A Punch to the Mouth: Food Price Volatility Hits the World

Some of the distrust GMOs is distrust of Monstanto itsself.  
When productivity begins to decline in the large fields, we will be depending more on garden type sustainable agriculture.  It may be that land that is not considered fertile now because of hills, rocks, or soil chemistry, will be seeded in tended beds with carefully managed soils.  In the U.S. we have a lot of land that is not considered productive that could be coaxed into production using sustainable methods.  If we were hungry we would figure it out.

It is not all about the seeds; it is also about the soil.  Raising plants raised in a bath of roundup, fed by artificial fertilizers, is not the only way to go.  There is so much we dont know about the chemistry of the soil that supports us. 

Gotta love those worms.


Quite right, which is why going organic is not good enough, we have to go to PERMACULTURE in which NOTHING is wasted.  Composting toilets should be compulsory.  We use one, and everything that passes through us is 100% recycled back into the garden as humanure.
Permaculture, as an aside, also improves drainage and water harvesting using simple modifications of the lanscape that could, if needed, be done by hand…  And once Peak Fossil Fuels is entrenched, everything will go back to hard work, though luckily, Permaculture only needs to be implemented once every few decades at any one site.
Like I said earlier…  we don’t need GMOs. Perios.

 To isuldurr22


It's interesting that rather than debate factual issues, you prefer name-calling insults.  Dr. Pusztai's research documenting organ damage to rats eating GM potatoes was peer reviewed and published in the medical journal The Lancet.  Gosh, I'd better watch out for those "way out there" sources. (sarcasm).



I chose one claim, that GMOs reduce pesticide use, and provided evidence that it was NOT TRUE. Yes, I quoted some internet sources that document that they have actually greatly increased pesticide use. Is it true or false that USDA data shows that pesticide use has increased greatly? Is it true or false that Monsanto has been offering rebates to farmers to purchase additional herbicides to combat resistance to Roundup? If those facts are true then the claim GMOs reduce pesticide use is a LIE.



It's also about to get much worse. Dow Chemical is currently seeking approval for a new GM corn variety that is resistant to 2,4-D.




From Organic Consumer's website, quote:

A new generation of genetically engineered crops designed to survive repeated spraying of the super-toxic herbicide 2,4-D, which was a major component of Agent Orange, the defoliant used by the U.S. in its herbicidal warfare campaign in Vietnam.



There is a large body of evidence indicating major health problems resulting from exposure to 2,4-D that include cancer, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and immunosuppression.


2,4-D contains dioxin, one of the “dirty dozen” group of extremely toxic chemicals that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, or photolytic processes.


2,4-D has been banned in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Quebec and scores of Canadian municipalities after numerous epidemiological studies linked 2,4-D to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.



Oooh, I love a good brawl. May I join?
Because Monsanto and the big companies are the first to use GM’s we must not fall into the trap of thinking that is how things are going to be forever. People are always telling me how things stand at present.

Soon little Johnny will be doing genetic manipulation for his show and tell at school. It is said that we are running out of species diversity. I demure. Just you wait Henry Higgins.

Six legged camel for transport? So ho hum. Can’t you be more creative? How about this? Grow your own airship out of  modified bamboo. Make it sentient. modify cockaroaches to clean up all waste behind you in the airship. Grow "grapes" from the ceiling of the cabins nurtured by sunlight outside and intergrated into the ship’s cells. Impossible. I put it to you that most genetic material on this planet is bog standard. Mommy nature says,"If it works don’t fix it."

How about this ethical issue? We geneticaly modify ourselves. Why not? Women do it all the time. They carefully choose their mate for his genetic qualities. What do you think all the Sports Jocks are about? That is defacto genetic selection. Yes I know Gladys, that is not what you mean, but do you know what you mean?

How would I genetically modify humans? Top of the list. Make ovulation an act of volition. Step two, enlarge the spinal column. Pack it full of redundant brain cells. An idea of my daughters.

Talking about creativity, nothing works like trial and error. That is common sense talk for.  .  . hold on to your hat, here it comes, Evolution. Wot? No takers? Oh well. The organisms that have survived evolution are good, very good. (Observe exhibit "A", Me.) Anything created by design will be a pussy for these battle hardened street kids.

Future Shock? You aint seen nutthing.

Well said Arthur Robey.

Regarding the Pusztai item in Lancet, it was a letter, not an article.  Letters to medical journals, in my reading, are usually seen as preliminary, sometimes speculative, and subject to further revision.  The authors are expected to provide scientific analysis but it is one of the forums for new ideas and real academic discussion of controversies in a real time format. Research takes years, letters can be discussed over a period of weeks and months.


