“Pro-GMO” Farmer: Parody Or Monsanto Propaganda?

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

Topics: Agribusiness

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In the lead up to Occupy Our Food Supply, I published a blog post titled, “Monsanto and Cargill: The Thugs of Big Food.” Someone named Ben left a comment. He said I was misguided for suggesting that family farmers are negatively impacted by Monsanto and Cargill and asked me to read a blog post about Big Ag by a farmer named Brian Scott to “get a clue.” So I did.

I found the article to be hilarious, in a sad kind of way. In fact, it was so “hilarious” that I wanted to see what you thought: Does Brian’s post read like a parody or paid media? You be the judge (see the underlined sections) and let us know in the comments if you think he is on the Monsanto payroll or just drinking glyphosate in his Kool-Aid…

I Occupy Our Food Supply Everyday

Monsanto's GMO Seeds Rock My World

Monsanto's GMO Seeds Rock My World

Today is the day.  The Occupy movement is going to occupy the food supply.  According to the occupiers and Farm Aid president Willie Nelson large corporations have too much control over our food.  I won’t deny that there has been a lot of consolidation in the food and seed markets over the years, but that seems pretty common and big does not equal bad as some occupiers would have you think.

Willie Nelson recently wrote “Occupy the Food System” for The Huffington Post.  He ends his editorial piece by saying, “Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations.”

As you may know I happen to be part of a family farm.  I’m the 4th generation to work this land.  I’ve seen a lot of posts online about how corporations control farms or farmers are slaves to “Big Ag.”  People claim that we are beholden to them and have to sign unfair contracts to be privileged enough to use their seed.  They’ll also claim that the contracts rope us into buying other inputs like pesticides and herbicides from the same company.  We get a lot of our seed from big corporations like the “evil” Monsanto, and since Farm Aid seems to be jumping in with Occupy I wanted to know what they think about some of the genetically modified crops we grow on our farm.

The Farm Aid website poses the question “What does GE mean for family farmers?” and goes on to say:

Corporate Control. Farmers who buy GE seeds must sign contracts that dictate how their crop is grown – including what chemicals to buy – and forbid them from saving seeds. This has given corporations incredible control over the production of major staple crops in America.

Let’s examine this corporate control a little further and look at it from the family farm level.  My farm in particular. When we buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds we get to sign a Technology/Stewardship Agreement.  Section 4 of the 2011 agreement I have on file covers everything the grower must agree to when purchasing these products.  Here’s a quick rundown of the requirements.

  • If we buy or lease land that is already seeded with Monsanto technology that year we need to abide by the contract.  Makes sense to me.  If I end up leasing ground in crop for some reason, I should honor the agreements it was planted with.
  • Read and follow the Technology Use Guide and Insect Resistance Management/Grower Guide.  So Monsanto has ideas on how best to use their product.  Some of it is required by the EPA to make sure farmers like me understand how to steward the technology.  No big surprise there. Not to mention if you read the guides you’ll find a ton of good agronomic information.
  • Implement an Insect Resistance Management program.  Shocking! Monsanto thinks controlling pests responsibly is a good idea, and if you farm insects are something you deal with no matter what type of crop you may have.
  • We should only buy seed from a dealer or seed company licensed by Monsanto.  I’d want to do that anyway.  It’s for my own good.  Would you buy a brand new home entertainment system out of the back of some guy’s van parked in an alley?  Me neither.
  • We agree to use seed with Monsanto technology solely for planting a single commercial crop. And don’t sell any to your neighbor either it says.  That’s right, we can’t save seed to grow the next year, and frankly I’m not interested in doing that.  For the critics who are not sold on GMO crops anyway do they really want farmers holding onto this seed and planting it without any kind of paper trail?
  • If you want to plant seed to be used as seed you need to sign an agreement to do so with a seed company licensed by Monsanto.  We do this for two different companies.  In fact we’ve actually worked with one company through several name changes long before GMO showed up.  Why?  Because we can get a premium price for the soybeans we grow that will be used as seed by other farmers next year.
  • We can’t grow seed to be used for breeding, research, or generation of herbicide registration data.  That gets back to saving seed.  If we wanted to breed our own varieties I’m sure we could get into doing that, but I look at it right now as division of labor.  Seed companies are great at coming up with great products, and American farmers are great (in many cases the best) at turning those products into a bounty of food, feed, fuel, and fiber.
  • Our farm has agreed to only export and plant these crops in countries that allow them.  OK that’s kind of a no brainer.
  • Here’s the part where some people think family farmers become slaves to the corporations.  The part where GMO seeds force us to buy our chemicals from the same company.  But if you’ve got a Technology/Stewardship Agreement handy you’ll find that’s not true.  If I plant Roundup® Ready (RR) crops Monsanto would sure like me to use Roundup® herbicide on them, but I don’t have to.  The agreement says that for RR crops that I should only use Roundup® herbicide…………………OR another authorized herbicide which could not be used in the absence of the RR gene.  When I worked off the farm I sold a lot of generic brand glyphosate.  It’s just like buying your grocer’s private label brand of cough medicine instead of the name brand.  The only catch is if you have a problem you need to talk with the company who provided the herbicide.  If we spray Brand X and it doesn’t work it won’t do any good to go crying to Monsanto.  That sounds like pretty standard business practice to me. Furthermore, I don’t even have to use glyphosate on my glyphosate tolerant crops.  This year we will have waxy corn from Pioneer and waxy from a local dealer who sells Monsanto products.  The latter will be RR, but the Pioneer variety won’t.  We will likely plant them in the same field side by side to see which one performs better.  If we spray glyphosate on those acres all the Pioneer corn will die!  Instead we will control weeds with a herbicide that all corn resists naturally.
  • We have to pay for the seed.  Ridiculous isn’t it? Paying for something that gives value in return?
  • We may have to provide documents supporting that we are following the agreement within 7 days after getting a request from Monsanto.  I’m not worried about that if I’m following the agreement anyway.
  • If Monsanto asks to do so they can inspect our land, storage bins, wagons, etc.  Again I’m not worried.
  • And finally we agree to allow Monsanto to obtain our internet service provider records to validate an electronic signature.  If anything on this list is questionable it’s this one.  I’m just not sure electronic signatures are the way to go personally, but it’s becoming more common.  Even for the President.

