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Farmers Abandoning GMO Seeds And The Reason Will Surprise You

conventional corn farmers gmo seed

Aaron Bloom. Image source: Modern Farmer

A growing number of farmers are abandoning genetically modified seeds, but it’s not because they are ideologically opposed to the industry.

Simply put, they say non-GMO crops are more productive and profitable.

Modern Farmer magazine discovered that there is a movement among farmers abandoning genetically modified organisms (GMO) because of simple economics.

“We get the same or better yields, and we save money up front,” crop consultant and farmer Aaron Bloom said of non-GMO seeds. Bloom has been experimenting with non-GMO seeds for five years and he has discovered that non-GMO is more profitable.

The re-converts to non-GMO seeds are not hippies but conservative Midwestern farmers who are making a business decision, Modern Farmer discovered. They are switching back to natural seed because it is more profitable — not because of any ideology.

“Five years ago the [GMO seeds] worked,” said farmer Christ Huegerich, who along with his father 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.”

Farmers can get paid more for conventional corn than GMO corn. Plus, Huegerich discovered, convention corn can produce more per acre. Modern Farmer reported that two years ago, Huegerich planted 320 acres of conventional corn and 1,700 with GMO corn. 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.” Last year, he planted convention corn in 750 acres.

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“I get a fifty-cent-per-bushel premium,” Huegerich said of the non-GMO corn he grows in Breda, Iowa.

Herbicide use increased by 26 percent between 2001 and 2010 because of the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. Huegerich said he used herbicides on GMO corn and conventional corn, even though theoretically he shouldn’t have to use it on his genetically modified crop.

The group Farm & Water Watch reported that 61.2 million acres of cropland in the US are plagued by weeds that are resistant to the popular glyphosate herbicides.

Why Non-GMO Seeds Are More Profitable

The Modern Farmer article, called The Post GMO-Economy, makes an excellent case for farmers dumping GMO. Some of the interesting facts the magazine uncovered include:

  • The cost of growing one acre of non-GMO corn was $680.95, the cost of growing an acre of GMO corn was $761.80 according to Aaron Bloom. That means it costs $80.85 more an acre to raise GMO corn.
  • GMO seeds can cost up to $150 a bag more than regular seeds.
  • The market for non-GMO foods has grown from $1.3 billion in 2011 to $3.1 billion in 2013, partially because some Asian and European countries don’t want GMO seeds.
  • Grain dealer Clarkson Grain pays farmers an extra $2 a bushel for non-GMO soybeans and an additional $1 a bushel for non-GMO corn.
  • The market for non-GMO seed is growing. Sales at Spectrum Seed Solutions, which sells non-GMO seed, have doubled every year for the last four years. Sales at another company that markets non-GMO seeds, eMerge Genetics of West Des Moines, Iowa, have increased by 30 percent a year for five years.
  • Spectrum Seed Solutions president Scott Odle thinks that non-GMO corn could be 20 percent of the market in five years.

Bloom, the farm consultant, said planting convention corn can save farmers an average of $81 per acre per season. That’s a difference of $81,000 for a farm of 1,000 acres.

It looks like the past might be the future for farmers as more and more growers abandon GMO. The free market could very well spell the end of GMO seeds.

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  1. Now to get the farmers to design the land with Permaculture principles. Just consider for a moment, that the hippies and alternative cultures have it ‘right’, more appropriate, sustainable for long term (generations instead of 5 years) and are regenerating the lands, water, foods, soils and in turn healing plants, animals, humans and the planet. Just an idea.

    • Here is a free online 72 hour permaculture course:

      • For all I can tell about permaculture, the only people profiting from it are the people who are training others on it. I’ve not found any farmers who use it to profit. Seems more of an ideology than a reality in the marketplace.

        • here’s an example for you and there are many following his lead!

        • Everything you need to know about traditional, non conventional,organic, biodynamic-aquaculture,perma-culture farming…is online and FREE! You can even go to your local Farm Groups. WOOF.ORG.Etc and sign up for farming classes!

