I Occupy Our Food Supply Everyday

Me occupying some popcorn

Today is the day.  The Occupy movement is going to occupy our food supply.  According to the occupiers and Farm Aid president Willie Nelson large corporations have too much control over our food.  I won’t deny that there has been a lot of consolidation in the food and seed markets over the years, but that seems pretty common and big does not equal bad as some occupiers would have you think.

Willie Nelson recently wrote “Occupy the Food System” for The Huffington Post.  He ends his editorial piece by saying, “Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.”

As you may know I happen to be part of a family farm.  I’m the 4th generation to work this land.  I’ve seen a lot of posts online about how corporations control farms or farmers are slaves to “Big Ag.”  People claim that we are beholden to them and have to sign unfair contracts to be privileged enough to use their seed.  They’ll also claim that the contracts rope us into buying other inputs like pesticides and herbicides from the same company.  We get a lot of our seed from big corporations like the “evil” Monsanto, and since Farm Aid seems to be jumping in with Occupy I wanted to know what they think about some of the genetically modified crops we grow on our farm.

The Farm Aid website poses the question “What does GE mean for family farmers?” and goes on to say:

Corporate Control. Farmers who buy GE seeds must sign contracts that dictate how their crop is grown – including what chemicals to buy – and forbid them from saving seeds. This has given corporations incredible control over the production of major staple crops in America.

Let’s examine this corporate control a little further and look at it from the family farm level.  My farm in particular.  When we buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds we get to sign a Technology/Stewardship Agreement.  Section 4 of the 2011 agreement I have on file covers everything the grower must agree to when purchasing these products.  Here’s a quick rundown of the requirements.

  • If we buy or lease land that is already seeded with Monsanto technology that year we need to abide by the contract.  Makes sense to me.  If I end up leasing ground in crop for some reason, I should honor the agreements it was planted with.  This would be a very odd thing too happen by the way.
  • Read and follow the Technology Use Guide and Insect Resistance Management/Grower Guide.  So Monsanto has ideas on how best to use their product.  Some of it is required by the EPA to make sure farmers like me understand how to steward the technology.   No big surprise there. Not to mention if you read the guides you’ll find a ton of good agronomic information.
  • Implement an Insect Resistance Management program.  Shocking! Monsanto thinks controlling pests responsibly is a good idea, and if you farm insects are something you deal with regardless of what production method you use or crop you plant.
  • We should only buy seed from a dealer or seed company licensed by Monsanto.  I’d want to do that anyway.  It’s for my own good.  Would you buy a brand new home entertainment system out of the back of some guy’s van parked in an alley?  Me neither.
  • We agree to use seed with Monsanto technology solely for planting a single commercial crop. And don’t sell any to your neighbor either it says.  That’s right, we can’t save seed to grow the next year, and frankly I’m not interested in doing that.  For the critics who are not sold on GMO crops anyway do they really want farmers holding onto this seed and planting it without any kind of paper trail? Soybeans are a different story, but hybrid corn won’t produce the same seeds you planted anyway.
  • If you want to plant seed to be used as seed you need to sign an agreement to do so with a seed company licensed by Monsanto.  We do this for two different companies.  In fact we’ve actually worked with one company through several name changes long before GMO showed up.  Why?  Because we can get a premium price for the soybeans we grow that will be used as seed by other farmers next year.  The premium accounts for the extra effort we put in to make sure our planting, harvesting, and storage equipment is extra clean to provide a pure product tot he customer.
  • We can’t grow seed to be used for breeding, research, or generation of herbicide registration data.  That gets back to saving seed.  If we wanted to breed our own varieties I’m sure we could get into doing that, but I look at it right now as division of labor.  Seed companies are great at coming up with great products, and American farmers are great (in many cases the best) at turning those products into a bounty of food, feed, fuel, and fiber.
  • Our farm has agreed to only export and plant these crops in countries that allow them.  OK that’s kind of a no brainer.  Not to mention we aren’t the ones exporting anything.
  • Here’s the part where some people think family farmers become slaves to the corporations.  The part where GMO seeds force us to buy our chemicals from the same company.  But if you’ve got a Technology/Stewardship Agreement handy you’ll find that’s not true.  If I plant Roundup® Ready (RR) crops Monsanto would sure like me to use Roundup® herbicide on them, but I don’t have to.  The agreement says that for RR crops that I should only use Roundup® herbicide…………………OR another authorized herbicide which could not be used in the absence of the RR gene.  When I worked off the farm I sold a lot of generic brand glyphosate.  It’s just like buying your grocer’s private label brand of cough medicine instead of the name brand.  The only catch is if you have a problem you need to talk with the company who provided the herbicide.  If we spray Brand X and it doesn’t work it won’t do any good to go crying to Monsanto.  That sounds like pretty standard business practice to me.  Furthermore, I don’t even have to use glyphosate on my glyphosate tolerant crops.  This year we will have waxy corn from Pioneer and waxy from a local dealer who sells Monsanto products.  The latter will be RR, but the Pioneer variety won’t.  We will likely plant them in the same field side by side to see which one performs better.  If we spray glyphosate on those acres all the Pioneer corn will die!  Instead we will control weeds with a herbicide that all corn resists naturally.
  • We have to pay for the seed.  Ridiculous isn’t it? Paying for something that gives value in return?
  • We may have to provide documents supporting that we are following the agreement within 7 days after getting a request from Monsanto.  I’m not worried about that if I’m following the agreement anyway.  To my knowledge we’ve never received a request.
  • If Monsanto asks to do so they can inspect our land, storage bins, wagons, etc.  Again I’m not worried.
  • And finally we agree to allow Monsanto to obtain our internet service provider records to validate an electronic signature.  If anything on this list is questionable it’s this one.  I’m just not sure electronic signatures are the way to go personally, but it’s becoming more common.  Even for the President.

If you want to see the exact wording of the contract, click to view a PDF of my 2011 Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement.

So there you have it.  That’s what we have to agree to in order to make use of Monsanto’s biotechnology on our farm.  I don’t see anything in there that hurts my farm.  Neither does Iowa farmer Dave Walton.  I don’t have to buy their herbicides, and I don’t have to buy anything from them next year if I don’t want to.  The biggest problem I have with seed companies is that it seems like they phase out a variety from time to time that is a really strong performer on our farm.  I understand the concern organic farms have with GMO crops in close proximity to their own.  Those farmers have worked hard and shown patience in getting an organic certification, and they don’t want to start over again.  Even though we don’t have any neighbors farming organically, it’s important that we are careful when making field applications.  We hope our neighbors do the same because our waxy corn generally isn’t RR and our popcorn definitely is not.  You could also have drift from any corn field do damage to soybeans next door, so even guys like me are sympathetic to the practices of other farms.

Another thing Farm Aid hits on is how much seed prices have risen. A fully traited bag of GMO seed corn sells for over $300.  That bag will plant 2-3 acres where we farm.  No, that’s not cheap by any means.  However, what doesn’t get mentioned is the technology that is increasing the price of the seed is cutting your costs somewhere else or protecting yield in the event of certain bad conditions.

So as some people decide to Occupy the Food Supply, they may hold up signs and shout. I will occupy the food supply today like I do almost everyday.  I’ve been occupying it since I was born and I’ll be occupying it almost every day until I retire or die.  I’m here for the long haul.  I see the impact of my occupation every day and it has been adding up for my family for four generations, and I hope my son becomes the fifth generation to occupy our food supply on a daily basis. How about you?

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Comments

    1. Thank you, Trish. I think it’s very important that those of us who actually produce the food talk about what we do instead of letting someone else do it for us.

      1. Yep…I couldn’t agree more. We have similar farmers and farm groups in Canada trying to do the same thing. You really are the best advocates for explaining what you do on your farm and why. The lack of ag literacy today is quite concerning to me. Seems people can just make statements or assumptions and people just believe them without doing any fact checking.

  1. I was just reading an anti-Monsanto blog and shaking my head at how little people seem to understand about modern farming. SO glad I clicked over to your blog next! Thanks for sharing this side of the story.

  2. Consumers have the right to know which foods they are buying are GMO or not GMO. There needs to be labels on all foods that are GMO, I myself choose foods that are not GMO and I and the rest of the population have a right to know what we are buying and putting into our bodies. Just like you have the right to farm however you may choose, the rest of us have rights the same as you.

    1. I can understand where you are coming from. You want to be able to make the most informed decision possible when choosing what you eat. I don’t begrudge you for that, Justine. I know that not everything is truly a free market, but I like to see people like yourself using their hard earned money to show food companies and producers what you want as a consumer.

    2. The problem is that the labeling legislation is really awful as written. Letting anti-GMO interests write laws on food is like letting Big Oil write climate change legislation. Both groups deny the science and write laws on what they believe, on their faith that these foods are bad. That’s bad practice. The foods are functionally equivalent. The only reason people want to know is because they have been frightened by anti-scientists rather than educated by scientists. They don’t really care about how labels will cause massive lawsuits and drive up food prices, pinching the poor especially. It is about ending transgenic food, not about personal choice. If it was about choice, they would buy GM foods and support farmers like Brian. Instead, he’s probably going to get death threats for being a shill of Monsanto.

