“The Post GMO Economy,” written by Elizabeth Royte and recently published in Modern Farmer, tells the tale of a paradigm shift from conventional farming to the widespread adoption of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and back again.
Chris Huegerich, inherited the family calling in stewarding 2,800 acres of farmland in central Iowa. Huegerich’s father was a farmer who had been quick to switch over his seed stock to GMO, in hopes of higher yields and the accompanying larger profits. According to Huegerich, the benefits were short-lived.
“‘Five years ago the traits worked,’ says the strongly built Huegerich, who followed in his father’s footsteps and planted GMO seeds. ‘I didn’t have corn rootworm because of the Bt gene, and I used less pesticide. Now, the worms are adjusting, and the weeds are resistant. Mother Nature adapts.’”
Huegerich has since gone against the grain and has experimented with trialing conventional (non-GMO) varieties. “To his delight, the conventional fields yielded 15 to 30 more bushels per acre than the GMO fields, with a profit margin of up to $100 more per acre.”
The article cites consumer demand for non-GMO food products, both domestic and international, as a driving factor in increased profit margins.
It also depicts the extent in which purveyors of GMO technology will go to entice farmers to choose their seed. One company, DuPont Pioneer, offers non-GMO corn for $65 more per bag than their competitor. “Why does Pioneer charge so much? Because it doesn’t want lower-priced conventional seed to lure customers away from GMOs… A company dealer confessed: ‘We don’t want our farmers to buy it.’”
Still and all, sales from smaller seed suppliers specializing in the non-GMO market are on the rise.
Are we entering the post-GMO economy?