By Gary Budzak
Bret Davis, who has a farm just north of Delaware on Troy Road, is an advocate for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
“We can grow better crops with GMO, especially since we don’t have to use as many pesticides,” Davis said.
A farmer for 35 years, Davis said he’s used GMOs for the past 16 years, especially for his soybeans.
“We’ve cut our pesticide and herbicide use down to about a third of what we used to,” he said. “We can go to using no-till in our farming practices and are able to control the weeds and the bugs with the genetically modified seed. We haven’t disturbed the soil, and so we don’t get the runoff for nitrates for the phosphorus that we’ve seen (in the past).”
That keeps the water supply cleaner.
“There’s seven kids in our family,” Davis said. “I want my kids to have a good environment to live in, so we do our best to keep it clean.”
His soybean crops have had better yields, too, since converting to the GMOs. Davis said some of his farmer friends still grow their crops the conventional way, but many prefer using GMOs.
GMO plants are developed when a copy of a desired gene from one plant is placed into another plant. Biotechnology or genetic engineering is used to raise crops that can be more pest- or disease-resistant, or more able to tolerate a drought. Davis said GMOs have also allowed farmers to vary the fat content of the soybeans they raise.
Some critics of GMOs have likened the end result to be “Frankenfood,” but the Ohio Soybean Council (OSC) has recently launched an education initiative to address safety concerns, including having farmers make their case at the Ohio State Fair.
“We handed out 5,000 shopping bags to our consumers, and they got to talk to a farmer personally and ask questions,” Davis said. “The problem here is a lack of education or misinformation. The GMO crops have been studied more than any other crop in history to make sure that they’re safe. We’ve had 30 years of laboratory research to make sure that there is no health risk with a GMO product.”
The GMOs are studied and regulated Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Among those who say GMO products are as safe as non-GMOs are the American Medical Association, European Food Safety Authority, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
“These are safe – there are no more risks than any other foods,” said OSC spokeswoman Jennifer Coleman. “People have the option to choose whatever food is right for their families, but we want them to make those choices based on facts.”
For more information, visit ohiosoybeanfarmers.org.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.