Isn’t it remarkable what we, as human beings, are capable of? That no matter where we stand, we are constantly buzzing at work, creating solutions, and looking for the best version of absolutely everything around us?
Being apart of the agriculture industry there is one major problem we are constantly being faced with and looking to solve: How to feed the worlds population. As of 2013 there were 7.125 billion people in the world, each one requiring a nutritious diet. This number is only expected to increase drastically over the years, meaning farmers are going to need to produce more crops than ever! So how is this problem going to get solved, along side of meeting consumers demands?
What if organic and GMO crops coexisted, not only in fields (because they already do), but on our consumers shopping lists, and in their mindset of demands? I think it’s shocking the divide there is between organic advocates and GMO advocates and how a lot of people can not seem to recognize the benefits of both of these farming practices.
Unfortunately, even with the hype organic products are getting, they are not beneficial to a majority of the worlds population in terms of availability due to cost, the number of organic farms in general, and the staggering costs the farmer must live with to operate as organic.
“While organic food products are the fastest growing segment of the food industry it still less than 2 percent of the total food industry,” – Miles McEvoy, organic program manager for the state of Washington.
This is why I think it is important to stress to consumers that organic is not better than GMO and vice-versa, it’s simply personal opinion. There are so many benefits both of these farming practices can bring, so it seems quite silly to disregard one and gloat on the other.
What benefits does the organic industry bring, you ask? SO MANY. From the farmers aspect of organics, they do so many great things for the soil and ecosystem around the farm. For example, the biodiversity of the farm soil flourishes because the use of fertilizers and pesticides are taken into consideration as far as what is being used and absorbed into the soil. This creates long-term sustainability for the farm which is exactly what all farmers strive for. For the consumer, farmers are working hard to give you exactly what you are demanding for. You are able to purchase organic products knowing exactly where it came from, what organic ingredients are being used, and what is and is not allowed within your food. How lucky are we?! Unfortunately, these high demands typically mean a higher cost. A increase in cost usually means that organic products are not available to everyone. “More than 12 million households [in America] are forced to eat unhealthy food because they can’t afford better-quality groceries” and if you look at the price difference between a name brand product versus an organic product, we can assume that most of these homes cannot choose to go organic. This is why we need our GMO and conventional crops! We need our organic advocates to still help see the benefit and worth of the numerous crops being produced and consumed without the USDA Organic Seal.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the benefits of GMO’s are plenty. If there was no benefit in planting a GMO’ed crop, farmers never would of started using them in the first place. Did you know that farmers have been genetically modifying their crops for over thousands of years? So GMO is nothing new within the human diet. Farmers choose GMO crop because they help reduce the number of inputs on a plant or in the soil, fight diseases, and enhance nutritional profiles (The Food Dialogs). This takes so much manual labor, time and cost away from the farmers producing our food. Its making it more bearable to take on more acres of crop and producing a higher yield! As for consumer benefits, there are a lot more than people seem to give credit to. For example, a GMO crop that is producing it’s own pest resistance requires less synthetic pesticides on the plant and field. Genetically Modified crops help us produce more for less and these products are typically a lot more affordable.
How amazing is it that we live in a place that allows us to say what we want in a grocery store, and then have an agriculture community not only able to meet these demands, but supply them no matter how difficult the growing conditions might be, or how many hoops might have to be jumped through!? I think it’s so very important that organic and GMO’s co-exsist, and I think it’s even more important to be advocates for both of these crops. Genetically modified crops along side organic crops can help give consumers what they want, but also what the world needs: nutrition. If you think about trying to solve our biggest issue as an agriculture community, you would understand that one is not any greater than the other because whether they are GMO or organic, it is helping feeding families and people over the world.
My name is Megan Griesheim and I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I am majoring in agriculture science while having a focus in animal science. I will be graduating May of 2017. I grew up in the small town of Mt. Pulaski, IL and am planning to head out west after graduation. I love new experiences and with my down time you’ll find me outside with my two dogs.