Saturday, 30 June 2012

In Defense of GM Plants

Not long ago, this came across my facebook wall:

I've long been an advocate for GM crops, but this claim was new to me.  Fortunately I have a wide range of friends, in various disciplines, to turn to when topics are not in my realm of expertise.  This time, I didn't even have to ask as a link to this article came from a plant pathologist friend not much later.

Go, read it.  I'll wait here while you do.

Complex right?  These issues are rarely as simple as we'd like.  We can accept that there may be some side affect of using GM crops.  Or we can go back to using pesticides and herbicides at very high levels, with known, worse, negative effects.

Now, I know what you are saying.  "But why can't we use non-GM crops and no herbicides, etc?"  Well, we can, but you are going to pay more for your food and get less of it.  These techniques allow farmers to grow more food more easily.  I think the telling statement in this article about weed control in corn production is this:
"There was no feasible way to establish an untreated level of
control without complete loss of yield due to weed competition."
So, the corn has to be treated with something.  What that something is is up to the farmer and decided based on their land, variety, and marketing desires.  Sure there are organic herbicides out there, but they require frequent application, typically in larger amounts.  They are also non-specific.  They kill everything, meaning application must be done carefully.

As with most things in life, there is no one answer, no perfect solution.   At least not yet.
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