Date Posted: 09/07/1999
Posted by: craffensperger@...
I would like to describe the impact of genetic engineering on our 3400 acre
organic farm. It would be helpful if these sorts of observations could be
confirmed (or not) by research.
There are three main changes that we have seen in North Dakota.
1) We can no longer plant crops that are insect or wind pollinated which are
known to be genetically modified. Accordingly, we did not plant canola this
year. Canola had been a good crop in our rotation. This limits the diversity
of foodstuffs both on farm and in the market place. How many farmers are
changing their rotations because we can't "fence in" GMOs and keep them off
2) Different pesticides are being used with GMOs which cause alarming damage
across the landscape. Because of weather changes, SE North Dakota is now part
of the corn and soybean belt. Pesticides used with "Liberty" Corn cause root
systems to grow up instead of down. This, apparently, makes plants grow topsy
turvy - the crown ends up pointing down to the earth. Other pesticides,
particularly herbicides, are rejuvenated in rain. Because we live in the
windiest state in the Union, the damage is ubiquitous. Of course, GMOs are
not the only "cause" of new herbicides. However, they are part of the
industrialized approach to agriculture which promotes chemicals which are
antithetical to life.
3) The timing of herbicide spraying has changed. Farmers now spray for the
entire season instead of just in the spring. While GMOs are just one of
several factors instigating season-long spraying, they are a significant
factor. This means that both plants and humans are exposed to pesticides from
April through September.
I find it ironic that I am expected to feed the world but can't expect to feed
my own family because of herbicide damage to orchards, vineyards, gardens and
farms. An unscientific survey among organic farmers in the upper midwest
indicates that herbicide damage has increased on our land over the past 3
Some of you may know that research has shown that babies conceived in the
spring in rural Minnesota (just next door to North Dakota) have a higher rate
of birth defects. Does this mean that we need to issue warnings that we
should not conceive for the six months of April-Sept. because of the risk of
Damage resulting from GMOs is not hypothetical. One of the other longest
standing organic farmers in North Dakota is now asking if he will be able to
continue farming and gardening, not because of the economic crisis but because
the chemical damage on his farm and garden is so serious. He raises all the
food for the 3 generations of family on his farm. He raises seed for garden
supply companies. And he raises small grains.
Unfortunately, if we want organic farming to continue, we will need to
intervene ... and soon.
Kirschenmann Family Farms.