      1. Contradiction upon contradiction. Dont let big industry write the laws because they deny the science, in fact according to you, both sides deny the science and yet you quote Monsanto and big agricultures position, namely that the food is functionally equivalent. Which is it guy, to believe them or not? Science or anti-science? Is it the fact you Kevin have chosen one side over the other make it valid science we all must follow?
        Then you have the gall to lump all labeling proponents into they same category by stating weve all been frightened into our position. Talk about being lazy and sweeping it all under the mat!
        In the end, youre only argument is cost to the public, which is frivolous in itself because companies add graphics and label modifications all the time. You see it in the aisles when you shop, a new logo, the additon of new flavor – none of this gets past on to the consumer! .
        http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GE-Food-Act-Costs-Assessment.pdf

        Also, this cost to the farmer thing. In America, a free market system is still existing, it is no ones fault that your decisions might lead you down an unprofitable future. We dont subsidize organic farmers, so youre just complaining about the level playing field coming your way.
        “Traditional organic farming is labor and knowledge-intensive whereas conventional farming is capital-intensive, requiring more energy and manufactured inputs.”
        Halberg, Niels (2006). Global development of organic agriculture: challenges and prospects. CABI. p. 297.

      2. Sorry Kevin, you are living in a dream world when you say “functionally equivalent.” GMO corn does contain the same molecules as non-GMO corn, however, how those molecules are put together is what makes all the difference. If you follow the scientists that aren’t paid mouthpieces for Monsanto, you will discover an entirely different perspective than what you state above.

        1. Well, actually, corn does not contain the same molecules as corn. Did you you that when the sequencing of the corn genome was done that there were hundreds of differences between strains? Missing genes, different genes, all sorts of variations.

          http://www.ploscollections.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000723;jsessionid=82A31D558D296C526643DCA46AB4B5C5

          Yet all that corn is functionally equivalent. Plants are really fascinating that way.

    3. Justine, as Anonymous says, all you have to do to avoid GM food is buy organic. The system is already in place to do what you want. You say, ” Just like you have the right to farm however you may choose, the rest of us have rights the same as you.” But the label-GMO foods movement is essentially trying to take away the right of farmers to farm the way they want.

      1. How?
        Who said you cant grow what you want?
        Or is it, you cant grow what you want because people wont buy it?
        Sorry, but we call that a free market system.

        1. I’d have to agree that it seems many who want mandatory labels want the end result to be the end of GMO. I’m sure like with any issue not all pro-label people think that way. I’m sure there is some middle ground to be found. I may not always plant GMO, but I want those options open to me when I want them, so I can understand the consumer who wants to know more about the origin of their food.

      2. People talk about rights without much depth of thinking. How does a farmer’s rights trump the rights of the consumer who is eating his produce? Just as a matter of logic and public policy, what sense does that make? We have competing rights, and I would suggest that the consumers’ rights should inform and circumscribe the farmer’s actions.

        1. I agree with you. If demand becomes so low for the crops I grow, then so be it. I’ll have to find something else to raise. But by the same token farmers ought to have freedom to farm how they choose, don’t you think? If I choose to grow something I can’t sell, then tough toenails for me.

        2. Its not that the farmers rights to grow trump the consumers right to choose, its more a matter of a few multi national agriculture and chemical companies that try to dominate their industry by lobbying govts globally to approve their genetically modified products. Once approved they market the farmers to grow it and they get congress to subsidize it as well.
          Monsanto wasnt stupid when they chose to make corn, soybeans, and sugar beets into GMO varieties as these are the major componants of all processed foods on the market. 90% of todays corn is Monsantos GMO strain and some 80% of soybeans as well. Your right to choose disappeared by a sheer monopolization of the market and will continue to do so as long as this monopoly is allowed to continue.
          I believe in a free market where all are allowed to grow and eat what they so desire as long as there is no infringement on the others right, directly or indirectly which I find the case to be here. Small and local farms are being pushed off the map to make room for federal and state approved behemoths and thus we lose variety in our food. Majority of growers are going to produce whats profitable not what you want, that promotes less diversity in our choices.
          Rockefeller may have started his industry, but I doubt any of us agree he did it fairly or with the intent to give people more choice. Some things should not be industrialized and nature should not be allowed to be patented

          1. Economically speaking: Mono(oligo)pols are proven not to be giving the maximum of public welfare. That may be tolerable for Iphones but not for something so basic as food and crops.
            Those are of such utter importance as human heritage to qualify as public goods. I’d be cheap to top out Monsantos research funding and releasing the seeds and intellectual property fair :-) use

          2. “Majority of growers are going to produce whats profitable not what you want, that promotes less diversity in our choices.”
            Ludicrous! What makes something profitable is the existence of someone willing to buy it.

            1. Very true. But if someone doesn’t know what they’re buying, this rule doesn’t apply.

              Isn’t that what the labeling fights are about? People want to know what they’re buying while producers fear that, once people know, some of them will no longer buy it.

            2. However, you miss the point that most of the mass-farmed crops like soy and corn aren’t purchased directly by you and me–they’re bought by large corporations who process the corn and soy into a huge variety of products labeled “food” and in turn sell it to you and me. In this regard, what is “profitable” may not be what I, and many consumers, really want, but we may have little choice but to “consume” it, unless we can shop for organic.

    4. It doesn’t sound like anybody is stopping you from buying non gmo food. So please explain how your ” right to know” is being infringed

      1. Excuse, me, but how is one to exercise their right to avoid GMO food if there is no way to tell without labeling? Actually, there is a way to tell, but it’s not always easy–only buy from a farmer you know personally or if it’s labeled “organic,” avoid any and all “processed” or “mass produced” foods. In other words, it is virtually impossible for the average person to avoid GMO foods. The average person without access to a garden or a local farmer’s market simply cannot feed their family 3 squares a day AND avoid GMOs, even if they wanted to. That certainly is a limit of food choice sources for that consumer, even if not an actual violation of their rights.

        1. Right to choose? Whoever bestowed such a premise in your mind?

          You have a right to choose from whatever the government has narrowed your choices to be. Unbelievable how Americans these days still believe we live in a free country and our Congress is “By and for the People”

          1. @Ron: First, I was responding to Anonymous who said, “So please explain how your ‘right to know’ is being infringed.”

            Second, for the most part, it is not the government I see infringing my right to choose what foods I purchase or choose to eat, but the multi national corporations who are out to make as much profit as possible, regardless of food quality or consumer health concerns, let alone a consumer’s right to know, therefore their right to choose. If GMO foods are not labeled, then the consumer’s right to know is impinged and they are denied to ability to make a fully informed decision, whether they realize it or not. A lot of people don’t give a damn, and perhaps you are one of those. But others do care and wish to make better informed decisions, even if that decision is to choose the GMO food. Unfortunately, so far those with deep pockets have swayed the FDA and prevented proper labeling of much of our food supply. Monsanto is seen by many as having a stranglehold on many aspects of the processed food supply. I have heard many in the anti-GMO camp wonder what it is that Monsanto is afraid of? If there is nothing wrong with GMO food, then what is the problem with labeling it?

            I simply wish to know, regardless of which way I choose.

            1. I was hoping you’d see my sarcasm, as I feel just as you do. I just feel our government is as much to blame.
              Multinational corps cant get their way without the cooperation of our regulating agencies. Wether it be from the lobbying offices on K St.or the complete buyout of the vote against a proposition, it is still government cooperating in the corruption.
              Monsanto and others dont want to label and so Congress lets it slide under the rug. They say their hebicides and pesticides are safe,then so does the FDA without any of the resources to conduct the safety tests on their own. The corps pay off Congress and Congress pressures the regulating agencies to let them have their way. Business as usual and not just in agriculture

              1. Ron, I confess I was having a bad day so, yup, I missed the sarcasm, tho I did wonder a tad. Usually I do better than that! I confess I also made an assumption based on our present page location. We are indeed on the same page in other regards. I have a huge beef (pun intended) with both the FDA and the CDC, both bought and paid for by outside interests, and certainly not the fair and open minded organizations they were constructed to be. I really don’t know how good or bad GMO foods are for us in general, but I do know that,1) the public should be better informed so those who wish to make informed decisions may do so, and, 2) statistics do exist (which I can’t quote at the moment) that indicate that the vast majority of scientific studies that say this or that chemical, GMO, food additive, etc. is “OK” were paid for by industry, and those that question the claims of “harmless to our health” are more likely independent researchers not paid to bend the results one way or the other. IMHO, one open-minded scientist outweighs 1000 industry-paid researchers. Often the results aren’t skewered, but the experiment itself is designed to pass/fail in a manner that is beneficial for whomever has paid the bill for the “research.”

    5. Dude, seriously, this already exists. The market has solved the problem. Everywhere I go I find at least one product which labels proudly that there are no GMO’s present in their product. Yeah, it’s the reverse, but it’s labeling, and if you want to make sure you have no GMO’s in your food, buy the food with that label. You don’t need to use force (government) to solve the problem, it already has been solved.

