The Drought, and GMO Crops

Posted: Jul 30, 2012 12:01 AM

As anyone knows, we have had very little rain this year. At the end of this week, the market will get the official USDA estimates of what the corn crop looks like. Private estimates will be available during the week.

Right now, the numbers I am hearing are around 122 bushels per acre. That’s woefully short.

A thought occurred to me though. Some seed companies ($MON) have been working on Genetically Modified seed, or GMO seed. Seed companies have genetically modified seed to grow differently, ripen at different times, and have pesticide and bug resistance. They also have been creating seed that can grow with very little water.

Droughts were at the top of their list when creating this type of seed. The fact is, fresh water is a precious resource in the world, and the less we need for crops mean the more we can have for animals and people.

I checked on Twitter and tried to find tweets about GMO corn and the drought. The engineered seed won’t be released until 2013. It is only in experimental fields this year. Frankly, any seed, heirloom or engineered would have a tough time growing when there isn’t a drop of rain!

The folks against GMO seed released an article though and tweeted it out. They are pushing the story that breeding and better farm practices are what’s needed to protect crops from drought and keep yields up.

How is breeding any different than GMO?

I don’t have dog in the fight. I support both kinds of farming, and think everything ought to be clearly labeled. The FDA prohibits huge industries from being formed through bad regulation. Clearly, they are limiting competition and job creation.

I don’t think GMO crops cause cancer or anything like that. I doubt seriously any big commodity crop we have today in any field resembles the crops we had at the turn of the century. Cross pollination, nature, forced breeding, and science have taken care of that.

When the new Monsanto seed is planted broadly in 2013, I hope we don’t have to see a drought like this years to see if it works.