Saturday, June 8, 2013

We Need GMOs

Quite often the evening national news makes me grumpy, many evenings I avoid watching it. Instead I prefer to watch the local news; my blood pressure remains much lower that way. However, this past weekend I watched a news story on a local station that got my blood boiling (boiling blood is not good for blood pressure).
The story was about protests over genetically modified organisms, specifically crops, and along with them Monsanto. This event was part of a national effort; I am not sure what triggered this misguided rage directed toward crops and a successful company. What I do know is that this movement is driven by anti-agriculture groups with agendas, bad information and outright lies. That makes me mad.
The reporter was covering a protest in Wichita, camera shots showed signs vilifying the evil Monsanto and their dangerous engineered crops. One of the protesters was interviewed. He was a scraggily looking activist type. He spouted off the usual anti-gmo rhetoric about health problems and damage to the ecosystem theorized to be ahead for us in the future. All in all though, he looked fairly healthy and well fed.
I suppose it is easy to protest a successful corporation who helps farmers produce more food, on fewer acres, with fewer inputs and protect our soil, air and water, if you are well fed and healthy. It is easier to find misinformation and propaganda on the internet if you do not have to spend most of your day either working for enough money to pay for your food or foraging for what you need.
Monsanto makes for an easy target; they are a faceless, huge corporation. We live in a day and age when corporations are thought to be evil empires. More and more I see us (little guys) versus them (large corporations). The theory being, if they are successful and make money they must be doing something shady. I do not work for Monsanto, all I know is that every Monsanto employee I have met are good, hardworking people and Monsanto’s products help me be more productive. Most of all I support their right to be successful and make money that is what this country is built on.
We must dramatically improve and increase our food output in the coming years to meet the demands of a growing world population. This increase in production can only happen if we adopt new technology and farming practices. Those new practices and products are developed in two different ways. One being through university and public research and with a lack of funding this area is getting squeezed pretty hard. The other method is private companies, like Monsanto, developing technology, like gmo crops. Both routes are very important and necessary to those of us in production agriculture.
So back to the protestors, I watched the interview on TV. and read some of the articles on-line. All of them were the same unsubstantiated research, theories, sensational stories, misguided propaganda that has been thrown at the public time after time. I guess if you throw it at the wall long enough some of it will stick, whether it is true or not. I challenge anyone to provide a peer reviewed, credible source, one without a hidden agenda stating that gmo crops are dangerous.
There has never, ever been any evidence or findings that find gmo crops to pose any kind of a risk, especially to our health. I do know that hunger, malnutrition and starvation are very real threats, faced by many each day. I feel that it is my responsibility as a farmer to do what I can and to use the technology available to me to produce as much food as I can. I also feel that it is my duty to increase this production in a way that maintains and improves the land, air and water I rely on for my livelihood.
I realize that the protestors have the right to free speech and I support that right. I only wish that instead of taking the easy route of simply covering the protests, the reporter would have sought out credible experts on modern agricultural practices and gotten both sides of the story.
I guess that is what each of us in agriculture must do. We need to explain the need for gmo crops, talk about their safety and the good they do for the environment. We need to be able to educate the public about the benefits modern technology and what it allows us to do. We need to tell the truth about agriculture and counter the well-fed protestors.

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