The United States is suffering the worst drought in 50 years. But
crop damage may well have been avoided if high quality non-GM varieties were
available to farmers. Further evidence is emerging that glyphosate-tolerant
crops are ill-equipped to deal with drought, while high quality non-GM
varieties are flourishing. Monopoly of the seed industry has left farmers
unable to get non-GM varieties, despite the drought having global repercussions
including steep rises of cereal prices and reduced meat production in many
In a commentary circulated by GM Watch (UK), Howard Vlieger, a
co-founder and agroecological farming advisor of Verity Farms in drought-stricken
South Dakota the US, provides evidence from a farmer who has grown both GM and
Verity Farms’ non-GM varieties of soybean and corn side by side . Non-GM
corn, grown in agroecological conditions to promote soil biodiversity and
nutritional content is shown next to Monsanto’s GM triple-stack GM corn, which
is glyphosate-tolerant and additionally expresses two Bt insecticidal toxins, grown
using conventional chemical industrial methods that include the use of
Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup (Figure 1). As captured in the
photograph, non-GM varieties appear greener, fuller, and healthier. These impressions
are backed up by the far superior yield reported of non-GM corn, which averaged 100-120 bushels
per acre (BPA) compared to the 8-12 BPA to 30-50 BPA of GM corn.
Figure 1 Aerial photo of
adjacent fields with non-GM corn (left) and triple stack roundup ready GM corn
The large yield differential was confirmed in a new set of harvest
data provided by Vlieger (with accompanying photographic identification) for
three fields surrounding Verity Farm, all growing Smart Stack RR corn . All
were harvested for corn silage as the yields were too poor to harvest
the grain. The federal crop insurance adjuster appraised yields were
respectively 12 bushels per acre (BPA), 27 BPA, and 28 BPA. The Non-GMO corn
on Verity Farm across the road yielded 108 BPA.
The findings were replicated with soybean crops (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 GM (left) and non-GM
(right) soybean crops
Previous studies found glyphosate tolerant crops require more
Triple Stack RR corn may be especially drought intolerant, but the
new evidence from the farm is consistent with previous laboratory findings that
glyphosate-treated crops are less water efficient than untreated crops. One
such study was performed in Brazil when farmers reported “injured-looking”
glyphosate-tolerant soybean crops. The team, led by Luis Zobiole from State
University of Maringá found that GM glyphosate-tolerant (GT) soybeans absorbed
less water, which resulted in reduced water efficiency . The volume of water
that non-treated GT soybean plants required to produce 1 g of dry biomass was
204 % and 152 % less than required when the plant is exposed to 2 400 grams acid
equivalent (a.e) of glyphosate per hectare, in single or sequential
applications respectively. GT soybean plants receiving a single application of
the currently recommended rates of glyphosate (600–1200 grams a.e per hectare)
needed 13–20% more water to produce the same amount of dry biomass than non-glyphosate
A previous publication by the same lab showed GT soybeans to have
reduced lignin content and photosynthesis rates, both possible mechanisms for
water efficiency . Lignin is an essential component of plant cell walls, and
contributes to the compression strength of stems and
to the efficient transport of water and solutes over long distances
within the vascular system. Water deficiency is not the only physiological
effect that glyphosate imposes on crops. It has been shown to reduce nutrient
availability and immune responses and thus defence against plant diseases (see
Tolerant Crops Bring Death and Disease, SiS 47). At least 40 diseases are known to be increased in
weed control programmes with glyphosate and the list is growing, affecting a
wide range of species: apples, bananas, barley, bean, canola, citrus, cotton,
grape, melon, soybean, sugar beet, sugarcane, tomato and wheat .
of the seed industry
farmers are fully aware of the control of the seed industry by multinational
corporations like Monsanto. Prior to the mid-20th century, the
majority of seeds were in the hands of farmers or public-sector plant breeders.