Unfortunately for Dr. Pusztai, it meant the end of his 50 year research career and decades long tenure at Rowett :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pusztai_affair

That is a pretty clear warning shot to others in the field and those who plan on tenure, imho, would avoid this area like the plague.  



…especially when they are part of a campaign whose aim  (banning GMOs) would lead to a decrease in the world’s food supply.
My responses did not constitute an ad hominem attack, because they addressed the thoughts and not the thinker, the post and not the person.  You don’t score points by crying "foul", any more than I would by calling you names. Besides everyone reading this already knows what people who promote the fraudulent claims of con artists are called.

The Lancet of late has become better known for their promiscuity than their scientific integrity.  Think of how many of the current outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseeases in the US and Europe would never had happened had the Lancet not published the weak Andrew Wakefield study that "showed" a connection between vaccination and autism.  Deaths of children because their parents were convinced by the fraudsters.  Yet even after the medical community thouroughly debunked the science of that study, it took years and years for the Lancet to retract it!  The anti-vaccine crowd is still animated by that phony research today, just as the anti-GM crowd continues to hold up the discredited claims of Arpad Pusztai, for lack of other fake data.

I’ll now counter your claims on pesticide use and 2-4,D danger.  Numerous studies have shown reduction in pesticide use with GM crops.  These are articles published by real university labs, in journals without a history of dangerous failures in peer review like the Lancet:

Bt cotton in China resulted in pesticide use reduction of 78,000 tons of formulated pesticides in 2001. This corresponds to about a quarter of all the pesticides sprayed in China in the mid-1990s. (Pray, C et al., 2002. Five years of Bt cotton in China – the benefits continue. The Plant Journal, 31(4):423-430)

The use of Bt cotton can substantially reduce the risk and incidence of pesticide poisonings to farmers.  2004. Genetically modified cotton and farmers’ health in China. (International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 10: 296-303)

Herbicide tolerant crops have facilitated the continued expansion of conservation tillage, especially no-till cultivation system, in the USA. The adoption of conservation and no-till cultivation practices saved nearly 1 billion tons of soil per year. (Fawcett, R and D Towery. 2002. Conservation tillage and plant biotechnology: how new technologies can improve the environment by reducing the need to plow. Conservation Tillage Information Center, West Lafayette, Indiana. http://ctic.purdue.edu/CTIC/BiotechPaper.pdf)

A study assessing the global economic and environmental impacts of biotech crops for the first nine years (1996-2004) of adoption showed that the technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 172 million kg and has reduced environmental footprint associated with pesticide use by 14%. The technology has also significantly reduced the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, equivalent to removing five million cars from the roads. (Brooks, G and P Barfoot. 2005. GM crops: the global economic and environmental impact – the first nine years 1996-2004. AgbioForum, 8(2&3): 187-196)

In the USA, adoption of GM crops resulted in pesticide use reduction of 46.4 million pounds in 2003. From a metastudy by the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy, Washington, DC,Sankula, S. and E. Blumenthal. 2004. Impacts on US agriculture of biotechnologyderived crops planted in 2003: An update of eleven case studies. Available at http://www.ncfap.org/whatwedo/biotech-us.php

2-4,D is a form of auxin, one of the most important natural plant hormones.  Every bite of vegetables that you put into your mouth is full of auxin, because plant cells are full of it.

From the EPA’s website, http://epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/24d_fs.htm

"Advisory Panel Special Joint Committee reviewed available epidemiological and other data on 2,4-D in 1992 and concluded that "the data are not sufficient to conclude that there is a cause and effect relationship between exposure to 2,4-D and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma." 2,4-D was classified as a Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity. The Agency requested further histopathological examinations of rat brain tissues and mouse spleen tissues in question. These exams were submitted and reviewed, and on March 16, 1999, the Agency notified the 2,4-D Task Force that the Agency would continue to classify 2,4-D as a Group D carcinogen.

The Agency has twice recently reviewed epidemiological studies linking cancer to 2,4-D. In the first review, completed January 14, 2004, EPA concluded there is no additional evidence that would implicate 2,4-D as a cause of cancer (EPA, 2004). The second review of available epidemiological studies occurred in response to comments received during the Phase 3 Public Comment Period for the 2,4-D RED. EPA’s report, dated December 8, 2004 and authored by EPA Scientist Jerry Blondell, Ph.D., found that none of the more recent epidemiological studies definitively linked human cancer cases to 2,4-D."

as it may be to yawl, my milk cow likes my OP corn better than GM corn. Same with my pig.

