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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.


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