What’s the Difference?
GM0/Non-GMO/Organic…What is the difference?
By: Kyle Vosburgh
A trip down the aisles of the local supermarket will find many agricultural terms. These terms are often used to market to consumers, but very few consumers understand what the differences are in this terminology. It is important that farmers are making decisions that will help to drive profitability and efficiency across all of their acres. Do we really understand the differences between different management systems?
The term genetically modified organism has become a term that many consumers view with distain. The truth is that GMO products are everywhere. They are utilized in all sorts of products from corn chips, to sweeteners, to plastic products. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States have some form of a GMO in them. What do GMO’s mean for producers? GMO’s offer producers the option to apply a broad spectrum herbicide to the field after emergence. Some GMO’s also help to protect the crop from insect damage. Corn hybrids with insect traits contain proteins that can kill pest insects after they feed on the traited corn. GMO’S DO NOT INCREASE YIELD! This is a common misconception among producers. GMO’s only help to add insurance. They protect the crop from yield losses, but there is no difference in the genetic yield potential of an isoline versus a traited line. Many of our competitors only offer their elite genetics with the newest GMO technology. This has fueled much of the misconception about the inferiority of conventional corn.
The Non-GMO movement has been very vocal over the last few years. Many milk cooperatives and feed mills are now offering premiums to producers without the use of GMO products. The management system for Non-GMO farmers doesn’t change very much from growers that are utilizing GMO seed. Growers that are using conventional corn will not have the option of spraying Glyphosate or Glufosinate over their crop after emergence. Only herbicides that are approved for use on conventional corn may be used after emergence. Most GMO farmers are utilizing some of the same herbicides, but they use them in combination with Glyphosate or Glufosinate. Growers that are using conventional seed will need to be timely with herbicide applications, as conventional herbicides are not as effective on weeds after they mature. Farmers utilizing conventional seed corn should also consider using insecticides to control insects. Granular insecticides can be applied in furrow at planting, and they can be sprayed over the top of the crop after emergence. As I mentioned previously, conventional corn has just as much yield potential as GMO corn. It is important that we manage the crop properly to maximize yields. Growers who are striving to receive a Non-GMO premium need to be certain that they know what the tolerable threshold is for GMO presence in the final crop. The producer can be subject to contamination from the seed that is planted in the field and also to neighboring fields that may disperse GMO pollen. Many of our Masters Choice growers are extremely successful with conventional corn production. Make sure that you consider the differences in management and the Non-GMO premiums that you may be eligible for.
Organic production is a totally different system. This is a common misconception among consumers. Often times, Non-GMO and organic products are grouped together, despite major production differences. There is much more to producing organic crops than just utilizing seed without GMO’s. Organic growers must purchase seed that has been produced on certified organic acres. They must also use this seed in a system that only utilizes certified organic inputs. Organic cropping systems are closely regulated by a network of certifying agencies that are backed by the USDA. The Non-GMO industry still does not have any legally established standards for seeds or operations. There have been some independent organizations that have established their own protocols, but they still are not regulated by the USDA. Organic growers utilize only natural products. This means that almost all commercial fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides are not available for organic producers. It is very critical that organic growers understand how to manage their system.
At Masters Choice we offer all three, Non-GMO, Traits, and Organic. We believe that each has its place and we strive to deliver our most quality genetics to each of these producers.