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An anti Monsanto sign in a crop field  (Source: teeth.com.pk)
May slowly but surely switch from biotech seed to conventional seed

Seed farmers throughout the United States are complaining that biotech seeds (which are genetically altered seeds) are becoming much too expensive, resistant to weed killer, and can contaminate conventional seed crops. However, they still continue to use the seeds. But with anticompetitive practices being investigated on biotech seed companies, seed farmers may change their minds. 

"The technology has really been hyped up a lot," said Doug Gurian-Sherman, author of a 2009 study for the Union of Concerned Scientists, which concluded that yield increases have come mainly from conventional plant breeding. "Even on a shoestring, conventional breeding outperforms genetic engineering. 

Genetically altered seed is used by a majority of U.S. farmers because weeds at one time were much easier to kill with herbicides such as Roundup. Also, these biotech crops, like corn, contained genes that allowed them to "manufacture" their own insecticide meaning farmers did not have to pay money and spend time killing insects with store-bought insecticides. In addition, biotech seed companies like Monsanto have created a monopoly in the seed business, buying smaller seed businesses and selling nothing but their genetically engineered seed. Traditional seed has even become hard to find because most "crop improvements" produced by conventional plant breeding are only sold together with biotech traits. 

But with rising costs and recent resistance to herbicides, biotech seed has become less favorable and farmers are taking notice. For instance, last year, the price of biotech soybean seeds rose 24 percent while corn seed rose 32 percent. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the anticompetitive practices of Monsanto, and Monsanto is countering by saying it plans on offering more seed options at lower prices next year.

"There just isn't competition out there," said Craig Griffieon, a farmer in Ankeny, Iowa. 

Biotech crops have grown resistant to herbicides mainly in cotton fields in the Southern United States where giant ragweed and horsetails are affecting thousands of acres. But the problem is spreading toward the midwest now as well.

As far as genetic contamination of traditional crops that are grown near biotech crops goes, farmers have testified that biotech crops have lowered the value of their conventional crops. 

"If you've got your conventional seed right next to your neighbor's [biotech] seeds, the pollen flies," said John Schmitt, a farmer from Quincy, Illinois who had to sell a third of his conventional corn for much lower prices due to genetic contamination. "It's nature."

A majority of farmers still use biotech seed also because they believe that biotech seed yields more crop at harvest, but even Monsanto doesn't argue that most of the increase in crop yields is due to traditional plant breeding. Conventional seeds produce just as well as biotech seeds, but as noted before, conventional seed is becoming harder to find. 

While biotech seed is used more so than conventional, farmers are slowly getting the picture by realizing that there aren't many benefits to genetically altered seed as opposed to conventional seed. According to the latest statistics, the amount of farms using biotech seeds only rose one percent last year, from 85 percent to 86 percent. This is the smallest increase since 2001. In Illinois specifically, the percentage of acres using biotech corn seed decreased from 84 percent to 82 percent, where soybeans reduced as well from 90 percent to 89 percent.



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These statements are incorrect
By amanojaku on 10/5/2010 3:59:15 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Seed farmers throughout the United States are complaining that biotech seeds (which are genetically altered seeds) are becoming much too expensive, resistant to weed killer, and can contaminate conventional seed crops.
quote:
But with rising costs and recent resistance to herbicides, biotech seed has become less favorable and farmers are taking notice.
quote:
Biotech crops have grown resistant to herbicides mainly in cotton fields in the Southern United States where giant ragweed and horsetails are affecting thousands of acres.
You want the biotech seeds to be resistant to herbicides. It's the weeds you want to kill. I thought I was reading this incorrectly until I checked the source article.




RE: These statements are incorrect
By rcc on 10/5/2010 4:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering as well. I suspect they are talking about the % of weeds type seeds in the batch, that may be getting modified as well.

If that's not it, I have no clue what the complaint is.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By lennylim on 10/5/2010 8:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
As weeds grow more resistant to herbicides (no suggestion of gene contamination from GM corn, but rather from "survival of the fittest"), the value of herbicide resistant GM seeds decrease. At least, that's what I gather from reading the source article.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By Lerianis on 10/7/2010 4:46:11 AM , Rating: 1
To a point, you are correct. The thing is that the genetically modified seeds also grow faster, are less prone to 'cold damage', etc.

So there is still a very good reason to keep on using the genetically modified seeds.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By docmilo on 10/8/10, Rating: 0
By HoosierEngineer5 on 10/5/2010 4:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
Chewbacca defense.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By solarrocker on 10/5/2010 4:58:38 PM , Rating: 5
This article was just horribly written and felt completely untrue. Whoever wrote this should really stop writing or take on a course.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By RivuxGamma on 10/5/2010 7:08:56 PM , Rating: 4
Well, duh. It's written by DT's very own smelly hippie.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By sprockkets on 10/5/2010 7:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
I guess her and Jason spend too much time together.


