With the recent negativity towards biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMO) products I feel the need to express my opinion and reasoning for using GMO products as a local producer. Genetically modified (GM) corn is a very important part of my crop rotation program.
It allows me to use Roundup for excellent weed control, replacing harsher weed specific herbicides which leave residues in the soil preventing seeding of certain crops the following year.
Because these herbicides are weed-specific, it requires mixing different herbicides together depending on the problem weeds; this can be complicated and expensive. GM corn requires just one treatment with Roundup, typically at a rate of 1L per acre.
In the past, we would only expect at best 80 per cent weed control with conventional herbicides, today 80 per cent weed control with Roundup would be disappointing.
All indications are that Roundup is a far less offensive herbicide than the alternatives; as well these past herbicides often set the corn crop back when applied and have a smaller application window.
With better weed control I get improved crops using less water and nutrients to the point where it is becoming more common to grow successful corn crops without irrigation. Growing GM corn has become so nutrient efficient I grow my crop using only the manure from my dairy cows.
In short I am getting greater yields and higher quality corn using less land, water and nutrients because of GMO technology.
Corn varieties are continually improved upon as well.
With the extensive use of Roundup-ready varieties, the focus of seed development has been on GM corn, the result being that improvements to conventional varieties of corn have potentially fallen behind due to lack of demand.
As far as the need to ban GM crops because organic crops cannot coexist is incorrect.
The fact is the two have already been coexisting for the past 15 years here in the Okanagan without issue.
Today, GMO crops and products are used widely by progressive, sustainable producers because of their benefits.
Their initial use was not without skepticism by producers but the technology has stood the test of time, now proving to be beneficial to producers and consumers alike.
Ralph van Dalfsen,
North Okanagan dairy producer