No, GM crops aren’t drenched in chemicals.
A Science Enthusiast
You may know Michelle better as Farm Babe! This article is being posted on aSE at Michelle’s request.
I took this picture of the weeds at the edge of our cornfield back in August. Could you imagine what would happen if Farmers didn’t have the ability to control weeds in our fields? They say if we didn’t have access to herbicides, we would need an area of cropland the size of Texas to make up for lost yields due to weeds.
Does that thought… The thought of crops being sprayed… Scare you at all? It shouldn’t! Farmers have used chemicals on crops for thousands of years, and even organic farms have access to different types of approved chemicals to help us combat the annoyances that we are sometimes faced with when mother nature is our boss.
Herbicides are not insectides
Each individual herbicide (also known as a “mode of action”) targets a certain enzyme in plants and does not affect animals or humans. (They’re HERBicides. Insecticides target insects.) A common herbicide example is roundup, which inhibits the EPSPS enzyme.
Over 90% of farmers have been growing “roundup ready” corn for a couple decades now. The beauty of this is that it allows us to spray our fields to kill weeds, but it does not kill our crop. Technology has come a long way for us on this. Back in the day, Farmers had to apply substantially MORE chemicals that were far worse to battle all the different weeds. Several decades ago, it was not uncommon to have to apply around 8 different chemicals, including insecticides, to get to job done. Now it’s only 1 or 2… No more harmful insecticides either! (This is a general statement and may vary by region.) Today’s methods are much safer and a much smaller dose. Technology has improved virtually every industry in our lives, and agriculture is no exception.
The dose makes the poison
Let’s talk about that dose, shall we? Did you know that [the amount of Roundup](http://www.monsanto.com/sitecollectiondocuments/ito/2009%20herbicide%20handbook%20(2%29.pdf) that gets sprayed on a field equates to about a fifth of a gallon combined with a hundred parts water per acre? That’s less than 2 beer cans worth over an area of land the size of a football field! And… The active ingredient of the product makes the dosage even less! To top it all off, these crops get sprayed in the vegetative stage, before the edible part of the plant is even present… But even if it WERE present, they’re still protected by husks. (Or pods, shells, etc for other crops.)
Corn gets planted around 30,000-40,000 seeds per acre. Around fall harvest, after the plant matures, one acre will yield (on average) nearly 12,000 POUNDS of corn.
Does 2 soda cans worth of herbicide misted over 12,000 POUNDS of grain…. Protected by husks… Sprayed before the edible part of the plant is even present… Sound scary now? Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, for all the good information we can find on the internet, we can also be faced with BS, or someone trying to sell you something…like organic foods. But its important to think critically. Every industry is trying to capitalize on something, whether it’s medical, fitness or beauty trends, etc. But its important to talk to industry professionals who devote their entire lives and careers to this, and not something written by a Hollywood celebrity or journalist.
Thanks for your time and support in reading this. If you have any questions about something related to agriculture, ask a farmer! We may be hard to find in a downtown area of a big city, but if you seek us out, we are generally a very kind breed who want to connect with you. I hope this helps address any concerns.
Michelle Miller, or Farm Babe, grew up involved in 4-H, horse riding and doing chores on her friends’ grandparents farms, but when her high school aptitude tests told her to go into farming, she ignored them and headed west for college and a career in fashion. After working for Gucci On Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and spending a number of years in downtown Chicago, she bought into organic, grass-fed, “Monsanto is the devil” food idealism. At this point she caught the travel bug and moved to Florida, where she was able to have a flexible schedule as a ‘globetrotting bartender’ to finish up her goal of visiting all 7 continents, (56 countries.) she then met her “Prince Farming.” In the years she has been living and working on his Iowa farm, she has learned the truths of modern agriculture firsthand and enjoys educating the public and debunking the popular myths she once believed in. Together, he works alongside him and his family on nearly 2,000 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa, oats, sheep, and cattle. She’s happier than she’s ever been to get back to her “roots” of being involved with animals and farming and shas gone from being skeptical about food to to sharing her passion of modern agriculture! She’s literally gone from Rodeo to the Rodeo, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is a guest blog, originally posted on Farm Babe, and is being posted on aSE by Farm Babe’s request.
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