Brian has other fascinating posts, like the one titled, “How Sweet It Is: Monsanto’s Bt Sweet Corn,” but you get a pretty good sense of his agenda in the last three bullet points above. This guy is like the honey badger: honey badger don’t give a $*#@ if Monsanto inspects his land, storage bins, wagons, etc. He’s not worried about a thing, not even handing over his internet service provider records to Monsanto. “No prob — it’s a no brainer!”

Web Editor’s Note: We apologize that the link back to Brian’s blog was temporarily removed. It was a mistake on our part and we have put the hyperlink back into the article. The blog was originally published with this hyperlink.

35 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Brian says:

    Or maybe I’m just your average everyday farmer. It’s not a parody, although I do tend to have a sarcastic wit about me. It’s not paid media either. If my check from Monsanto shows up in your mailbox, let me know because I haven’t received one yet. The point of this post was to lay out for people what I actually agree to when I use biotech seeds. You left out the link to my PDF of an actual copy of the agreement we signed last year. That’s what I really want people to see so they can read it word for word for themselves. I’ve got nothing to hide from anyone.

    Why would I be worried about Monsanto checking my storage? I might not particularly care for it, but they wouldn’t find anything out of line. Even if we went with all non-GMO crops it change virtually nothing about the way we farm. We would have to alter our weed, disease, and insect management a bit differently, but most of what we do would remain the same.

    We grow non-GMO popcorn. If fact we are upping our contracted acreage nearly 50% for 2012. This is probably the crop that has the most corporate control attached. Understandably so because it goes into your mouth basically the way it comes out of the field. We don’t farm it much different than the rest of our corn though other than taking extra special care at harvest not to damage the kernels and to delivery a pure product. We raise the corn cutting head a bit higher along the roadsides to avoid the errant glass bottle, etc, and we might even leave a couple rows standing in the field if we feel the neighboring corn is a bit too close. The place we supply doesn’t tolerate dent corn in the popcorn.

    I’m not ignorant to issues of resistance from pests, and I do question my own farm’s methods from time to time. I just want to do the best job I can like anyone else. I did right about Bt sweet corn because the subject interests me and thought it might be of interest to others. Two posts directly correlated to Monsanto out of 130+ so far does not an agenda make. If I have an agenda it’s debunking scare tactics with real world experience.

    I am certainly neither of the options you have given your readers to choose from. I’m just doing the social media thing for ag in my spare time. I hope the people who read this post read the parts you haven’t underlined. And if they came to this post via your homepage, I hope that misleading picture of a syringe getting ready to inject an ear of corn with something scary doesn’t cloud their judgement. I would hope that like me, they’ll do their homework and come to their own conclusions.

