Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
U.S. drought causes $18 billion in key-crop damages
Destroying genetic diversity
Brad Plumer’s article on drought-resistant corn follows a pattern suggested in a quotation at the end of the article which states that only 2 percent of the U.S. agricultural-research budget is spent on sustainable farming; in that vein, Plumer’s article devotes 75 percent of its words to genetic-engineering solutions and just 25 percent to sustainable farming practices that have the same objective [“Corn varieties engineered to withstand drought,” Business, Aug. 19].
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s review of Monsanto’s own data shows that years of investment into so-called “drought-tolerant” biotech crops have been nothing more than a risky and very expensive failure. Monsanto’s new “drought-tolerant” genetically modified corn variety MON 87460 does not perform any better than non-GMO varieties.
In addition, in the United States and abroad, there are several types of new, drought-tolerant corn grown through natural breeding techniques that are likely to do as well or better than Monsanto’s corn. Data from U.S. researchers suggest that conventional breeding is producing drought tolerance two to three times faster than genetic engineering.
The danger is that now that MON 87460 has been deregulated, it will inevitably contaminate truly resilient varieties of organic and conventional corn, destroying the rich genetic diversity that the world’s farmers have cultivated in the planet’s infinitely varied microclimates.
— Jeremy Smithson, Seattle