Any GM volunteers?

I thought I’d use my unexpected rest stop at Champaign train station to catch up on a few blog posts. I’m swinging wildly from finding this escapade hilariously funny to getting really narked about my travel-related incompetency, so I don’t know which tone these might take to reflect my mood. Apologies in advance if they got more sarcastic than usual.

Anyway, having heard nothing but how great GM crops are from certain Irish and Aussie know-it-alls, I thought I’d provide some balance from here in Illinois. Here’s a picture of a soya bean field from behind my host’s house:

soya

I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but the dark green stuff is soya and the lighter stuff is corn. The farmers around here call it ‘volunteer corn’. Basically it’s Roundup-resistant stuff from last year that has set itself in this year’s rotation of soya. Because it’s GM it’s resistant to any herbicide, so other than go and dig the plants out by hand, there’s nothing the farmers can do.

It’s not unique to this field either – most of the fields around here look like this. According to one chap I was talking to, he dug so many corn plants out of his fields that his soya yields were decimated. For some reason it’s worse this year than it’s ever been before.

Interestingly he reckoned that weeds were starting to creep back into the fields too. It seems plants are starting to build up resistance against Roundup…

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4 Responses to “Any GM volunteers?”


  1. Rob

    This is the biggest problem with GM. You have to factor in the cost of removing the stuff the following year when deciding to grow it. On average it costs us about $30 – $40 per hectare more on chemicals the folowing year. Like with all agriculture, it’s all about compromise.

  2. Madeleine Love

    And in addition to the blog and Rob’s comment above, harsher chemicals have to be used between crops to get rid of the Roundup Resistant volunteers, such as 2,4-D, or tilling which uses more oil, or burning.

  3. Adam West

    Not a concept that features greatly on the GM promo literature I guess?!

    What’s the quality of the second generation corn? If it’s equal in quality to the first crop, then I guess it’s not a problem for those people who grow continuous corn, otherwise that would really scupper the rotation.

    Thanks Scoop, that was a great article.
    x

  4. Caroline Stocks

    Apparently yields go down with continuous corn and there’s more risk of some kind of disease, but some farmers still find it more profitable to stick with the single crop. To be honest, I’m not totally sure I understand why (Aussie Rob’s just attempted to explain it but my brain’s a bit fudge-like), so I’ll ask some other farmers when I visit them tomorrow :)