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OP-ED | Farm Bureau Urges Rejection of GMO Amendment

by Henry N. Talmage | Apr 6, 2014 9:37pm
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Agriculture, Opinion

For the last few years, the news has been positive for the agricultural industry here in Connecticut. The number of farmers markets across the state is on the rise. Our friends and neighbors are committed to buying our products. 

The legislature and Gov. Dannel P.  Malloy reestablished the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development—aimed at growing the industry. And, a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that for the first time in decades the number of farms is on the rise in Connecticut.

But that trend could be reversed if a piece of legislation before the General Assembly this session becomes law. 

Lawmakers have added an amendment to a pesticide bill that would ban the use and sale of some grasses, even grasses that have been genetically engineered to be more environmentally friendly or need less water. The amendment calls for an outright ban on a product that isn’t even on the market yet.

But, because this amendment was added late in the legislative process, we don’t really know what the justifications are for this drastic step. Without a public hearing on this amendment, the experts and those whose livelihoods would be impacted never had the opportunity to share their views and the science that shows that these products are safe.

Nor do we know how far this ban would go—what about plants developed using genetically modified techniques that have other beneficial characteristics like drought tolerance, require less pesticide use, or that need less mowing? Would the ban include the sale and use of GMO feed corn seed in Connecticut?  After all, corn is a grass. That would wipe out our dairy industry that has been using these products safely for many years.

We are incredibly disappointed that on an issue with such wide ranging ramifications for the agricultural and landscape industry we might not have an open and transparent process to hear from constituents and experts that will be directly impacted. We urge the Connecticut General Assembly to reconsider this measure.

Henry N. Talmage is the executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association.

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(9) Comments

posted by: DirtyJobsGUy | April 7, 2014  12:09pm

Good points (and backed by good science).  Our ancestors took grasses and genetically engineered them to be modern corn.  This enabled the support of large populations.  How is this any different.  Just green mumbo jumbo to scare people.

posted by: Real World Agriculture | April 8, 2014  9:30am

A few considerations:
Modern GMO plants are mostly developed so we can spray a certain chemical on them, usually glyphosate, but now others since glyphosate is losing its effectiveness.

Science is not the real world, just the world exposed to our line of questioning.  A group of short-term studies looking at a few variables is hardly a good line of questioning- it is poor science, and it is definitely not the real world. 

In the real world, glyphosate was first developed as a biocide, to prevent mold and other organisms in paint.  It kills bacteria and fungi as well as plants.  Glyphosate chelates trace minerals; it ties them up, especially manganese and zinc and makes them unavailable.  These minerals are enzymatic cofactors plants need to produce complete compounds (carbohydrates, proteins, etc.)  When they are unable to do this, plants become sick and succumb to fusarium fungi in the soil and die.  Humans need the same minerals to support enzymatic and bodily function. We also need gut bacteria for a healthy immune system.  In the real world, glyphosate is a microbicide, endocrine disrupter, and mineral chelation agent. 

Farmers, and large dairies in CT, would not collapse if GMO corn were not available- give them some credit- their existence does not depend on seed and technology companies.  Many still plant non-traited (non-GMO) corn because is it more profitable with no yield loss if smart agronomy is practiced.  Real, science-based, biological agriculture will yield higher quality forage, higher milk butterfat, higher milk production, and more profit. 

We should learn about the real science behind agriculture before we believe what industry tells us so they can sell us something.

Do you anyone that believes people get cancer because they are deficient in chemotherapy drugs?  Do you think our crops get diseases because of a pesticide deficiency?  If not, then what is the root cause of illness and disease?  (Hint- it is nutrition, and it can be corrected naturally)

posted by: Mom4Ag | April 8, 2014  1:52pm

I think it’s fair to point out that we have yet to see a GMO crop desgined for conservation.  Glyphosate resistant crops may have initially been touted as “green,” but industry records show that it was always known that these crops would lead to increased pesticide use. As far as Bt crops, horizontal gene tranfer is now accepted among the scientific community.

The genetically engineered crops that will actually come onto the market will only be those that will increase profits to the industry (biotech of course- not ag).  Crops that truly reduce the need for pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, etc would hurt the bottom line, and crops that are drought hardy would need to yeild exponentially more than conventional varities to make their development and sale profitable.

I take no issue with your call for transparency, but I question your definition of “environmentally friendly” and “safety.”  Is it environmentally friendly to threaten the genetics of wild plants and animals?  Safe to reduce the abundance of minerals in our soils, and thus our food?  To tinker- chemically and genetically-with the infintely complex microbiology and functions of soil? 

I find it troubling that anyone in the farming community would say that our intelligent, hardy dairy farmers would be “wiped out” by the loss of a singular tool in their toolbox.

posted by: Mike D. | April 8, 2014  4:30pm

GE roundup ready crops have lead to super weeds which stands to reason if we allow GE grass to takeover we will increase the amount of super weeds across CT, they will spread to farms. Using roundup or glyphosate a lot puts pressure on weeds to become resistant and they will so then another chemical or increasing amounts of roundup will be needed to kill them. The first rule of safe drinking water is to protect the watershed, GE grass would seem to increase the amount of non-point source pollution from lawn care chemicals. We want to lessen chemical usage not increase it. What if this grass contaminates organic dairy or meat production.

posted by: Viriato77 | April 9, 2014  1:46pm

I see a lot of assertions and no cites to peer-reviewed data. “Science is not the real world” *face-palm*

posted by: Real World Agriculture | April 9, 2014  3:45pm

Here is a link to 120 references- from Applied Soil Ecology, Journal of Plant Nutrition, Weed Science, Journal of Applied Microbiology, and others. 

If you don’t believe those, go to the source,  read the directions for roundup- monsanto tells you not to tank mix glyphosate with fertilizers because it will bind with the micronutrients.

It is time to educate ourselves instead of believing the salesmen.

http://www.greenpasture.org/utility/showDocumentFile/?ObjectID=4&find=glyphosate paper&happ=siteAdministrator

posted by: Real World Agriculture | April 9, 2014  4:11pm

This is a link to 120 references that describe what glyphosate does: peer reviewed publications like Journal of Applied Microbiology, Weed Science, Journal of Agronomy, and others.

If you don’t believe them, go to the source.  Monsanto recommends not tank mixing roundup with fertilizers because it binds with the micronutrients.

Look up any one of the many glyphosate patents, most reference applications as a biocide. 

It is time to educate ourselves.  This is your start, you have to take it from here.  I don’t want to be part of the modern industrial ag experiment.

posted by: Mom4Ag | April 9, 2014  4:15pm

Science is not the real world, because we don’t know what we don’t know.  We can only study the things we are aware of.  But the larger point is that science is not the real world farming.  A few field trials and some lab work won’t predict the performance of the exceedingly complex system on each individual farm.

posted by: Viriato77 | April 10, 2014  10:42pm

By the statement of every major scientific organization in the world. Here’s a few:
American Association for the Advancement of Science: ”The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.” (http://ow.ly/uzTUy)
American Medical Association: ”There is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods. Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.” (http://bit.ly/166OUdM)
World Health Organization: ”No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.” (http://bit.ly/18yzzVI)
National Academy of Sciences: ”To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” (http://http://ow.ly/uzWnF)
The Royal Society of Medicine: “Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from that most litigious of countries, the USA.” (http://1.usa.gov/12huL7Z)
The European Commission: ”The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are no more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.” (http://bit.ly/133BoZW)