    Here’s the entire post should anyone care to read it. http://thefarmerslife.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/i-occupy-our-food-supply-everyday/

  2. algernon says:

    Laying aside the GMO “safety” issue for a moment (notwithstanding that GMO “safety” is a big issue), the intent of corporate hegemony over the world seed supply can be summarized as follows: Control the Seeds to Control the Food; Control the Food to Control the People. It is, unfortunately, that simple.

  3. Matt Boucher says:

    Ashley, Brians post isnt propaganda, it simply states the truth. Lets say you spent $100,000 to develop a product and sell it, wouldnt you want to protect it from others who wish to copy it and sell it as their own? I bet you would. The fact is, these agreements which Farmers like Brian and I sign simply protect the patents and the millions of dollars of investments those who developed the seed have into it. Now, before you blame patent rights on GMO seeds, let me inform you that plant patents date back to the 1800′s when the first plant patent was issued. Dont believe me? Google it.
    As for the propaganda, Those who live in glass houses shouldnt throw stones.

  4. AJLayton says:

    Sounds like a lawyer explaining the small print. It also sounds like a company spokesperson trying to tell us this product isnt what we think it is but then uses direct quotes confirming it is EXACTLY what we think it is. Monsanto=bioterrorism

  5. katherine says:

    Setting aside all the other issues, Bt corn has NOT been proven safe for humans. Period. Nor have any of the other genetically engineered crops. Science suggests they are not safe for human consumption, and are not good for the planet. Large farm, small farm . . . . doesn’t matter. We should not allow corporations – who are in bed with the FDA and USDA – to poison our food supply.

  6. Christine says:

    I wonder if people will still be so pro Monsanto in 10yrs? Lets get down to brass tacks if you can grow GMO seed can grown in practically no soil or soil with no nutrients…is that actually good for us? GMO crops are not natural bottom line. They are man made combinations of things. How is this good? I don’t care if they grow fast or are pest resistant the are not neutral. GMO farmers will tell you its good business for them. Well I’m a beekeeper and its bad business for my bees…particularly the ones near GMO crops. These bees die every year. No coincidence the ones by organic farms are thriving. Monsanto is dangerous. Don’t believe me. You will in a few years. Google small Alabama town vs Monsanto. See what they think

  7. Pamela says:

    Point one is, its not about the contract, its about the safety of our food. Point two, Everyone has a right to grow whatever they want, but its not fair that the people who want to grow organic have to worry about there product being tainted and point three, it ruins the soil and the earth so right there is enough!

  8. PJ says:

    Apparently Brian is only concerned about what affects his farming, not the whole picture. He doesn’t seem concerned about selling corn that its its’ own pesticide. He doesn’t seem concerned that the drift from the pesticides and or herbicides go onto his non-GMO popcorn, not to mention cross pollination if any. His only concern is what works for him and not the general good of the consumer. What will he do if Monsanto and others in the bio-tech industry are sued for causing physical harm to humans due to ingestion of their products? Will he wake up if he is found to be complicit in growing tainted food items?

  9. Melody D. says:

    Thanks Brian for your take. I think my biggest beef with Monsanto isn’t that they are having you sign contracts but rather the way they come after farmers who aren’t planting their seed but their plants cross pollinate anyhow. If I grow sweet corn for market on my 9 acre plot and it’s contaminated by the neighboring GM dent corn, then I can get sued.

    My second concern is for safety. I can’t say I trust the line that GM corn is no different to our body than is regular corn. So our family avoids corn and soy to eliminate the majority of GM contamination in our bodies. It’s getting harder to do though. There should always be a choice.

  10. Chris says:

    There are two huge issues with this tehcnology. One, is the safety of GMO both as food and the long-term effect of its presence in nature. Genetic engineering (not selective breeding) is an unprecedented technological leap with far-reaching ramifications.

    And second, turning food into controlled intellectual property that must be licensed is a really bad idea. There could easily be a time when non-GMO seed is virtually unheard of. This would grant total control over the most important thing for individual survival to a private company. This is equivalent to somebody owning the air, or water, and raising rates if you want to live. As consumers we must reject this while we still have the freedom to do so.

    We increasingly see the growth of government over all aspects of our lives. We also increasingly see the brokered influence of big business (yes and big labor) and other special interests attempting to tailor government regulation in their favor. It is not inconceivable that “in the interest of public safety” or “the environment” or “the children”, or any other phony excuse lawmakers would use to justify their actions, that natural seeds would be deemed illegal, unsafe, or irresponsible, and that only FDA-certified “responsible” seeds are legal. Big companies try to regulate little companies out of existence all the time.

    Seriously, if we value our freedom, we must oppose the ownership of our food supply. This is not a left/right issue, this is about independence. Don’t be a slave.