  3. Great way to put it. For myself I had been on the fence about GMO’s (yes even with my strong ag roots) until touring Sygenta and Monsanto. I was blow away by what I saw, and the people I talked to. The process is simple yet painstakingly carried out. After spending millions to make sure that they have a good product and that it’s safe for human consumption, yes they have to chrage for that. Yet they are really committed to finding safe and reliable food sources for the world. Both companies have programs helping farmers in 3rd world countries. I’m now totally sold on the idea of GMO’s.

    1. That’s quite an interesting perspective, and I’m glad you shared it. I’ve been able to tour a Cargill research facility and work with their representatives when I worked off the farm. They are a first class company that cares very much about the quality of the food and feed products.

      1. Sorry guys. Big agriculture has become what they have become for one reason only. Corporate profits! The big agriculture, pharmaceutical, and big medicine conglomerates laugh all the way to the bank with their sadly intertwined goals of taking the money of people who just don’t understand what they eat and drink really does matter to the health of the body. We have been “sold” the idea if we have a little gas from eating the pizza (made with GMO wheat!) to “just take the little purple pill” and things will be alright. If that doesn’t work, come into our big shiny new hospitals and we’ll fix you right up! Careful of all the bacterial resistant bugs you might contract and just might kill you. You see, we’ve been prescribing antibiotics like they were candy for the last 20 years or so and many bugs are resistant to all of our pharmaceuticals. Also, please don’t forget that right now, the corporate food lots are pumping your beef and pork and chickens full of antibiotics so the little critters don’t die from the terrible conditions we raise them in before they get sold to be slaughtered and put on your tables for dinner. We have been “sold” the idea that GMO foods are just as good as the “real” foods. Not to worry about the gastric distress caused, fertility issues, diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc., rampant in the American public exacerbated by GMO tainted foods. We have a pill for that or an operation to get rid of that diseased organ! Don’t worry about the loss of the bee population. It can’t be connected to our GMO foods can it?

        An article from Mercola.com below:

        Photographic Adventure Reveals the Frightening Deadness of Genetically Engineered Corn Field

        By Dr. Mercola:
        A science writer documents the frightening lack of life in an Iowa field growing genetically engineered corn—no birds, no insects of any kind, and no bees
        Bees have been dying off around the world for a decade now from a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. A third of the U.S. food supply depends on the honeybee
        GE crops and chemical agriculture in general are prime culprits in the disappearance of bees and other insects, such as butterflies
        Monsanto purchased one of the leading bee research firms in September 2011– one that lists its primary goal as studying colony collapse disorder. The purchase was completed just months before Poland announced it would ban growing of Monsanto’s genetically modified MON810 maize because “pollen of this strain could have a harmful effect on bees”
        Bayer CropScience recently announced plans to build a bee care research facility in North Carolina. The company has already established a global Bayer Bee Care Center at the joint headquarters campus of Bayer CropScience and Bayer Animal Health in Monheim, Germany

        We were once “sold” that cigarette smoking was a socially acceptable way to pass the time. At one point, Doctors recommended smoking Camels!!! Things change now don’t they! Given honest information not supplied by people who have a vested interest in PROFITS like you Brian and Monsanto etc., people could decide to eat the foods that could have prevented their diseases in the first place. Unfortunately Brian, you write as if you are a lawyer for Big Ag. Your comments are right out of the Monsanto play book and the tactics used by the tobacco industry for decades to insure corporate profits. Create enough fear, doubt and confusion, and continue to reap ongoing corporate profits for decades. What’s different now and has changed the landscape is that the internet has exposed the crap you and your Monsanto buddies are attempting to pull over our eyes. We can now choose to be educated by people that don’t have the deep pockets and financial ties to big Ag or medicine.
        Yes, I do get my food from a local organic farmer and I don’t buy the GMO foods I am aware of. Soon it will be easier to know what is produced on your farm when GMO labeling comes to be passed into law which will force you and Monsanto to change your tunes. Educated people will stop buying GMO foods in droves. It has already happened in Europe. Good! Sorry that I can’t support what you grow Brian. Perhaps someday you will choose people over profits with the seeds you plant in the ground and corporations with whom you associate. I can hope that you will choose a different path with the land you have been entrusted to by your father and grandfathers as you steward the land for future generations.

          1. That’s correct. There is no such thing as GMO wheat. Unless, Dr. Tom, you lump conventional breeding in with GMO. Some people do. I’ll say the definitions can get muddy, but there currently is not biotechnology based genetically engineered wheat on the market anywhere.

            1. The first transgenic wheat licensed for sale into the human food-chain (so far only in two countries worldwide, Colombia and the United States)[24] is MON 71800, and it provides resistance to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup by using a CP4/maize EPSPS gene.[

          2. The FDA also states that vitamins have no proven health benefits either.
            Also, there is GMO wheat – you just need better sources:
            The first transgenic wheat licensed for sale into the human food-chain (so far only in two countries worldwide, Colombia and the United States)[24] is MON 71800, and it provides resistance to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup by using a CP4/maize EPSPS gene.

            1. That doesn’t mean it is commercially available to grow, and there is no GMO wheat in Tom’s pizza or in the food supply at all. Plenty of things might exist in an approval database that are not actually in use.

              There are a number of really cool projects out there–my favorite is the nitrogen-efficient wheat that could reduce fertilizer usage. Too bad Greenpeace destroyed the experimental plot, the data was looking really great.

          3. Ha warned by the FDA!!! Like they’ve never been wrong……..
            There is GMO wheat, not wheat approved by the FDA though. Open field testing is BS and many farmers who farm wheat are losing money from the accidental release of Monsantos GMO wheat that was found growing in Oregon. Perfect example of unintended consequences of growing GMO, especially since the field testing supposedly ended in 2005 and is found growing in a field in 2013. HMMMM and hopefully Monsanto will be held liable for the loses to the wheat farmers like Bayer was when the same thing happened years back with their GM rice.

  4. Justine Giles, In Canada where I live, the Canola that is grown for food oil is predominantly from the GMO varieties. It is impossible to differentiate between oil that came from GMO and the oil that came from non-GMO; the genetic marker is in the meal that has been removed. Do you see why labelling then becomes less than worthless in this instance?

  5. A guy who smokes cigarettes every day can tell you nothing bad has happened to him for decades, in fact it calms his nerves and anxiety, which he believes is good for his stress. The tobacco Industry backs this claim also stating their “is no research to substantiate the claims of potential health hazards as mandated by the FDA.”
    Sound familiar?
    You Brian have every right to grow and eat what you want, but do not assume that because you are a proponent of the methods of Monsanto that we should all rollover and accept your view or research data, since we apparently know no better or are confused by “propaganda”. I fear the propaganda is on you, Ive read your Technology Use Guide and Insect Resistance Management/Grower Use Guide and believe it to be a perfect example of everything wrong with Monsanto. Why the heck would I want to let a corporation have sole control of something man has been in control of freely for centuries? Im all for technology, science and research but Monsanto creates GMO crops for the benefit of its bottom line and pesticide industry, not the benefit of man or the environment. Monsantos own website talks about the problems its having with new stronger weeds and insects becoming resistant to the GMO crops and to the Roundup as well. Whats there solution? Use our older pesticides in conjunction with the Roundup – that should do the trick! Another example of this propaganda is when Bill Gates talks about a new GMO rice grain that is able to withstand flooding that occurs readily in many poor nations. Yes! we’re all in with that, but its just a ploy to distract you from what Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, etc. are making 98% of the time – pesticide tolerant crops and new and even more toxic pesticides. Thats what your contract buys you into.
    Why is it that Monsanto aims to dominate the world seed supply, lobbies world governments to employ the use of its products against the overwhelming majority of farmers that do not want it, stifles legislation to ban the labeling of their products(if theyre so good why not announce it?) tramples freedom of choice, and lobbies congress to make illegal what we want?
    This is America. We want companies to compete in an open and free market and on the basis of a good and reputable product, not use billions in assets to monopolize an industry out of free choice.

    1. Using different modes of action does do the trick in many instances. Herbicides should be rotated just like crops should. This prevents resistance. My personally opinion of Roundup tolerant crops in particular is that it was too much of a good thing. It’s a great product, no doubt, but the lesson that should be learned is that we need to think farther into the future to keep all ours tools viable for the long run. Going back to more mixtures of different modes of action is part of the big picture. Why go back to “old” active ingredients. Frankly there is almost zero new chemistry being developed right now.

      One thing I’m hoping to try this year is cover crops. This would planting a non-cash crop near the end of our corn and soybean growing. Through fall and winter these plants will scavenge nutrients and improve soil porosity and health. Stick with it, and proponents say you will be able to cut many of your other inputs including herbicides. http://www.plantcovercrops.com is a great resource I’ve found and just happens to be based out of Indiana and they hold field days not far from here.

