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An anti Monsanto sign in a crop field  (Source:
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 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.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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