I am in good company robie, I like OP corn better than the GM corn I buy from green giant-I can taste a difference and it is real enough to me

Thunder over the horizon on a warm summer evening or a thunderstorm raging over your home?  One makes you sit up and take notice, the other is just noise that drowns itself out.I do not know who is more correct in this debate, but it would appear to my tired old eyes that the sources provided by isildur22 have an air of credibility the others do not. This is the observation and opinion of one man and is not intended to cause an argument we should not be having.
isildur22, please continue to rumble quietly over the horizon.  Many people are sitting up, watching, waiting and listening.
With much respect,

 Where have you found is the best place to get the op corn seed ?     I quit graining and went strictly hay/ alfalfa … but I do not have a milk cow .   Right now  I am trying to keep the family from eating grain products as well ,but somewhere I read of a Lady who is raising old world ( not modified )wheat … hope I can find where I read it . Yesterday I ground beans to make flour  I will let you know how that goes over .  I am also reading that nuts have an enzyme inhibitor on them that we need to be soaking off before we eat them . Who knew !   I thought the salt would have done the trick .      SOOOO  more nut trees will be on my list to buy .  Right now the little ones I have planted will take years .

 Great debate .    Our farm ground has  NEVER  had chemicals on it . My grandfather was one to say …if a bug won’t eat it why should I .     Yes we do not get as great yields as some others who do .  But I will tell you that my dad was hoppin mad when the overspray from the neighbors corn field  wilted his fruit trees .     We were not telling the neighbor that he could not use it on his fields, because he is down hill  from us,  but to over spray does not make for good neighbors at all .
 I am totally praising that every bit of ground around my place is back to native grass so I do not have to worry what is in my well water .  It tests perfect every year .


What really sold me when buying our place was that it too had never been sprayed…  before being subdivided into small acreage, this place was a 100 odd acre dairy farm, and I’ve met the old farmer who used to own it (in fact he infrequently visits because he is so interested in what we’re doing) and he claims he used to walk he entire property constantly with a hoe to chip the weeds out…!
Going back to GMOs, it absolutely astounds me that ANYONE would trust ANY multinational corporations on ANYTHING after the mess they have left behind everywhere.  I refuse to buy ANYTHING that involves big companies, even if it means doing without.  They do not give a stuff about anything other than their profits, and they can just go straight to hell as far as I’m concerned…
Re chemicals… we don’t even have a bottle of bleach here!

Isildr22 comments on GM food per the data are consistent w/ our experiences on our farms in Iowa.
One item of concern though w/ GM is the density of nutrition is becoming less for some (all?) foods, this a variation of 1st Law Of Thermodynamics (Energy can’t be created or destroyed… leading to a continuity of mass issue of larger yields with less dense nutrients).

Another example is milk cows.  50 years ago…a dairy cow use to last 15 years…now they last 3 or so years.  Why?  They produce 10+ times the amount of milk per day and "burn out".

We just averaged a mean of over 210 bu/acre for corn and 79 bu/acre for soybeans.  The variance of choosing the correct hybrid can be worth tens of a percent on yield from our data.  We planted heat and drought tolerant yeilds and received one timely rain.

This past year was our best year ever, both for total profit and profit margin. 

We’ve been using no till for decades.  Our dropoff is estimated to be around a percent or two…minor to very minor.

The farm profits, plus low interest rates are resulting in amazing prices bidding on land.  

We had the first choice (turned down) on some land that sold for almost an average of $9000 per acre.   These prices we believe are too high…even with good profits. 

In Iowa…the Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) is a vital value reference point for land prices.  For example…Iowa averages the highest in the US (world) in the lower 70s.  Our farms average in the lower to middle 80s.

If your interested in land…be sure you inderstand how to evaluate its productivity.

Lots of stuff is being tried to improve productivity.  Our view is the rate of increase of better yields will continue,  but a slowing rate.  We monitor GM foods closely, this is our livelyhood, it routinely is discussed w/ lots of views but most are similar to the comments above, the benefits are more than the tradeoffs in our neck of the woods.

2 cents from our farms.




 I think that most on this site have seen how our government and regulators have been bought and corrupted by the big corporations. Monsanto and friends have done the same. They use their money and influence to pay for “research” that supports their side and viciously attack any that doesn’t. Dr. Pusztai was at the top of his field before he had his career destroyed for publicizing results that were “bad for business.” How many honest researchers are going to be lining up to further our knowledge after they see what was done to him?


