Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guest speaker explains why farmers choose GMOs, how companies fit in - The Daily Barometer

Guest speaker explains why farmers choose GMOs, how companies fit in - The Daily Barometer


Students, farmers and professors alike came together Wednesday afternoon to discuss the economic impact of genetically modified organisms.

Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, director of the Economics and Management of Agrobiotechnology Center at the University of Missouri, spoke to a small group yesterday at LaSells Stewart Center about the rapid adaptation of GMOs and related technology.

This “Food for Thought” lecture series was titled, “Global Economic Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops: Who are the Winners and Losers?

The giant seed packaging company Monsanto is currently defending its patents, and is scheduled to be discussed in a Supreme Court hearing on Feb. 19, according to an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

There are 400 million acres of GMOs that have been planted throughout the U.S. and neighboring countries, which makes up one third of the aggregate land in the entire world.

Of the GMOs planted, 50 percent are soybeans, and three quarters of all cultivated soybeans are genetically modified.

When such large portions of the agricultural system in the United States is influenced by GMOs, it is important to assess the impacts on farms, supply shift, market and welfare.

In order to assess these impacts, Kalaitzandonakes and his team of researchers performed a meta-analysis of farm level estimates and extrapolated the data for the missing years.

Through these statistical analyses, Kalaitzandonakes found yield differences between conventional and round-up ready soybeans were roughly the same, and the cost to implant roundup ready soybeans and the continual upkeep of traditional methods were roughly the same. So, why are some farmers making the switch?

When asked on surveys, farmers throughout the United States who had partial farms — half genetically modified and half conventional — said switching to GMO farms provided convenience, management and peace of mind. 

Keeping this in mind, Kalaitzandonakes expresses the importance of understanding the basic reasons why a farmer chooses to switch from conventional farming to GMO farming — whether it is to increase yield of crops, management of time or improving farming practices, such as tillage, double planting and earlier planting.

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