Series: The Benevolent Side of GMOs
A few posts ago, I put out an open call to farmers in hopes of finding a willing group to participate in a Q & A about GMOs and farming. My hope was and still is to engage farmers who both use and don’t use GMOs. I’ve talked to a few scientists and written about it. I figure its time to give farmers their say. I am happy to report that as of this writing, I have eight respondents who have been sent their first set of questions 🙂
One farmer who got back to me was Suzie Wilde (what a great last name for a farmer kisser). Like most respondents, she gave me links to her own blog called Kissed A Farmer, her facebook page, etc. I clicked over to a post about her experience with GM cotton and found it so uplifting and readable, I asked her if I could reblog it here at Sleuth4Health. This is a true success story. And it absolutely belongs in my Benevolent GMOs series. Enjoy!
(Yes, the bold edits are mine. If you’ve read any of my posts recently, you know that I like to make a point in bold.)
~Julee K @ Sleuth4Health
This post was written by Suzie Wilde on Kissed A Farmer. Originally posted on November 27, 2012, it is used by permission.
A Buggy full of GMO Cotton
For harvest season this year, I left my office each day at noon to go run the boll buggy for the Farmer I Kiss. So why would I go to work early to get my office work done, then drive 40 miles to the dusty, noisy, bumpy, late night job of cotton harvesting? Because harvest season is the best time of the year. It means we actually beat the Chihuahuan Desert and produced cotton!
What’s that got to do with GMO cotton you ask? Running the boll buggy gives me time to think in peace without the mess of papers that clutter my desk back in town. Being the cotton ginner’s daughter and farmer kisser that I am, I sat there thinking about, what else but cotton and how GMO technology has made our industry very different than the cotton industry of just a decade ago. Some people don’t understand the science behind the technology, and what you don’t understand, you normally fear. Some people, like the Farmer I Kiss, have embraced the technology and love the wonderful benefits that it has provided.
Thanks to the genetic trait in our cotton that makes it resistant to the boll worm, we did not spray one drop of insecticide on our fields this year. Not one drop. Because we don’t have to spray for the boll worm any longer, the beneficial insects are flourishing and naturally control the other minor pests. Now, if we planted non-GMO cotton, like the farmers in Brazil that Daniel met last spring, we might have to spray our cotton up to 13 times with insecticide. That’s what the Brazilian farmers told him they have to do in order to save their non-GMO cotton crop. Once they start spraying for the boll worm, then they have to spray for other pests because the beneficials are gone. 13 applications verses 0 applications. In my book, there is no comparison.
Another benefit is how clean our fields stay because of the herbicide resistant trait. With our fields basically free of weeds, the tractor can stay parked more often. Daniel uses both herbicides and tillage to control weeds. This year, he sprayed the entire field once before planting to kill the late winter and young spring weeds. Then after the spring rains and planting, he sprayed only the parts of the fields that got a second crop of early summer weeds. This is actually less herbicide used than if he planted non-GMO cotton, because instead of a second spraying on just some of the acres, he would have used a pre-emergent herbicide on all the acres at planting. He also plowed only around the edges of the fields where weeds love to get started from the roadsides. Other farmers have had the same results as us with different GMO crops.
These two genetic traits have cleaned both the air I breath and the water I drink and are preserving the soil that grows my beloved cotton. Cleaner air since the tractor can stay parked more often. Cleaner water since there is less herbicide on the surface to run off. Preserving the soil since tillage has been greatly reduced. A cleaner product since the insecticide is reduced or even eliminated in some years. That’s what thinking time pulling a boll buggy full of GMO cotton will do. It makes this farmer kisser happy to live in a cleaner world thanks to agriculture’s new technology.