Factual Science and Maybe Science


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From GENE LOGSDON

​I am not against genetic modification but only against the way that herbicide manufacturers are using it to justify patenting any plant in nature that interests them and then, in my opinion, trying to use the patents to gain unfair monopolies in the food and farm economy. So whenever I see research favoring agricultural GMOs that sounds to me like only maybe science, not proven science, you can hear my teeth grinding clear across the room. The latest is some research out of Purdue University being publicized all over and in at least one publication, Farm and Dairy, under the headline “Eliminating GMOs Would Raise Food Prices.” Note well that it doesn’t say “could” raise prices but “would” raise prices, insinuating that the findings conclude with a fact, not a possibility.

​Purdue scientists fed data gathered from worldwide cropland production in 2014 into a computer model which then told them that eliminating all GMOs in the United States would mean a decline in corn yields of 11.2%, soybean yields down 5.2%, and cotton down 18.6%. They then stated, as if it were written in stone and not in a computer program, that 250,000 acres of pasture and forest would have to be converted to cropland to make up for that loss. If not, commodity prices for corn would increase as much as 28% and soybeans 22%. Food prices would rise one to two percent or $14 billion to $24 billion a year.

​Snot. This is not proven science but just maybe science. Maybe it’s correct, maybe it’s not. First of all it is based on an assumption that GMO crops produce higher yields than conventional crops. Plenty of data out there indicates that this is only true when GMOs decrease weed and insect infestations enough so the crop can reach its potential. GMO corn and soybeans so far do not generally have genetic potential in themselves for increased yields, especially Roundup Ready soybeans.Maybe that will come, maybe not according to everything I have read. So if farmers find other ways to control bugs and weeds (some are hiring work crews to hoe out Palmer amaranth that has become immune to pesticides), increased yield from non-GMO crops might be just as probable as from GMO crops. You can’t canonize either assumption as truth by running it through a computer model programmed with that assumption.

​More indicative of bias, who says that nearly 250,000 acres of pasture and forest would have to be converted to cropland to make up the difference? Farmers could easily get that 250,000 acres, if indeed it were needed, by taking it out of the millions of acres of corn now being grown for piston engine food, not animal and human food. Some 40% of the corn in the corn belt goes to make ethanol. This at a time when we are glutted with cheap oil.

​And what about history’s model which shows that farmers continually over-produce and send farm prices to the cellar as is happening right now. If one is concerned about farmers’ incomes, removing 250,000 acres from cropland might be a way to do it. Government programs over the years have tried to do that time and time again, but farmers and agribusiness have always found ways to increase yields to offset the cut in acreage.

​But even if I accept Purdue’s maybe science as true, and even if I thought that more increases in yields were not forthcoming except with GMOs, there are 250,000 acres of land now idle that could grow crops without having to tear up productive forest and pastureland. I need look no farther than the creek valley behind my pasture to see at least 100 tillable acres that have been allowed to go back to brush. I would only have to find 2500 other places where this is occurring, and I don’t think that would be hard to do in an area as vast as the United States. I could find quite a few thousands of idle acres on the outskirts of cities where lots of land is now growing up in brush, held by investors waiting for developers to buy it. If I needed a little more there are golf courses around that are not making any money because of too many golf courses. One I know very well is being plowed up for crops right now. Much more plausibly, there are millions of acres in empty lots, oversized industrial and institutional campuses and backyard gardens—enough land to raise vast, unknown increases in food supply— which is what the new locavore farmers are doing.

​Maybe if I read the full report from the Purdue scientists, they take all my objections into account. Otherwise I can’t believe they could be so short-sighted in their conclusions. But I haven’t read the full report nor will other farmers. We read what the media reports. And what is being publicized is maybe science.
~~

20 Comments

We all love fields without weeds BUT at what cost? Industrial ag has given us beautiful clean fields but polluted streams and decreased animal and insect diversity. Life on earth requires diversity. We need to finally look at all the results of our action. Maybe potatoes in Florida is not a good choice just like oranges in Pennsylvania would be a bad choice.

