January 19, 2015
Heard this debate on National Public Radio on the way home and was immediately taken back to the mid 1990s when I first started working in the GMO industry as a retail chemical sales agronomist in Michigan. Monsanto Executive Robert Fraley is a principle on this debate, and he was the rockstar in the early days of Roundup Ready soybeans, the first widely used GMO.
The very interesting thing here is the arguments being put forth are the same arguments which were used 25 years ago. 1) we’ll need to grow more food. 2) We need better, cheaper ways of producing food, and GMOs will get us there fast. 3) GMOs will actually require less synthetic chemicals than standard crops. 4) GMOs and the associated chemicals used in conjunction with them are completely safe. 5) Any opposition to GMOs constitutes an opposition to advancement, science, technology in general and those holding opposition are backwards thinking.
My thought was, “Really?” Is the GMO industry actually still using the same arguments to sell its wares? In actuality, it occurs to me that the arguments put forth likely still work, or they wouldn’t continue to use them. Add to this, the fact that GMOs are likely here to stay. I don’t really want to concede this, but honestly, I have to admit in my view the ship has sailed and we need to be leaders in rural areas. We need to look at new ways of discussing GMOs, and I’ll share some thoughts in just a bit.
I really don’t think we should be debating the merits of GMOs beyond simply calling the producers of the technology to level with the buying public. We have labeling rules in place for all kinds of food items, and GMOs should not be exempt. Monsanto and its sister companies are not going to stop producing a profitable line of products, if they don’t have to.
In addition to applying consumer pressures through education and appropriate legislative action on labeling, we should appeal to farmers themselves on the merits of GMO technology. And in fact, we know the potential for agroecology models like what we’ve seen in Burleigh Co. ND over the past 10-15 years. Adaptable, appropriate production models incorporating complex cover crop blends, with row crops and livestock grazing have the potential to increase yields, financial returns and the capacity of the soil itself to deal with negative environmental impacts., without the use of GMOs
There is one new thing in the argument that is being used with tremendous effectiveness, and that’s the 9 x 50 Narrative. Nine x 50 is the narrative that claims first of all that there will be 9 Billion people in the world by the year 2050, and we’ll need to double food production in order to feed them.
The debate ground for this technology and food and farming in general should be the 9 x ’50 assumptions. In fact the 9 x’50 narrative is the driving narrative now behind many new technologies being promoted and hailed as necessary to life sustaining on the planet.
Even if we allow for the assumption of 9 Billion people by 2050, the 9x’50 narrative is clearly questionable. The Institute on the Environment recently established we are already producing enough food globally for 10 billion people, the issues are not production, but distribution.
So, lets lead in farming, not follow. As farmers, lets lead on issues like the use of GMOs and the need to feed an expanding global population. Free enterprise dictates that farmers out there can choose to buy or not to buy technology from a GMO producer, but thoughtful farmers know there’s a better way. Are you a thoughtful farmer? Are you someone who uses GMO technology, but is uncomfortable with the assumptions and the information you are being told? We’d like to invite you to become a leader. Together lets lead our communities and are society away from a narrative designed to maximize profit for someone else. Lets take an honest, results-based approach to dealing with the issues of climate change, agricultural productivity and community development
Step one would be to connect with other farmers who are just as thoughtful as you are. Come to the Midwest Soil Health Summit, Feb. 18 -19 in Alexandria MN You’ll learn about the greatest hope our world has today for solving these complex food and farming issues, and you’ll meet people who are just like you. People who want to lead in making things better.
January 13, 2015
This show is about the upcoming 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit, and is a short conversation with Keynote Speaker, Gabe Brown about what folks can expect. The MSHS is filling up quickly. Last year, we had to turn people away, and so this year, we’ve expanded the capacity available to us and it looks like we are going to fill up again. This year, we’ll also have the special one-on-one time with Gabe Brown available in the Gab with Gabe session, but we are adding some new features to the MSHS, including an international roundtable, (more on that later) as well as a soil science basics session that I’ll be teaching, for anyone out there who just needs a refresher on the terminology of soils. You can download a conference schedule, or register at our website.
January 8, 2015:
We just finished our first New Farm Reality Check Curriculum Presentation! In discussing NFRC with the audience at the MN Dept of Ag’s Winter Workshop Program in St. Cloud Today, we realized how our program is similar to Beginning Driver Education, in that, we learn about the potential dangers of driving. DEC is not opposed to new drivers. It is merely an honest look at the reality of driving and what can happen under certain circumstances.
DEC warns people of the danger of unrealistic expectations, bad assumptions and improper training and preparation.
Have a listen:
Recently recorded the very first episode of the SFA Farm Solutions Podcast.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a farm business, hopefully, you’ve set some goals and you’ve got a business plan for how you are going to achieve those goals. Today, I’d like to tell you how you can give your plan a reality check before you launch.
For those of you listening, you’ll want to know that the Reality Checking your Farm Plan Winter Workshop costs $25, but is free for SFA members. You can learn more about the program and register at the Dept. of Ag Website. http://www.mda.state.mn.us/ Search on Winter Workshops 2015. Or you can see the notes on this show at our website: http://www.farmsolutions.community
We hope you have found this to be helpful. If you have a question about sustainable farming you’d like to see addressed on this podcast, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on twitter @farmpodcast.