I love when people ask me about GMO and Pesticides. They open a whole can of worms. Debate time!!! Ok. So first, you have to understand there are many different "personal" definitions of GMO. If you want to get really technical from dictionary.com:
GMO definition. The abbreviation for genetically modified organism. A GMO is an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there.
So what does that mean in simple terms? Well, it means that there is something different about that plant or animal. Lets take the Standard Rex rabbit as an example. A rare (not normally found) DNA trait was found in two rabbits. Ironically, re breeding those same rabbits never reproduced this genetic trait. So, two rabbits exhibited this rare trait. Those two were the basis of the Rex rabbit breed. The trait is a recessive genetic trait causing the guard hairs to be very short. So why isnt the Rex rabbit GMO? Because it wasnt done in a lab. It was naturally occurring. Sweet corn (heirloom varieties) have been selectively bred for years to create the sweet long ears of corn we have now. It was tasteless with very small ears and used as a grain for flour or animal feed until a few were found with a genetic difference and were bred together. They werent done in a lab.
So, under current definition (I recall it used to say genetically altered, but didnt say engineered), GMO is classified as changing of DNA by genetic engineering. So what is that? Webster.com says:
Full Definition of genetic engineering
: the group of applied techniques of genetics and biotechnology used to cut up and join together genetic material and especially DNA from one or more species of organism and to introduce the result into an organism in order to change one or more of its characteristics
Here it gets to be only my opinions:
Now, here is where it gets tricky. Having had a child with a birth defect I do like the science of genetic engineering. I believe it has a place in our medical society. I believe it could benefit our lives. I also think that if there was a major disease wiping out the worlds veggies or fruits (like the banana crops of the last few years) that genetic engineering would be useful in helping to protect from the crop disease if it was not preventable through other methods. I do not think that genetic modification should be done for convenience. If you want to spray a certain herbicide to kill weeds and that spray is cheap, then lets modify the genetic make up of that crop to withstand the spray. No, I do not agree with that. We have worked hard for 6 years to get all of the GMO canola off our land. Mostly because it interfered with other crops as it could not be sprayed out. As a farmer, there are many many many things at our disposal. I believe they all have their place. There are mechanical means: mowing, pulling up weeds, discing a field, basically mechanical methods of solving your problem. There are chemical methods: herbicides, pesticides, and fire. There are planning methods: rotational grazing, crop rotations, allowing them to become overgrown to smother weeds, heavy seeding to prevent weeds or resting the fields. Science plays a part as the health of the crop depends heavily on the health of the soil. The science wouldnt have been created to help produce better food if it wasnt needed. However, there is a point (and it will be different for everyone) when it goes beyond what is needed to convenience. When you reach that point you risk damaging the whole eco system. For instance. That canola I was talking about. It has cause massive issues in our ditches. Smothering out the natural plant species that could withstand our local environment, causing less food for the wildlife, contamination of heirloom varieties of canola, contamination of farmers fields, this canola honey is solidifying in honey bee hives and causing them to starve, and you can not retain your seed as it is patented. So you spend more money buying new seed every year rather then growing what you already produced. Now, they are bringing in gmo alfalfa, with the same concept as that canola. We have already stopped growing canola all together here. Having dairy animals, I would prefer to not stop growing alfalfa, but it may come to that. For me personally, the risks out weight any possible benefits.
So what about the sprays? There are herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides that are commonly used around here. I have not used fungicides and do not use fungicide treated seeds. Insecticides I have not used in the crops. I have used it in my greenhouse when no matter how many times I washed the leaves or used tape to remove the aphides or used DE on the plants and I still have enough of them they are damaging my plants. I believe that their is a use for each spray, but using them only when needed and using them only where needed I think has been lost. I have mowed down and disced up a field due to weeds rather then spray it. It is not something I can afford to do every year. If the costs of spraying the field outweigh the money I would make harvesting that field, then I will disc it. Your choice of spraying or not should not be taken lightly. I am not going to get into the different sprays and everything that they cause to the human body. I am only going to say, I rather not do it if I do not absolutely have to. I rather mow an area then spray a field. Or better yet, burn it to return all that nutrients to the soil faster.
In short, everything has it's place. It is when we do things because it is easier, not better, that it becomes a problem.