By RivuxGamma on 10/5/2010 8:26:23 PM , Rating: 1
That certainly seems to be the case. I know that if I want to read flatulance, I can come to Dailytech.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By rangerdavid on 10/5/2010 8:09:57 PM , Rating: 4
I have felt the same way, but wanted to give a new writer the benefit of the doubt. Now that I've seen some more of her work, I'd say she needs some more school.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By Samus on 10/6/2010 1:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
Damn you guys are fucking harsh. But right.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By omnicronx on 10/6/2010 2:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
Its completely untrue! I can't tell you why its untrue, but rate me up to a 5 just because I am bashing a DT author.

How exactly does something 'feel untrue'? Just because you don't agree with it, he/she suddenly becomes a bad author?

If you think the basis of the article is unfounded, prove yourself.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By Alexvrb on 10/6/2010 4:55:06 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly. As a matter of fact this is the first article from Kaiser that I agree with. GM seeds are a racket, a monopoly, and most of the scientists and farmers that publically go against GM Canon get into hot water. There's a TON of money involved. I mean, being forced to not replant seeds, because some other farmer's GM crops cross pollinated with yours? So now Monsanto owns your seed too? What a load, another failure of our legal system.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By Alexvrb on 10/6/2010 4:57:56 PM , Rating: 5
Oh, one more thing. Monsanto, due to widespread US government support, gets to bypass U.S. health and safety regulations and sell any untested gene-modified seed they want.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By lothar98 on 10/5/2010 5:18:49 PM , Rating: 2
"You want the biotech seeds to be resistant to herbicides. It's the weeds you want to kill."

Exactly!


RE: These statements are incorrect
By Ammohunt on 10/5/2010 6:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
You spray the field with Roundup which kills the weeds then you plant a crop like corn that is resistant to Roundup. i.e. Corn grows in roundup soil where weeds can't. its common practice in northern colorado's agriculture areas.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 11:47:13 AM , Rating: 3
Actually Roundup doesn't work in the soil, it only works on contact with the leaves of growing plants. What makes the Roundup resistant crops useful is that you can spray Roundup right on the crops and it will kill the weeds but not the crops. It makes for a less labor intensive control of weeds which saves fuel, time, and the use of more dangerous chemicals.

To use Roundup on not GM crops, you have to wait until the weeds are taller than the crops. Then you must apply the Roundup with a rope wick system which "paints" the chemical on the leaves of the weeds as you travel through the field pushing a device that has a rope saturated with Roundup suspended off the front of the tractor being careful not to lower it to the point you touch the crop or it will be killed also. Boom sprayers can cover more ground much faster which is why the GM crops are preferred.

When using no-till planting, the Roundup is applied before planting to kill weeds that are currently growing first, then used later to kill weeds that sprout after planting. The Roundup won't kill even the non-GM crops if applied a few days before planting since it rapidly breaks down into inactive metabolites in the soil, which is one thing that makes Roundup a safer herbicide to use.

The biggest racket though is that Monsanto makes both the Roundup and the Roundup resistant crops. Now that they have such a monopoly (though Glyphosate which is the active ingredient in Roundup is now out of patent protection and produced by other companies) the cost saving of using GM seeds has been offset by the price they are now charging for them.


RE: These statements are incorrect
By FredEx on 10/6/2010 6:43:37 AM , Rating: 4
The statements are true.

quote:
Seed farmers throughout the United States are complaining that biotech seeds (which are genetically altered seeds) are becoming much too expensive, resistant to weed killer , and can contaminate conventional seed crops.


Much news has come out about this issue through the years. Some have called the contamination drifting . It is cross contamination via pollination through the air. Some farmers collect seed to plant their next crops. Once cross contamination happens their seed is no longer conventional unmodified seed. Farmers that end up with modified seed due to cross contamination have been sued by biotech companies and forced to turn over the cross contaminated seed. The basis for the law suits is the farmer can't use the seed because the biotech firm has patented the modified seed they created and the seed from contaminated plants has basically become a patented modified seed. The farmer ends up with no seed, they get no compensation for the seed they had to turn over, and he has to buy seed the next year, driving up his operating costs.

quote:
But with rising costs and recent resistance to herbicides , biotech seed has become less favorable and farmers are taking notice.


quote:
Biotech crops have grown resistant to herbicides mainly in cotton fields in the Southern United States where giant ragweed and horsetails are affecting thousands of acres.


The issue with the modified seed becoming too resistant to herbicides is that it then becomes extremely difficult to control plants grown from modified seed, as to where they then grow when seed drifts. It is nature at work in that seed can drift to other areas and plants then grow in unwanted places the next season...natural propagation. Also, some weed plants can be very closely related to food plants and those weeds can become modified and then they become extremely difficult to control. The latter is what is happening in the cotton fields.

