We had our second farmer meeting of the year this morning! It’s always good to get farmers under single roof to exchange ideas and tips with one another. The emphasis of this meeting was grain options available to our farmers, and those which our customers are particularly interested in.
We were lucky enough to have Spectrum Non-GMO (based out of Lafayette, IN) meet with us and some of our farmers to talk about non-GMO corn seed options. They pointed out that GMO seeds are more expensive, and that the traits they offer are often not particularly helpful to every farm. For example, a particular strain of genetically modified corn offers resistance to the European Corn Borer (which despite its name does now exist in the North American ecosystem). But a declining population of the corn borer brings into question whether or not a strain resistant to it is worth the extra price. Additionally, GMO seed operations push drought resistant seeds, but in Indiana we have not had a drought severe enough for these drought resistant seeds to perform any better than non-GMO seeds. Brent from Spectrum compared constant planting of GMO’s to giving cattle antibiotics every day in case they get sick. Though there are times when antibiotic use is necessary to ensure the health of an animal, regular use is unnecessarily costly and can have unintended consequences such as the development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
Writing a fair piece on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) in food is challenging, but necessary in order to allow consumers to make educated purchasing decisions. In the future I’ll be presenting the cases for and against the use of GMO’s. At This Old Farm we pride ourselves in our ability to trace a products’ origins to determine exactly how it was raised. If you tell us the qualities you like, and those you’d like to avoid, you can trust that we’ll provide a product that meets your standards. We also pride ourselves in our ability to work with a variety of farmers trying to turn farming into a profitable venture through which they can feed their families. There is a disconnect between the consumer and the farmer. I’ve heard many a farmer grumble about “urbanites” not being appreciative of the problems faced in making a living in small scale agriculture. On the other side, farmers are often unaware of exactly why consumers want a particular product.
This disconnect has many faucets, but among the most publicly discussed is the use of GMO’s. Hopefully by addressing what is known (and what isn’t), and by avoiding making boogey men out of normal people and businesses trying to do what’s best for them and their families like everybody else, we can bridge this disconnect. Doing so requires discussion, and intellectual openness. What are your thoughts on GMO’s? Are you a farmer or consumer? Do you think there’s a place for GMO’s in modern agriculture, and if so what does it look like? I look forward to reading your thoughts.