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

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.

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

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:

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.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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