      1. Now youre talkin! Leaving out the whole herbicide issue for now, we’ll agree to disagree, Monocultures are what make it easier for pests to attack your crops. You have no other vegetation to attract insects/birds that would help to keep the over abundance of your crops particular pests in balance, a method employed for centuries. Also, GMO crops were created to withstand Glyphosate and certain insects, do you think it has intelligence to differentiate between good and harmful insects?
        Your idea of crop rotation is one of the foundations of sustainable agriculture and it does just what you say, reduces the need for herbicides and this is the single most important issue of this whole food war.
        I urge you to watch this movie released in 2009 and let me know what you think:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN6NLcML6Z0&list=FLTellJ8ylxCn3BXuo8QnplA&index=3&feature=plpp_video

        It spells it out simply how modern methods of agriculture cannot compete with sustainable agriculture on any level except one – volume which you’ll see gives meaning to the cliche “be careful what you wish for.”
        I wish you good luck with your crops and hope you one day find yourself on a successful road with sustainable agriculture. Again I hope youll give the video a watch

        1. Thank you. Herbicides and pesticides can be pretty “smart” and target specific organisms or at least a particular group of them, and you don’t need GMO to make that work. And let’s not forget that organic farms use chemicals too. There is some misconception that farms like mine are monocultures. By definition a corn and soybean rotation is not a monoculture. Since they are two different types of plants, the rotation helps ward off insects and disease. There are certainly farms running a lot of corn on corn, but if you believe the magazines that trend is starting to back off. With cover crops being a growing trend I could add to that diversity.

    2. I’m with you Ron L. What they are doing is totally unnecessary. They need to stop ‘polluting’ our organic/non-GMO/heirloom crops.

    3. I have been trying to see how much the Koch Brothers Money’s are spent.
      And have found they spend millions of dollars fighting anti GMO groups. I Live in Seattle and we lost our war on labeling GMO foods, I think a lot had to do with big money behind the pro GMO groups & maybe little knowledge of GMO’s
      The Koch Brothers have their hands in a lot of destructive things That are bad for our health & our earth they Have an evil agenda & must be stopped!

      1. Why don’t you research how much money George Soros spends on political issues. You might actually learn something…beyond liberal talking points and attacks on the infamous “Koch brothers”

  6. Brian, excellent article. I’m an academic scientist that understands how food is produced and the relevant supply chains. I also understand transgenic technology. I’ve worked for seed companies that sell non-GM hybrids to farmers with the same contracts to not propagate. I spend too much time trying to teach about this technology, its limitations and potential. I get death threats, shouted down in public forums with chants of “MON-SAN-TO” and other unpleasantries from simply volunteering to teach the truth. They don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to know that Bt technology keeps millions of tons of insecticides out of the environment. They don’t want to know that use of glyphosate is less impactful than other herbicides. etc etc etc. They just want to believe the sprinkling of low-quality reports that show some potential for negative effects. Your article is so needed. I can point them to you as one of the 95%-ers. The 95% of farmers that choose, by their own accord, to grow a product that helps them compete in a very difficult space. Thank you.

      1. Ha! Brian, when they call you a stooge for Monsanto you KNOW you’ve arrived!! Thanks for posting and for responding to Ashley with such class. I’m in the same boat as you– everyone says I work for MON, but I’m still waiting for that paycheck!!

        1. When your check comes please tell me if they mine in the envelope with yours. I had the same thought when I saw that post. I must be doing something right. The best part? Since there were no back links to this site I wasn’t aware that post was put up until and organic farmer sent me an email. :)

    1. Are you saying that Europe and the other countries that have banned GMO product are
      operating off of a few “low-quality” reports and that they dont want to hear the truth? They do not have access to top level research scientists that have found Glyphosate has a major negative impact on the environment? Do you have any research to refute the “high quality” reports out there that have shown negative impacts on the human body?
      Im willing to hear your research, but why do you take the tone that youre right and were all ignorant and why does Big Ag have to threaten, sue, bribe our state and federal officials to further its monopoly if the product is so good and beneficial?

      Science is about finding the truth not manipulating it.

      “Bt technology keeps millions of tons of insecticides out of the environment” Bt Tech adresses the insects that destroy the crops, it dosent lessen your weed problem which requires Glyphosate and according to Monsanto, “experiment with using our older herbicides in conjunction with Roundup to attain a more complete strategy for controlling the newer invasive weeds that are cropping up.” Thats not keeping more herbicides off the fields..

      1. Ron, The European practices are about protection of resident industries and sales. Their decisions to not use GMO are not science-based. In fact, there are pockets of GMO crops allowed here and there and more of them showing up soon. What is the “major negative effect of glyphosate to the environment”? You can’t say resistant weeds because that’s a problem with all production, not just transgenic.

        There is no evidence of harm to people. Cells in dishes, maybe, but those are such artificial systems. If the stuff is so bad, yet is 95% of some crop acreage, where are the effects?

        And I do agree the business practices and political relationships are not favorable. However, don’t go after the science because the people that use it may not behave ethically. The science is sound. When you attack the science it takes away from credibility toward other social/business issues.

        That’s the heartbreak for me on the GMO issue. I’m with those that oppose it on every other issue except this one. It frustrates me to listen to the half-truths, manipulation and ignorance because it destroys credibility with respect to so many other important issues we both agree on.

        1. “Europes decision is not based on science,” is a completely false statement that I cant believe would even be ventured by someone who says they stand by science.
          “There are pockets of GMO crops allowed here and there.” Is this a scientific statement showing safety?
          What is the “major negative effect of glyphosate to the environment”? To ask me that would result in me inundating this thread with hundreds of links to peer reviewed research studies – which you’ll probably say isnt based on SOUND science.

          Please, youre not the only one with access to legitimate research, were alot further along in the debate than this elementary analysis of our position.

          Im all about true, unbiased, unmanipulated science that looks at all angles, not the kind of science where the sole purpose is to promote a product or that is conducted solely by a companies researchers or that is mandated by regulating officials paid to protect said companies interests. Im not into folks that subscribe to science when it suits them. Ive looked at and still continue to do so, the latest finds raised by all sides of the debate and Ive gone over this a thousand times. There is sound science that shows harm to people as well as the environment. There are many studies that show this. Why do you label them BS? You tell me to quit attacking the science, well I say, “quit turning a blind eye to the facts in front of you” its there, you just dont want to see it. Im willing to be neutral and at least look at all sides, yet you categorically deny ours as if you have access to info that I dont. Im willing to debate each point with science, but not with individuals that cant come up with anything better than, “there is no evidence that shows.”

          The major corporations fund the research institutions at every major university, do you think these massive donations would keep coming if these studies werent always finding favorable results with the companys dictated aim? A vast majority of research is product oriented, not based on true science and then trumped out to the regulating agencies for their approval. Thats why we always inevitably end up with a shocking news flash that tobacco kills, Mercks Vioxx causes heart attacks, Eli Lillys Prozac causes brain damage and raises suicide risk in depressed individuals. They all came out with SOUND science that the FDA ate up and BSed out to all of us.

          Im not sure what you and I agree on in regards to this issue.

        2. And one more thing, I believe genetically modifying organisms can be of great benefit to man as long as the research is dedicated toward that and not toward getting my product front and center on the store shelf.
          Bill Gates dosent talk about Glyphosate when he mentions the benefits of GMOs, he talks about how Rice can be modified to withstand flooding so that poor countries can feed themselves. A great example of the good it can do,.

      2. “Science is about finding the truth not manipulating it.”
        I’m new to this whole issue and this board. But YOUR quote is priceless. My first question to you Ron is, are you a believer in the whole “global warming/climate change” debate put forward by Al Gore?? My second question to you is, if you believe in the “science” that puts forward the hypothesis as presented by Al Gore, how do you answer questions about the clearly documented manipulation of “science” put forward by Al Gore and his alarmists buddies? Your answers will bring some credibility to your statements here. Or quite possibly just the opposite. You can’t pick and choose the science you want to believe, by manipulating it. So where are you at with Al Gore?

        1. I dont care about Al Gore, but Ill make it simple for you.
          The FDA has no resources to do risk assesment or any other research about the safety of a food product. They leave that to the manufacturer which in this case would be Monsanto. Since I do not trust the FDA with my safety due to the limitless cases theyve mishandled, I do not trust their approvals of Monsantos risk assessments.
          Why even have a regulating agency if theyre going to allow the maker to do the safety study? Ridiculous.
          On top of that, there are several instances where Monsanto has “manipulated” their pesticide risk assessments and environmental impact statements to the FDA.
          So, thats what I mean about “manipulating” science

    2. As a farmer that got a 2 am shot of atropine in the tush after working on the in furrow insecticide system of my planter in my younger days give me seed with bT herculex II or similar tech anyday. GMO tech displaces alot of much harsher more residual chemicals. bT tech changes pH in certain larvae guts as a mode of action, no effect on humans, and that mode of action is the same as the bT sprayed on orgaincs. As far as Glyphosate tolerant gmo’s there is no pesticide action. Thanks for your comments Kevin.

      1. Thanks for the response and your first hand experiences, Jim. I have happened across quite a few people that believe glyphosate and Bt are somehow the same thing. I’ve read quite a number of comments online talking about how seeds are full of glyphosate. I like to say that I’m pro-GMO, but that doesn’t mean I’m anti-organic. I just think there is a lot of bad info floating around out there that gets taken as truth if it fits a narrative.

  7. 9/18/2012
    Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637

    The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb in water), were studied 2 years in rats. In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly.

