GMO’s and Pesticides: Good or Bad?

Did you know that GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) actually reduce pesticide use? If not, now you do! Now let me tell you why.

 

GMO’s allow farmers to use non-selective herbicides to protect their crops from weed pressure. This means that one pass of the herbicide will dessicate all weeds, but not the crop. Although this introduces the potential issue of weeds becoming herbicide resistant, that problem is quickly resolved with herbicide rotation. As well, GMO’s allow farmers to spray less insecticides as the seeds are already treated with them. This means that there is no insecticide residue left on the harvestable grain of the crop, except for the occasional year with extreme infestations of pests. Not only does this help the environment, it allows the consumer peace of mind.

 

Consumers need become more educated on why GMO’s are used and how useful they are for farmers. Many people believe that GMO’s have caused increased pesticide use with herbicide resistant crops, but that claim is false. It has increased the use of two common herbicides, glyphosate (roundup) and glufosinate (liberty). However, these herbicides have the same effect with one pass at a low rate, then conventional herbicides that require a minimum of two passes at heavier rates. People are becoming very concerned with herbicide resistance, but farmers have been overcoming herbicide resistance for more than 30 years. In conclusion, all people should look up facts and actual farmers before listening to propaganda found on the internet. Have a great week y’all!

Are GMO’s connected to allergy outbreaks?

I’ve heard a lot lately about how genetically modified foods are causing increasing rates of allergies in our population. So naturally, I decided to look it up. As a matter of fact, genetically modified foods are not causing any more allergies than conventional or organic foods.

 

The most recent debate I have seen was discussing the topic that genetically modified wheat was causing an increase in gluten allergies, as well as celiac disease. This is not the case! A study has proven that one reason for seeing the increase is that we are not feeding our children wheat products at a young enough age. Without the exposure to the allergens in those wheat products, a child’s immune system does not adapt to them and therefore the child becomes allergic to them. I have heard many people say this, and they believe it no matter who they hear the ‘fact’ from.

 

These arguments that I hear day to day are very frustrating. There are so many environmentalist groups that are against GMO’s that do not look up facts. People hear on the news, or from another uneducated consumer, that GMO’s are bad and they continue to spread the rumours. People need to learn to look up facts for themselves, and ask for proof behind what they share with others. This allergy argument goes back to my last post, stating that this false knowledge consumers share amongst eachother is a mental myth, not physical fact.

 

I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again. Society needs to learn to look at facts instead of false mindsets that are impeding positive biotechnology.

Is organic food healthier?

Conventional or organic foods are not healthier than genetically modified(GM) foods. The urban myth that organic food is healthier has been proven wrong in numerous studies. Since food security issues are increasing worldwide, we as a population should be focusing our attention on issues that actually matter.

 

Through many recent studies, it has been proven that the misconception of organic food being healthier then GM foods is mental, not physical. Some people believe that since their food has been produced on an organic farm, or the seed was not genetically modified, that it is healthier, and will taste better. However when they are given an unlabelled sample of each, they cannot tell the difference. Also, recently there have been many debates and discussions breaking out about food security. Food security is something everyone deserves, yet many do not have it. This issue is becoming very prevalent as our population steadily increases.

 

I believe that if someone chooses to consume organic foods instead of GM foods, they can. They can encourage their friends to do the same. However they should not be attempting to scare the general public away from GM foods. GM crops yield higher than organic or conventional crops do, and are more sustainable to the producer and the environment. The fact that a mental image of organic food being healthier than GM foods is frustrating. Not only does it discredit GM foods, it takes away from the reality that there is a lack of food security in the world. In conclusion, I would like to see all people, pro-GMO or not, to focus on the issue of global food security and not the frivolous false mentality of organic food being healthier then GM foods.

 

Why not conventional?

There is no problem with conventional crops.  The problem arises when farmers are needed to feed an increasing population, with a decreasing number of farmers.  To put it simply, genetically modified crops are a wonderful technology that have allowed farmers to grow crops above and beyond what they ever dreamed was possible.  I have listed three of the most important reasons, in my opinion, why farmers grow genetically modified crops below.  

