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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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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.


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