Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Buggy full of GMO Cotton

For harvest season this year, I left my office each day at noon to go run the boll buggy for the Farmer I Kiss.  So why would I go to work early to get my office work done, then drive 40 miles to the dusty, noisy, bumpy, late night job of cotton harvesting?   Because harvest season is the best time of the year.  It means we actually beat the Chihuahuan Desert and produced cotton! 
The cotton harvester puts a load of cotton in my buggy, then I take it to the module builder.
 What's that got to do with GMO cotton you ask?  Running the boll buggy gives me time to think in peace without the mess of papers that clutter my desk back in town.  Being the cotton ginner's daughter and farmer kisser that I am, I sat there thinking about, what else but cotton and how GMO technology has made our industry very different than the cotton industry of just a decade ago. Some people don't understand the science behind the technology, and what you don't understand, you normally fear.  Some people, like the Farmer I Kiss, have embraced the technology and love the wonderful benefits that it has provided.
Our beautiful cotton that contains the genetic trait which makes it resistant to the boll worm.
 Thanks to the genetic trait in our cotton that makes it resistant to the boll worm, we did not spray one drop of insecticide on our fields this year.  Not one drop.  Because we don't have to spray for the boll worm any longer, the beneficial insects are flourishing and naturally control the other minor pests.  Now, if we planted non-GMO cotton, like the farmers in Brazil that Daniel met last spring, we might have to spray our cotton up to 13 times with insecticide.  That's what the Brazilian farmers told him they have to do in order to save their non-GMO cotton crop.  Once they start spraying for the boll worm, then they have to spray for other pests because the beneficials are gone. 13 applications verses 0 applications.  In my book, there is no comparison.

Daniel and some other Texas farmers in a cotton field in Brazil.
Another benefit is how clean our fields stay because of the herbicide resistant trait.  With our fields basically free of weeds, the tractor can stay parked more often.  Daniel uses both herbicides and tillage to control weeds.  This year, he sprayed the entire field once before planting to kill the late winter and young spring weeds.  Then after the spring rains and planting, he sprayed only the parts of the fields that got a second crop of early summer weeds.  This is actually less herbicide used than if he planted non-GMO cotton, because instead of a second spraying on just some of the acres, he would have used a pre-emergant herbicide on all the acres at planting.  He also plowed only around the edges of the fields where weeds love to get started from the roadsides. Other farmers have had the same results as us with different GMO crops.
Daniel and our son-in-law Chris harvesting a clean field of cotton.
 These two genetic traits have cleaned both the air I breath and the water I drink and are preserving the soil that grows my beloved cotton.  Cleaner air since the tractor can stay parked more often.  Cleaner water since there is less herbicide on the surface to run off.  Preserving the soil since tillage has been greatly reduced.  A cleaner product since the insecticide is reduced or even eliminated in some years. That's what thinking time pulling a boll buggy full of GMO cotton will do.  It makes this farmer kisser happy to live in a cleaner world thanks to agriculture's new technology.

11 comments:

  1. Thank you for this first hand experience on the benefits of biotech. Great you can relate to your own farm!

    ReplyDelete
  2. GMO cotton may have some benefits, but the seed it produces won't grow next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually it will grow and produce just fine. Many of the locks of cotton that fall out during harvest sprout and grow what we call volunteer cotton. You may be confusing GMO with hybrid. Many hybrid varieties of plants have problems the following year with seed.

      Delete
    2. No, he's just parroting a dumb anti-GMO conspiracy myth. For the last time, "terminator" seeds do not exist in the market.

      Delete
  3. It's funny all year I bet I've been wrong about the seed, when all I need to do is ask more farmers in person which I plain on doing,, Because I love being a Texans and if it's good for my home land than it's good for me, KEEP UP the good hard work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Wesley. I hope you ask us lots of questions. Thats what Kissed A Farmer is all about. We believe that in our area of Texas, the GMO cottonseed is helping us farm cleaner that ever before. It's a great thing out here in West Central Texas where we love being Texans too!

      Delete
  4. I am interested in learning more about cotton grown especially in the USA. What is a GMO cotton seed altered with? A built in pesticide that can not be washed out? I try to buy organic cotton for clothing, especially baby clothes. But I have concern for cotton being genetically modified in a way that isn't good for a consumer to wear especially during the hot summer when one perspires & your skin is more likely to absorb something built in to the cotton fiber. I would like more data if you can help answer this concern. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading. I am not going to try to write a scientific paper here to explain the methods used when the boll worm resistance or Round Up tolerance are incorporated into the cotton genome. However, there are many places for that scientific information. I have found that the following link has a good explanation and not so complicated to read. Hope this helps. https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W129.pdf

      Delete
    2. I thought of another really excellent source for some scientific and safety information on GM Cotton. http://www.cicr.org.in/pdf/transgenic_bt_cotton.pdf From the research I had done into GM cotton, I have found numerous times that the human skin cannot absorb a gene out of a fiber. That is what we are really talking about here, a gene in a chromosome in the cotton. Our skin is not capable of breaking down chromosomes and extracting only certain genes from them. GM cotton appears to me to be much safer to wear than non-GM cotton that has had pesticides sprayed onto the fibers. Also remember that organic doesn't mean chemical free, it means that only the chemicals that are approved for organic usage can be sprayed onto the plant and fibers. You can find a list of approved organic chemicals on the USDA website.

      Delete
  5. Camilo LisperguerMay 16, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    Accurate reading!. Thanks for share the experience with GM technology. Greetings from Chile.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for reading Camilo! I hope to visit your beautiful country someday! Do you plant cotton in Chile?

    ReplyDelete