From Scientific American:


Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?

Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end

Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers.

To purchase genetically modified seeds, a customer must sign an agreement that limits what can be done with them. 

For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects.

Research on genetically modified seeds is still published, of course. But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering. 




Bt cotton did reduce pesticide use right at first. Bt is a toxin that causes insects' stomachs to burst. The problem is that pretty soon either they become resistant to it or other pests move in. Then you're back to using more pesticides again.


From Cornell University:



Seven-year glitch: Cornell warns that Chinese GM cotton farmers are losing money due to 'secondary' pests'


“Although Chinese cotton growers were among the first farmers worldwide to plant genetically modified (GM) cotton to resist bollworms, the substantial profits they have reaped for several years by saving on pesticides have now been eroded.

The reason, as reported by Cornell University researchers at the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Long Beach, Calif., July 25, is that other pests are now attacking the GM cotton.

The GM crop is known as Bt cotton, shorthand for theBacillus thuringiensis gene inserted into the seeds to produce toxins. But these toxins are lethal only to leaf-eating bollworms. After seven years, populations of other insects -- such as mirids -- have increased so much that farmers are now having to spray their crops up to 20 times a growing season to control them, according to the study of 481 Chinese farmers in five major cotton-producing provinces.


The study -- the first to look at the longer-term economic impact of Bt cotton -- found that by year three, farmers in the survey who had planted Bt cotton cut pesticide use by more than 70 percent and had earnings 36 percent higher than farmers planting conventional cotton. By 2004, however, they had to spray just as much as conventional farmers, which resulted in a net average income of 8 percent less than conventional cotton farmers because Bt seed is triple the cost of conventional seed. “


I really am amazed you would proclaim the safety of 2,4-D. I think you should drink a big glass of it to prove to us all how safe it is.


There is also the issue of how it affects bees. It doesn't kill adult bees but impairs their ability to reproduce. A personal account from a beekeeper:



Even though adult bees were not immediately killed and no adult bees were observed dead in colonies, the removal of eggs, larva and sealed brood led to the eventual collapse and failure of the effected colonies. Honey Bees are extremely fragile and if I experienced a burning sensation upon being sprayed with 2-4-D one can only imagine what effect it has on Honey Bees.

It's my opinion that the Government needs to do more testing on the long term effects of 2-4-D and Honey Bees. Every time I hear a Beekeeper tell another Beekeeper that it is ok to spray any type of weed control containing 2-4-D around Honey Bee colonies I cringe. Unfortunately we are society that looks only at direct effect and not long term consequences.



Lawsuit in U.S.A. Uncovers Disagreement  Within FDA Over Safety of Biotech Foods   

Agency Contradicted Own Experts in Approving Genetically Engineered Foods 
– Misrepresented Facts in Order to Promote U.S. Biotech Industry 

In May 1998, a coalition of public interest groups, scientists, and 
religious leaders filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration to obtain mandatory safety testing and labeling of all 
genetically engineered foods (Alliance for Bio-Integrity, et. al. v. 
Shalala). Nine eminent life scientists joined the coalition in order to 
emphasize the degree to which they think FDA policy is scientifically 
unsound and morally irresponsible. Now, the FDA’s own files confirm how 
well-founded are their concerns. The FDA was required to deliver copies 
of these files–totalling over 44,000 pages–to the plaintiffs’ 

The FDA’s records reveal it declared genetically engineered foods to be 
safe in the face of disagreement from its own experts–all the while 
claiming a broad scientific consensus supported its stance. Internal 
reports and memoranda disclose: (1) agency scientists repeatedly 
cautioned that foods produced through recombinant DNA technology entail 
different risks than do their conventionally produced counterparts and 
(2) that this input was consistently disregarded by the bureaucrats who 
crafted the agency’s current policy, which treats bioengineered foods the 
same as natural ones. 

Besides contradicting the FDA’s claim that its policy is science-based, 
this evidence shows the agency violated the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic 
Act in allowing genetically engineered foods to be marketed without 
testing on the premise that they are generally recognized as safe by 
qualified experts. 