    1. I saw something about this the other day, and was hoping to look into it further when time allowed. I’ve seen several links that question the statistical methods of the study. The most interesting thing I found was that the type of rat used is widely known to have control animals express tumors within the two year time frame. And the study itself shows that rats fed the larger doses of corn and herbicide actually had lower instances of tumors. So what does that mean if anything? I’ll pull a few quotes from the links I’ve gotten today.

      Science Media Centre
      “Sprague-Dawley rats frequently develop mammary tumours in well-fed controls. Are we to conclude from this that no controls developed tumours?”

      “All the comparisons are made with the ‘untreated’ control group, which only comprised 10 rats of each sex, the majority of which also developed tumours. Superficially they appear to have performed better than most of the treated groups (although the highest dose GMO and Roundup male groups also fared well), but there is no proper statistical analysis, and the numbers are so low they do not amount to substantial evidence. I would be unwilling to accept these results unless they were replicated properly.”

      American Society of Animal Science
      “The researchers claimed that 50 to 80 percent of rats given GM corn or water with low levels of Roundup herbicide had tumors after two years. This is unsurprising. It is common knowledge that the rat strain used in the experiment has a more than 80 percent chance of growing tumors within two years under non-experimental conditions.”

      Monsanto’s GM Corn And Cancer In Rats: Real Scientists Deeply Unimpressed. Politics Not Science Perhaps?
      “The full data set has not been made available, but the findings do not contradict previous findings that genetic modification itself is a neutral technology, with no inherent health or environmental risks.”

      “I am grateful for the authors for publishing this paper, as it provides a fine case study for teaching a statistics class about poor design, analysis and reporting. I shall start using it immediately.”

      1. Where is the common sense? Chemicals are not poison? It is a proven fact mineral content of our vegetable crops have fallen since we started using fertilizers and chemicals. Carrots are off by almost 50%. Any nutrition study we do today will have not have the results of a study done 50 years ago, unless you are using organic foods. And not all organic foods are equal. There was a move in the organic industry when the USDA was brought in as a referee to have different levels of certification. It hasn’t caught on because buyers will not pay for the extra cost of caring for you soil to increase the nutrition in your crops.

  8. You’d think Monsanto would at least know to use the right group of rats in their rebuttal:

    “Even if we were to follow Monsanto’s recommendation and use historical control data in
    evaluating Seralini’s findings, the historical control data cited by Monsanto is invalid
    because it relates to rats of a different origin (SD rats from Charles River Labs) than
    Seralini’s rats (SD rats from Harlan). Seralini took historical data on the Harlan SD rat fully
    into account in his study – and the results still show that the tumour increase and other
    effects were statistically significant. The tumour incidence in the test groups in his study
    was overall around three times higher than the normal rate observed in the Harlan SD rat
    strain he used, as reported in the literature.”
    Much more to it here:
    http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/historical_control_data/historical_control_data_final.pdf

  9. After reading most of the posts I want to add from someone who has gotten ill from eating GMO corn. You are not only eating corn you are ingesting a pesticide split with the corn. Now, I have a sensitive stomach and after testing the difference between eating perfect corn and corn with a worm have come to the conclusion the wormy corn is NoN GMO and I don’t get sick after eating it. I will never eat pesticide corn again. You can sugar coat the GMO all you want but the rich and famous eat organic for a reason. Bottom line GMO’s are making humans and animals sick. Sorry! It is what it is!!!

    1. Joan, I certainly respect the choices you have made and thanks for the comment. What is it that makes you certain it was GMO corn than made you ill? The presence of worms wouldn’t indicate on it’s own whether or not a plant is GMO or not. I have worms on my farm, but at this time I choose to manage them through the plant with Bt traits and/or seed treatments rather than with an over the top application. Bt is a pesticide used in organic production, but I understand that a plant producing it’s own pesticide is the distinction for some people. What do you think about plants that produce their own defenses naturally? Rye is a great example of a popular crop that has allelopathic ability.

      1. Brian are there any commercial popcorn or sweetcorn varieties in commercial production.? I haven’t grown popcorn in 5 years or so but at that time there were none, I know of a few farmers got some bT sweet corn for their own use but just this year, and last I knew the Frito Lay plant in Nebraska only took non-gmo varieties. I think some folks assume it is gmo just because it is corn. As far as worms in the lady’s corn maybe it was sprayed with Asana for earworms, not that there is anything wrong with that labeled ap for earworm.

    2. Plants are loaded with their own pesticides. http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.abstract In fact, because organic farming isn’t helping the plants fight assaults, they may make more of the compounds to do battle.

      Of course, caffeine is also a pesticide. “Coffee contains some 2,000 chemical compounds that give the drink its enticing aroma and flavour, including caffeine, a stimulant and natural pesticide.” http://www.nature.com/news/plant-biotechnology-make-it-a-decaf-1.10212

  10. BBC News – Report sought on India farm suicides

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16281063

    Dec 21, 2011 · Some 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997. Continue reading the main story Related Stories. Films chart despair of India’s farm suicides;
    If this does not expose and convince one of the negative affects of GMO crops and their devastation, then nothing will. I am so thankful for the truth of the matter coming to the forefront through various news outlets like the BBC.

    1. What’s going on in India is awful. Is GMO the root cause? Why do we only seem to hear these stories out of India? Why aren’t American cotton crops failing? I think there’s a lot more sociopolitical nuances at play here than just the method of production.

  11. Brian, I don’t agree with your practices one single bit. I feel you, and other GMO growers are being short- sighted. But, I have been very impressed with this respectful exchange of information and I commend you and the others for keeping it intelligent, instead of turning it into angry bashing. We are individuals who can make our own decisions, so I’ll just add three simple words, which I believe sum it up; RIGHT TO KNOW.

    1. That’s the idea. To have a decent discussion. I don’t care what you think if all you’re going to do is tell the other person how dumb they are. The worst is when I see other farmers name calling and telling someone else how they need to be quiet until they produce all their own food and so on. I’d like to think being calm and delivering my message will make my efforts stand out above the yellers and screamers. Thanks for stopping by!

      What do you think of the way I grow my popcorn? I use all the same practices as my other crops except popcorn is not GMO. Basically the only difference for me between growing corn and popcorn is I can’t spray glyphosate on the popcorn.

      1. I read an article about how a farmer put GMO corn in one trough, and non-GMO corn in another trough, and then let the cattle in just a few at a time and watched what they did. Each group sniffed the GMO corn and moved to the non-GMO. A similar farmer observation was made of pigs. I also heard about geese making a home in a farmer’s soy field only eating the non-GMO soy. Are the animals telling us something? OK, I know I cant’s cite the articles I read, and the “experiments” of course did not fully follow the scientific process(but neither does much of industry’s “experiments” for the FDA), so please don’t waste space dumping all over me for the lack of official scientific proof here.

        One of my big problems with the whole GMO discussion is that, as far as I can tell, gene-splicing has not yet been proven unequivocably safe, yet all the “no-GMO” folks are being demanded to prove how they are un-safe. I have yet to read an unbiased scientific study that proves that GMO food is truly safe for humans to consume long term. Shouldn’t it have been proven safe BEFORE it was allowed into our food supply?

        And another thought–when a pesticide is sprayed on a plant, it can be washed off to some extent. Yes, root crops will pick up some of the chemicals through the soil and that is a concern, but something sprayed on can be washed off, for the most part. When a chemical is genetically modified into a food product, it cannot be washed off. The carcinogen is part of the food. I know this is an over-simplification of genetic modification, but really, how can eating known carcinogens be deemed safe?? ever?!??

  12. If $300 for seed covers 2-3 acres, how does that make a profit with $7 corn and $14 beans? After all, these prices were half that before the drought. Just wondering as an eater…

    1. Of course seed is only one cost but here’s some quick math. A below average crop of 150 bushels/acre X $5 corn = $750. So over 2 acres that one bushel seed bag grossed $1500 in sales on 2 acres.

      And soybean seed doesn’t cost near what a fully traited bag of corn costs. Soybean population can vary as lot, but to keep it simple a bag would cover 1-2 acres.

      I grow waxy corn and regular dent corn. Waxy fetches a premium price and the seed is usually cheaper because we don’t generally purchase a Roundup Ready variety. :)

  13. Reblogged this on The Beef Jar and commented:
    This is hands down one of my favorite blog posts done on the topic of GMO’s and Farmers. There is so much information that is given to us as “fact” by people that have never bought seed or farmer commercially. I love that Brian is so trasparent and so willing to share his thoughts with us! Thank you Brian!

  14. Even if you don’t use the GMO seed, in the case of say soybeans, where the seed is transmitted via the air, your seeds can be contaminated by the GMO’s and could technically be sued correct? Or it can also be contaminated via water runoff from the farms to other farms as well? Correct me if I am wrong in this

    1. Soybeans are self pollinators. They are able to pollinate without the help of insects, birds, etc. This is why I am able to grow soybeans that will be contracted with a seed company for sale the following season as seed to other farmers without a great deal of extra effort. I just need to be careful to thoroughly clean our planting and harvest equipment to make that only that variety is delivered.

      http://www.nsrl.uiuc.edu/aboutsoy/production02.html

      With corn seed planting you have to have male and female rows and the management of pollination is much more intensive and requires removing the pollen filled tassels from some of the rows in order to get the desired hybrid seed at harvest.