          • If I wanted to start farming and have the proper knowledge I would ask the OL’ Timers.. Seems to me the smaller farms with variety of crop and livestock and proper rotation kept the land (and the people) healthier….just sayin’

        • @ David Ford.. I am not a farmer, never have been, but I have found several farmers that stand by permaculture standards. There is a huge wave of change these days. Putting enrichment BACK in our farmlands is a growing dynamic of farming. You will see a dramatic change is techniques.. back to sustainable ways .. in the coming decades. Industrial Hemp farming, social media and soon, we hope, social media will command a change in the ways we treat our food source.. our country’s farmlands. They belong to us all you know.. we, who are cognizant of the damage that has been done.. We who subscribe to the constant education about saving our family farms! just sayin.. dig deeper and get the facts friend. Thanks for coming and sharing.

        • The T5R is very profitable and has an ingrained permaculture operating practice. I know this because I practice this every day and freely share my knowledge and experience with any wanting to learn. Now if you are talking big farms there is a long way to go before monocultures and the Corn soy cycle is broken and less conventional ways return.

    • Of course they have it right! The alternative crowd tends to view things more from the heart and less from the wallet.

  2. Do you think ‘GMO companies’ are going to take this lying down? We won’t have to wait long before we see their answer to lost sales. On the other hand third world countries will continue to buy the GMO seed because they’ve been blinded by western, so called, ‘science’ and their ‘lawmakers’ have already been bought.

    • @Robbo.. this type of forum brings those ‘GMO companies’ to their knees. Due diligence by us all will hit these big ag companies, and allies, to their knees. One person at a time. YOU and I can make a huge difference by spreading the truth.. and we can make a difference with third world countries and exposing what ‘charity’ is doing to the population of these countries. It is up to you and me to make this happen friend. One farm at a time..

    • Farmers are farmers wherever they’re found. If they don’t see the benefit, they won’t invest the extra money in buying those seeds. HOWEVER, the problem is in trade agreements, informed by companies like Monsanto, which limit farmer choices to only these seeds. Farmers in developing countries just do not have the same choices that farmers in the US have. Companies like to tout the importance of free trade, but with deals like the TPP, choice is actually limited.

    • 64 countries have already said “no” or are limiting GMOs. Several less developed nations caught onto the hazards and costs of GMO seed… long before Americans started even questioning them.
      I grew up in the midwest, surrounded by fields and fields of monoculture crops. Now I go back to visit and I wonder, why is there no FOOD being grown in my home state? I find it sad that we have degenerated our “farmers” into industry tools for growing crops that are not proper food for any human. And now with so many stories surfacing about animals developing inflammatory conditions and losing fertility, likely linked to GMOs and increased pesticide applications, I am doubting these crops are suitable for any creature to eat.

  3. I heard a program a while ago, on CBC Radio, Canada, where a farmer was being interviewed about his experience with glyphosate herbicides. He said it would work for 2 or three years, and then they would get SuperWeeds, that were huge uncontrollable plants. The company would issue a revised formulation, it would work a few years, and then another weed would go SuperWeed. The plants were adapting, and because the strong ones were surviving, the next generations would be only the strong one.
    Funny how that works.

  4. Ancient Hawaiians had it right. The Ahupua’a

    This system required very little work once established, grow enough food to support your local community, it was so efficient that comnoners who worked it had time to surf , fish and raise their families without having to be slaves to inefficiency.

    Unfortunately Western contact destroyed all these systems, the same westerners who today are destroying the farm industries ability to produce food in a logical way, with good stewardship of the land. It’s no surprise that logical farmers are starting to see through the corporate greed that has nothing to do with food and everything to do with fleecing the potential profits of modern farmers to monopolize the industry for corporate gain.

    Time to get back to the REAL farming and stewardship of the land. Permaculture existed long before hippies did so it isn’t hippy to be a good steward of the land. Greed is very destructive as we are awakening to see.

    How do you kill a corporation stop supporting their efforts to destroy the sovereignty to practice good stewardship.