  11. Nicole says:

    I personally hate anything treated with Pesticides or anyother chemical and GMO foods of any kind.

    Personally if you want to feed your family that…it’s your right. However I have a right to feed my family organic non-gmo food, grow my own food and not have to worry about your GMO crops pollinating my crops. No farmer who chooses not to my GMO seed should not have to worry about when he might get sued from Monsanto because some bird took a poop on his fiedl after eating in a field down the road that has GMO seed in it. And now his field has GMO product in it and he never wanted it in the first place.

    Bottom line I have a right to know what I am buying through labeling and a choice to buy it or not to buy it.

  12. Rex says:

    What happens when you eat it? Is GMO sweet corn as good as Organic sweet corn?

  13. Lee says:

    If GMO foods are so safe, what’s the problem with labeling it?

  14. Monica says:

    We want to think that we are all educated people. What these cooperations are spewing is not educating us, but duping us. The general public is a trusting bunch and want to believe that what they feed their children is nutritious and not harmful. We are talking children, who are in the care of people who trust. There are also a handful of individuals, like myself that can see a wolf in sheeps clothing, and the greed, and apathy that these corporations are exhibiting. These people don’t care. With their wealth, that only comes from their lies and intense selfishness, they aren’t buying their product, and I’m sure their children never put any GMO produce to their lips. This is a sad world, when EVIL dictates our food supply. As intelligent as we believe ourselves to be, it is sad that greed is controlling our world. What’s is even sadder is that instead of making a better world, these products are destroying our world. What do they care, really, when it’s all about the money. I wonder if that is the purpose they think they were put here for. Would anyone want that purpose? Poison the food supply and our children? Sadly the trusting general public, is really more educated then these ignorant cooperations because the general public would never think it right nor intelligent to poison our food supply. So basically, the people controlling our food supply are Greedy IDIOTS.

  15. Mango says:

    Unfortunately Brian, your ignorance or innocence, which ever it is, will come back and bite you.
    Sweet corn is not even a vegetable anymore, legally it is a pesticide.
    Why do you want people to eat that ?

  16. Ron L says:

    I have no problem with protecting a patent. I also think Wall St. bankers should get whatever their contract states, but I do not agree with Monsanto buying all the seed companies in the world, preventing access to whats always been free and then genetically modifying those seeds to call their “own.” No patents on nature no matter how ingenious your invention should ever be allowed, a company that does that needs to be questioned.
    Trust me, if you grow GMO crops, its not your job security I care about, but you cant state that thousands of farmers worldwide havent been screwed by the very same deal.

  17. Laurie says:

    Yeah, if it’s so great, let them label it…..but they know it would be like putting a skull and crossbones on their stuff, they are scared. They know nobody would buy that crap. LABEL IT!!!!!!!!

  18. Brian says:

    Good discussion going on. I want to make it clear that I do care what happens down the road on my farm and others. No I don’t farm organically, but I do understand it takes a lot of work to get certified. Right now the closest I can come to a real world feeling of what it’s like to have some of the concerns of organic farmers is with our popcorn and waxy corn. As I said earlier our popcorn isn’t GMO. Our waxy generally isn’t Roundup resistant. More likely than not, the neighbor’s corn is. We lost the outside row of one field last year due to a neighbor’s drift. Not a huge loss but a loss. The same could happen with our popcorn. The company we provide popcorn for is growing their business overseas, and some of the countries don’t allow GMO and they will test for it.

    I want to keep my farm going in the long run economically and environmentally because I know the land will pay me back. I also hope that my son (now 2) will at least have the opportunity to join the farm someday. Not much different than any other family business.

    Trust me, I’m all for free markets with consumers speaking with the hard earned dollars. If they speak loudly enough to change demand, farmers will follow suit.

  19. Joan Taves says:

    I have some questions for Brian: is “doing the social media thing for ag in my spare time” a paid gig? If there is drift that eventually contaminates your whole popcorn crop, can’t Monsanto do to you what it did to Perry Schmeiser? You may not be concerned because you have nothing to hide from Monsanto, but they have shown that they can (and will) outspend and thus ruin folks who run out of money no matter what the merits of the case. Are you willing to use “Agent Orange Ready” seeds when the bugs (as they are) develop a resistance to Roundup?

  20. Casa Rosa Farms says:

    Brian, is it true that the GM patent seed contracts contain a clause that any grower who signs up for GM seed gives up the right to sue the patent holder if it is later found that cross contamination happened with a neighbor’s crop?

