Here at One Green Planet, many of us know all too well the dangers that surround GMO foods. So, when news arises that farmers are opting out of using GMO seeds in favor of conventional seeds, it’s cause for a little celebration.
But, the farmers cited in a recent Modern Farmer article aren’t opting out for “ideological” problems – instead, it’s to save money. Chris Huegerich of Iowa is one such farmer. Beginning with his father’s choice to use GMO seeds, Hueregerich recounts the story of seed for his family’s crops to Modern Farmer:
Buying seeds used to be a fairly simple matter. Farmers picked four or five varieties offered by a regional dealer, and that was that. But in the mid-1990s, biotech companies started producing seeds genetically modified with traits from other organisms. One trait made soybeans resistant to the herbicide glyphosate; another, using a protein from the soil bacterium Bt, helped corn fend off the insects rootworm and European corn borer.
Huegerich’s father eagerly embraced the new genetically modified (GMO) seeds. They cost more, but he could save money on herbicides and pesticides. His yields and profits went up, helped in part by good weather and favorable market conditions. But as revenue rose and the years passed, trouble was looming.
“Five years ago the traits worked,” says the strongly built Huegerich, who followed in his father’s footsteps and planted GMO seeds. “I didn’t have corn rootworm because of the Bt gene, and I used less pesticide. Now, the worms are adjusting, and the weeds are resistant. Mother Nature adapts.”
Thus, in the name of keeping costs down, he used more conventional seeds, and found that “conventional fields yielded 15 to 30 more bushels per acre than the GMO fields, with a profit margin of up to $100 more per acre.”
Apparently, farmers all over the country are abandoning GMO seeds because they are “becoming fed up with traits that don’t work like they used to. Not only are the seeds expensive (GMO corn can cost $150 more per bag than conventional corn), they’re also driving farmers to buy and apply more chemicals.”
In other words, GMO seeds are not only modified; they also often have more chemicals than their conventional counterparts.
Either way, it might be hard to tell which kind of apple you’re actually buying when it lands in the local grocery story. Even if it is conventional, it could be loaded up with pesticide residue. The answer? Buy organic whenever possible — you’ll avoid both GMOs and excess pesticides.
For more on this issue, check out the entire Modern Farmer report here.
Image Source: Brian Giesen/Flickr