In some areas a seed from modified seed plants could drift in to a farmers soybean field and start growing. With unmodified/natural based plants they would simply treat the area with a herbicide to kill the invading plant. It is not simple at all when modified seed plants drift in to an area they are not wanted. If those weeds are allowed to go to seed, then the issues gets worse.


By amanojaku on 10/6/2010 7:43:54 PM , Rating: 4
You misunderstood my post. I specifically referred to Tiffany's changing the source article text with respect to herbicide resistance. She wrote that the SEEDS are more resistant to herbicides, when the source said the WEEDS are more resistant. Here are the relevant sections from the source:

quote:
Farmers are grappling increasingly with weeds that have grown resistant to Roundup, an herbicide widely used with genetically modified crops, and genetic contamination of conventional crops.

The most popular trait, tolerance to Roundup, allows them to kill weeds easily without harming their crop.

Probably a graver challenge is the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. The problem is worst in Southern cotton fields, where thousands of acres are infested. But resistant weeds like horsetail and giant ragweed are now appearing across the Midwest, too.
What you wrote has nothing to do with the error I pointed out. The statements are false.


Amazing isn't it...
By Expunged on 10/5/2010 4:08:30 PM , Rating: 4
I didn't even have to click on the article to narrow the list of possible authors down to two, Mick or Kaiser. I really only clicked on this to resolve the bet I had with myself.

So let me get this straight, the disadvantage is cost, although now you can use cheap chemicals instead of insanely expensive ones. I thought I was going to read an article about disadvantages, plural. Since the Union of Concerned Scientists says it's so, it must be. Try finding a non-biased source of at least several supporting sources for your next article Tiffany. The UoCS is the same group has proclaimed global warming is "the biggest threat to mankind in the 21st century". They oppose antibiotics in agriculture, support governmental interference in the sale of land for development or agriculture use, feel that we need to reduce greenhouse gas but oppose nuclear power plans beacause "nuclear must become much more safe before it can be considered", oppose anything outside of complete nuclear disarmament (including warhead replacement and reducing the stockpile), criticize the construction of a missile defense system for "technical feasibility" (not financial), etc. Why don't you just quote Green Peace in your next article.

On a practical note, the United States is expected to put food in the mouths of not just the 300+ million people within our borders but an additional billion people around the world. Not to mention that agriculture has shrunk from over 90% of the occupations to less than 2% within the United States. So lets see, in the last 100 years we've shrunk agriculture labor and acreage but managed to increase our output several thousand percent. Your analysis of the decline in "percentage of acres using biotech..." doesn't mention that some of those acres were converted to other crops that don't have engineered seed available or the explosion in organics in the past 10 years. Furthermore, you fail to mention that prior to the invention of Roundup Ready corn farmers were forced to use much stronger and more damaging chemicals to control weeds.




RE: Amazing isn't it...
By darkweasel on 10/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Amazing isn't it...
By TheDoc9 on 10/5/2010 5:20:57 PM , Rating: 5
Please eat all of the Monsanto goodness you can, I'll stick with organic.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By derricker on 10/11/2010 8:58:03 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately I can't rate you even higher


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By OoklaTheMok on 10/5/2010 5:52:00 PM , Rating: 5
While the article is written in a confusing manner, GMO crops have a number of significant problems.

They lead to the overuse of herbicides and pesticides.

Powerful herbicides and pesticides are not needed. Organic farming is be able to produce significant quantities of produce without the need for these chemicals. And if you think that the chemicals are not absorbed into the crops, you would be a complete fool.

Patent infringement via natural process.

Many farmers who use traditional seed have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because of cross-pollination between traditional harvested seeds and GMO seeds. The farmers don't have the financial means to defend themselves, and are forced to either go bankrupt defending themselves and sell their farms or start purchasing GMO seeds. I think it is a travesty that the courts have upheld this perversion of law. Not only is it illegal, but it's arguing against the way in which nature works.

Monsanto has also been doing the same thing to farmers in other countries.

They find ways to force farmers to buy their product. Sorry, actually farmers only license their product, because farmers are not allowed to keep or use the seeds from the crops that are grown from GMO seeds. So farmers are forced to buy new seed every year.

GMO crops make family farming harder because of the constant threat of legal action.

I would be more than happy if GMO crops were out lawed. We don't need GMO in order to produce enough food. GMO crops don't make healthier food. GMO crops are a tool for herbicide companies to sell seeds that are compatible with their chemicals.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By Spuke on 10/5/2010 6:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Powerful herbicides and pesticides are not needed. Organic farming is be able to produce significant quantities of produce without the need for these chemicals.
Don't organic farms still use pesticides?