  21. Daniel says:

    @ Brian What happens when your neighbors drift contaminates your organics? If they test and find anything GMO wont you be in the stink? Also if Monsanto catches you with GMO’s you haven’t paid for they will run you thru the ringer a few times. Seems to me that it almost forces you to buy from them or get out, and it’s my understanding that many farmers have had to get out already. Monsanto is owned by Pfizer, and both companies have a long and terrible rap sheet. I am a conscious consumer and don’t buy anything from these and many other companies with terrible records of human rights atrocities. I also will not buy GMO’s or food from any farm with GMO’s. Most consumers don’t even want to know where their foods or products come from, and you guys will undoubtedly continue to profit from from those people, but you are in luck, as they seem to be the majority.

  22. Lee says:

    My husband and I interact with corn and soy farmers daily. The farmers in my area are all complaining that the cost of seed has skyrocketed from $60/bag to over $300/bag in the last three years. Monsanto has a strangle-hold on them. They are the ones suffering because of Monsanto’s greed. By and large, they so concerned with just being able to hang on to their farms, they don’t even have time to worry about the larger issue of the impact of GMOs on health and environment, although quite a few are concerned about it. Sounds like the technology that is purported to be so beneficial to them is doing just the opposite.

  23. Victor Lau says:

    Hey Brian,

    Here in Canada we have a fellow named Percy Schmeiser. This Percy fellow got into a nasty tangle with Monsanto over whether he was “stealing” their seed. Feel free to google his name and read online his situation and battle.

    My concern for you is real. Here in Canada we have Monsanto reps. getting personal escorts from our federal police force (RCMP) onto Farmers private property to do the inspections.

    I’m sure you have heard of entrapment??

    What do you do when Monsanto claims you have unlicensed seed in your storage shed but you never seen that stuff in your life?

    Don’t kid yourself; it could happen.

    As a Libertarian, I’m just pointing out one possible problem. That and the fact that GMOs are possibly polluting our food chain.

    All the best, vic Lau.

  24. Dawn says:

    Brian,
    If what you just said is true, your intentions, heart and mind seem to be in the right place. But here is the problem; your wallet is NOT. The consumers are already demanding non-GMO foods but by supporting the corporation that is most opposed to mandatory labeling of them, which 90% of the citizens of the country support, is just totally putting you at odds with both the consumer AND yourself, or at least your intents for the future anyway. By spending your money with Monsanto, you are supporting the oppression of the consumers’ voice. Giving this corporation your money is in direct conflict to what you wish for your son’s future as well. Allowing them to further influence our govt. is not helping any of us. I have children too, one of whom has food allergies, what does the future hold for him if the stewards (our farmers) of our land and food supply do not follow what they know to be true.

  25. Mike Haley says:

    Dawn,

    Brian is not alone. Most farmers like myself buy Monsanto products because they work well on our farms and the market for our goods produced from those products we sell are strong. I have never once thought that I was forced to purchase their products, in fact we often grow non GMO corn on our farm and use it selectively where we need it.

    I have never really understood the GMO label argument, the choice is out there. All certified organic products are GMO free as well as several other labels like the Non GMO project label. To me its very simple, if there is a large enough demand for products that are labeled non GMO more farmers will grow non GMO crops. Currently though the premium is insignificant and the extra environmental and economic costs of doing so does not make sense for me to do so on my farm.

  26. Brian says:

    Let’s see if I can answer some questions. Wish I could reply to an individual post, but I’ll do my best.

    Joan:
    “is doing the social media thing for ag in my spare time a paid gig?”
    -It’s absolutely not. Not one cent. Not sure what else I can say to make anyone believe that. Unless you count the $25 “perk” I got from http://www.klout.com that I used to buy a gift for my wife to use at the local jewelry store.

    “If there is drift that eventually contaminates your whole popcorn crop, can’t Monsanto do to you what it did to Perry Schmeiser?”
    -We grow for Pop Weaver and they go to great lengths to ensure they are GMO free. I assume you’re talking about pollen drift. Herbicide drift of the wrong type could kill or injure popcorn, but ours isn’t not organic so the loss of yield would be the only issue. Their FAQ page has some info on it: http://popweaver.com/frequently-asked-questions.html

    Is Pop Weaver organic?
    No. Our popcorn is not certified organic; however, it is 100% GMO-free, meaning it is free of genetically modified organisms. We develop and grow our own seeds that are then used by farmers to grow our popcorn. Because we control the quality every step of the way – from the seed to the shelf – we can ensure that our popcorn is entirely GMO-free. An independent third party certifies that each shipment of popcorn is 100% GMO-free.

