I am not making this up) and the reason it is is because it is proven to kill all microbes on contact which not only kills the soil it also destroys the micro organisms in our gut that enable us to digest. Why did onsanto patent it as a antibiotic? so no one can sue them when there soil is dead and there guts are poisoned. it is just good buisness. Glyphosate is advertised to disarm itself when it hits the soil. this is partially true because it does but it is not instant, it will remain a toxin in your soil killing your microbes for longer that they say. Glyphosate disarms itself by tightly binding to organic matter and with nutrients from the soil which in turn cause those nutrients to be unavailable to the plant and causes you the farmer to buy the nutrients you need to replace the one tied up with the glyphosate in a chemical bond that does not let go.

    Again thank you for your videos, i hope i didn’t offend you because that was no intended, and i look forward to hearing your response.

    • This blog is merely a sad attempt at advocating GMOs and whatever truth one can pull out of it. Subjectively speaking, truth can be found in anything, which is why one should use truth with discretion and, normally at least, when talking objectively.

      • Thanks for the comment. I worked really hard on writing this to promote what I believe is the truth. If you feel that notion is a “sad attempt” than I am sorry. Hopefully you can see it for something more than that, if not then we’ll have to agree to disagree!

  43. Pingback: Debunking GMO Myths with Peterson Farm Brothers | Elk Mound Seed Company

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s