Seeds and Genetic Engineering

The following is an excerpt from the PASA Newsletter. The full Newsletter can be viewed here.

I was especially interested that while the situation for non-GMO seed is critical, Dave points out that there are still alternatives. Farmers need to get on board and stop being manipulated by the deceptive combination of government “incentives”, Agri-Industrial espionage and strong arm tactics, and other pressures to “join the collective.”

For another article on Dave’s work click here.

STARTING FRESH, STARTING LOCAL, STARTING NOW
Over the past several years, I’ve been struck by the degree to which farmer access to crop seeds of their choice has become increasingly limited. Imagine, some 95% of our soybean crop is genetically modified with Roundup resistant genes in the seed. With such a large proportion of the crop modified in this way, farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to find conventional (non-modified) hybrids that are adapted to their soils and local climate.

In the northeast, a similar problem is occurring with corn and alfalfa. In this way, input and seed manufacturers (often one and the same) control the seed that is locally available, and in turn the pest management that will be employed. As pest management practices have become entrenched and more simplistic (over reliance on the herbicide Roundup for example) pest resistance has skyrocketed. The industry has responded to the herbicide resistant weed problem by inserting additional herbicide resistance genes in crop seeds, thereby facilitating more herbicide use.

If we choose this path, we will lock farmers in to fewer and fewer choices of untransformed cultivars. What’s more, this “gene stacking” will increase use of herbicides by some 2-3 times current levels. This industry practice is driving a transgene facilitated herbicide treadmill, where each turn of the mill drives up herbicide resistant weeds herbicide use. Our farmers and our agriculture deserve better.

I am encouraged that there is an alternate path to the treadmill, and PASA farmers are on that path. It includes a more diverse agriculture designed on ecologically-based principles. Through my years as a PASA member, and through participation in farm walks and sessions at the annual conference, I have so enjoyed learning about the
diverse approaches that make up this alternate path.

Join me at the variety of conference programming and events that will give farmers and eaters the skills and knowledge they need to protect seed diversity and encourage safe pest management practices!

  – Dave Mortensen, Penn State University & PASA Board Member


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  1. Pingback: Seeds and Genetic Engineering | Big Oak Ridge | Genetic Engineering Digest

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