    Is Pop Weaver GMO-free?
    Yes. All of our popcorn is 100% GMO-free, meaning it is free of genetically modified organisms. We develop and grow our own seeds that are then used by farmers to grow our popcorn. Because we control the quality every step of the way – from the seed to the shelf – we can ensure that our popcorn is entirely GMO-free. In addition, an independent third party certifies that each shipment of popcorn is 100% GMO-free.

    Section E of this link helps understand why popcorn can be GMO-free when GMO corn is planted adjacent to it. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/popcorn.html

    “Are you willing to use “Agent Orange Ready” seeds when the bugs (as they are) develop a resistance to Roundup?”
    -Your wording isn’t quite correct, but I get what you mean. When you say Agent Orange you mean 2,4D. The same thing people use to kill dandelions in their lawns. 2,4D is a part of Agent Orange which is a mix of herbicides. It is not the element that caused so many problems, not to mention the method of application is entirely different in agriculture. This is a great explanation of 2,4D and Agent Orange. http://www.biofortified.org/2012/03/misuse-of-a-vietnam-era-tragedy/ I highly recommend reading that to better understand the situation. Let’s keep it simple for our purposes here. When you mention Agent Orange you really mean 2,4D. Bugs as you say don’t develop resistant to Roundup. Weeds can. Its kills plants, not bugs. Every corn plant you’ve ever seen is what you call “Agent Orange Ready.” So are your lawn and just about every if not all grasses you’ve ever seen. Corn is a grass by the way. 100% certified USDA organic sweet corn is resistant to 2,4D. No genetic engineering required. Mother Nature already handled it. It does how ever take out soybeans quite easily. That’s one of the differences in corn being a monocot and soybeans a dicot.

    Lee you state “The farmers in my area are all complaining that the cost of seed has skyrocketed from $60/bag to over $300/bag in the last three years. Monsanto has a strangle-hold on them.”
    -I have a simple solution for that. Don’t buy the triple stack Bt refuge-in-a-bag corn that costs $300. Buy the $60 bag that isn’t GMO and doesn’t have seed treatments applied. Nobody says you have to. Here’s a quick post I did on what refuge acres are. http://thefarmerslife.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/genetic-refugees/

    Dawn, the real reason I’m online talking about my farm and the whole of ag along with a growing number of farmers is that we want to talk to consumers. It’s also fun meeting new people from all over the globe from all walks of life via social media. We want to close that gap created by generations removed from the farm. That doesn’t mean we are always right. It means we should mostly listen to what consumers are saying, and sometimes like I’m doing here it may be debunking a few things largely regarded as facts. It doesn’t always mean that’s the right path, but I think it’s appropriate right here right now. Part of the reason may be that Ashley Schaeffer didn’t bother to ask me about copying and pasting my post and my picture of myself here. She also didn’t afford me the common courtesy of providing a link back to my site like I did to this one in my original post. I’m content with that for now because it’s opened up this discussion we are all having.

  27. Marie says:

    I understand that some people don’t want to eat GM crops because of a baseless fear lacking sound science. That’s fine, eat what you want, I don’t care. However, I am not quite sure what gives ANYONE the right to dictate how others nourish themselves or what they grow. Particularly when GM crops are benefitting countries that struggle with hunger issues.

    Are you going to deny a hungry woman & child in a poverty stricken nation the right to eat food & grow a GM crop because YOU ARE afraid? I would hope not.

    In my opinion, science is just advancing nature to where it would have gone eventually so that we can have low-priced food to fill our belly with whatever type of food we want.

    Don’t we live in a great place?

  28. Amy Pearson says:

    Organic and eco-living is considered to be living in natural balance and respectful of humanity’s symbiotic relationship with the Earth’s natural ecology and cycles.

  29. Peggy Fitzpatrick says:

    Ashley,

    Quite frankly, based on these comments, “Brian has other fascinating posts, like the one titled, “How Sweet It Is: Monsanto’s Bt Sweet Corn,” but you get a pretty good sense of his agenda in the last three bullet points above. This guy is like the honey badger: honey badger don’t give a $*#@ if Monsanto inspects his land, storage bins, wagons,” you seem to be the judgmental and the one with the agenda.

    Brian Scott is a farmer. Pure and simple. He writes from his heart about the things that are important to him.

    You should step down from your soapbox and think about what you write about people. Or are you just trying to live up to your stolen blog tagline “all the dirt that’s fit to post?”

  30. Chrisatmosphere says:

    The fact that you find Brian’s points facinating this late in your battle against GM Foods clearly shows you either lack intellectual honesty and integrity or you are a fool. The irony of your chosen title in light of your perfect portrayal of an ignorant, hysterical anti-GM ideologue is comedic gold. Parody indeed, Poe’s law anyone?