Now, agritech giants have used intellectual property laws to commodify the
worlds’ seed supply and turn seeds into private property to be bought and sold
for profit. As a result, not only are they flooding the market with patented GM
seeds and preventing farmers from saving them each year, they are also
diminishing the supply of non-GM seeds. Monsanto is
now the largest seed company in the world followed by DuPont and Syngenta; they
have all acquired or created “partnerships” with independent seed companies
that sell both GM and non-GM seeds. As highlighted recently by Pierre
Patriat, director of APROSMAT, the association of seed producers of the
Brazilian soy-producing state of Mato Grosso in Brazil, farmers are faced with
little choice but to grow GM varieties, which is posing a serious threat to the
country’s food security and sovereignty . An estimated 23 % of the propriety
seed market is owned by Monsanto who, in addition has used licencing agreements
to spread its technology - giving some 200 smaller companies the right to
insert Monsanto's genes in their separate strains of corn and soybean plants [8,
demand for non-GM seeds is on the rise
to Vlieger, the demand for their non-GM seeds is on the rise, offering an
alternative to the current monopoly. While the non-GM seeds are bought out,
their GM seeds are sitting in the warehouse. He is hopeful that the demand will
be met with increasing supplies of non-GM varieties by small and larger
companies as they awaken to the needs of farmers.
crops have been repeatedly shown to be less healthy than conventional
varieties. Their increased water demands make them entirely unsuitable in times of unpredictable weather conditions and increasingly
limited supply globally (see  World Water
Supply in Jeopardy, SiS 56). Monopolisation of the seed market means
conventional varieties are unavailable, therefore reducing the farmers’ ability
to effectively deal with changing conditions and most worryingly, it threatens
global food security and sovereignty. A global shift
to non-GM agroecological farming is the real way forward.
Cindy Comment left 9th October 2012 14:02:22 A farmer who has land next to a lake in southern Michigan dug a deep well 2 years ago about 600 feet from the lake shore. He did it in the dead of winter, going through snow and frozen ground, right after the summer crowd closed up and left for the season. When they returned they found that their water pipes often sucked air. This farmer used immense irrigation systems this whole summer on his GM crops. Another GM farmer near a pond that a friend of ours owns a few miles away also drilled a well to irrigate his fields-- and the pond went dry.
Dylan Comment left 9th October 2012 18:06:33 So, Monsanto and friends flood the market with toxic products which they know beforehand will fail (whilst hoarding their own supply of non-GM seeds in a vault in the Arctic). Along with the ability to cause floods and droughts where and when required, they then make billions on weather derivatives and commodities futures (betting on weather events and crop failure without actually owning the underlying assets), knock out competition and buy up land on the cheap from distressed farmers.
Hmmm -where have we seen this Modus Operandi before?
Doomsday Seed Vault: Bill Gates, Rockefeller and the GMO giants know something we don’t
Why in the World are They Spraying? (Full Length Documentary)
Texas Wildfires: Scalar Squares Intentionally Prevent Drought Relief - HAARP
Rory Short Comment left 9th October 2012 20:08:41 The pursuit of monetary profit by companies such as Monsanto is relentlessly destroying the eco-sphere.Consulting the Genius of the Place by Wes Jackson offers a way out of the agricultural hole that we have dug for ourselves over millennia assisted in this century by Monsanto and the like.
rich Comment left 11th October 2012 21:09:45 Let that be a lesson to farmers who choose to grow GMO crops.
Todd Millions Comment left 14th October 2012 08:08:39 Adding insult to this injury-The drought resistant dwarf corn 'developed' by the big M,was ripped off from indigenous strains developed too survive drought in the SW states hundreds of years ago-yet with the insert of herb and bt toxin 'cassetes'-become in whole the massposioneers -property.Shades of green revolution!Add to this-Earl'the butt head',ordering the ripping up of the shelter belt shrubs planted at public expence in the 30's-Too prevent droughts and the severity of them,by capturing snow in drifts,when he was ag sec under Nixon,to-'bring 100,000acres of idle land into production',and we have an unbroken 40year lineage of -stunningly mage desisions.Still being copied in canaduh!
Ruth Lanton Comment left 16th October 2012 16:04:41 It's not a matter of "farmers choosing to grow GM crops." In many cases, alternative seeds aren't available in sufficient quantities, and farmers have to choose between growing GM crops or not growing crops at all.
Put the blame where it belongs: on Monsanto and other "biotech seed giants" not on the farmers struggling to make a living.
John Fryer Comment left 4th November 2012 17:05:06 The supply of seeds is a problem. Monsanto have bought up the seed companies so that there is no choice left. Where were the monopolies commissions?
But anyone with business sense couldstart up a seed business with a few acres of land and supply NON GMO seed for sale.
If you cant beat the seed compnaies why not join them and market the seeds now not easily available.