      Pollinate cannot occur by water.

      Thanks for your question!

  15. Thanks for writing this. While I’m simply a family gardener and only produce enough food for my family and some of the community, I appreciate the insight into the large-scale process regarding this topic. Your perspective helps increase my understanding, so again- thank you.

    1. Thank you, Dana for your comment. My wife grows a few squash plants and tomatoes at home. This spring I may erect some raised garden beds and try a few things. I raise a couple thousand acres of crops, but I’ve never really been a gardener!

      1. Haha, that’s really funny to read. I don’t consider myself much of a gardener since I have only been doing it for a few years, but I sincerely enjoy the process and the end product. (I don’t enjoy the bugs or the weeding, however.) My husband and I have thought about growing sweet corn on our property in addition to all the other small crops, but I’m hesitant since it seems to be a more difficult crop to maintain here in Texas. (Compared to beans, cucumbers, zucchini, cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots, onions, etc.)

        Got any tips for starting a small-scale plot of corn?

        1. I’m not a sweet corn grower, but the basics are the same. Find out how much fertilizer and what kind you need to grow a nice, healthy crop. Having a soil test done wouldn’t hurt either. For stress the biggest thing with corn is that it has plenty of moisture and good temperatures at pollination. That’s the reason the 2012 corn crap was so poor from the drought. We had very little moisture in the soil if any, and extreme temperatures before, during, and after pollination. Who would want all that stress while having sex?

            1. Thanks. It’s my first time and I highly recommend it! Lots of new comments, and my email has been going off constantly today with new likes and WordPress followers. Great to meet you!

  16. My biggest issue with using GE crops, is that, I, as the consumer do not want to be consuming GMOs. There is not enough information supporting any benefits to a GMO diet (or any at all that I am aware of), and Monsanto is trying to stifle any efforts to push industries to label their foods as containing GMOs. I don’t know to who or what you might sell your crops to, but if you are directly selling to consumers, I would urge you to label your product. Would you be willing to do that?

    Also, while I do not believe in the use of GE crops, it should be up to the farmer. Absolutely. It’s a freedom of choice that should be upheld, but remember that when you sign a contract with Monsanto, it isn’t really your crop any more. It may be on your land, you may reap the financial profits of it at the end of the harvest, but there have been many conventional and organic farmers that have had Monsanto go after them when they did nothing wrong other than be the victim of cross-pollination.

    Thank you for writing this and for opening up such a civil conversation. It is utterly refreshing to not only see such a well articulated blogger on this subject, but well behaved commentators as well :) Best of luck to you in all of your farming endeavor, and may your crops be ever bountiful!

    1. Thanks for the great response! I truly appreciate it. I do not sell anything direct to consumers. If fact the places I deliver my crops to don’t either except for our popcorn. Our popcorn is fortified with biotech by the way, but it is conventionally grown. The main difference from the standpoint of an agronomic practice is that I could spray Roundup on most of my dent corn, but not my popcorn. Basically corn is corn and the nutritional needs, etc are similar regardless of production method.

      It just so happens I’ve written a post that will show you where all our crops go when we deliver them. If you have anymore questions please ask, and thanks for stopping by!

      http://thefarmerslife.com/2011/06/13/where-does-my-harvest-go/

  17. Well put. I enjoyed reading your post! I studied Range Management in college and we touched upon GE and non GE crops and Monsanto just enough to grasp the concepts; so it was great to read about it from your point of view.

  18. You’re a man and a farmer with a face and most likely a family, and what’s the main purpose of your business/farm? Making profits, I assume, it’s fair to say. Now Monsanto is a huge company without a face or a family, and what do you think is their main goal? Profits.

    There are some GMs that are good, some are of questionable purpose, some are most likely bad. Monsanto judges anything as “good” that makes it money, and it knows how to sell. They don’t do anything, because it benefits you as a farmer or me as a consumer. It most likely has a huge marketing department. Not everything is shiny.

    Nobody is saying that you’re not justified to do business in the way you want to if it’s in accordance with the law, but if you don’t see what could possibly be wrong with a licensing system for crop, what’s wrong with crops whose seed can’t even be planted, I have no idea what to say to you.

    1. First off, thanks for saying I have a face. I do run into peole from time to time that think I don’t. If fact I actually have a wife, and kid, and a house with a white picket fence so I must be doing alright!

      Now I’m sure a huge corporation isn’t going to miss my business too much if I quit or change the crops I grow, but something should be said about the fact the farmers do keep buying these seeds. And farmers don’t like to try things for very long that don’t work well. We’ve already got to wait at least a year to see if new ideas work or not.

      You are right. Not everything is shiny. I don’t think biotech is the be-all end-all of agriculture. And there are issues with a few farms who don’t seem to steward the technology as they should. Much more can be done through bettering sound agronomic practices. It’s my belief that the current set of biotech traits protect the top end yields of crops under stress conditions. That does increase average yields over time, but current tech doesn’t directly increase yields.

      There are many patents in play in plant breeding, and you’ll find them not just in GMO. And not all farmers like me are pleased with the system either. Thanks for you commment.

        1. That’s why I’m glad I can break off and farm however I like. I’m not tied down to anything or anyone for a very long period. I understand your concerns, and thanks again for commenting.

    2. Actually Monsanto has a lot of faces, mine is one as I am an employee of the company. If you look at the faces of our corporate officers, you will see people who grew up on farms, who studied agriculture as well as science and business for the most part. Yes, we are a profit-oriented business but our only way to be profitable is by delivering products that farmers like Brian (and our families) want to plant on the farms that have been in families for generations, with water sources that quench our thirst and our children play in on hot days. We do not do anything for a buck as you suggest…. It is simply untrue.

      1. I never said that employees don’t have faces, or at least I’d like to believe that I haven’t. Most corporations are problematic, imho – you can agree or not.
        I don’t blame you for anything that I think is wrong with Monsanto. Neither do I blame a regular BP or Shell employee for anything that those corporations do.
        You’re not involved in the decision-making process after all.

      2. Everyone take some time and go over the history of Monsanto. Its products, its lobbying practices, and the current outcome of those products. Take account of the fact that they were all determined to be safe by either the EPA or the FDA and peer reviewed science.
        Now note that they are almost all now banned and deemed unsafe by those very same agencies.
        Why were they determined safe in the first place? Strong lobbying of Congress by Monsanto resulting in pressure upon our regulating agencies to pass them.
        Why? Because throughout their history their science has always been manipulated to show only favorable results, so they pass the scrutiny of government regulation.
        From Rgbh to Dioxin to PCBs, from petroleum based fertilizer to DDT and non-biodegradable plastics, one has to be a complete fool to believe any scientific finding this company may come up with. Where once it was considered innovative, it is now environmentally destructive. So now here we sit today asking the same questions and ignoring historys lessons
        Its akin to taking Bernie Madoffs word for it that he is reformed and now wants to give back to the people by handling the nations social security fund.
        Dont look at the science here – Look at the track record Sometimes common sense does trump science..

  19. We shop at local farmers’ markets and buy organic as often as possible. We are fortunate to live in the Bay Area near SF and California’s central valley is right next door. Many farmers from the central valley drive to the bay area to sell the organic produce they grow on their small farms, and we are not alone. Every farmers’ market in our area, and there are many, are often packed with people shopping for healthy food choices.

    Curses on corporations such as GE and Monsanto.

    1. You are lucky to have so much diversity in your area, Lloyd. I’m glad you stopped by. This may be a bit off topic, but I’d like to ask about your state’s proposed high speed rail system. Do you have any thoughts on it? I haven’t dug into it deeply yet, but I know a few California farmers who aren’t thrilled about it and a few that don’t seem to mind. My understanding is it will cut right through the Central Valley which is one of the most productive areas for agriculture on the planet. Thanks for your time.

      1. I haven’t given the proposed high-speed rail project in California much thought before now other than that high speed rail (HSR) may be an overdue project because Japan, Europe and China all have invested heavily in high speed rail to move people and products to market faster.

        For example, China has thousands of km of high speed rail but the United States has none yet.

        In Europe, high speed rail links cities like a spider web from Spain to Germany.

        In Japan, moved over a billion passenger miles annually.

        Then there are long term environmental benefits. Worldwatch cites the Center for Neighborhood Technologies’ analysis of greenhouse gas emissions, which reveals that HSR lines produce 30-70 grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometer, compared to 170 for airplanes and 150 for automobiles.

        However, I have driven through the central valley many times and there’s a lot of land that is not used to grow food. If the high speed rail project stays close to route five or runs through the foothills west of the freeway, the interstate that I used to drive from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, it will not take much land away from farmers. I imagine that if we added up the total crop land that is taken out of service due to this high rail system if it is ever built, that acreage will sound impressive but how much will each productive farmer lose and could the state compensate them with land that is not in use. After all, the US still pays farmers billion each year not to grow produce.