What I see here is people who think others are doing things wrong and should be stopped. I hate weeds. When I started farming 46 years ago there where no herbicides for potatoes. Growing fresh market potatoes in Florida meant you had to hope your early planting wasn’t killed back by a late frost. After the third week in May the weeds and grass would get so thick it was almost imposable to get a harvester through the field. I remember having to run a Bush Hog ahead of the harvester and you could only see the head of the man driving the tractor. Today the field in front of my house is 100% potatoes, zero weeds. Now you could say don’t try to grow potatoes in Florida, just grow what will grow in cold weather. If you want to guarantee a farmer a good profit I’m sure he will grow whatever crop you want anyway you want him to.

People who want weedy fields have never tried to harvest one or if they did had an independent income and didn’t need to make a profit. I used to read in farming magazines about successful farmers and most of them had a wife that was a nurse, school teacher, or postal worker. I went broke because my wife did not have a job making $10,000 a year.

    @ daddio7: A weed is just a plant no one has yet found a use for. Why didn’t you stop growing potatoes and get some goats or cows or something that would use up/get rid of the weeds without using chemicals? Maybe you just don’t understand the amount of damage done by weed killers. Goats and cows and chickens et al, are all cash crops, too.

    This article talks about commercial fertilizers and how they hang around in the water supply for over three decades. Don’t think for a moment that insecticides, pesticides and herbicides don’t do the same thing.

    http://www.cornucopia.org/2016/03/fertilizer-applied-to-fields-today-will-pollute-water-for-decades/

    Is that what you really want to have happen, just so you can have a crop of potatoes – with “zero weeds”?

    And what part of FL do you reside in where the temperatures are “cold”? Potatoes are usually a crop of Idaho and believe me they have some cold temps not even comparable to what you experience in FL.

Yes, snot to most of those computer models and the media reports that follow. Computer models are limited to what data is input are they not? And I suspect a computer is not partial to critical thinking. I also tend to think those urban engineers who are collectors of data have probably never set foot on a farm in their life. It may be a good bet they are not based in reality and more likely reside in the ethereal world of numbers. But then again I too am biased as I farm and have avoided hanging out at Purdue. To be fair, it is difficult to criticize the article if it is not a complete report. However the media has much to blame for the way they sensationalize their headlines, and pick and choose what is included in their articles. Unlike you Gene, most of us just skim over headlines accepting what is reported without giving it much thought. I know I usually do, to my misfortune. Although I prefer to imagine if I came across this article somewhere on the internet I’d probably roll my eyes at their audacious report and conclude that here is more media propaganda funded by corporate industry.

GMO seeds are not always the highest yielding in every situation.Weed resistance is causing farmers to have to put on more herbicides. Wait till the suburbanites realize the weeds they so desperately want to get rid of in their yards are slowly mutating to be resistant to any herbicides made. Now ‘farm’ weeds are mutating to be catastrophies in farm fields. When the other weeds that have been exposed and mutate in the future are poison ivy,crabgrass,clovers,thistles and such. lol Of course this could be good in some ways. Good grazing and nitrogen producing plants mutating and taking over. Imagine kudzu which is high in protien and a vine that is slowly becoming tolerant of cold weather as it slowly creeps north becoming impervious to weedkillers. Maybe it will finally over take and pull down those ridiculous skyscrapers that plague cities with their ivory tower thinkers and will serve as a warning to all those with grandiose plans for the rest of us.Maybe then they will leave us with common sense alone and let us farm and garden and feed the world.

John Kemp a brilliant young farmer/scientist from north east Ohio was asked at a meeting in Ontario Canada.. How do we stop Monsanto from ruling the world because they who own the seed will control the food supply and thereby rule the world? He said that is easy. Just all of us get together and buy Monsanto and then make me the President.
Our great grandchildren will look back on our generation and say “How could they have been so stupid? They gave up the right to grow their own seed.”
We didn’t need GMO seed. There was a better way and someday someone will write a best seller entitled “The Path Not Taken”

    @ Jim Boak: What we need to do is stop buying seeds and growing crops. Buy cattle and other animals and let them eat the superweeds and replenish the soil once again to its proper pH. When no one is buying or using chemicals and seeds from these monstrous companies, they will have to eat the seeds and drink the round-up. What a beautiful picture, huh?

