The Drought, and GMO Crops

As anyone knows, we have had very little rain this year. At the end of this week, the market will get the official USDA estimates of what the corn crop looks like. Private estimates will be available during the week.

Right now, the numbers I am hearing are around 122 bushels per acre. That’s woefully short.

A thought occurred to me though. Some seed companies ($MON) have been working on Genetically Modified seed, or GMO seed. Seed companies have genetically modified seed to grow differently, ripen at different times, and have pesticide and bug resistance. They also have been creating seed that can grow with very little water.

Droughts were at the top of their list when creating this type of seed. The fact is, fresh water is a precious resource in the world, and the less we need for crops mean the more we can have for animals and people.

I checked on Twitter and tried to find tweets about GMO corn and the drought. The engineered seed won’t be released until 2013. It is only in experimental fields this year. Frankly, any seed, heirloom or engineered would have a tough time growing when there isn’t a drop of rain!

The folks against GMO seed released an article though and tweeted it out. They are pushing the story that breeding and better farm practices are what’s needed to protect crops from drought and keep yields up.

How is breeding any different than GMO?

I don’t have dog in the fight. I support both kinds of farming, and think everything ought to be clearly labeled. The FDA prohibits huge industries from being formed through bad regulation. Clearly, they are limiting competition and job creation.

I don’t think GMO crops cause cancer or anything like that. I doubt seriously any big commodity crop we have today in any field resembles the crops we had at the turn of the century. Cross pollination, nature, forced breeding, and science have taken care of that.

When the new Monsanto seed is planted broadly in 2013, I hope we don’t have to see a drought like this years to see if it works.

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25 thoughts on “The Drought, and GMO Crops

  1. If the malthusians want to starve instead of embracing GMO crops then by all means ,LET THEM. I welcome my new GMO overlord farmers,pass the butter.

  2. A fish and a tomato are related —– read ‘Genome,’ by Matt Ridley. It may seem like an unnatural act to the Green puritans, but the mixing of genes has been going on for millions of years. GMOs are here to stay. Get over your phobias —- read James Watson’s ‘DNA: the Secret of Life.’ I’m tired of fear-mongers.

  3. Breeding is night and day different from genetically modifying a seed. Mankind has been selectively breeding plants for 1000’s of years, which is why we have (or had) so many varieties of different plants. Farmers in certain tough growing conditions would select characteristics of a plant to use for pollination with the intention of increasing drought tolerance, fruit yield, insect resistance, etc. Totally natural.

    Compare that to genetic modification, where a big chemical/seed conglomerate inserts a foreign DNA into the seed germ of a commercially viable crop (corn, canola, sugar beet, papaya, rice). The foreign substance could be an herbicide or pesticide designed to make the crop itself resistant to the chemicals sprayed on it; the most common is bT, the pesticide inserted into corn. The corn plant grows and matures, and the insects that eat it’s pollen fail to reproduce and die when their stomachs explode.

    There are no studies on humans to know how these GMO crops affect our systems. We have good “bugs” in our digestive tracts that don’t seem to be handling well the attack by GMO foods. One can look at the 15 year-old epidemic outbreak of autoimmune diseases and gastrointestinal disorders and realize (anecdotely) that something is not right with our food supply.

    While Monsanto and other companies made grand claims about how we need these types of crops to “feed the world”, in truth, they have zero research to share publicly to corroborate their stories. Other countries that take national food safety much more seriously than does the USA have reported crop yields to be lower, and livestock that eat the grain crops suffer from infertility and miscarriage at an alarming rate compared with animals that eat a natural (grass-based) diet.

    California has the opportunity to vote this summer on a law requiring food companies to label GMO crops used in processed food. I, for one, hope they can lead the nation in a positive direction for a change.

    1. We have genetically modified drugs. Insulin for example. No problems. I don’t see a big deal with crops. As long as we maintain the old genetic material somewhere.

