Sunday, April 7, 2013

Frankendeer and GMOs

I am annoyed; no I am down-right mad. This week I got my Outdoor Life in the mail. This is normally a happy occurrence, I spend a couple of hours gleaning important hunting and fishing tips. It is the only magazine I read purely for entertainment. I have had a subscription to this magazine since I was a teenager. However, I found one article anything but entertaining.
The article that set me off was pondering the idea that deer were somehow mutating into “frankendeer” because they consume gmo crops. The idea was that because the genes in the crops were changed and the deer ate the genetically modified crops they would become genetically modified themselves. The author speculated that maybe those gmo crops were not safe for our consumption either.
He did seek out a couple of experts on the subject and both stated that there was absolutely no evidence that gmo crops posed any risk to anyone’s or anything’s health. In fact one of the experts went on to say that wild animals like deer and turkeys were actually good proof that gmo crops posed no risk. He stated that crops like corn and soybeans make up a great deal of their diet and the majority of those crops are gmo. Many generations of deer and turkeys have consumed gmo crops without altering their genetics.
I also saw a couple of posts on Facebook and Twitter this week purporting that somehow Monsanto was bypassing USDA and FDA testing. Because of this the posts proclaimed that dangerous products in the form of gmo crops were being rushed to the market. Readers were urged to take action and call their congressional representatives to stop Monsanto from taking alleged shortcuts.
I am not upset with my friends who posted the links. They are well-meaning people who have been given bad information and only want to make sure that their family eats healthy foods. I am mad at the anti-agriculture groups who are putting out misinformation and scaring consumers. I am not sure of their motivation but I would guess that the donations they request have something to do with it.
I have visited Monsanto’s campus and I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that the gmo seeds we plant pose no health risk. They have gone many, many years of rigorous testing. The gmo crops we plant are the result of a long arduous process and represent many years of hard work by a legion of scientists and plant breeders. The safety of gmo crops to both the consumer and the environment is not taken lightly by those who developed this technology. I know this because I have met them.
The most maddening, to me, is the complete disregard by those who lobby against gmo crops for the need to feed the world’s population. The fact is that the world’s population is growing at such a rate that our only hope of feeding them is to continue to develop technology like gmo crops. As farmers we are continually squeezed as more and more farmland is developed. We must do more with less. Starvation is a very real risk in many parts of this world.
So we are confronted with anti-gmo rhetoric in all we do. It seeps into our entertainment and many well-meaning people are swept up by the false information and sensationalized nonsense. What should we do as Ag producers?
We need to make sure that we tell the people around us just how important gmo crops are to us. They allow us to produce more food, all the while using fewer resources and protecting the environment. Do we need to use this technology wisely? Absolutely, we need to make sure that we do not overuse or abuse it. We need to work toward an integrated weed management plan that will protect our ability to use this important tool.
GMO crops are one of the most important technological breakthroughs for agriculture, or the world for that matter. It is a win-win technology that will help us produce the food and fiber the world needs. I don’t know much, but I do know one thing without a doubt. Because Monsanto developed gmo crops, I can be a proud producer of the food we all need and I will tell everyone I know.

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