Archive for the ‘biotechnology’ Category

Monsanto: Who are they and what do they want from us?

By: Paige McFarland; Intern

After a trip to Lawrence Kansas last summer I found myself asking who is Monsanto? I was driving out of the Target parking lot where I saw a STOP sign accompanied with the word ‘Monsanto’ underneath. This honestly just confused me at first. I started thinking to myself- they are just seed dealers, right? I looked into the ‘March Against Monsanto’ movement a little more that summer and familiarized myself with the company itself and what their overall mission statement was. Upon doing my research, I asked family and friends who follow me on Facebook one simple question. I said ‘What is one word that comes to mind when you hear Monsanto?’ I got over 30 different answers- that is what you will find in the word collage above. My initial thought was that I would have ag people giving mainly ag responses. I was extremely excited when I got feedback from people with differing opinions. This wordle above has every response, so you can see that there were some differing opinions. I felt like it needed to be addressed- why are there so many different opinions?

After cruising through numerous Anti-Monsanto websites I found the Monsanto mission statement:

“Monsanto employees are 100 percent focused on agriculture – breeding seeds and developing products that help farmers produce more food, feed and fiber while conserving resources like soil and water. As a technology innovator and global leader, we are committed to: assuring the safety and quality of our products; promoting a culture of integrity through our business conduct; and supporting initiatives and organizations with similar aims.” (www.monsanto.com)

Then I came across the site for ‘March Against Monsanto’ where their mission statement says:

“Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs. Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc. Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets. Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly. We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.” (www.march-against-monsanto.com)

What is the common ground here? What do these two entity’s have in common?

They both want a safe and abundant food source. As foodies, moms, families or food consumers of any type, we want to know what we are eating. I grew up on a small family farm in Eastern Kansas so you could say that I know the struggles of a being part of a small family operated business. On the contrary, I am also a grocery shopper so I know the struggles of choosing what is best for me to eat at the store.

After listening to Robert Fraley, the 2013 World Food Prize winner and also the Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto, I again, stand assured that our food source is safe and nutritious. According Fraley’s talk, biotechnology has been approved in 37 countries. There has been study after study done to ensure the safety of GMO crops not only by the regulatory agencies in the United States, but also to over 40 other countries due to the amount of grain we export.

There are activists who have their strong beliefs and probably can’t be swayed by the truth. However, there are millions of moms, dad, brothers and sisters who hear the anti-GMO message and truly have questions. There are many farmers who use these products who are ready to share their own stories about how and why they use GMO crops. There are many credible scientists who can speak to the safety of GMOs. Let’s open a discussion and create better understanding.

For more information you can visit any of the following sites:

www.findourcommonground.com

www.gmoanswers.com

Sustainably Feeding the World

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

How can we best feed the word? Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute talks about how to best protect the environment with regards to agriculture on a new episode of Green State TV.

New research shows that the best way to save the biodiversity of Mother Earth is to produce as much as you can on a given acre. Avery states that we need to use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Avery goes on to say that “if we had to do it organically, you’re talking about the equivalent manure of 6-8 billion additional cows on the Earth, which is five times more cows than exist on the plant today. When we are already pasturing and grazing 26% of the Earth’s total land area, 500% more cows is going to take up all that is left.”

Alex Avery also speaks about pesticides and herbicides which help growers produce more per acre in a sustainable manner. Today, growers are able to produce more with less soil erosion. Farmers have adopted conservation tillage on millions of acres of land – and continue to expand the use of no-till and minimal till practices. The benefits for the environment are significant. No-tilling means remnants from the previous year’s crop are left untouched. Not only does this improve the soil over time, but it significantly reduces soil run-off during snowmelt or heavy rain.  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion 44 percent in two decades by using these innovative conservation methods.

Kirk Wiscombe of Overbrook, KS plants corn

Avery gives credit to a popular herbicide, Atrazine which has been used by corn, sorghum, sugarcane and other produce growers since the 1950s.  Atrazine is the cornerstone of sustainable, low erosion, no-till farming which has revolutionized sustainability in agriculture. Conservation tillage is an option for more farmers today because of technological advances. Corn plants that are resistant to safer herbicides means controlling weeds in a no-till field is more efficient and less harmful to the land and people. Seed that resist insect damage mean fewer insecticides are needed to protect the crop, and that means fewer passes across the field. These technologies are made possible through biotechnology.

With advancements in technology, farmers can continue to produce more food with less soil erosion, less fertilizer, less acreage, less water and less fuel. America’s farmers have a moral obligation to care for Mother Earth and produce food for a growing population.

Additional Resources:

Corn Farmers Coalition

Biotechnol0gy

Conservation

Grocery Store Tips and Saving Money

By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist

There are a few stores that I can’t seem to exit without spending a great deal of money. Target, Younkers, The Pink Suitcase and the grocery store, just to name a few. While sometimes I can’t control my desire to shop for the most recent fashions, I have learned a few things about grocery shopping.

#1: Don’t go hungry. Seems easy and we’ve all heard this suggestion but we still do it. I am much better off going to the store AFTER I’ve eaten to avoid impulse purchases.

#2. Plan ahead. Planning out your week or at least a few meals and making a list will save you multiple trips to the grocery store. My trips to the store recently got out of control so I’m focusing my efforts on this one!

#3. Take advantage of sales and coupons. Checking out the weekly store ads and stocking up on things that have a long shelf life can save you money. Though I’m not much of a “coupon-er”, “Extreme Couponing” is one of my favorite shows! (If you haven’t seen it- check it out. It’s truly fascinating!)

#4. Don’t be fooled. Organic, natural, and hormone free foods are generally more expensive. You always “get what you pay for” so these foods must be better for you, right? Wrong. There is no nutritional difference between organic food and non-organic (also known as conventional) food.

#5. Feel good about living in the U.S. where we have abundant, affordable, nutritious food at our fingertips. I often wonder if I’m paying too much for food. However, I must say that we’re fortunate in the United States to have to spend only 10% of our income on food, versus 18-25% around the world. Food in our country remains relatively inexpensive and we’re also fortunate to have a wide array of choices.

Are farmers getting rich when I pay more for food at the grocery store? Actually, the U.S. farmer’s share of the retail food dollar has been declining for more than 60 years. In 1950, farmers received more than40 cents for every food dollar that consumers spent in the store. Today, they only receive 19 cents. Transportation, marketing and distribution account for a substantial portion of food prices.

To learn more about food prices, food and farming check out http://www.findourcommonground.com.