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Reality check needed for non-farm residents?Reality check needed for non-farm residents?

Forrest Laws 1

May 5, 2016

2 Min Read

Ever wonder what would happen if the environmental activist groups succeeded in their apparent goal of forcing EPA to remove all herbicide active ingredient tolerances?

Cotton and soybean producers who hire people to chop and physically remove glyphosate-resistant pigweed from their fields have a good idea. University scientists say the cost can run between $60 and $100 an acre.

Experts from the Weed Science Society of America estimate the U.S. could lose half its corn and soybean crops if herbicides and other control techniques were eliminated. The combined losses would approach $43 billion annually in the U.S. and Canada.

You’d think reasonable people would understand how trying to grow crops to feed 7.4 billion people with hoes and plows would be ludicrous. But common sense seems to be in short supply when it comes to perceptions about pesticides and GMOs.

(Example: Hungary’s recent destruction of 1,000 acres of GMO corn. A Hungarian government official proudly proclaimed the corn had been plowed under but “pollen had not spread from the corn.” Apparently, no one thought to ask how they could tell the corn was genetically modified. And, no, the government will not compensate farmers for their loss.

“It’s an astonishing number and indicates the significant threat weeds present to crop production,” says Anita Dille, chair of the WSSA’s Weed Loss Committee, referring to the projected loss from eliminating herbicides.

Kansas State University’s Dille and others collected data from seven years of weed control studies. They found an average yield loss of 52 percent in corn and 49.5 percent in soybean crops when weed control practices were eliminated.

With 98 percent of the population living off the farm, many in this country seem to think if you do away with pesticides and stop planting GMO crops the grocery store shelves would continue to be filled in some miraculous way.

That’s the same kind of thinking that says if you just stop folks from coming across the border food and fiber production in this country would magically make it from the field to the processing plant without migrant labor.

No one wants a drought or pestilence or famine, but you wonder sometimes if people need a reality check.

About the Author(s)

Forrest Laws 1

Director of Content, Farm Press

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