1. Conventional crops do not yield as well.  I have heard a lot of people say that conventional crops yield just as much as genetically modified crops do, but that is not the case.  Although an individual plant may yield better when grown in a garden with ideal soil and irrigation, it does not pan out in the field.  Genetic modifications have made some crops resistant to some insects in the soil, as well as soil-borne diseases that have the ability to destroy a crop.  In addition, standard plant breeding methods (male + female = F1 hybrid) have been breeding the best to the best to create the best possible corn plant.

2. Conventional crops are not resistant to low-cost herbicides.  Glyphosate (roundup) is the cheapest herbicide on the market today and as a business, farms need to be economically efficient as well.  As well, contrary to popular belief, there are many conventional herbicides still used.  However, as any financial manager would say, cost efficiency is one of the most crucial parts to any business and as farms have been forced to become larger, there has been more expenses arise.  Although some years provide a farm with a significant profit, there is never a guarantee as we are constantly battling mother nature, as well as an open market.

3. Environmental benefits.  The conventional herbicides that are still used today are not as environmentally friendly as glyphosate.  As stewards of the land, farmers are constantly trying to improve their soil structure, stability, and health.  Some herbicides used in conventional corn can stay active in the ground for up to 3 years!  As well, genetic modification has helped to improve plant size, as well as the size of a plants roots.  This adds more organic matter to the soil, and a larger root system allows a better soil structure.  

In my opinion, these are the three main reasons why farmers grow genetically modified crops.  Other people may have a different opinion.  However, with the consumer demand, and the steadily decreasing number of people in agriculture, genetically modified crops have become necessary if we want to feed a growing population.  As always, please comment your thoughts and opinions, or just shoot me an email directly at joshua.burrows4@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading, have a fantastic week!

What is a GMO?

So I figure I should lay out exactly what a GMO is for any of you are unsure, or may have heard a false definition.  The definition of a GMO stated by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.  Genetically Modified Organisms are not a Frankenstein creation born in a lab, they are an alteration of an original seed.

There is much confusion on this topic, as many people have different views of GMO’s and many activists stretch the definition to try to push their opinion.  There is an extreme lack of respect for opposing opinions when it comes to discussing Genetically Modified Organisms.  Some of the common misconceptions I will be covering in the next few weeks will include pesticides, insects, and food safety.

My opinion on this topic is that GMO foods are very safe.  I am not saying they are safer then organic, but that the two are equal, and I have evidence to back that up.  However, I am aware that I am never done learning.  When people ask me questions, or make a point to me that I have not heard of before, I research it and I may realize I was wrong.  I believe this is one of the most important qualities when dealing with controversial topics, because issues can get out of hand very quickly.  I look forward to more comments, and to continue to answer your questions! Thanks for reading.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Fact VS Fiction

Hello readers!

My name is Joshua Burrows and I have decided to start up a weekly blog regarding the facts and fiction based around Geneticaly Modified Organisms, more commonly known as GMO’s.  I am from a mixed farm located in Binbrook, ON where my family maintains a 120 sow farrow-to-finish hog operation along with 600 acres of cash crops.  I am currently in my fourth year at the University of Guelph, studying to major in the area of Crop Science.  With this background I have seen and understand both the farmer and the consumer’s point of view.  I plan to use this knowledge to educate consumers on the facts and fiction on GMO’s.

Living in the City of Guelph and educating consumers at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) has given me an eye-opening view of how un-educated some consumers are on where their food comes from.  I have heard countless negative comments on GMO’s from a wide variety of people, many of which who have never even been to a farm.  This vast lack of knowledge has frustrated me over the last few years, so I am hoping that I can utilize this blog to educate these consumers.  

In the past I have tried dealing directly with protesters I have seen, or talking about it during presentations in class.  In Toronto at the CNE, I have talked to people who just simply wouldn’t listen.  With all of these attempts failing, it has become very frustrating to watch people refuse to accept some truths about this modern technology, or to understand the food crisis situation we are in.  I am not focussing on simply one topic, but many.  If there is a fact you are questionable about, shoot me an email at joshua.burrows4@gmail.com, or post it in a comment.  If I say something you have questions about, post your comments! I love a good discussion and will answer as quickly as possible.  

However, I am out of time and must be going to get some chores completed before the pigs start to get hungry.  I look forward to your comments, and hope to teach you a new fact next week!