FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Fairy Tale of GM Crops

by JIM GOODMAN

Since the first commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in 1996, Monsanto and the rest of the big six Biotech seed companies, (Pioneer/DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, BASF and Bayer) have become masters at the art of story telling.

Farmers, always looking for the next big technology fix, loved the stories; the promise of better yields, less chemicals needed for weed control, higher profits and of course, a solution to the elusive goal of feeding the world.

Governments, seeing biotechnology as a huge economic engine, embraced the technology. University research was shifted almost exclusively to biotech crops.

GM was the wave of the future, bankers encouraged planting GM crops to guarantee a “profitable harvest”. Crop insurance premiums were lower for farmers planting GM. Everyone bought the story.

In a recent opinion piece in the Wisconsin State Journal former Secretary of Agriculture John Block touted the virtues of GM crops and credited them with producing higher yields, lower pesticide use and solving the ever growing problem of world hunger. Current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plugged GM at last week’s USDA Outlook Conference

Problem is, the promises were just good stories. The believers are missing the truth.

Weeds have become resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide and insects became resistant to the toxins produced by their GM corn.

As GM was planted on more acres, overall pesticide use went up, not down.

A University of Kansas study found that GM crops actually had lower yields than their conventional counterparts.

Even as the problems of GM crops become more apparent, the cost of GM seed continues to rise. Many farmers are backing away from GM, but finding non-GM seed is difficult, considering Monsanto controls roughly 90% of the corn and soy genetics in the U.S.

With corn and soy well under their control, Monsanto now hopes to gain USDA approval for Roundup resistant alfalfa. A perennial crop, alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown crop in the U.S. and again, Monsanto sees profit. The contamination of non-GM and organic alfalfa, the potential for further reduction of bee populations among other problems, seem of little consequence.

Feeding the world? GM will not do it, even former Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro admitted “The commercial industrial technologies that are used in agriculture today to feed the world… are not inherently sustainable.”

Still, Monsanto bills itself as a leader in global sustainability, ignoring the fact that true sustainability cannot be achieved when your only driving goal is the next quarterly profit report.

The world stands a better chance of feeding itself by using and improving upon farming methods  that have been relied upon for centuries. In Africa, for example, if indigenous crops, long adapted to their environment, were put forward as the solution to hunger, studies show that the population could have adequate food supplies and at times, cash income from sales of surplus crops.

So, why do so many continue to believe, to have faith in the story, when the evidence is against them?

When GM crops do not yield as promised?

When a USDA report shows that farmers actually loose income by planting GM crops?

When seed costs are unreasonably high as are the fertilizers and chemicals that are absolutely required to grow GM?

When consumers continue to reject GM foods citing concerns of their serious health risks?

When GM will not feed the world?

The GM story as told by the Biotech giants paints the future as a happy and prosperous place; farmers are profitable, everyone is well fed and the environment is protected.

The real GM story is not so happy, it is a story of market control, of environmental degradation, of deceived farmers and consumers.

JIM GOODMAN is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc WI and an IATP Food and Society Fellow.

More articles by:

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 26, 2017
John W. Whitehead
Policing for Profit: Jeff Sessions & Co.’s Thinly Veiled Plot to Rob Us Blind
Pete Dolack
Trump’s Re-Negotiation Proposal Will Make NAFTA Worse
George Capaccio
“Beauty of Our Weapons” in the War on Yemen
Ramzy Baroud
Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syrian War?
John McMurtry
Brexit Counter-Revolution Still in Motion
Ted Rall
The Democrats Are A Lost Cause
Tom Gill
Is Macron Already Faltering?
Ed Kemmick
Empty Charges Erode Trust in Montana Elections
Rev. William Alberts
Fake News? Or Fake Faith?
James Heddle
The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are Being Tested in Southern California
Binoy Kampmark
Slaying in Minneapolis: Justine Damond, Shooting Cultures and Race
Jeff Berg
Jonesing for Real Change
Jesse Jackson
The ‘Voter Fraud’ Commission Itself is Fraudulent
July 25, 2017
Paul Street
A Suggestion for Bernie: On Crimes Detectable and Not
David W. Pear
Venezuela on the Edge of Civil War
John Grant
Uruguay Tells US Drug War to Take a Hike
Charles Pierson
Like Climate Change? You’ll Love the Langevin Amendment
Linda Ford
Feminism Co-opted
Andrew Stewart
Any Regrets About Not Supporting Clinton Last Summer?
Aidan O'Brien
Painting the Irish Titanic Pink
Rob Seimetz
Attitudes Towards Pets vs Attitudes Towards the Natural World
Medea Benjamin
A Global Movement to Confront Drone Warfare
Norman Solomon
When Barbara Lee Doesn’t Speak for Me
William Hawes
What Divides America From the World (and Each Other)
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Was the “Russian Hack” an Inside Job?
Chandra Muzaffar
The Bilateral Relationship that Matters
Binoy Kampmark
John McCain: Cancer as Combatant
July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
Richard Hardigan
The Media is Misleading the Public on the Al-Asqa Mosque Situation
Matthew Stevenson
Travels in Trump’s America: Memphis, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Bentonville
Ruth Fowler
Fire at Grenfell
Ezra Kronfeld
The Rights of Sex Workers: Where is the Movement to Legalize Prostitution
Mark Weisbrot
What Venezuela Needs: Negotiation Not Regime Change
Binoy Kampmark
From Spicy to the Mooch: A Farewell to Sean Spicer
Wim Laven
Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing
Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail