Illinois Soybean Association
Soy is one of the big three genetically engineered crops along with corn and canola. Since its introduction to farmers in 1992 90% of the soy grown in the United States has been bought from Monsanto and comes Roundup Ready. Up until now it seemed like Monsanto had a lock on the U.S. soy industry, but this year there is a small whiff of change. After a decade of astronomical growth this could be the first year that farmers start turning away from the GE giant's seeds. The Organic and Non-GMO Report is reporting the increase of soy farmers deciding to plant non-GMO seeds.
Low commodity soybean prices, attractive premiums, and rising prices for genetically modified soybean seed are leading American farmers to plant more acres of non-GMO soybeans this year.
According to the report, the going rate for a bushel of soy is $9, and there is a premium of $1 per bushel for non-GMO. Farmers are also turning away from Monsanto because of a price increase on both Roundup Ready soybeans and Roundup itself. Add to that the growing evidence that weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and farmers are starting to take notice.
Because of the demand there has been a run on non-GMO seeds and now there looks to be a shortage.
With the big emphasis on GM soybeans in recent years, many private seed companies have focused their breeding efforts on GM varieties and phased out non-GMO.
However, good non-GMO soybean seed varieties are becoming available through some private companies in the US and Canada and through many US universities.
This trend looks good for consumers and farmers but not so good for the seed companies. The Report goes on to quote Grover Shannon, a soybean breeder with the University of Missouri, Delta Research Center, who explains the motives of the seed companies.
Shannon says the seed industry prefers selling GM seed because of the technology fee requiring that farmers buy seed every year; farmers can often save seed from non-GMO varieties. "The seed distributors don't want to go back to selling non-GMO. They want to sell seed every year; it's more profitable."
It's tough to say how this will all shake down. There's so much GMO seed in the system that it's going to be tough to ensure that it doesn't contaminate non-GMO fields. I wouldn't be surprised if here ends up being a bunch of Monsanto vs. Farmer lawsuits if Roundup Ready plants show up on fields planted with non-GMO seeds. Percy Schmeiser, who won a lawsuit against Monsanto over his canola crop, may find himself in high demand as a consultant on how to fight the GMO giant.
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