Steadfast FinancesU.S. Leads World in Genetically Modified Farming, By Far

U.S. Leading World in GM Farming, By Far

Filed in Business Trends , Consumer Education 10 comments

I’m probably a little biased in this debate having worked as a gene jockey in my undergrad days, but it’s quite disturbing to see the growing number of U.S. farmland being converted to genetically modified food production.

For the mathematically lazy, 1 hectare equals 10,000 m². So 66,800,000 hectares of U.S. farmland equates to 6,680,000,000,000 square meters of GM/GMO farmland.

Many of the genetic modifications are deemed harmless, and while I might agree with that thesis because some of modifications are beneficial (e.g. genetic resistance requires lower use of harmful pesticides), but such widespread use doesn’t mean I agree that the “harmless” genetic modifications won’t disrupt/contaminate wildtype strains. If those genetic mods boost natural selection, then what is wildtype today might not be wildtype 50 years from now.

Homo sapiens to Homo evolutis, indeed.

The Economist
Growth areas: Where genetically modified crops are grown

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Posted by CJ   @   9 March 2011 10 comments
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Mar 9, 2011
12:57 pm
#1 Matt Jabs :

The problem is in the soil. Conventional agriculture kills our soil resulting in nutritionally bankrupt food that is highly susceptible to pests and disease.

If we cared for the soil again, we wouldn’t need to mess w/the genetic make up to combat our own poor stewardship of the land.

Mar 9, 2011
1:07 pm
#2 Matt SF :

Agreed. It will take a “Dust Bowl” scale event to solve it.

The irony, at least for me, is the fertilizers we’re so dependent upon in modern day agriculture comes (in large part) from fossil fuels.

Shoveling composted horse poo might not sound glamorous, but the heirloom tomatoes in my garden taste better for a reason.

Mar 9, 2011
1:08 pm
#3 Matt Jabs :


Mar 9, 2011
2:22 pm
#4 Eric :

If you look past just the surface situation, there is a lot more to it. In the United States, farmers are muscled into using genetically modified seed by large market movers, namely Monsanto.

Monsanto is known for forcing farmers into using its seed through coercion and threats of what come down to frivolous lawsuits.

For example, if a farmer uses popular Monsanto seed on his property and it gets windy, some of the seed will likely travel to a neighbor’s property. If Monsanto finds that seed, it will sue the neighbor for patent infringement.

The why behind genetically modified seed is just as important as the current data. Sometimes the qualitative factors play an even bigger role than the quantitative.

Mar 9, 2011
6:12 pm
#5 Matt SF :

You know what they say… a good offense is better than a good defense.

But I have seen those accounts of what you describe from several sources. Food Inc., ag blogs, etc. Scary stuff.

Mar 9, 2011
6:13 pm
#6 Eric :

I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but it is important to really understand all aspects of the situation.

Mar 9, 2011
6:37 pm
#7 Matt SF :

Of course. I didn’t mean to make light of the situation. Just trying to point out that if you have a mountain of cash to fight with, you’re more than likely going to go on the attack rather than sit back people come around and use your product.

Mar 11, 2011
12:52 pm
#8 Emily :

Permaculture is the answer, but Big Food, Big Ag and Big Pharm will do everything possible to keep people from learning how grow their own food naturally and with relative ease.

Mar 11, 2011
12:56 pm
#9 Eric :

I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution, but what we have not is not sustainable for the long haul.

I like the idea of smaller farms closer to major metropolitan areas. Growing food closer to home is more realistic than growing food at home for most people, and many small businesses could thrive from the opportunities presented. However, fierce competition from the big businesses you mention are keeping that from taking hold outside of Chipotle and other like minded grocery stores and restaurants.

Mar 13, 2011
9:08 pm
#10 Matt SF :

I’m with ya on an about face. Only problem is that vast organizations with such a steady cash flow entrench themselves in litigation, political influence, etc., once their golden goose is threatened. Plus, you have a public who, by in large, are hooked on easy bake this and ready to eat that.

However, perhaps cultural memes like a growing number of Gen Y choosing to become farmers can help take it from a microtrend to full mainstream.

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