  31. Steve says:

    I see a lot of nonsense here from people who don’t appear to know much science. People claiming that GMOs have never been proven safe, for example. It would be more accurate to say that that they’ve never been shown to cause harm. The reality is that they are a tremendous boon to a hungry world. I recommend Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto” for its treatment of the topic. Brand, a Stanford-trained biologist and life-long environmentalist, creator of “The Whole Earth Catalog”, is a refreshing voice in this debate. Before you start your ad-hominem attacks, I have no connection to Monsanto or agriculture, though I was a farmboy back in the day. I’m a physician, so have a keen interest in science, and a deep-grained sadness about the shrill, anti-intellectual stance that so much of the “green” community seems to take.

  32. Ken says:

    Yeap, just one of the tools used easily globally genocide massive amounts of people and blame it on their bad habits.

  33. Becky says:

    I hear a lot about how unsafe gmo’s are and how they will ruin the countryside and that they are responsible for a rise in pesticide use resulting in the reduced population of beneficial insects and that the crops simply are not living up to their expectations in developing countries, but have heard virtually nothing of the other side of the story or the science backing it up.

    There seems to be a lot of name calling going on at the moment between both sides and it’s making things rather difficult for me to find out who is doing what, where and why. Personally I would like to see a safety test done properly simply because it will be able to prove the safety one way or the other so people can know if they want to be for or against it. I’m hoping the Russian experiment can put to rest the arguments surrounding safety but that will remain to be seen, certainly it might be worth following for both sides to make sure it is done right.

    But what I came looking for is not just the things that have been repeatedly shouted by some at people opposed to gmo to make them feel bad about starving people in Africa, nor that gmo is going to destroy or depopulate the world as some people who are against it claim.

    I want to know truthfully of what gmo has accomplished for people who do grow it and how those that don’t feel about it. I’m an open mind so please educate me :)

    Is it really easier to grow?
    Dose it really reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides that you use like I have heard some claim?
    Are there measures that you take to prevent cross pollination of non gmo crops with gmo crops?
    How would you improve the current system for gmo’s?
    Would you eat the gmo’s that you grow?
    Do you know what kind of impact they have on the environment?
    Have you encountered the superweeds that apparently plague gmo crops?
    If you have how do you deal with them?

    This is mostly aimed at people like Brian but if you have information you feel would be useful to share with me then feel free to do so. If you are going to argue please try to keep it constructive.

  34. Brian says:

    Becky, I’d be glad to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

    Is it really easier to grow?
    -I grow corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat. I would say the only easier part is that GMOs made to be resistant to particular herbicides streamline your herbicide choices to some extent. Crops that resist insects along with seed treatments keep us from spraying insecticide during the growing season most years. Not all, but most. Depends on the pest. I wouldn’t say easier over organic if that’s what your asking. Just different practices.

    Does it reduce our chemical use?
    -Over the top spray applications of insecticide are definitely reduced on my farm due to Bt corn and seed treatments. Don’t mistake that with no insecticide. You’re hoping for season long control at planting without having to pay for the cost of insecticide applications, fuel, and water, and more soil compacting tracks in the field later in the season. And I understand for some people the buck stops there. If a plant is genetically altered to produce a pesticide there are those who would prefer not to ingest that crop. Fine by me. What I have discovered is that many do not realize there are plants that naturally produce their own chemicals to ward off weeds and insects. Allelopathy is the name for that. This link provides some good information on crops that have these traits http://bit.ly/WE1lN9. We started growing cover crops this fall and weed suppression is one of the benefits.

    I also wouldn’t say we necessarily use less herbicides to kill weeds strictly because of GMO like Roundup Ready (RR). What we can do is be as effective as possible with each application. Some people might want to spray below the labeled rate to save some money, but that can promote resistance by injuring a weed and not killing it. I liken it to you and I getting a flu shot. We don’t get the flu, but our body learns to fight that infection in the future. Certainly more glyphosate (Roundup) has been used since GMO came about, but that’s partly because of the great success of RR crops in keeping fields clean of weeds. Especially soybeans. I used to walk hundreds of acres of soybeans every summer with a weed hook in hand. That’s not much fun at all and it’s really hot work. Plus if weeds are big enough to cut by hand they’ve already done their damage as far as taking away water, sunlight, nutrients from a growing crop. The earlier you can take out a weed the less chemical you’ll need to manage it. As plants mature they require higher rates depending on the chemical and some have natural defenses like waxy outer layers.

