Monsanto’s Application For Drought Tolerant Gene Provides Pull Type Trait Development

There has been a lot of confusion amongst some people regarding Monsanto‘s application for GM drought tolerant corn for feed and food use in Canada and the United States. The application has been made and could be ready if approved fro commercialization in 2012 or 2013. This gene will provide farmers with the ability to stabilize yield during adverse rainfall conditions. In my mind this is the kind of 2nd generation trait development that is going to provide excellent production benefits to farmers and have added benefits to the general public.

According to Trish Jordan, Public Relation Lead at Monsanto Canada in Winnipeg, agriculture accounts for 70% of the worlds annual water usage. Traits that allow plants like corn to use less of it will have a positive impact on the environment.

Lately on Twitter, there has been a lot of public criticism of Monsanto “pushing” this technology on the public. A couple weeks ago I spoke to some University of Lethbridge Agriculture students about the second generation of trait development which will provide not only production benefits but also greater benefits for the general public. I call this pull type trait development instead of push type trait development. Ask any city dwelling friend who knows nothing about agriculture whether or not they think we should develop plants that use less water but remain just as productive. I would imagine that they would think that it was a great idea. Pull type GMOs will become more acceptable for the general public because they provide benefits to all of society. Push type GMOs really only provide direct benefits for farmers because they were strictly production based and do not affect city people. Monsanto is not “pushing” the drought tolerant gene on anyone. This is a gene that farmers and people concerned about the environment will benefit from. Sounds like a positive innovation to me.

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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3 Comments

Ryan

Depends on your definition of “farmer.”

A venture capitalist or self-employed combine operator might like these technologies. They can benefit handsomely from collaborating with Monsanto.

But if you mean farmer, in terms of someone working the field, from India to small organic operations in Canada, you’d hear a resounding “no.”

What are the environmental benefits, pray tell? How many envitonmentalists back GE foods? How do we know they are safe, as really it would take 100 years to actually gauge the effects of GE foods on our ecosystems. Why do we need GE food? Who benefits? Who are these “farmers” you’re talking about? because the ones I know–who are out in the field making a living and a do it as a way of life, rather than a pension stuffer–certainly aren’t the beneficiaries of the amoral technocrats at Monsanto.

In fact, why, if they are so wonderful, won’t the government label foods with GE ingredients? I wonder who is behind that, because it certainly isn’t the will of the citizens of this country.

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Andy

I define myself as a farmer. 3000 seeded acres of small grains in one of the driest areas of the Prairies.

If Monsanto or Syngenta (who has a fusarium tolerant wheat on the shelf but its GE) can build me a better wheat, I would welcome it. If I could have a drought tolerant wheat that fixes atmospheric N and is disease and insect resistant, then I would benefit for sure! And so would huge tracts of arid land throughout the world.

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Kevin

I would like to comment on Ryan’s post. I would like to know how HE really defines a farmer and if he himself actually is one him self. I will agree 100% with him that by colaberating with companies such as Monsanto, I as a farmer do benefit handsomely. I am a farmer by your exact definition, working the field but only I am in Alberta. Why would an environmentalist back GM foods? It seem as though anyone with an opinion against globalization is able to call themselves an environmentalist.There is more fear mongering that goes on in the world than is nessecary. Most of it has to do with the vast amount of information at our finger tips.
The problem with this is that most of it is not true. A very recent example of this is the “swine flu” pandemic that we are seeing. Just check out twitter and see how much information there is out there. 70% is probably just a bunch of garbage.
If someone would have known the long term effects of most of the things that were brought to light in the early 1900’s I’m guessing that they still would have been done. I doubt that the use of fossil fuels to power most everything that we do would have been scrapped.
As for why we need GM foods and who benefits from it, let me pose another question to you. Who is going to feed this exploding population. I hate to tell you this but it isn’t the small organic farmer in Canada. You can fool yourself all you want but the reality of it is it won’t happen. I see first hand on a regular basis the difference between organic production and traditional farming. We cannot supply the world with food organically. People want a cheap, readily available supply of food. Sure, there are those people out there that will only eat organic but they are not driving 1993 Ford Tauras’s to the grocery store either.
My friend, I am one of those farmers they are talking about. I am out in the field making a living and doing it as a way of life.I am a beneficiary of what Monsanto is doing along with the rest of the population that needs to be fed. I don’t understand how so called environmentalists think that they are always speaking on behalf of the majority of the population. We would all starve if we implemented most of their ideas. It would be fantastic if everyone in the world lived in a yard big enough, with enough water to grow enough food to sustain themselves throughout the year. But the reality of it is it’s not possible.

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