Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, garden, genetic modification, GMO, history, Minnesota, organic, Politics, science, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, Minnesota, Monsanto, Monsanto company, politics, Soybeans
Anyone who reads posts on Genetically Modified crops knows there is a firestorm out there. Make a good comment about GM crops and you will get a huge blow back about Monsanto and how bad they are. Some folks just seem to hate Monsanto. I don’t get it.
I farm in the prairie country of southwestern Minnesota where some of the best corn and soybean crops are raised. I typically get near or above country-wide average yields for those two crops. We live far enough away from any population center so that production of fruits and veggies for the table is something that is done only in family gardens. What we can do is raise the corn and soybeans used to produce feed for livestock and raw materials for industry. Those are our markets, and we grow crops for them.
There are some in our area that produce organic feedstock for livestock, but they are very few. There are also some producers of alfalfa in our area, but that takes different machinery and more labor than I have. I’m stuck with corn and soybeans.
Why, if Monsanto is so evil, would I plant Monsanto products? Because they work for me. I’ve been using Monsanto products since long before the internet was invented. Until I got involved in blogging five years ago, I had no idea that some of the world thought what I did was wrong.
Well, I can tell you that using Monsanto products for the last 25 years has not been as bad as some would have you believe. The scare tactics you see on the internet are just that, scare tactics, not the truth.
I plant mostly corn seed produced by DeKalb, a Monsanto company. I do not have to plant Monsanto products, in fact, I also plant corn seed produced by Croplan, a Winfield company. I could also buy seed from Pioneer, a DuPont company, or a host of independents like Wensman, Syngenta, Stine, etc. I buy DeKalb seed because it works for me. All of these companies produce seed using genetic engineering, and some also produce seed using older methods that are not considered GE.
It’s the same with the soybeans seed I plant, I plant seed from Asgrow, also a Monsanto company. I have also planted soybean seed produced by many other seed companies. In the last few years I have entered into contract to produce seed for Asgrow/Monsanto. This gives me the opportunity to get more income from each acre of soybeans I plant. As a seed producer I have more work to do, but I get paid well for that extra work. Using Monsanto seed makes it easier for me to make a profit so I can feed my family and pay my bills.
The same is true for the crop protection products I use. I could use Roundup, a Monsanto product, on my crops that are tolerant to glyphosate, but I use glyphosate produced by another company in competition with Monsanto. I am not forced to use their product.
Glyphosate was a very good weed killer when it was first introduced. It was safer than many other weed killers we could use and much more flexible in timing of application, so we used a lot of it for a while. The introduction of glyphosate resistant crops actually reduced the amount of weed killer we had to use. But, like any other good thing, overuse lead to resistant weeds. Now we have new options that have been developed since glyphosate, and many of the old options from before glyphosate, to help keep weeds down.
The use of GM crops in the last few years has risen, not because we are being forced to use them by an evil Monsanto, but because they work. GM crops are being used in many countries that once mistrusted them. New things take time to get accepted. As time has gone on their benefit has been proven to more and more people. I and farmers like me use these products because we have bills to pay and families to feed. With the variable returns to our investment, and the potential of losing our crops if we use lesser products, we have to use the very best tools available to us. The new GM technologies have been good for us, and as long as it remains good, we will continue to use them.
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