Why Do We Need GMOs?

Yesterday I listened to an interview of a farmer in Indiana who currently grows non-GMO soybeans on his farm because consumers are willing to pay more for this premium product.  Next year he doesn’t plan to grow them anymore.

Why?  What’s wrong with regular ol’ beans and why would a farmer choose GMOs, even if the others pay better?

Well, I can answer that will a little more from my tour of Monsanto.  If you missed it, be sure to catch the first two posts, What is A GMO? and Can You Eat Like Your Ancestors!  If you’re up to date, please continue. 🙂

Why do farmers use GMO crops?

This particular farmer (as do all farmers) was having trouble with weeds in his fields.  Weeds are a problem because they use resources, like nutrients from the soil, water, and sunlight you wanted for your crop.  The competition can cause crops to produce less food.

Famers of the past, and those that grow non-GMO products, used a combination of products to kill the weeds, often applying them two or three times to kill those weeds.  That costs in time, money, and harm to the environment.

GMOs were created so farmers could spray a product one time and kill weeds more efficiently.  Scientists had the idea to make a spray that interferes with a protein in photosynthesis.  Then they created a seed that was protected from the spray.  Dead weeds, less chemical.  All around win.

Another problem solved by GMOs is the damage from pests.

Why do farmers use GMO crops?

This works a little like a vaccination.  Scientists take DNA that protects from certain insects and put it into the seed, “turning it on” like we discussed in Monday’s post in the roots or leaves, and keeping safe from bugs.  In the above photo three healthy soybean plants were infected with disgusting caterpillar things (scientific term) on June 11th.  (And moved into that case on the 16th, if you’re wondering about the bottom date.)  I took this picture on June 18th.  You can see the damage done in just seven days.

Why do farmers use GMO crops?

I wish I’d gotten clearer pictures of the labels under each plant so I could show you better, but I’m sure you can guess the nice looking plant on the bottom right is the GMO designed to taste nasty to the pests.  Our guide said the caterpillars figure it out and after a quick bite, never go near the GMO plant again.

It works with corn as well:

Why do farmers use GMO crops?

Hopefully you can read those signs a little better.

In addition to killing pests and weeds so the plants can grow and produce well, GMOs also keep those two little problems out of the combine and away from the food that is trucked into town.  Since a combine can’t tell the difference between Johnson grass and corn, anything growing in the field gets pulled into the equipment– even nasty caterpillars.

So the farmer I heard interviewed was going back to GMOs.  It means less spraying for weeds, less damage to plants, less loss of income, and better for the everyone.

Categories: Food, Science | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Why Do We Need GMOs?

  1. Thanks for posting about this, Kelly. It’s good to hear someone sanely and calmly explaining things that so often get misconstrued.

  2. Vicki, I don’t know what Kelly will say, but I’ve been able to trace my food issues back to when I used antibiotics to treat serious infections that killed off my natural gut flora. I’m grateful that we have antibiotics–and they saved my life. I just didn’t know to rebuild my gut afterwards and it caused problems for me. Now that I’m on a good probiotic routine I can eat almost anything. I do a combo of homemade kombucha, yogurt, and commercial probiotic supplements.

  3. vrein11

    I have been finding your posts very informative. Thanks so much for explaining these things so well. And in a way I can understand! I still wonder however, why we are seeing such a rise in problems digesting wheats, glutens and so many more food related problems in our bodies.

    • Hey Vicki, I’ve been searching for a good answer for you but the problem is no one knows exactly. It could be as Angela suggested, that antibiotics mess with our systems. I’ve seen some that believe it is related to our clean lifestyles and how we don’t use our immune systems as intensely. There are those who say we see it more now because we can diagnose and treat instead of letting people to grow weak and become susceptible to illness.. Perhaps some is misdiagnosis or misunderstanding of the problem. (9 out of 10 people choose a gluten-free diet based on self diagnosis.)

      I think the disservice we do to those who struggle with food issues is selling them on hype instead of the facts. GMOs have been more throughly tested than any other food product. It might be more beneficial to study another cause than to stubbornly insist we just know.

      Glad to hear you enjoy the blog!

      • vrein11

        There are so many possibles in our world today. It is truly hard to say. I do know that some people just feel better when they are not eating wheat products. I know that much of the problem is actually that wheat is literally in EVERYTHING. So much of the problem could just be over use.
        thanks for your thoughtful reply.

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