We live in a divided world where issues of all types are often divided with a 50/50 split. A good example of this is the last few US elections where both the Democratic and Republican parties were close to the 50% mark. The population in the United States was in effect divided right down the middle. This type of attitude carries over with other issues as well.
For example, let’s take the controversial issue of genetically modified crops. There are two distinct sides to whether genetically modified seeds are good or bad. Scientists and seed companies are generally on the side of genetically modified seeds being good whereas environmental groups and nutritionists are on the side of genetically modified seeds being potentially dangerous or bad.
While each side can make their case seem appealing it seems that there is one factor that is always left out of the equation. That factor is whether a farmer who actually grows a crop with genetically modified seeds thinks that they are good or bad. Most Americans do not have any farm experience at all and the closest they ever get to farm is when they visit their local grocery store.
In the United States, there are more than 2 million farmers who grow important crops such as sugar beets, cotton, corn, wheat, and soybean. In fact, these farmers grow over 90% of those crops with genetically modified seeds. They do this on just over 180,000,000 acres. The figure, 90%, is a large number and in fact it is a majority number. Do these farmers know something that a large portion of Americans do not?
A reporter recently took a trip to an Amish farm in Pennsylvania. The farm was run by the same family lineage for over 250 years. It was a dairy farm of 400 acres that included pasture, corn for silage, and alfalfa. The reporter notice that the corn was amazingly uniform and had a deep, deep green color. He had a hard time seeing the soil because of the crop residue from the year before.
The reporter asked the farmer what made this corn so outstanding. The farmer replied that it was a herbicide tolerated genetically modified corn. It was modified to be compatible with a minimum amount of tillage. This made for easier management of weed control. One of the benefits that the farmer noticed after a few years was that there was not as much runoff after a heavy thunderstorm and downpour. The soil was not being eroded or washed away because of the minimum tillage practices.
The Amish farmers were some of the first adopters of genetically modified seeds. A particular seed company that produced different types of genetically modified seeds would often provide the Amish farming community with various improved varieties of GM seeds. The Amish farmers are now using insect resistant genetically modified corn seed.
The United States Department of Agriculture has been interested since 2001 why some farmers have decided to switch over to genetically modified crops. The answers that they found make it easy to understand why these type of crops are becoming so popular among farmers. Farmers who use genetically modified crops benefit by increased yields, easier crop management, decreased pesticide costs, and a farming business that is more sustainable.
Farmers throughout the world are hard-working people and they are the type people to take their time before making most major decisions. Obviously, there will need to be a lot more research and study before we truly understand the long-term benefits or dangers of genetically modified seeds. However, it is clear that the farmers should have a large portion of the say in regards to this controversial debate.