Monday, November 2, 2009

GMO Crops Versus Organic

Susan Harris over at Garden Rant ended her post yesterday with the question "how about an answer to that tricky question about whether traditional organic farming methods can feed our overpopulated world?"

My take on GMO crops is not that GMO crops have anything inherently wrong with them. It is the lack of testing of these products that scares me. Monsanto actively squelches testing of its products. Also, varieties of plants that are created to be doused in more pesticides rather than less – yuck. And there’s the horrifying trend towards GMO-makers suing organic farms to death when the GMO pollen contaminates the organic crops. While genetic modification could be used to improve the world’s food supply safely, it is instead being used to earn its makers as much money as possible, while not addressing long-term problems.

There are also issues not just with GMO crops, but with conventional agricultural practices in general: the land has been so energetically plowed, and plowed, and plowed again, that there is no longer significant worm, insect, or fungal life in the soil. Monoculture farms displace and kill larger life-forms. Erosion is a huge problem, both for the farm’s productivity and through pollution of water downstream. And in conventional practices, the depleted nutrients in the soil are replaced with additives of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, but lesser nutrients aren’t added back to the soil, and therefore don’t end up in our food.

Due to these problems, our current agricultural model is unsustainable. If modern agriculture (GMO companies included) don’t step up to address these problems, then organic farming will be the only option left.

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