        In addition, I suspect if we went back to the time Interstate 5 was being built through the central valley we would find unhappy farmers then too. Yet, building this highway opened up a faster way for the farmers to move their produce to the cities. Imagine how long it would take for those farmers to reach the urban farmers’ markets where I have shopped in Southern California and the Bay Area.

        In fact, in China and other countries, there is a new technology knows as Maglev (magnetic levitation) and these HSR lines are raised off the ground leaving a very small footprint after construction so if California were to use Maglev technology for its HSR, then eventually most of the farm land would be under the raised Maglev lines and back in production in a few years. I’ve ridden the Maglev line that runs from Shanghai to Pudong International airport and it is quite and experience even at the reduced speed of 180 km per hour. That Maglev line in China is capable of much faster speeds. China has even proposed building a HSR line from Beijing across Russia to Europe.

        Meanwhile, the US has only one HSR line running from Boston to Washington D.C. but it only runs at an average speed of 84 mph (135 km/h). By comparison, high-speed trains between Tokyo and Kyoto run an average speed of 137 mph (220 km/h).

        1. Looks like you’ve given it a lot of thought! More than I have anyway. You make a good point about a limited number of acres being affected once it’s all said and done. A new highway was just completed across the Northern half of Indiana. We weren’t affected but their is a lot of land swapping and payments made, etc. Farms that end up on both sides often have to find ways to trade or sell/buy ground because it may be a great distance to travel between exits to get from one part of your farm to another if you don’t make a change. On this highway though, they’ve made a lot of overpasses out of main county roads which ought to mitigate that situation. Thanks a lot for that response, Lloyd.

  20. I think a lot of people have problems with the fact that if GE seeds drift over to another farmer’s field and the farmer sells his crops with the crops grown from GE seeds, the company that created the GE seeds can sue the farmer for selling their products without lisence or authorization, whether the farmer knew he was selling crops grown from GE seeds or not. At least, that’s one of my problems with GE seeds.
    Also, I’m not sure if GE seeds are as great as people seem to think. After all, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of talk on mutations or health risks with GE seeds, at least none that I’ve heard.

    1. I think you’re right, but I also think those claims get exaggerated. I’m not saying it hasn’t happenen, but what I do know is seed companies have on occasion gone after farms who knowingly and willingly set aside some patented seed to use for planting another crop. Percy Schmeiser is the one case that gets the most attention. It’s my understanding that he found some Roundup Ready canola in a field of his while spraying along the field boundary for weeds with Roundup. Somehow some of the canola was sprayed and some of it didn’t die like it should have in a non-resistant field. Then he or a farmhand went out and selected for Roundup resistant canola and harvested the seeds from those plants to grow another crop the next year. That’s the kind of case I think they go after. I admittedly need to dig deeper and find out if there’s real evidence of a corporation taking a farm to task over accidental contamination.

      Here are a couple links about the outcome of the Schmeiser case. One from and organic group, one from Monsanto, and one from the man’s own website.
      http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/schmeiser.cfm
      http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/percy-schmeiser.aspx
      http://www.percyschmeiser.com

  21. I wish there were more farmers where I live (Florida). There’s a lot of citrus farms but they get destroyed every once in a while from diseases. Most things have to be imported.

    1. I know citrus crops can be risky at times. I believe if they are in danger of a major frost the farmers mist the trees with water. That way the water freezes and insulates the fruit from damage.

  22. Thanks for writing this. There is so much misinformation about this stuff floating around, getting confused with people’s general mistrust of large corporations and new technology. It’s great to read a temperate, informed opinion.

    1. You are welcome and thanks for taking the time to read this. I’ve been wrapped up in a twitter convo the last few days about labeling biotech products. I’m not necessarily against labeling, but I think right now many of the people most in favor of labeling are spreading a lot of bad information. Whether they know they have bad/misleading info is another issue. I’m all for people making their own choices. I just hope they can do it with good information, not propaganda. That goes both ways too. I have to shake my head when I see another farmer with an operation like mine tell someone they need to pipe down because he grows the food and the other guy needs to eat it and like it.

  23. Here is a link to some studies done by a doctor on long-term consumption of GMO’s. Makes sense to me. Compare America’s health problems to those of Non-GMO consuming countries. Sometimes I feel like a guinea pig.
    ““This is the first time that a long-term animal feeding trial has examined the impact of feeding GM corn or the herbicide Roundup, or a combination of both and the results are extremely serious. In the male rats, there was liver and kidney disorders, including tumors and even more worryingly, in the female rats, there were mammary tumors at a level which is extremely concerning; up to 80 percent of the female rats had mammary tumors by the end of the trial.” – Patrick Holden, Director, Sustainable Food Trust.”

    http://thearrowsoftruth.com/tag/dr-michael-antoniou/

    1. If you read the coverage of this study here http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/20/science/la-sci-gmo-food-study-20120920 you’ll see that the sample sizes were TINY – just ten rats per treatment group. Differences reported of 30% or 50% or whatnot therefore mean just one or two rats – not scientifically significant at all. This is not good science; there is not enough data to draw any conclusions from this study. I do hope someone does a study like this with a proper sample size, but in the meantime, this study is not cause for alarm.

    2. There has been a lot of talk about that study in the scientific community. The two parts I’m most interested in are the rats of which the vast majority of this breed get tumors no matter what in a two year life span. Also the rats feed the highest doses of GM corn and glyphosate and their water fared just as well as the or even better than the control group. Biofortified breaks it down for us here. http://www.biofortified.org/2012/09/gm-corn-and-cancer/

      Applied Mythology is also another great resource from some very smart people on such issues.

  24. Reblogged this on Agriculture Proud and commented:
    If you’re concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMO) and the farmers that grow these crops, this post from my friend, Brian Scott, is worth the read. Today WordPress’ Freshly Pressed blog featured this post where Brian discusses his use of GM crops and how he works with the technology and Monsanto. Brian even includes a PDF of his 2011 Monsanto Agreement. Definitely worth a read if you want to learn more about GMOs from a Farmer’s point of view.

    1. If we have bred the nutrition and true healing priperties out of wheat by selecting for yield and baking qualities, causing people to become allergic, what do you suppose happens when you splice genes together to have the corn grow a bacteria inside the plant itself? There have been no long term studies done at all. Maybe the reason those lab rats get rumors regularly is from all the chemicals already in their food and its really not surprising it gets worse with GMO’s.

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  26. You are clearly knowledgeable about your subject and passionate in your writing. While I believe we will one day discover the unintended side effects of GMOs and live to regret it, few of us are doing anything today to restrict their use. In fact, by many of our lifestyle decisions, we are contributing to them.

    I lived on 7 1/2 acres in Upstate New York, worshipped and worked alongside many Mennonite farmers, and did a good bit of “homesteading” with my wife. We grew or raised a lot of our food and bartered for most of the rest.

    Yet, I was not satisfied. I chose to leave the farm and move to a city where I now live alone in a 1 bedroom apartment and shop at a mega-supermarket like the rest of the masses.

    You keep up the good work. Keep supporting your family. Keep your eyes open. And keep writing. You have a gift.

      1. Yes, I live on the southside of Indy (though I also spend a good deal of time in Columbus, IN). I grew up in Greenwood and went to Hanover College (on the IN/KY border). So, I have Hoosier blood.

  27. Thank you, Brian: I like your honest, balanced hardworking perspective. Thank you for working hard to grow good food.

    We all have different views that come from our different experiences. We have different perspectives on what can seem to be confusing information out there. Good scientific research on both sides can seem to prove opposite things, and we’re not all close enough to understand why that is. When you get close, you can often see that different truths are the focus.

    Those of us who struggle with sensitivities and allergies to foods that used to seem safe can’t help but wonder what’s going on. The info and response we are seeing from other non-gmo using countries is interesting, but that’s not cause for us to call our farmers names and make the assumptions that they have sold us out. We’re all doing the best we can each in our corner.

    There is beginning evidence that there may be many other reasons for wheat to affect our thyroid in negative ways and create sensitivities, including the fact that we don’t sprout it anymore to neutralize the phytates naturally occurring in seeds for their protection and preservation. But, there again… information found from a specific medical practitioner who studied ancient food preparation techniques and their affects on health. Makes me wish we had all this info in one place and we were all working toward the goal of combining facts rather than shooting down the ones we didn’t like.

    Keep up the good work, Brian! I’ll do the same in my corner as I grow my own food and sprout my wheat. :-)

    1. Great comment, thank you! I always try to keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation. A chart I saw posted a few days ago illustrated this in a sarcastic manner by showing the increase in organic food sales following nearly the same trend as increased causes of autism. Nobody really thinks that is the case, but that’s how a lot of people seem to get their information these days. If X, then Y, then it must be true, no further review needed, right?

      Here’s an interesting post that came across my facebook feed yesterday with a little bit of history about modern wheat varieties.

      http://www.thebestgrains.com/wheat-improvement-the-truth-unveiled

  28. Great Post! I absolutely agree with you! Thanks for sharing your ideas on encouraging to supply and grow our own food. Controlling our own food protects us from health threats and massive food prices that we are experiencing nowadays. BTW. Well deserved and it is such an informative post. Congratulations for being on Freshly Pressed!

