Joe Whalen wrote:
I propose that the following USDA definition of GMO [Genetically Modified Organism(s)] be used for the purposes of this discussion:
A variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.
That is an acceptable definition. I applaud your effort, Joe. My concern is that most of the anti-gmo crowd has a thought process that goes something like this:
GMO=Roundup Ready=Monsanto=BAD! Thus, it follows, GMO=BAD!
As I've stated before there is a lot more to GMO's than JUST Roundup Ready technology. Insect resistance is one example. Bt corn has eliminated the need to spray Lorsban or Furidan for corn borer. The environment is a better place because of this GMO technology.
Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Rather, let's be a little more discerning. Let's also understand the scope and scale of GMO technology. It is much much bigger and more entrenched than those asking for petition signatures understand. The truth is nearly all of our food would be labeled as "Contains GMO's". Again, I am fine with signing a petition. I just wish people understood the scope of what they are purposing.
We are becoming more and more aware with each passing day that our food supplies are becoming dangerous due to GMO. Our beautiful state of Montana is known for growing gorgeous flowing wheat fields, corn fields, sugar beets and so much more. We must protect that which feeds our families and is the livelihood of so many Montana familes.
I would contend that it is exactly because of GMO's that the above is true.
For example, the Clearfield genes in wheat allow control of grass weeds that would render a lot wheat country much less productive. Consider the following:
There IS some wheat amongst the rye. This field WAS sprayed with a grass/broadleaf herbicide. Obviously, it was not effective. There are a lot of wheat fields in Southeastern Montana that would look like this without Clearfield wheat. This is actually is Clearfield wheat, but the grower decided the herbicide was too much money so went for a cheaper option.
The farmer sprayed the outside round and decided on the 14th of May that it was not worth spending additional money on the crop. It started raining on the 17th of May. The stand of wheat wasn't great, but you can see what the field would look like with and without Beyond herbicide and the Clearfield system.
So there are a couple of examples of GMO technology and what our wheat would look like without it. Yields would be greatly reduced. None of this GMO technology has anything to do with Roundup.
I can guarantee you that there are a bunch of farmers cutting wheat today that would love some sawfly resistance in their wheat. Montana State research has discovered that certain varieties of wheat produce pheromones that attract sawflys. Sawflys don't bother oats. MSU is working on identifying the genes responsible for pheromone production in oats with the objective of including those genes into wheat. How would that be objectionable to the anti-GMO crowd?
So let's talk about Roundup. I would contend that it is safer to spray your sugar beets twice a year with Roundup than with Nortron and a whole host of other very nasty chemicals as is the old practice. Roundup as a part of a chem-fallow operation has greatly reduced tillage and in turn protects soil from erosion. One of the benefits of reduced erosion is cleaner water. Because soil isn't moving, soil nutrients such as phosphorus are not transported to our streams and rivers.
There are reasons to be concerned about the over-use of Roundup. There is danger in the development of roundup resistant weeds. There is also a danger in an increasingly narrow genetic pool for our crops. The right pestilence under the right conditions could create major problems with our food supply.
Again, I have no problem with people signing the petition if they so desire. But, let's be more discerning and avoid the associated over-reaction and panic approach to the issue.