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By amanojaku on 10/5/2010 7:20:13 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Don't organic farms still use pesticides?
Hippie urine isn't classified as a pesticide, yet.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By RivuxGamma on 10/5/2010 8:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, they do. Some of them don't, but the majority do.

It'd be super freaking awesome if we didn't need them, but crop yields suffer if we don't.

They also use fertilizers and whine about commercial ones. Cow poop is great and all, but, in reality, it's not so great. There aren't enough cows in the world to fertilize all the fields that we grow crops in and they also introduce E. Coli, which isn't found in the nitrate-based fertilizers, which makes it more hazardous.

I think I'll stop posting for now. I just realized that I'm venting to Dailytech readers. Not that you guys suck, just that it won't make a real big difference.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By Alexvrb on 10/9/2010 4:34:59 PM , Rating: 2
Even in organic farms that use pesticides, the type and amount differ greatly from conventional farms. I'm on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum from hippies - I think anthropogenic climate change is a crock of dung, carbon taxes are idiotic, and nuclear power is clean and safe.

However, when it comes to things like untested gene modification of seeds, along with overuse of chemicals used for pest control and plant growth, I'm with the hippies. I never thought I'd say that. Also growth hormones we feed animals, no thanks. The government on the other hand is all for that stuff.

Too bad the hippies are too stupid to realize that the Congress and President they elected aren't interested in truly helping the enviroment. They'd rather waste our time with the carbon boogeyman, and ignore the all of the stuff they're doing to our FOOD, or the plight of the honeybee, etc.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By Quadrillity on 10/5/2010 10:18:34 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Many farmers who use traditional seed have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because of cross-pollination between traditional harvested seeds and GMO seeds. The farmers don't have the financial means to defend themselves, and are forced to either go bankrupt defending themselves and sell their farms or start purchasing GMO seeds. I think it is a travesty that the courts have upheld this perversion of law. Not only is it illegal, but it's arguing against the way in which nature works.


Very informative post. Our forefathers would choke on their own tongues if they were around to see this happening. Suing farmers for farming... now that's a new one! This sort of injustice makes me want to lose hope for America; and humanity in general :(


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By bupkus on 10/7/2010 12:58:28 AM , Rating: 2
If only farmers were in a position to stop planting crops for one season. This would bring the problem to the attention of Congress right fast.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By Quadrillity on 10/7/2010 11:19:31 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, that's the major problem here. They can't do a single thing about it because the majority of people still think that, "food comes from the grocery store". Think of how immoral it would be for farmers to stop farming? They would essentially be starving people all over the world! And since they most of them aren't tyrants like that, they are in the palm of congress/big business until the day they die or retire. It's a sick and pathetic catch22 that should be stopped at all cost. The perversion of law in this country makes me want to throw up!


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By nafhan on 10/6/2010 9:16:39 AM , Rating: 2
It's kind of crazy that one of the biggest problems facing farmers today is patent infringement. We tend to focus on the software side of things, here, but the problems with US patent system are affecting everyone!
At this point, patent reforms could solve three of the four problems you listed below. Genetic code really should not be patentable.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 12:13:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They lead to the overuse of herbicides and pesticides.

Powerful herbicides and pesticides are not needed. Organic farming is be able to produce significant quantities of produce without the need for these chemicals. And if you think that the chemicals are not absorbed into the crops, you would be a complete fool.


I can agree with all but this statement. GMO seeds are actually designed to reduce the amount of herbicides and pesticides used. In corn and soybeans it allows the use of a much less dangerous Roundup to replace other herbicides like Atrazine which does not break down in the soil and can remain in the ecosystem for decades. My laboratory has investigated situations where Roundup has been applied to a lake and after a few weeks there is not even enough there to be detectable since it breaks down into inert forms so quickly, yet other pesticides will be detectable even a year later.

Also Organic farming may be able to produce significant quantities of produce in a garden or small patch, it will not produce the same amount in a 1000 acre corn field unless you hire a huge workforce to manually go through it with a hoe and cut out the weeds, which would mean that either the food in the store would need to increase in price significantly to cover the cost, or we would need to find some form of free labor which I doubt will happen.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By flatrock on 10/6/2010 1:19:17 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
They lead to the overuse of herbicides and pesticides.


They generally make herbicides more effective against weeds by protecting the crops while not protecting the weeds. That can reduce the need for herbicides. It gives the farmers the option of using herbicides that won't kill their crops, but saying that causes the overuse of herbicides is misleading.

I can't understand how you can blems GM crops on overuse of pesticides. GM has allowed the plants to produce some protection from pests on their own, removing the need for pesticides. How does that get twisted around to leading to pesticide overuse?

quote:
Powerful herbicides and pesticides are not needed. Organic farming is be able to produce significant quantities of produce without the need for these chemicals.


You are welcome to that opinion, but a lot of farmers who make their livings off of this and have an awful lot of experience with it obviously disagree with you, and are in a much better position to know.

quote:
And if you think that the chemicals are not absorbed into the crops, you would be a complete fool.


You are apparently drifting to the topic of herbacides and pesticides rather than GM crops, but I don't disagree that small quantities are absorbed. The question is if such small quantities cause any harm to those that consume them, and the science says no. Our bodies are very good at removing small quantities of most herbicides and pesticides without any harm. It is only when our ability to do so is overwhelmed that harm is done. However, it is always easy to make people fear that maybe we don't know all the effects of everything we put in our bodies.

quote:
Many farmers who use traditional seed have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because of cross-pollination between traditional harvested seeds and GMO seeds.


I haven't heard of this, but I would expect that the farms growing the GM crops would be liable to any damages to the crops of their neighbors, including the loss of the ability to use seeds from their crops. The way our legal system works, Monsanto has to protect their product. The losses appear to come from the misuse of the GM seeds by the neighboring farms. I would think those neighboring farms would be liable.

quote:
They find ways to force farmers to buy their product. Sorry, actually farmers only license their product, because farmers are not allowed to keep or use the seeds from the crops that are grown from GMO seeds. So farmers are forced to buy new seed every year.


Licensing the produce isn't really unreasonable due to the type of product they are selling. Otherwise someone else could simply buy a small quantity of their seeds and then steal the fruits of their labors.

The problem comes from cross polination with crops from farmers that did not buy or license the GM seed. I suspect that Monsanto has guidelines on how far appart crops should be planted to avoid this problem. If those aren't being followed, or the farmer planting the GM seed has good reason to expect that his crop will cause cross polination with a neighbor's crop than they should be liable for the results, not Monsanto.

quote:
I would be more than happy if GMO crops were out lawed. We don't need GMO in order to produce enough food.


You do farmers a disservice by assuming they are too stupid to to have figured out what works best for them and what poses the least risk for the possible reward. This is true even among the smaller family farms. The market has been competitive enough for a long time that most of the stupid ones are gone. As for producing enough food, how much is enough? You do realize that if you decrease supply, the price will go up. You will raise the costs of the essentials for people. You will significantly effect the cost of living of our poorest citizens. Most likely you will reduce the standard of living for a great many people.

quote:
GMO crops are a tool for herbicide companies to sell seeds that are compatible with their chemicals.


And if that increases net crop yields after taking into account losses to pests, then they are providing a worthwhile service.

If you want "organic" foods, buy organic foods. There is a thriving market for them and they are widely available. Crops grown that way have a greater intrinsic value to many people that are willing to pay a bit more for them, so a thriving market has developed to meet that demand.

However, outlawing GM foods, not to mention the pesticides and herbacides you appear to strongly oppose as well, is something that would have an adverse effect on a great many people. The government needs strong, scientific evidence of a genuine problem before such an intrusion into what is a thriving market. Not merely fears and a dislike for big business.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By FaaR on 10/6/2010 4:28:41 AM , Rating: 2
Using antibiotics in agriculture is just monumentally stupid. It's an open invitation for microorganisms to develop resistance against the greatest life-saving tool mankind has ever discovered.

We'll be well fucked the day antibiotics no longer work against infections because it was over-used by the food industry (as well as hysterical people popping penicillin whenever they got a cold - which is pointless, since it doesn't work on viral infections - etc.)

Defending the mis-use of antibiotics should be an automatic 25 lashes with the nine-tailed cat, IMO. It's absolutely inexcusable, and actually threatening to basically all of modern surgery and by extension, medicine as a whole.


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By Expunged on 10/6/2010 12:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
Out of the entire post that is the only thing you can find to comment on? I'm not defending the use of antibiotics, I'm was just demonstrating the adgenda of the source quoted by Tiffany in this article. That may have been a bad example of one of their goals as the BROAD use of antibiotics is monumentally stupid. Antibiotics mixed into feeds, water supplys, etc are a terrible idea. That said, all antibiotics a bad thing.

Sick animals need to be treated unless you want to just let them die or kill them so they don't suffer. Individial treatment with antibiotics coupled with correct usage and dosage poses no more significant problem than you taking some amoxicillin from your doctor for a week to get rid of an ear infection. As long as withdrawl times and dosage are followed there are no significant problems in treating animals as needed.

My entire point in my post was that certain DT authors take a blind approach to reporting. They take information from whatever makes their point as long as it's what they want to hear. It'd be like getting that second opinion that says "No, you don't have cancer" from Dr. Seuss. He might be telling you what you want to hear but does he have a clue what he's talking about?


RE: Amazing isn't it...
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 12:03:42 PM , Rating: 2
I would misuse would be the problem not using antibiotics in general. If you are not allowed to use antibiotics at all, then in a matter of days an entire herd of animals could be wiped out by something like pneumonia.

