By Jo Windmann
Letâ€™s Talk About GMOs
According to a Pew survey, 88% of scientists approve the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), while onlyÂ 35% of adult Americans accept GMOs as safe. As University of Illinois Extension specialist, MikeÂ Roageesays, â€œThatâ€™s aÂ hugeÂ range in differences of opinions between the scientific community and the general populous.â€
This survey,Â RoageeÂ notes, is further proof the American people are skeptical of science. On the other hand, many farmersÂ are less skeptical of genetically engineered (GE) crops. The lack of scientific skepticism,Â RoageeÂ assumes is due to farmers being more scientifically astute, but explains farmers primarily look at the economics of their crops.
Given the steady uptick in the overall use of GE crops since 1996, his assumptionÂ might not beÂ far-fetched. According toÂ USDA-ERS, the adoption ofÂ GE varieties by U.S. farmers is widespread with 170 million acres planted in 2013.
Given, thisÂ is basedÂ on commodity crops, such as soybeans, corn and cotton, but it shows farmersâ€™ increased acceptance of genetically modified varieties over a more than 15 year span, while consumer acceptance declines.
If farmers trust GMOs and agree with the majority scientific community regarding the safety of GM plants, why do they still plant conventional crops when given the choice? Itâ€™s all about economics,Â RoageeÂ says. If they can plantÂ non-GMOsÂ without worrying about additional pest controlâ€”and get a premium for their cropâ€”itâ€™s really a win-win.
Katie Hancock, agriculture commodity marketing consultant for Brock Associates and farmer, addresses this subject in her â€œFamily Farmingâ€”Katie Styleâ€ blog on AgWeb. Hancock notes, while she proudly raises, eats and supports GMO products, she canâ€™t help but consider growingÂ non-GMOÂ to help her farm business maximize profits. She adds, while the premium is tempting, it is not always guaranteed.
Additionally, other considerationsÂ must beÂ made when deciding to switch, such as additional chemical expenses, yield, residue risks and seed supply. Whether you plant GMO orÂ non-GMO, estimating the bottom line net is a must, she says.
In short, GMOs are about maintaining options on both sides, for consumers and farmers.
An AgWeb article