    Preventing cross pollination
    -This can be done by staggering planting dates and/or relative maturities of crop varieties so crops in adjacent fields aren’t pollinating at the same time. We grow popcorn which is not genetically modified. We can grow it right next to a dent corn field because it’s “dent sterile” and won’t be pollinate by regular corn.

    How would you improve the current system for GMO’s?
    -I ask myself this question often. I would add how would I improve the system without bringing in a great deal of gov’t regulation. It’s tough. From my viewpoint as a farmer the problem with biotech is you’ll always have some free riders out there. Farms who don’t steward the technology properly. Take refuge for example. Explanation here -> http://bit.ly/dV5bXA We are starting to hear reports of some bugs resistant to the proteins in Bt corn. Right now signs are pointing to resistance beginning in areas where corn is planted for several consecutive years on the same acres, and maybe some of these farms aren’t planting a refuge like they should. There’s really no recourse right now against these farms. I think this is why the seed industry is going to refuge-in-a-bag products so the refuge is automatically in all the Bt seed. Kind of covering their own butts in a way. A good way I guess.

    As for herbicide resistance farmers have to understand that rotating chemical modes of action is as important to weed control as a crop rotation is to the soil, disease control etc. Not all herbicides kill the same way. I think many farmers forgot some Agronomy 101 when RR came out. It was too much of a good thing, but at least now we have a lot of talk in the industry about rotating modes of action. It’s very important that people do that. But you still have the question of how do you stop those free riders who refuse to do that to save buck in the short term. Still pondering that one myself.

    Would I eat GMOs?
    -Yes and I eat them now. I don’t go to the grocery and make sure I buy GMO over anything else, but I am not concerned with consuming them. I’m more concerned with limiting calories, fat, sugar, salt and so on while getting some exercise as well.

    Do I know what kind of impact they have on the environment?
    -I’m not going to tell I know every last detail of the impacts of my farm and that there are no negative effects. I try to do things better all the time. I find most of the time if I can do something to reduce inputs and/or improve my soil that thing is also good for my bank account. Those weed and insect resistance problems are a big deal. But remember you will have resistance over time no matter what. There are weeds that are very hard to control with tillage. If tillage is your primary method of weed control, those weeds may become a big problem for you. I do know that GMO has facilitated conservation tillage and no till practices on many farms including mine. In those cases biotech is allowing herbicide use to replace tillage in some ways. If you aren’t tilling you are improving soil health and structure which in my opinion a healthy soil is about the best thing a farm can do for the environment and your yields. The better the soil the more nutrients it can hold (and not leach into groundwater) and erosion is greatly reduced as well.

    Superweeds.
    -I’m not a big fan of that term, but I have seen resistant weeds. Where I am in Indiana I’m starting to see marestail that won’t be killed by Roundup. Not all of them are resistant but I do encounter a patch of them from time to time. Other herbicides will take care of it easily though. That’s why I said earlier that herbicide modes of action rotation is important. Don’t spray the same thing each year over and over. You are only speeding up the natural selection process. The worst of the so-called superweeds is resistant palmer amaranth. It can produce 500,000 seeds from a single plant. I’ve talked to farmers from the Southern states where this is a problem for them right now. Waterhemp is the other big one out there. Just this last week amaranth was confirmed in a few counties directly North of me by Purdue University. They believe weed seed was spread in manure from cows fed feed that included cotton seed. It’s possible that weed got all the way up here in some cotton seed down South. I will be keeping a sharp eye out for it in our fields and deal with it accordingly. Some new biotech herbicide resistant traits are coming soon to corn, soybeans, and cotton where this weed is a problem. Like I stated previously these things should help mitigate the problem, but if we don’t have proper stewardship I fear we’ll repeat the cycle again. Even though RR may have been too much of a good thing for some farmers, if it teaches all of us to be a little smarter then we are better off in the long run.

    I’m not here to tell you GMO doesn’t have it’s problems as you hopefully can tell. If we don’t acknowledge our issues, how can we improve as an industry? Thanks for the questions and if you want to discuss more I would be more than happy to do so.

  35. Ian Green says:

    Not one person has EVER been sued for accidental crop pollination. i seriously challenge you to prove that wrong, because it is not. We all have access to the dockets for the last 20 years. its not happened. Ever. only intentional subversion of contracts for the point of profit. plain and simple. Monsanto will even personally remove, free of charge, and pay for and contaminated crops you find that can be shown not to have been planted intentionally…

    This is asinine guys.. Supposition and social ego masturbation. Nothing more.

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