Once this summer I passed a field in which two stalks of corn had beaten the odds and grown two feet taller than the thousands of stalks surrounding them. A big, “Yeah! You go corn!” burst forth. Although there is realization that to feed the masses of humanity on our planet, control of weeds and what is harvested may be necessary. Nonetheless, I feel GMO and chemical agri wrong.
GMO’s were first introduced only 20 years ago. Because merely four big corporations control 60% of the seed market, farmers have been feeling the pinch in a number of ways. First may be the unacceptance of GMO grains in some foreign markets. South Korea and Japan stopped imports of U.S. wheat products in 2013. China closed its markets to corn shipments due to GM trait MIR162 in 2014. The European market is closing many doors to U.S. grains.
Image via Chris LeBoutillier of Pixabay. Click here to view his gallery.
Why foreign markets are eliminating U.S. grain shipments may be the discovery that glyphosate is a harmful carcinogen to humans. It now is present in the bodies of most U.S. citizens. Mother Earth News reports that, “Human exposure to glyphosate has increased more than 500 percent since 1994….” Traces of the chemical can be found in “everyday foods, such as cookies, ice cream, and crackers.” The phasing out of glyphosate has been voted by the European Parliament. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers it safe. Yet it is contaminating our ground-water, food and us. It reminds me of the quote by Leonard Higgins: “There are many instances in our history where what has been legal is not what was right and just.”
Farmers using GMO’s and glyphosate have found that super weeds and super pests are emerging. Already there are 14 species of glyphosate resistant weeds in the U.S. Just like the overuse of antibiotics leads to super bacteria that the body cannot fight, plant and chemical manipulation lead to the necessity to use stronger and stronger pesticides/herbicides. Again with the farmer becoming more and more dependent on corporate seed and chemical markets. As the farmer becomes more chemically dependent, the soil suffers. Active microbes are killed.
We are smack dab on a climate change roller coaster. (Will we even have an autumn?) Genetic diversity is the preserver of humankind. “Traits like drought tolerance are complex, driven by several genes.” For our future generations to have food to survive, traditional breed and seed developments are essential.
In 2004, some corn stalks suddenly popped up in the fence roll of Mother’s house on Jefferson Street. When I asked her if she wanted me to pull them, she said, “No, let them grow.” But I knew they would not produce any corn-on-the- cob. When autumn came, there was nothing to harvest. The goldfinches did enjoy the tassel seeds. Farmers cannot even save seeds to plant as our forefathers were able to do. Plants are GM to not reproduce seeds.
I remember David Reis, a well known local farmer, giving a presentation at a Posey Green Group meeting years ago. He said that his father had always told him, “Leave the world in a better place.” David said regretfully, “I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.”
©Ann Rains--October, 2018
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