It is not smart to pump animals full of antibiotics just because you can, but just as with humans, using them to treat an actual infection should be allowed. Anthrax, Blackleg, Brucellosis, and many other infections can wreak havoc on a herd and cause the deaths of thousands of animals very quickly if not treated. This would bankrupt many farmers if it ever happened. But education is what need to be pushed so that just as in hospitals and doctors offices, farmers also use antibiotics in a responsible manner.


Farming in South Texas
By ICBM on 10/5/2010 4:31:54 PM , Rating: 5
As a farmer in South Texas, I can safely say that the only complaint farmers have with genetically modified seed is price. Yes there is some concern about some weeds becoming resistant, however this can be overcome by using traditional crop specific herbicides that conventional farms would use IF the need arises.

You do save a lot of money on herbicide, pesticide, and fungicides, so this can offset the extra cost of seed. Not to mention, there is only one herbicide you will really need to use (Round Up or generic), which compared to the most chemicals is very safe and very cheap. One of the biggest advantages not mentioned is reduced risk. You don't need to worry about which herbicide to use, or whether you catch an insect invasion in time to spray the correct pesticide. You don't need to worry about the weather holding up allowing you to make a spraying. Not to mention, you save time not having to put out the chemicals.

As far as monopolies goes, this could be very dangerous for everyone. The lower we can keep seed costs the better. Monsanto is a scary force, and they do need to have someone keep an eye on them. Competition is good in all industries.




RE: Farming in South Texas
By The Raven on 10/5/2010 5:40:31 PM , Rating: 4
I haven't looked too much into the matter but from what I understand M$ (MonSanto ;-) is prosecuting people who's fields are inadvertantly being pollenated by plants grown from their GM seeds. It is like M$ (MicroSoft) prosecuting people for using Windows that self installed on their hardware.

(I'm so glad that is impossible for Microsoft to do that.)

Also, I understand that Monsanto prevents farmers from using the seeds that are produced by the GM crops to grow new crops. If they do, they are prosecuted just like a pirate who burns a copy of Windows.

Of course correct me if I'm wrong, but that is my understanding.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By NovoRei on 10/5/2010 7:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
Always thought that GM seeds cant pollinate so thats why you need to buy again each year.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By mino on 10/5/2010 7:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that is the theory, pardon, business model.

But, you know, mother nature does not give a shit about our theories ...


RE: Farming in South Texas
By PCR on 10/6/2010 11:56:25 AM , Rating: 2
There are so many factual inaccuracies in a lot of these posts I have read that I am not even sure where to begin correcting.

GMO seed crops will cross pollinate with regular crops without any issues. Monsanto had a project called "Terminator" which it acquired by buying Delta & Pine Land Company. These plants would develop normally except that they would not flower, thus would not produce any fruit. This technology was never commercially deployed.

All current GM plant seeds in use have the ability to flower and produce fruit.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 12:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All current GM plant seeds in use have the ability to flower and produce fruit.


Which if they didn't in corn and soybeans would make them pretty much worthless since the fruit(seeds) is what you want to sell.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By RivuxGamma on 10/5/2010 8:24:45 PM , Rating: 3
I would so love to see a field of crops with the BSOD.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By The Raven on 10/6/2010 12:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
FYI, one point of contention are the claims in the documentary Food, Inc.
Here is Monsanto's response on the matter (aimed specifically at the film).
http://www.monsanto.com/food-inc/Pages/default.asp...

I have seen the film and read their response, but I still don't like what Monsanto is saying here (in their very carefully crafted words). And I can't remember everything from the film but it seems Monsanto left some stuff out as well. I'll have to watch it again sometime.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By ICBM on 10/6/2010 4:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
Monsanto owning rights of seed is nothing new, not even in the traditional non-GMO foods. For example, traditional seed is grown and bred. The idea is to take traits from both parents, and have a superior variety. This is traditional plant breeding. You have private companies and universities that will breed new varieties, and then they sell the seed and have royalties anytime the fruit is sold as seed. So "copyright protection" has existed on the agriculture side of things for quite a while.

Where it can get scary is when you have companies like Monsanto producing the seed, and the chemical. The only way they will sell you the seed at a cheaper price is if you agree to buy RoundUp from them, which is way overpriced compared to generics. And when I say cheaper, it is still outrageously priced. However if it was too expensive, farmers would not be planting GMO crops. There is a reason the overwhelming number of farmers plant GMO crops.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By AlexWade on 10/5/2010 6:19:47 PM , Rating: 3
I have a friend who is a farmer. I specifically asked him about Monsanto after watching the documentary Food, Inc. He acted like they weren't that bad and told me about how much of a time saver Round Up was. (Of course, he then went on about how organic is a scam because the foods are washed so many times there isn't any pesticide left on them.) I have no doubt Monsanto does some questionable practices. But I concluded that documentary was over-dramatic for effect.

