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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Fresh Look on GMOs

In the last month, I have been in San Francisco (Keep Collective leadership conference), and Denver (National Western Stock Show and Des Moines. When you are traveling that much, you meet a lot of different people. I’ve been in more Ubers than I can count. I am the kind of Uber rider that wants to know the driver’s life story. And at some point that means they want to know mine, so I share that I’m from Iowa and our family raises cows. Yup, this girl who is running around in black pleather pants, lipstick and has more bracelets on that you can count knows a thing about farming. 

On our farm we plant GMO corn and soybeans. It helps us less water and less energy. GMO farming methods have reduced the equivalent of nearly 500 billions pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. Both our farm and organic farms use pesticides to ensure that our plants stay healthy, however using GMOs lets us cut back dramatically on the amount needed. We can spray less often, with more targeted precision. On average, GMO farming has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, while increasing cop yields by 22%. Land is expensive so the more we can grow on least amount of land possible the better. 


Whether it be the Uber driver, my city-living conference roommates, the server at the restaurant or the CEO of Keep Collective they are all concerned about one thing: the safety of the food they are feeding their families. Thanks to the media and fancy marketing labels everyone is so darn confused about what is right and wrong, healthy or safe. GMOs are on the top of everyone’s list as “I’m not so sure about those things.”


Now let's start with some basics. GMOs aren’t a thing, but a breeding method. Nearly every crop grown today could be considered a GMO: People have been selecting and cross-breeding crops to make them more useful for thousands of years. What was once the result of trial and error is now efficient, predictable and precise — a finely tuned way to pass beneficial, naturally occurring traits into the seeds farmers, like Jon and I, need to grow our food. At the end of the day, they’re no different than any other seeds, except they grow into crops that need less water, or naturally fend off invasive insects or disease. 

On our farm we plant GMO corn and soybeans. It helps us less water and less energy. GMO farming methods have reduced the equivalent of nearly 500 billions pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. Both our farm and organic farms use pesticides to ensure that our plants stay healthy, however using GMOs lets us cut back dramatically on the amount needed. We can spray less often, with more targeted precision. On average, GMO farming has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, while increasing cop yields by 22%. Land is expensive so the more we can grow on least amount of land possible the better. 


Recently, I came across a brand created by farmers like me called Ethos Chocolate and they care as much about GMOs as I do. Why? Instead of being focused on GMO corn and soybeans like we are, they created a line of chocolate flavors that represent other GMO crop stories: The Optimist (cacao), The Survivor (papaya), The Hero (orange) and The Trendsetter (apple). The cacao bean and each of these fruits are currently faced with environmental pressures, but through GMO technology farmers are working to make these crops more sustainable. I would cry if chocolate ever went away. I am addicted. 

The flavor of The Optimist (straight up chocolate) is my favorite, but I love the story of the The Hero the most. In the past decade, Florida orange production has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years due to the crippling citrus greening disease - which has infected 90% of Florida’s citrus groves and has no cure. This has caused revenue and jobs in the citrus sector to drop and orange juice prices to skyrocket. While a GMO tree variety is a long way off, researchers have identified a solution that can be applied to existing trees, using a virus as the vector to deliver antibacterial proteins called defensins found in spinach plants (defensins are also found in your saliva, fighting off microbes). This means that oranges will be sticking around for a lot longer, which is amazing!

With Valentine’s Day arriving soon and we all should feel good about indulging in a sweet treat. Ethos chocolate wants to send you, or your favorite person or gal pal a package of their limited-edition chocolates for free. All you have to do is submit your request here. Yes, Target will have a delicious selection of chocolates but this is a fun and easy way to directly support farmers and learn a little more about the food choices available to you and your family. 



This post was sponsored but A Fresh Look, all opinions are my own. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so cool! I'm going over to get some!

    ReplyDelete

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