  29. Thank you for posting the other side of the story! I’m not ever sure what the believe about the “evils” of GMOs, so it was nice to read about an actual farmer’s perspective for once. This was very helpful and educational for someone like me… I’m obsessed with learning about America’s food production and its affects!

  30. I read this earlier this year from another site (maybe Slate?) that linked to it. I really enjoyed your perspective. Thanks!

    1. If Slate linked to it that’d be awesome, but I haven’t seen anything like that yet. I know a lot of people have shared this post though. Thanks for stopping in.

  31. Reblogged this on thewordpressghost and commented:
    OK. I like what Brian was trying to say. I think.

    But.

    I am not certain I like GMO farming. (GMO is Genetically Mutated Organisms). I know some of that is the fear I was programmed with growing up under the threat of a nuclear apocalypse.

    But, I also know Monsanto is having problems with the Round Up treated crops not being pest resistant, and it is NOT shown to be SAFE.

    AND TO ME, food should be safe. Cheap is ok. But, safe is what we had for thousands of years. Now, I am not certain I want cheap and unsafe ….

    So, Brian, how does GMO give me safer food?

    I understand the ‘occupy’ concept. And I think your using it was clever – very clever.

    But, how will ‘biotech’ make my food safer? How will modified (mutated) food make me safe? Or, will it make me sick?

    Ghost.

    1. Thanks for the reblog and the questions, Ghost.

      GMO actually standards for Genentically Modified Organisms. Mutation isn’t really the correct term. Now it is true that there are weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate (Roundup). Resistance is an issue that must be dealt with whether you are growing biotech crops or not. Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides need to be rotated in their use just like crops should be in a rotation. Not all pesticides act by the same mode of action. Now although resistance is a problem we deal with no matter what, it’s my belief that Roundup Ready was almost too much of a good thing. It worked so well that I think some farmers forgot that basic rotation principle for a while. Roundup killed all your weeds. You didn’t need to use herbicides mixed together or apply different modes of action for different types of weeds. The advent of RR crops let you spray fields with one relatively cheap and very effective product. Roundup is still very effective today, but that mindset of only using one product likely increased selection pressure for resistance to a high level in some weeds. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, right? Before RR I spent a good amount of my summer vacations walking hundreds of acres in the summer heat with a weed hook in hand trying to take down the worst weed patches in soybean fields. That’s not a job I miss, although I do get some weed hook work in on a small scale each year. Mostly if we happen to get volunteer corn in our popcorn crop.

      On my farm we don’t see a great deal of problems with resistant weeds. Keep in mind if you see a farmer’s field riddled with what appears to be a resistant weed, that doesn’t indicate a bad farmer. Those weed seeds could have come from anywhere. Back to my farm. We grow a fair amount of waxy corn and popcorn. The waxy we buy generally isn’t Roundup Ready, and there’s no such thing as RR popcorn. So in a way we are forced to rotate herbicides just like we rotate our corn and soybean crops each year. Rotating the crops is import because they are susceptible to different diseases, etc. Farms are also starting to see resistance to corn borer. This seems to be mainly occurring in Eastern Iowa and into Illinois. Reports I have read are suggesting this resistance is stemming from farms that are in a continuous corn after corn rotation, and maybe some of them aren’t even planting a refuge. A pet peeve of mine is people who won’t steward technology properly.

      In the case of the crops I grow that are GMO, corn and soybeans, I don’t know that they actually make the food safer for you in a direct manner. Now that doesn’t mean the food is unsafe. I think some of the perceived problems with biotech may come from the fact the nearly every trait on the market benefits the farmer, not the consumer. At least not in a way you can see easily at the grocery store. With Bt corn it’s a rare situation when I have to come back during the season and treat any fields for insects. That means I don’t have to spend money to send another piece of equipment across my land which saves cost, fuel, labor, water for carrying the insecticide, and potentially causing more yield-robbing soil compaction. That’s great for me and the environment, but it’s hard for you to see that savings in food prices. Of course there’s the old argument organic farms use Bt pesticides. I’m using the same pesticides, but I understand that some people don’t like the fact that the chemical is in the crop and not on it where you can wash it off. Totally understand if one chooses not to eat that. Now I do like to ask people from time to time what they think of crops that produce their own pesticides naturally without any help from genetic engineering. I find many people don’t realize that many plants do this naturally. The example I use most is rye. Do a search for “rye allelopathy” and see what comes up. Plants can be naturally resistant to herbicides too. Go spray 2,4D on some grass. It won’t die.

      I encourage you to check things out for yourself and draw your on conclusions. Two places I like to visit often are Applied Mythology and Biofortified. Theses blogs are written by scientists that work with these issues everyday. Thanks again and let me know if you have anymore questions!

      1. You encourage me to check it out.

        Have done so.

        And no, it is not modified, it is MUTATED. Forced mutation without the historic generations necessary to see if the mutations are safe or dangerous.

        All GMO should be marked as such. The inherent danger of our current food supply is SCARY.

        But, profit is king.

        1. I don’t really have a problem with a label like “May contain GMO ingredients” or something similar. My problem is the pushing of bad information (whether or not one knows their info is questionable) with the idea that ends justify the means. I’m sure it’s no secret than some of the most strident label supporters would like to see biotech disappear altogether.

          1. Brian,

            Thank you for your comments.

            Biotech is NOT GMO. But, like you said. Your ends justify your means.

            GMO is not safe. It is known to make a significant portion of the population sick. It makes cattle sick – and leads to greater incidence of deadly strains of food poisoning.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/will-genetically-modified_b_145320.html

            http://www.foodmatters.tv/_webapp/the%20truth%20is%20out%20on%20genetically%20modified%20foods%20-%20and%20it's%20not%20pretty

            There is a HUGE difference between biotech and not safe …. we have done biotech for centuries – mutating food stocks has been a RECENT adventure.

            ghost.

              1. Ryan, for years one of the greatest horror movies has been “Frankenstein.”

                I live most of the year in Ukraine. MUCH BETTER food. What we used to grow here in the USA. Our food had become less healthy.

                Why do you now ask for sound science?

                First, how can science be unsound?

                Second, why haven’t you provided studies showing that GMO’s are safe long term?

  32. Thanks, Carrie, for linking to Brian’s site. Excellent job, Brian, of being calm, reasonable, and PATIENT! Haha! It’s refreshing, and you will help undecided people to at least be skeptical of the ad nauseum spread of misinformation. Well done, Sir!

  33. Not a fan of genetic engineering at all but I just wanted to say I enjoyed your account of farming with GMOs & thanks for what must easily be one of, if not the, most pleasant blog on this topic in the entire blogosphere!

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  35. Well written, Brian. I am a farmer myself in Saskatchewan, and rather than GM corn, I grow GM canola and soybeans. It might surprise some to learn that my canola doesn’t have any connection to Monsanto; rather, it is produced by Bayer CropScience and uses entirely different chemistries for weed control.

    I think what is getting lost here is that I have all kinds of choices about what to grow. I could grow wheat, barley, oats, peas, lentils, flax, camelina, and many other options. None of these are GMOs, and none of them are in any way affected by Monsanto. Let me reiterate: Monsanto has NO control over my farm and what I grow. The only time I have to deal with them is when I choose to grow canola or soybeans (if they are Roundup Ready, that is). Why do I choose to grow them? I choose to grow these crops because they are profitable options for my farm so that I and my family can make a living in the greatest business on earth.

    1. There is a reason why Monsanto chooses to make GMO corn, canola,soybean, sugar beets, alfalfa, and soon to be wheat. It being that these are the major components of just about every manufactured food item in existence today. Its a smart way to monopolize the food industry, so while you feel you have a right to choose what to grow, it does not address the needs of consumers right to choose foodstuffs made without GMOs.
      Just as any other corporate entity would, Monsanto will use all its political clout and assets to dominate the agricultural industry to what I believe comes to a point of total eradication of organics and anything non-GMO.

      I also wonder if what you call the greatest business on earth would be so without government subsidization, at least in the United States.

      1. Huh? Monsanto has about 12 billion in revenue in a year. Walmart food division makes 12 billion in revenue in 3 weeks. There are 16 grocery chains that make more then Monsanto in revenue. The food processing companies like General Mills and Kraft dwarf Monsanto, Kraft alone dwarfs the whole seed and agricultural chemical industry all together combined. John Deere is almost 3 times as big as Monsanto and these are just US companies.

        Yet I am supposed to believe Monsanto is the heart and soul of some ebil plane to run everything? Give me a break you cats give them way to much credit.

        Monsanto chose corn and soy because they are the largest cash crops there is both in the US and the world food supply. That is where the money is to be made basically. Its not about control just look at a Pioneer seed catalog or call there sales rep they will sell you any seed you would like. GMO or non GMO and there are hundreds of non GMO options for dent.

        And give me a break again on the destruction of the Organic industry. Its 2 percent of the market even with its growth rates it wont be a threat for decades. But then in decades it wont be an issue because all the forest will have to be clear cut to plant organics because they don’t have the yields.

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