As an aside, I will say I do know of chicken houses like those depicted in the documentary. That has me very concerned. Livestock should be treated properly. It is my opinion that animals that are treated properly and fed properly taste better.


RE: Farming in South Texas
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 12:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As an aside, I will say I do know of chicken houses like those depicted in the documentary. That has me very concerned. Livestock should be treated properly. It is my opinion that animals that are treated properly and fed properly taste better.


I can agree there. My parents and grandparents always had a farm and we always raised a steer or hog our use and had it processed at a smaller size than what is normally sent to market. Comparing that to what I get in the stores now, well there really is no comparison even if buying the organic or other specially certified types.


Umm.
By smartalco on 10/5/2010 4:20:00 PM , Rating: 2
[quote]Genetically altered seed is used by a majority of U.S. farmers because weeds at one time were much easier to kill with herbicides such as Roundup.[/quote]
This doesn't even make sense. The engineered seed is used because weeds were easier to kill? No. The seed is used because the seed itself is much more resistant to glysophate (the chemical in Roundup), allowing you to spray your field without killing your corn.
And I can attest that glysophate still works just fine to kill weeds (at least here in the midwest).

[quote]According to the latest statistics, the amount of farms using biotech seeds only rose one percent last year, from 85 percent to 86 percent.[/quote]
So even though the market is nearly already saturated, the adoption of biotech seeds is expected to continue to rise at the same or higher rate?

It appears the sole reason biotech seeds are being used less is because the prices are going up. This isn't particularly news to farmers, just interest groups who claim to actually care about farmers. Plot grain prices to inflation for the last 50 years and try to tell me farmers haven't been getting screwed for decades.




RE: Umm.
By jimbojimbo on 10/5/2010 5:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
There's another side to the entire cost total. A conventional farmer could keep some of his yield as seeds for the next season. This is the usual method to continue your livelihood. Anybody that grew Monsanto plants are not allowed to collect and prepare seeds for the next year. They MUST buy their seeds for the next season from Monsanto yet again. Try to clean your seeds yourself and you'll get sued until you run out of money.


RE: Umm.
By Crellin on 10/5/2010 10:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
Most seed you can buy today are not a "true" variety they are a hybrid. These hybrids are produced by normal breeding practices but just like the GMO seeds if you replant the seed from your crop you will not get the original variety. You will get still get a squash for instance but it won't be what you planted the first year. And concerning organic farming, if you grow organic you can expect at least a 30% drop in your production as well as a decrease in quality.

Oh yeah, folks that don't know anything about farming should not be writing articles about it.

And before someone questions what I have said, I have been a produce farmer for over 20 years and I know what I am talking about.


Obvious...
By gamerk2 on 10/6/2010 8:22:49 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"There just isn't competition out there," said Craig Griffieon, a farmer in Ankeny, Iowa.


Duh? Thats how Capitalism works: The most successful run the less successful out of business, leading to monopoly. The only possible end result of Capitalism is Money Inc.




RE: Obvious...
By AEvangel on 10/6/2010 11:25:52 AM , Rating: 2
That is not necessarily true...as soon as one creates a Monopoly and starts fixing their prices at an inflated rate then another company would step in offer the same service or product at a lower price.

But due to the anti competitive practices of Companies like ADM and Monsanto and the protection of the Federal Govt it's almost impossible to offer any competition.


RE: Obvious...
By Moohbear on 10/7/2010 1:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
The arrival of competitors when there's a monopoly is not guaranteed. It depends a lot on the cost of entry in the market. Building a new railroad network is not cheap, same for most infrastructure-heavy fields. You also need to convince customers/partners to side with you (look at MS or Apple). And that's without talking about price-dumping and cartels (official or not). That's why anti-monopoly regulation is needed.


U sure?
By bug77 on 10/5/2010 5:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
I thought this stuff was supposed to become sterile in a couple generations. Otherwise you could just buy a handful of seeds and be set for life. Then again, I never paid close attention to this subject.




RE: U sure?
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 12:33:35 PM , Rating: 2
From what I have seen the Roundup Ready versions will breed true into the continuing generations unlike many hybrid seeds. But you can't just buy the seeds one year and then save a few to plant next year because Monsanto claims them as Intellectual Property and by doing so you have pirated their IP and they can and do sue farmers who try it.


By iamezza on 10/5/2010 11:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
If there was actual competition in the market everyone would be a lot better off.

What is wrong with having crops that are resistant to insects, extreme hot/cold, drought, salinity, disease?




By Lerianis on 10/7/2010 4:47:40 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing, except in the minds of the hippies and the religious who think that there is a 'god' that made things perfect from the get-go.