As usual ‘Follow the Money Trail’. When two ‘experts’ disagree then either one or both of them aren’t experts.Most research today in the ag field gets the desired results that the folks
funding the research wants to get.Surprise! Surprise!(LOL)

I wonder what would happen if a strong case made its way to the Supremes, who upheld it, affirming the proper duration of any agricultural gene-modification patent shall automatically expire in three growing seasons, becoming open thereafter to all markets? Won’t happen, but one could maybe entice a camel to nudge its nose against the protection tent…
Gene, you are spot-on about maybe-science vs fact-based science. Good on ya.

Ethanol, so when the corn goes through the ethanol plant does it simply disappear? Oh that’s right they haul it off and feed it to livestock. It’s a wonder Cornflakes haven’t figured this out they could save money, the corn is processed and ready to be flaked. Just another thought, is this the same corn that is found in most of the processed food in the grocery store? The corn that’s fed to cows, big fat over weight animals, that stand around doing nothing in feed lots. What’s my point? Do you live in a city or a feed lot?

Well said Gene! I have read that farmers are not allowed to have their own crops tested for the presence of GMO s. Which makes sense since if the farmers can prove they were the victims ,they could sue the gmo peddlers.As for purdue, remember when they used to sow some seeds and not tend to it at all then call it their “organic” test plot.I could buy some round up swpray a plot then ignore it like they did and call it chemical!! I’m just hoping and praying our next president isnt beholden to monstersanto like old hillary or beerock.I’ normally hate politics but cant stand the thought of 8 more years of monsanto owned politicians running the country. This is the biggest issue i see facing farmers now even worse than the suburbanite housing.

I am officially out of the bee business as of last week. I had 35 hives in 2012. Three farms that had been raising cattle (2 of which I had bees on) converted to GMO corn, soybean, and wheat rotation, planted after first scorching everything down with herbicide. Roundup is sprayed on the wheat before harvesting to desiccate it. The past few years I’ve seen more sprayers running through the fields than I ever have. After hardly any hive losses for years, I have been losing at least half my hives every year. I make new hives from my surviving hives each year to try to hang on. This year none of my 7 remaining hives is healthy enough to take a nucleus hive from.

How necessary is all this corn and soy? None of it is in my diet or that of my goats. They’re not feeding the world–they are poisoning the world and only profitable because of government subsidies from the taxpayers they are poisoning.

But then I’m biased!

    I’m glad someone else has noticed the fall “burn down.”

    I recently drove across the state of Washington on the “blue roads” (non-Interstates), and in most fields, it looked like the surface of the moon.

    The worst of it for me was the buteos. My partner and I are avid bird-watchers, and we’d constantly point them out to each other. In a healthy farm ecosystem, you’ll see a Red-tailed hawk on a utility pole about every mile. But in the glyphosate-bombed farmland of Eastern Washington, not a hawk was to be seen for 50-mile stretches, in some places! It would only be in small towns that you’d see the Red-tailed hawks still-hunting from utility poles — they were totally absent from the fields they used to enjoy.

    And why could that be? Well, by killing every plant in sight, you remove all the food for the rodents, lagomorphs, and reptiles that used to live there, who are the food source for the buteos and owls, until the only living things you see in the glyphosate-devastated farmland are other human temporary visitors, whizzing by at 120 miles per hour.

    My God, what have we done to ourselves…

Let’s stop planting acres and acres of corn and soy, and let’s stop tearing up the beautiful pastures to do it. I’d much rather see cattle being raised on those “unused” acres than crops we don’t need. We already have total GLUTS of soy and corn (why do you think they’re using it as mock gasolines and turning it into, believe it or not, cooking oils)?

Can you tell I grew up on a cattle ranch . . . the only thing we planted were shelter belts.

Golf courses never made good sense to me, but then neither does golf. 😎 There are so many other ways to “exercise” – or whatever excuse they use to waste time. The “country club/golf course” mentality in most towns is that only the *players* in town hang out there. Ha, let them because they don’t fit in anywhere else! Golf courses are a waste of land and water, but that’s just my opinion. Have you ever seen a brown golf course? Not on your tin-type. Even in a drought situation, they’re always as green as a shamrock. What a waste.

