I’m a mom to two growing boys. I’m also a farmer’s wife and a member of a 4th generation farm that grows both conventional and GMO food. I feel that every day is a struggle trying to defend what we do on our farm and make good decisions about what to feed my family. I try my best to support farmer’s markets, grow a garden and show my kids that carrots and potatoes come from the dirt and buy fresh fruits and vegetables whenever and wherever I can, both conventional and organic. I try…every day. But the ongoing arguments from both sides and being called a horrible mom because of my choices when I already feel like I’m not doing a good enough job leaves me in tears and second guessing everything I do.

IMG_8091

Jennings checking out a canola plant after being swathed

I am proud that we live in a country where we get a choice (and lots of them) on what we eat and how we produce food. Just like how we choose to farm, GMOs are a personal choice and I respect everyone’s decisions. This post isn’t about proving others wrong or to sway you one way or another. I’m writing this post as I feel I need to share my story from a farmer and mom’s perspective. There is a lot of one sided, misinformation being spread about GMOs and about farms. I’m not an expert. I’m just a mom who reads a lot when she is curious and passionate about something and I am passionate about agriculture and growing safe food for my kids and other families to eat.

I know we are all passionate about our food. Food is love and love is food. Eating together as a family around the dinner table, having harvest suppers out in the field and cooking with my grandmas are some of my fondest memories growing up. You want to know where your food comes from, how it was made and that it is safe. Us farmers want that too.

Certain associations and organizations are trying to turn you against some fruits and vegetables and after eating them for 20 years, persuade you that they are now “poisonous” and not safe.  Environmental activist groups are blocking Vitamin A enriched rice to children that could possibly save them from going blind and dying. They’re trying to get you to lose respect and trust in farmers and in our agriculture industry. This breaks my heart every day.

Why do we grow GMOs?

It’s simple. Because of these two.

Jennings and Copeland in Maui

GMOs are one of many tools we use on our farm and each farm grows GMOs for different reasons. On our farm, we grow GMO canola. GMO canola has helped us better care for our soil so our children will be able to farm the same land and grow more food in future. We are better environmental stewards because of GMOs. GMOs help us feed more families with less resources.  GMOs have helped our farm have a tomorrow. There are some years canola was the only crop that brought in a profit so we could provide for our family. We grow nutritious, safe food, whether GMO or conventional that my kids and other families eat.

So What’s a GMO?

4fa2df16a3ed4_preview-620

Canola we grew last year near the home quarter

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) and Genetic Engineering (GE) are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. The term GMO is generally used incorrectly because most of our food has been genetically modified by one breeding process or another since the beginning of time, but science has allowed us a more precise way of doing it now for the past 20 years (or so). Broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts all came from the same plant. Watermelons once were not seedless, carrots were not orange and corn was the size of your pinky finger. GMOs are crops developed using GE, a more precise breeding technique that enables someone to take individual traits found in nature and transfer them to another plant, or make changes to an existing plant. With GE, we can achieve the desired breeding outcome faster, more accurately and safer than previous breeding techniques.

There are nine GMO crops available today: sweet and field corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potato and squash. The Arctic Apple was approved and is coming to market soon.

Are GMOs dangerous?

No. I don’t believe they are. We eat the food we grow. I wouldn’t put our family and kids at risk if I believed GMOs were unsafe. There is a global scientific consensus among various world health organizations and associations that GMOs are safe. Since 1994, over a trillion meals have been served and over 1700 peer-reviewed studies have concluded that there are no hazards and zero illnesses from eating GMOs. They are the most regulated and tested product in agriculture history. They take on average more than 13 years of research and testing before they hit the market to ensure they are safe to people, animals and the environment. GE plants introduced between 2008 to 2012 cost about $136 million dollars to research, authorize and implement before hitting the market.

What a GMO is Not

On social media, these are the most common myths I see being spread to create fear and try to get you to run from GMO foods. I try wherever and whenever to help debunk these:

Conclusion

This is our farm and family’s choice. We grow and eat GMO canola, and we are proud to say we do. On the other hand, it is your choice to buy and support something else and be proud to say you do. That is what is so great about our ag and food industry and the country we live in – the freedom of choice.  As moms, we are trying to make the best decisions for our family and not continually have to second guess what we buy may not be safe and healthy. I encourage you to have faith in our food system. The fruits and vegetables you eat are safe and the farmer’s you buy them from are proud to grow them for your family. If you want to know more about how your food is grown, please come directly to the source and ask a farmer. We love the company and the conversation.

Stay tuned for the second part in this series which focuses on the advantages of growing GMO canola on our farm.

Love,

Lesley

*I did not get paid to write this post nor am I not affiliated with any product or link. If you are commenting, please keep them respectful and within the guidelines of my Comment Policy. If you would like more info on the policy, please visit my Policy section.