Farmers say no to GMO for a surprising reason

There are two sides to the genetically modified organism (GMO) debate: either you’re for it, or you’re against it. There are shades of gray in between, but the battle lines have been drawn in the sand, leaving farmers and the entire agricultural industry somewhere in the middle.

GMO foods are “good” for a variety of reasons: increased food production, resilient and more nutritious crops, to name just a few.

So why are many farmers turning away from GMO seeds?

Despite all of the pros in GMO’s corner, farmers say that non-GMO crops are “more productive and profitable.”

“Five years ago, the traits [of the GMO seeds] worked,” says Chris Huegerich, a second-generation farmer from Iowa. “I didn’t have corn rootworm … and I used less pesticide. Now, the worms are adjusting, and the weeds are resistant. Mother Nature adapts.”

According to Reuters, 169 million acres (68 million hectares) of GMO crops were planted in the U.S. in 2013. That’s about half of the total land used for crops in the country.

Statistics from AgriWize consultant, Aaron Bloom, show that farmers may be planting the wrong kind of crops. When two types of corn were compared — a GMO and a conventional seed — the farmer with the conventional seed saved an average of $81 per acre per season.

Nature speaks for itself on this manner. Even while battling drought one season, not a single farmer using Bloom’s non-GMO seeds had a bad harvest. “We get the same or better yields,” Bloom adds, “and we save money upfront.”

Simply put, conventional seeds are more profitable. As a test, Huegerich planted 320 acres of conventional corn and 1,700 with GMO varieties. Nature won again: the conventional fields yielded 15–30 more bushels per acre than the GMO fields. His profits were up too: up to $100 more per acre with conventional corn.

Companies that specialize in non-GMO seeds profits are increasing, too.

So does that mean the end of GMO foods?

Not necessarily. Some reports say that the “global food supply may not be sustainable without GMO since our population is growing.” A genetically modified banana is poised to end starvation and blindness in Uganda. Other foods could help drastically reduce food waste. Even some politicians are chiming in, backing genetically modified seeds.

In summary, the growing GMO debate is unlikely to end soon.

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