A suggestion
By lolmuly on 10/6/2010 2:24:56 AM , Rating: 2
Genetically modified seed has to be sold differently...

Currently, seeds are sold as a hard good, the farmers buy the seed, grow the crops, and then throw away any produced seed only to buy it again next year.

Instead seeds need to be sold as intellectual property (since that's how they're being treated anyway)... there would be 3 main rules to this

1 Engineering Companies would have to do at least a 10 year study before commiting to any sales, then once they start selling, they would only be allowed ip rights for the first 5 years. They would be allowed to continue selling the seed, however natural spread of the genes would nullify any ip claims.

2 No suicide genes. Farmers would be allowed to reuse seed, period. Farmers would pay for the right to introduce a new gene to their crops. By choosing from a market of genes they could essentially "build" a perfect crop. Genes could be designed to do anything, increased nutritional value, increased yield, resistance to pesticides, increased vitality. By picking and choosing in this manner it would almost be like certain rpg's where you choose which parts of a character you want to work on.

3. Crops would have to be sold based on these new parameters. For instance, 100 pounds of super nutritious grain should be worth more than 100 pounds of regular grain. We would need a system of evaluation and certification so that farmers could be paid accordingly.

If genetic engineering is done in this manner, our food will become more nutritious, and easier to produce. Everybody at every level will profit, and we will be able to incorporate both the best parts of nature and the greatest feats of human engineering.




RE: A suggestion
By JediJeb on 10/6/2010 1:55:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Currently, seeds are sold as a hard good, the farmers buy the seed, grow the crops, and then throw away any produced seed only to buy it again next year.


Since the article is mostly talking about corn and soybeans the farmers are not throwing away the seeds, that is what they sell to make their money. But if they do keep some of the seed to plant next year, Monsanto will sue them for theft of IP.


Amazing
By owyheewine on 10/6/2010 11:35:44 AM , Rating: 4
Gosh, the most coherent, thoughtful posts about the drivel in the article are the ones posted by farmers. Imagine that. Those rural rubes know more about their business than anyone else. Successful modern farmers are businessmen, horticulturists, weathermen and probably the hardest working people in the country. Most of them realize the economic benefit of modern seeds, whether conventionally produced hybrids or the genetically altered ones.
All of our food crops are in some ways redults of genetic alteration and the world is moch better fed because of that.




Tiffany wants all people in poverty to die
By hemmy on 10/6/2010 1:52:00 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get the environmental nuts/hippies.

They seem to care so much about plants and other animals, but hate human beings. Genetically engineering crops can provide food to millions of starving people.




By PCR on 10/6/2010 2:04:21 PM , Rating: 2
I agree 100%, not sure why the hate against genetic engineering and GMO's in general. Lately I have read articles on DT that are biased against GMO's. The articles don't seem to say why GMO's are bad or good. Genetic engineering can and will provide food for millions in the coming decades, we need to get over this unwarranted fear.

If a GMO's are bad provide scientific evidence not conjecture and FUD!


Herbiciede resistance
By DaBoSSs on 10/6/2010 9:42:04 AM , Rating: 3
What's the point of planting a herbicide resistant crop if the weeds in your area are resistant to the herbicide in question?




Wrong, wrong, wrong
By mikerick on 10/6/2010 10:46:49 AM , Rating: 3
This is the one of the worst examples of journalism I have ever read. There are so many mistakes, falsehoods, half-truths, and misunderstanding that I am depressed that I spent five minutes reading it and writing this comment.




Monsanto
By roykahn on 10/5/2010 10:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
Just do a search for "Percy Schmeiser" and his struggles with Monsanto over the last several years to see why there should be less use of GMO's. An excellent quote of his: "GMOs were never meant to feed a hungry or starving world. They were meant to get control of farmers’ seed supply. That gives them the control of the world food supply."

I also recall reading somewhere that there was an experiment with using GMO crops in some African or South American country and the study found that the traditional farming methods produced better long term outcomes.




Fine article
By me1234 on 10/8/2010 11:23:09 AM , Rating: 2
The monopoly situation is bad. The reduction of genetic variation on farms across the U.S. and the world is very, very bad.

By the way, I don't understand (or think much of) the animus in some of these posts. The article is perfectly intelligible.

Personally, I'd be interested in the point of view of the independent/conventional seed producers who have lost business. Is the consensus among these people that Monsanto has a good product or that it's unfair business practices or both? But this would be a PhD project! Not a "daily" tech assignment. I'd also be interested in Monsanto's view of the genetic diversity of our planted crops. Does it matter? Is it enough to have seeds frozen somewhere that do have diversity? Etc.




Take THAT
By BailoutBenny on 10/8/2010 5:12:52 PM , Rating: 2
Clarence Thomas!




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