By Gary Brock
COLUMBUS – Whenever there is a debate about “GMOs or non-GMOs” critics of the technology often point out the alleged dominance of companies like Monsanto and the money they make selling their GMO seeds in contracts with farmers.
Dr. Laura Lindsey, Ohio State University agronomist, was asked if she is concerned about the whole “Monsanto and corporate technology” issue.
“For whatever reason, Monsanto seems to stick out in people’s heads on the Internet. There are other companies as well. I think there are a number of people who are uncomfortable with the patents. There are two versions of Roundup Ready, One and Two. The first is out of patent, the second is the new generation. With the patent, the farmers are not permitted to save the seeds. They sign an agreement that they can’t do that. There are people who are uncomfortable with that,” she said.
In a recent Newsweek article on the GMO debate, author Tom Parrott pointed out that Monsanto presently has a third of the $40 billion global seed market.
He added that Monsanto makes both Roundup and since 1996, Roundup Ready crops that are resistant to the herbicide. But the downside is that every year farmers need to buy the sterile seed – they can’t store and reuse them.
Dr. Lindsey said there are patents for technology and for plant varieties, and that can be GMO or non-GMO seeds.
“People don’t realize that these companies invest a lot of money into the technology. The patent,m which lasts about 20 years, gives the company about 20 years to make their money from this technology, a return on their investment “which is quite large.”
Do companies like DuPont and Monsanto sponsor the OSU research? She said she receives funding for research from the Ohio Soybean Council, and also receives funding from private companies, such as Pioneer. These are yield studies, she says.
Does she feel the politics of this will cause a change in GMO or non-GMO production in the future?
“I think there is a place for both. I don’t think one should win out over the other. Chipotle was a marketing strategy. There is a portion of consumers who want non-GMO food, and that is fine. There is a place for both to meet consumer demands,” she pointed out.
OSU entomologist Andy Michel said, “In my discussions on this issue, people seem as concerned about ‘Big Corporate AG’ as they are the science. I think they sort of use this as a way to get back at corporate agriculture. They see GMOs as sort of a symbol of Big Corporate Agriculture.”