GMO concerns tied to profits

Corn harvesting in this area is going on at full speed, when weather permits. For most growers, it looks like a good harvest with some exceptional yields in many fields.

Most of the corn being harvested was planted with genetically engineered seeds. Farmers recognize the value of these seeds because they help the environment through fewer trips across their fields, increased yields and they need fewer pesticides.

Research study after research study has proven the safety of GMO seeds and the crops from them. GMO grains are no different than non-GMO. Also we have been eating many foods from genetically modified seeds for a long time.

So why all the concern and continued debate about foods from GMO grains? It goes back to food companies and their desire to make more money. They continue to look for ways to get us to buy their products through taste, convenience   lower prices or what is called “niche” marketing.

Telling us consumers that their food products are “non-GMO” is one way to do this. Even though there is no difference between GMO and non-GMO foods in their nutritional value or safety, food companies are using this approach to get us to buy more of their products with the goal of more money in their pockets.  This ignores what they are doing to safe, proven technology that helps keep food prices down and plentiful supplies.

Providing us consumers with the right information so we can make good choices when we buy food is important. Farm groups, our government and some informed consumer groups have spent a lot of time telling us about the safety and value of GMO foods.

Some food companies, however, see an opportunity to make more profit so they use “non-GMOs” as a way to say their products are better than their competitors. A latest example of this is a major yogurt manufacturing company that is now saying the milk they use to make their yogurt must come from cows that are fed GMO-free feeds.

As you might guess, this has caused a lot of concern from dairy farm groups and most grain growing organizations. They have responded quickly and firmly to this company with their concerns. It isn’t clear what the final outcome will be.

One approach might be for all dairy farmer organizations to say they will no longer sell milk to this company.  If they don’t have milk, they can’t make yogurt.

Long range consequences of this yogurt company and other food companies to discourage GMO’s and other agricultural technology such as rBST, are serious. They can cause higher food prices through short supplies. As our population increases, we will need all the agricultural technology we can develop to put enough food on our dinner tables.

Right now, we have plenty of food coming off our farms. In fact, we have surpluses so we don’t get concerned. When our stomachs are full, we don’t seem to worry about tomorrow. But we need to back up and take a hard look at the importance GMOs and other safe agricultural technology in keeping us well-fed today, tomorrow and down the road.

Parker is an independent agricultural writer for Farm Bureau and other farm organizations.

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