I’d much rather watch a herd of beautiful horses or cattle on that land and we’d all be better off for it, too.

http://www.tendergrassfedmeat.com/2012/08/28/why-grassfed-meat-is-good-for-the-planet/

This is some of the best news farmers have had in ages and you’re throwing a wet blanket on it, Gene. PU just published a sure-fire way for farmers to increase crop prices and you say it’s all snot. All they have to do is go with low yields and decreased production and they should see the commodity prices soar. Even better, they can abandon the high-priced Monsanto seed and advertise “GMO Free” to boost their prices even more.

The only trouble is, I don’t know any farmers who are interested in decreasing production to increase prices using a cheaper seed. As you aptly pointed out, farmers are a contrary lot and tend to not follow the computer models.

If Purdue does not take into account your valid points it is a sad day. I will have to check this out myself. I graduated from this institution of higher learning many years ago. Although I have always had mixed emotions of their ties to large corporations, they have produced a lot of good research over the years in many disciplines.
I do know the Ag school has started several programs to promote local food production and the turf program is researching micro clovers in turf.

This type of media reporting is why we need people like yourself.

well said Gene . locally it is hard to find any help or even interest for what i call “real food” people are trained to cheap and convienient. I do not have time to even take food to a farmers market and that too cost money for the grower and takes time away from the work on the farm The farm I grew up on is now forest so I guess that’s a good thing the barn is down and all that’s l left is the granery that he built the year I was born -1947 . I grow most of my own foods and still have my grandparents hand tools and even some of the horse harness parts from when they farmed with horses I offered a work/ learn csa program here but found no interest because it cost money and requires a weekly committment to help and learn . ahh well …. mostly people would rather play in their time off and don’t see the value of learning to grow and put up foods and save seed make herbal medicines ect… at least that I could find around here .

    Yup. Real food. Something that is not mentioned is that the we in the “West” are simply getting fatter, while those in poorer countries go hungry. In your part of the world, the US, there is an ‘epidemic’ of diabetes and diseases associated with obesity. “Food” is cheap, and being so is consumed in ever larger and more unhealthy quantities. Now, I cannot prove causation, but the introduction of penicillin in the 1940s was not ‘proven’ by a Randomised Controlled Trial, and it might well be that the link between obesity and ‘cheap food’ is equally obvious.
    Maybe, we are digging our graves with our teeth? Maybe the drive for everything to be “competitively cheap”, and easily available is killing us and the planet on which we live?
    I am reminded of the aphorism by Oscar Wilde: “Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing”.

There are other issues with GMO’s that I find absolutely alarming:
1) There is no stopping the pollen from escaping and mixing with neighboring fields of non-GMO plants. Scientists cannot have tested all such permutations and their effects, and over time, and multiple generations, this can spread GMO genetics far beyond their original, intended “audience” — apparently unavoidably so.
2) There is a trend now of GMO companies actually (successfully) suing neighboring farmers for copyright infringement, when strands of GMO genetics are later found in otherwise non-GMO crops (no duh!). That they succeed in these lawsuits is testament to ignorance or graft, or some mixture of both.

    Very few people believe in the wind drift notion and that is sad. The scientists have repeated the lie that wind drift isn’t a problem so often that, to most people, it’s now a fact. This is why the idea of growing organic crops and foods are becoming a problem because what can really be organic in our pesticide/herbicide polluted world except veggie crops grown in a greenhouse? All the hubbub about classifying things as organic or non-GE is really just make believe for the most part. And buying food labeled as organic – food that has likely traveled 3000+ miles or more – is just a crapshoot. We really have no idea how that food was grown or under what conditions. Cornucopia.org is trying to get some of this straightened out, but in the end I’m not sure they, or anyone, can. It isn’t just farming chemicals we have to worry about, as can clearly be seen by the recent fiasco in Flint, MI and the DuPont chicanery in Ohio in the 1990’s (started in the 1950’s). Chemical companies simply don’t care as long as they make a buck on their end products.

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