  5. Everyone has an ideology ! The guy that is making his decisions based on profits only has profits has an ideology. That profit-only ideology is the cause of most imbalances and human-caused disasters in nature. Nothing to be proud of. Many of those who are called “hippies” by this article for, I suspect, suggesting the ideology of environmentally sound practices for a healthier global future, are also interested by profits. But they are seeing profits differently. Instead of valuing almost exclusively how much immediate cash a certain crop will bring, they are willing to consider extended, yet very real forms of profit, namely a healthy environment, a fair share for a all those involved, which lead to the real bottom line: happier people.

  6. An interesting article. Another aspect of non-GMO farming is that you can use some of your crops as seed for the next year, which further reduces your costs. It may take some more “man hours” to obtain enough seed, but it can be done. It is more feasible on a small-scale, but it is possible on a larger scale.

    • Almost all corn growers use F1 hybrids and have been for >60 years. One can’t save seed from these plants as they segregate genes in the next generation. It has nothing to do with man hours; it is basic genetics. Even growers of non-hybrid crops like wheat generally buy certified seed rather than save seed because they get fewer weeds, better germination, and higher yields that compensate for seed costs.

      • It is not that hard to clean seed and testing germination is very simple, any farmer can do it. If you plant seed grown on your own farm the only weeds you will get is the weeds you already have.

        Sometimes when you buy certified seed it comes weed seeds you don’t already have.

        The claims that seed companies make about their high dollar genetically engineered seeds yielding better is mostly hype.

  7. Really – I’m all for abandoning GMOs but I thought Monsanto was the uncontrolled seed police with less than ethical tactics!

    • “but”? Why do you say “but”? May I rephrase that for you? : “I’m all for abandoning GMOs because, for one of many reasons, Monsanto is acting as an uncontrolled seed police with less than ethical tactics!”

  8. Almost ironically I had a call this week from a client who will remain anonymous at his request. He told me the results of planting 50 different corn varieties in a side-by-side without replicated checks where half of the varieties were GM and half were not. He cost accounted the varieties just as the author did in this article. What is almost uncanny is that he had the same results in net profit as the author has reported. When he added a $.20 premium for the Non-GM varieties, he reached the $100 an acre differential. At $1 premium for non-gm it would have blown the top off. Go Spectrum and others like you. Do everything possible to keep your seed production “clean”.

  9. No till transition traded plowing and filling waterways for poisoning. If plowing is returned to and no measures taken to keep the soil in place we’re back to square one. Farmers who do it right will have to market way different to recoup for extra work and loss of production land. We’re gonna have to pay more for real food/fiber. Hemp is the answer to replace most of the crops grown today but the profiteers in the GMO/poison/petrol don’t want it. The solution is what we choose to buy and continuing to educate folk and pressuring legislators who collectively take billions from the mega-corps under the guise of campaign contributions which we can in no wise match.

    • Greedy you say – seriously a bad attitude I say. Choke on on the food you say – seriously you may starve, I say. Thank a farmer – your life depends on it, I say.

  10. This past spring I had bees early on. Then the weeds across the street grew and the guy sprayed roundup-which I could smell for a week-and I only saw a few of bees from other species. No Monarchs even tho I had Asclepias growing for them. Who knows what that stuff did to me….

  11. It does not matter if GMO seeds are cheaper *now*, rest assure that once they have the whole market for themselves, those seeds are not going to be as cheap!

    By then it will be too late to try to revert to NORMAL and NATURAL.

    No to GMO and NO to Monsanto is the only solution to stop the poisoning of the seeds and through them animals and humans.

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  14. Little Bright Feather

    Problem is once you plant the Monsanto GE seeds in the ground THAT SOIL IS RUINED FOR THE NEXT 50 YEARS ! Those deadly seeds kill the soil. If everyone knew what those seeds really are, they’d never touch them, much less grow or eat the crop ! ! Animals are dying from eating GE crops, grains, etc. AT the very least farm animals are sterile after eating a diet of GE crops / grains. GE crops actually starve you to death no matter how much of it you eat. It has no enzymes needed for digestion and absorption. There is no real nutrition in GE foods.GE crops do not produce as they were expected to. GE crops will lead to famine and death for all living things.

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