      1. why, then, would it be important to “save the old genetic material?” Let’s just throw off the old and sail into the new world of whatever “science” tells us to eat. And let’s do it without clinical trials, controlled studies and evidence. Who exactly is anti-science in this situation? The people who want to be cautious and evaluate actual evidence and results? Or the people willing to take at face value the words of executives of large chemical companies who stand to reap huge financial rewards and don’t want to test their products in case they cause cancer?

        1. Why save old genetic material? Who knows how it could be used someday? I notice they are collecting genetic material from extinct animals when they can. Monsanto does clinical trials, controlled studies and evidence. The University of Nebraska is building a state of the art agricultural laboratory to undertake even more plant science. You are speaking out of emotion and not fact.

          1. Ask Monsanto to release those studies so they can be peer reviewed and duplicated. They won’t. Do not assume I am speaking out of emotion and not fact, when nothing you’ve stated about GMO’s is fact-based. You post the studies and I’ll retract. I’ll check back.

          2. Do you think that maybe some of the research they do is proprietary? They compete against other seed companies that do research too. Monsanto isn’t going to publicly peer review their competitive research any more than Affymax is going to in biotech. You are being silly.

          3. How is it silly to ask them to show it’s not detrimental to health? I thought that was the whole reason the FDA existed to begin with: to demand, on our behalf, that companies prove new technology isn’t harmful. All you rational, science believers won’t show us the science that proves what you’re asking us to take on faith, and yet we’re the silly ones.

          4. Don’t paint me with the fracking brush. I am all for oil extraction. Do not confuse the anti-GMO consumers with the greenies. We are not at all the same ideologically.

            If Monsanto conducted clinical trials, showed their GMO soybeans and corn were safe and healthy, and then an independent third party duplicated the results, that would go a long way towards building trust in their expensive patented technology. They have the margins to pay for those test.

            As it stands now, they pay people to call us stupid, emotional, and irrational, all because we want to see their scientific proof.

          5. BTW, that link above leads to a post about animal welfare. I looked around your main site to find a post on fracking and global warming and I did not find one.

  4. One of the only Simon Templar(the Saint) stories that was also science fiction involved some people in a jungle somewhere who had developed a process for turning vegetable protein into animal protein. The only problem was that after ingesting this food it changed back to vegetable. heh heh. I am reminded of this story by the anti-GMO folks. Fear mongering at it’s worst.

  5. Have you ever seen a study saying GMO is good for you? No? Me either. I would argue that if a study has shown GMO to be detrimental to human or animal health, it would not be published because there are too many powerful industries with serious financial skin in the game. The revolving door of Monsanto/ADM/USDA/FDA executives in positions of absolute power is there for a reason. Ask yourself honestly why that is so.

    1. That’s not true. There are enough scientists that publish that are against Big Farm to get it done. Look at tobacco. I am not denying that Big Farm is a powerful lobby. All you have to do is look at ethanol. But GMO isn’t bad for you as far as science is concerned.

    2. There is the rest of the world. Africans are starving because the EU will not import food from somewhere that has GMO crops anywhere near the “regular” crops.

      The EU has as much evidence of harm as America does (i.e. none) without any conspiracy theories about suppressed data; they have taken the opposite approach; people are dying.

      It doesn’t matter to Greens because they think there are too many people, anyway. Foreign brown people especially don’t count because they don’t deserve jobs (stolen from the Westerners who do deserve them) or food (rich Western people need their organic food more than poor people need any food, at all).

      Save the earth! Starve the poor!


    Here’s one study on the detrimental effects of a GMO diet. Keep calling us Luddites and other names, but ask yourself who is really “anti-science”: the people willing to look at the true results of a study, or the people denying those results and calling others insulting names, which is always the hallmark of no argument, blind faith.

  7. “When the new Monsanto seed is planted broadly in 2013, I hope we don’t
    have to see a drought like this years to see if it works.”

    If we let Monsanto’s GMO seeds to be planted, then we actually let them spread some disease. We all know that GMO products is really bad for our health.

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