culture and economy of Iowa is deeply rooted in farming. Tools and
technologies allow today's farmers to be much more efficient and
productive than their grandparents or even their parents. Think
about the tractor. It revolutionized the amount of work one farmer
could do. Hybrid seeds increased crop yields to numbers never thought
possible. Petrochemicals reduced the devastating effects of insects
and weeds on crops. So what is the next big revolution in farming?
Many experts say it is (GE).
crops provide farmers with interesting alternatives. The crops can
be genetically engineered for a wide variety of
including resistance to pests (Bt corn), resistance to
(Roundup-ReadyTM soybeans), and increased nutrition (golden
rice). Crops are not the only focus of GE on the farm. Livestock
can be genetically engineered to produce leaner meats or more milk.
They can also be ,
which means genetically engineering plants or animals to produce
medicines or be a source of organs for humans who need transplants
Imagine eating a banana instead of getting a shot! How about receiving
a pig's heart!
All of these
possibilities sound exciting, but they also raise some serious questions.
Many people are concerned about possible effects of GE crops and
livestock. GE crops could "contaminate" other species, or wipe out
other varieties of plants. Other concerns focus on the effects of
GE on the ecosystem of the soil and the organisms within it. What
about the effects GE foods could have on humans who eat them? Do
we have the right to change the genetic makeup of animals just to
serve human needs?
As we look
to the future of farming in Iowa, all of the possibilities and all
of the concerns must be weighed before deciding to adopt the technology.
be cultivating all kinds of new crops if genetic engineering lives
up to its
can dairy farmers increase milk production without increasing the
size of their herds? More
engineered growth hormones are commonly used in beef production.
across the country are taking advantage of a whole new crop of high-tech
genetically engineered crops help or harm the environment? It depends
on whom you ask. More
to Market Links
Dominate 2002 Crop Acres
In no economic
sector is the potential of G-M-O's debated more than in agriculture.
And there are few advocates who are embracing and utilizing the
technology more than American farmers