Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Proposition 37 battle: A tale of two farms - San Jose Mercury News

Proposition 37 battle: A tale of two farms - San Jose Mercury News:

TRANQUILLITY -- Paul Betancourt doesn't have a problem with genetically engineered crops. He planted 320 acres of "Roundup Ready" cotton in April and is now getting ready to harvest it.
The cotton was developed by Monsanto, the St.-Louis-based biotech and agricultural giant. It contains a gene not normally found in cotton plants that allows it to withstand the herbicide Roundup.
"In terms of managing the crop, it's made all the difference in the world," Betancourt said as he walked through the field checking the cotton bolls. "We fire up the hooded sprayer and spray the Roundup from the top. The weeds all die, and the cotton grows. I get paid to grow cotton, not weeds.
"The mills hate it when there are weeds in the cotton fiber. You can see a 10 to 20 percent loss of production."
Betancourt, 53, has used the new breed of cotton for three seasons and has no complaints. Instead of hiring crews to weed the fields by hand, he sprays once or twice a season and is done.
He works three ranches spanning 765 acres in the vast fields of Fresno County. This year he's growing Pima cotton, wheat and almonds.
Pima cotton is used to make high quality linens and sheets. But the seeds are made into cottonseed oil, commonly found in salad dressings, mayonnaise and marinades.

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