A Good Reason

Clif Slade is a farmer and retired extension agent.  These days he’s affiliated with Virginia State University and is leading the 43,560 project, about which I’ve previously blogged.

At last weekend’s Virginia Biological Farmer’s Conference he told the story of how he came to be an organic farmer.

In the mid-90’s he was working as an extension agent when Roundup-Ready corn seed was introduced.  Like almost everyone else in Ag at the time, he was excited about what it meant for farmers.

So he set up several test plots of corn to do a demonstration for area farmers.  One plot was Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn.  The others were various types of non-GMO corn.

Just a few days before the demonstration he discovered that the plots had been devastated overnight.  The stalks were destroyed and the corn had been eaten.

Except for the Roundup-Ready GMO corn.  It was untouched.

He looked at the field with amazement, and told himself “I’m not feeding my family something raccoons won’t eat.”

Fast forward.

Virtually non-existent before 1996, last year 85 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. was genetically engineered.  Approximately 71 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. in 2013 had “stacked” genetic modification, meaning it had been genetically engineered to be both herbicide-resistant and to include a pesticide.  By-products of this GMO corn is a principal ingredient in most processed food.  Sixty to 70 percent of processed food contains at least one GMO ingredient.  Seventy percent of the American diet these days is processed food.