The discussions and resistance continues to increase with social media playing more of a role than ever. By the year 2050 there will be another 1.7 billion people in the world (Currently 7.3 billion increasing to 9 billion). These people are going to need adequate food to eat and a place to live. Cities and suburbs continue to expand, eliminating more and more arable farmland, but farmers are expected to grow better, safer, and more crops than ever. Without the use of genetically modified organisms farmers will not be able to produce the crops needed to sustain life for world survival.
The biggest controversy surrounding GMO’s stems from its safety. It is found that two-thirds of women do the household grocery shopping, and 60 percentage of women say that they believe GMO’s are unsafe. As seen on the graph below, with the increase of seed treatments over the years, the amount of insecticide spraying has decreased greatly. With this decrease there has been less chemical drift from sprayers off the fields, less blowing into water streams, and less ending up in well water. Obviously the use of herbicides has not been eliminated, but with this genetic engineering it has helped farmers eliminate a portion of the production process that consumers may be concerned with.
Consumer concern can also be addressed with the amount of time and money it takes to make a hybrid. Shawn Jones of Pioneer stated (during a class presentation) that for one corn hybrid it takes 8 years until it is commercialized for production. During those 8 years it will cost nearly $136 million to pay for the testing, testing, and more testing. Twenty-six of that $136 million ($35 million) go to costs from regulatory testing and registering the seed.
Difference in Yields
With the introduction of genetically modified soybeans and corn in the late 90’s, we saw great increases in yields. According to the USDA, in Illinois in 1990 the average corn yield was 127bu/ac. By 2008 the yields of farmers jumped to an average of 179bu/ac. With cities continuing to expand, farmers are losing land to housing projects and new highways. Being able to maximize yields through GMO’s is essential.
It is very obvious this controversy is one that is going to be around for time to come. Being involved with agriculture, the best way we can help support farmers is by informing the consumer. With so many misconceptions of what really goes on behind the scenes, one negative fact can be blown up by social media and consumers believe it to be true.
Because of these reasons I believe the facts show the positive effects of genetic engineering. From feeding the world to reducing environmental impact, GMO’s are the present and future of farming.
My name is Scott Simpson. I am a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Ag fraternity and Collegiate Farm Bureau. Through these two organizations we do several things throughout the community to not only advocate for our groups but also agriculture. Last year I completed an internship with Bartlett Grain Company in western Kansas, and this summer I will be working for Wyffels Hybrids out of Platteville, WI. I do not have a family farm to return to, but my goal is to sell seed and work towards having my own grain farm.