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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: 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!


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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