We planted our last GM crop,RRbeans and realized 47bu/acre, its all going to pasture save some few acres of garden. (gov. paying to take out of crop?) I’ll send you some OP corn seed with a PM and address. Its mostly 100 day yellow with some few red seed and even fewer white. Makes the BEST meal ever eaten. We sift it for flour, meal, polenta, grits and feed.  robie southside VA

 Thank you so much, Robie .  We gave up eating grains as much as we can . This is no easy change  because we are used to eating one at least every day . But it was becoming evident by our rounding shape that something is wrong .  I narrowed it down to GMO grains and  Corn syrup because our meals ,amount of physical exersize ,and life style had not changed … maybe even getting more physical.  Feeding a big family without grains is EXPENSIVE !  We are now used to eating grass fed beef that I do not think we would change back to finish them off with corn .
 I will love trying the OP seed.   I hope we are far enough away from GM fields to not cross .
 FM .
 We too put some acres in CRP  and the neighbors for miles around have done the same . However the nearest neighbor is not keeping his burnt off  and it is almost a forest .

Science may "save the day" but not through the GMO/Pesticide route.
Dr. Norman Uphoff says in Post Modern Agricutlure (http://wassan.org/sri/documents/Post_Modern_Agriculture_March07.pdf)

The use of agrochemicals for crop protection has resulted in a kind of ‘chemical treadmill’ where their increased use does not result in an overall reduction in the incidence of pests and diseases. Pimentel (1997) reports that while pesticide use in the United States has gone up 10-fold since World War II, total crop losses in America due to insect damage did no (sic) decline but instead went up from 7% to 13%. Thus, chemical inputs have not reduced pest damage in the aggregate and may have added to this.

According to the theory of trophobiosis proposed by Chaboussou (2004), supported by extensive research findings reported in the peer-reviewed literature, the use of pesticides and other biocides along with the use of chemical fertilizer has contributed to present-day pest and disease problems. By causing imbalances or deficits in plant nutrition, with associated impacts on plant metabolism, an excess of amino acids and simple sugars is created in plants’ sap and cytoplasm when these are not consolidated efficiently and completely into proteins and polysaccharides. The use of chemical fertilizers and sprays makes plants more attractive and more vulnerable not only to insects, but also to bacteria, fungi and viruses. This vulnerability of crops is exacerbated by the practice of monocropping and by soil compaction from heavy machinery and other stresses that modern agriculture places upon soil systems.

Inasmuch as GMO crops require continued use of agrochemicals, it keeps us on the treadmill.

Properly balancing your soils minerally, activating them with biological life, and foliar feeding of plants what they need based on plant-sap analysis are some of the keys of Post Modern Agriculture. In my circles this falls under the heading of high brix / beyond organic farming.

Resoures for those wanting to read more:

  • Labs that measure soil for *available* nutrients (soft acid test - Reams type testing) as opposed to *stored* nutrients (hard acid test). (Plants can only use what is available, so the difference is important.) International Ag Labs http://www.aglabs.com/
  • Plant sap analysis? http://www.pikeagri.com/Frequently-Asked-Questions/6.-What-is-plant-sap-analysis.html
  • Life in the soil? http://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131/ref=dp_ob_title_bk  (Based on work by Dr. Elaine Ingham: http://www.soilfoodweb.com/)
  • High Brix? http://www.crossroads.ws/brixbook/BBook.htm
  • Foliar Feeding - my training came from a grower's seminar by Arden Andersen organized by NOFA-Mass (http://www.nofamass.org/seminars/winterseminar09.php) NOFA-Mass continues to sponsor events with training in this area. Here is this year's seminar: http://www.nofamass.org/seminars/fallseminar.php)
  • Soil Health - NOFA-Mass's presentation by Jerry Brunetti was recorded and is available for a donation. Please support NOFA-Mass. (Disclaimer - I belong to NOFA-NY, a sister organization.) Note - I have not used this material but believe it will be on point.  http://www.nofamass.org/seminars/fallseminar10.php

Thanks for posting!  Good information.  Curious…are you the "efarmer" of farmiemarket.com who recently gave a TED speach?

 Curious...are you the "efarmer" of farmiemarket.com who recently gave a TED speach?
Definitely not. I'm just a humble school administrative assistant by day, trying to build a farm for security and retirement by night, weekends, and summers. I'm still a student in the school of hard knocks who reads a lot and and then has to figure out the implementation. I've lurked around this site for a long time and this topic finally drove me to respond. i'll disappear into the void again soon since my schedule does not allow much time for online discussion.

 Well it sounds like you’re on the right track.Figured I’d hazard a guess based on your username, as the young woman who started farmiemarket.com is a farmer from NY who is using ebusiness to better her farming community.