field corn

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Will GMOs Really Hurt Me?

I consider myself a relatively reasonable human being. I am modeling this behavior after my mom and grandma, who have strong morals and convictions, but tend to question and be skeptical, in an educated, calm manner.

Thus, my thoughts on the GMO (genetically modified organism) debate tend to err on the side of science, but I try to do a little research while I’m at it.

There’s a craze going on. A food craze. An “eat nuts and berries and twigs” and “processed foods are the devil” craze, and while I agree, I would rather my kids eat fruit than fruit snacks, does that make corn bred to withstand drought that we planted evil? Does that genetic modification make us as farmers evil?

Answer from a majority of the crowd: No.

However, how does this corn, that we inevitably harvest for fuel and food products and not to be confused with sweet corn that you can pick and eat, fit into the GMO debate?

Well, good question. Because to me, it’s a simple answer: It shouldn’t, because scientists have done their research.

I am not a scientist, but my understanding of GMOs is that it’s figuring out how to make our supply meet the demand, of the population, of the weather, etc. It’s making the outcome of the crop fit the need of our growing population. It’s like Joe buying a “good bull” to breed with a “good cow.” It’s just science. There’s no evil.

Scientists are in the lab, researching, and they’re not evil scientists. They are just regular dudes who are wearing white coats and looking at CELLS. They’re not figuring out a way to make the American public fatter. They have extensively studied this particular crop and have found a way for farmers like us to continue to survive during the driest of years and now the wettest of springs, and still harvest a corn crop so you folks can fuel up your SUVs with gas to get to Trader Joe’s to purchase organic, non-GMO (supposedly) food and then make a stand on not eating conventionally grown food (sorry for the sarcasm, I’m grouchy today).

There’s plenty of information out there that is both pro and con GMO. However, writers and skeptics like Fourat Janabi who have written books with anti-GMO sentiments, have back pedaled. Janabi has since written a second edition to his book, Random Rationality, realizing there’s not much footing on the GMO debate. Thanks to conversations with scientists like Kevin Folta (read the conversation here if you’re interested in the science behind GMOs, plus it’s an entertaining piece), Janabi has written pieces of information so that people like me can see the GMO debate a little more clearly.

GMOs are not making us sick or fat. CHOICES are making us sick and fat. Regardless of whether you eat organic or conventional, there is no debate when you’re eating too much of the wrong stuff. However, with all this GMO debate, and all the press it’s getting, scaring the pants off of many Americans, it’s filtering down to farmers like us, and that stinks, because we’re just trying to keep up with the needs of a bigger and bigger population. GMOs are helpful in this respect, and if you don’t believe it, try growing your organic garden without water this summer, and see how it turns out.

So before you post another shared “eat this not that” article on Facebook, check your sources, and think of my face, my husband’s face, and know that we’re not in cohoots with some big agricultural company, or trying to give you cancer or get you fatter or whatever. We’re just trying to make a living in this crazy occupation that doesn’t get a regular pay check, is dependent upon the weather, and has the responsibility to fuel and feed a growing global need.

Lucky us.

Originally posted on April 25, 2013 at Confessions of a Farm Wife

Emily Webel

About Emily

We farm with Emily’s dad, uncle, grandpa and neighbor in central Illinois. We raise corn, soybeans and cattle. Growing up as a farm kid, Joe wanted to raise our six children with the opportunities that only farm kids have, like showing cattle and helping with harvest.

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