The Conversion from Anti to Pro GMO

When listening to Mark Lynas lecture about his conversion from being against GMO’s to being for GMO’s, he mentioned that while he was against GMO’s he never actually knew about the subject.  After researching and discovering that GMO’s are beneficial regarding society and the environment.  He decided to become pro GMO’s.  GMO can be defined as a genetically modified organism where labs extract genes from a species DNA and injects those genes into an unrelated object being a plant or an animal.  GM foods are genetically altered foods, with the population rising and climate change there are possibilities of crops that are depended on becoming scarce.  GM foods are cheaper, increase yields, extends the durability and edibility of the food, and decreases the likelihood of a crop being harmed by a disease.

Mark Lynas changed his viewpoint mainly because GMO’s help the environment.  GMO’s allow farmers to preserve land while doing more with less crops, preserve habitats and ecosystems, water conservation, and air quality for GMO’s help reduce greenhouse gases.  The main thing I’d take away from this video due to being pro GMO’s is that you should always regardless of what you’ve heard take the time to do your own research on a subject.  Mark Lynas is a very creditable and knowledgeable man in regards to climate change and the environment, if he’s able to see that GMO’s are beneficial then his word should help others become pro GMO as well.

Mark Lynas and GMO’s

What do you think of his position? Does he make a case for his change of heart and the way he now views GMOs?

GMO’s will always be a constant controversial topic because of the idea that farmers and corporations are essentially changing the physiology of a plant. When an audience reads about GMO’s, they often form an opinion based on the headline of an article, of the opinions of others, and most of the times these headlines and opinions are extremely misleading. To fully form an opinion, whether that be for or against GMO’s, the reader must become informed through different scientifically based arguments. Mark Lynas explains that before he changed his opinion on GMO’s, he found himself constantly defending himself using scientific arguments for other types of controversial subjects. He realized that if he was backing up his arguments with scientific data, why wasn’t he doing that with GMO’s. He developed his opinion because of the preconceived idea that all corporations are lying, scheming, money hungry entities that only look out for themselves. After realizing that he may not be correct in the way he formed his opinion, he decided to research and look at the scientific data. His initial belief was that GMO’s required more pesticide and insecticide, however, he realized that because many GMO’s such as pest-resistance cotton and maize actually require little to no pesticide. He realized that most of his arguments had no basis and he once he realized the facts, he changed his opinion drastically. Once he changed his opinion, he was then able to argue with facts instead of baseless statements. His current position is what I believe to be correct. GMO’s are essential in developing countries. GMO’s allow small farmers to create bigger yields with a small input and help feed rural villages. Without GMO’s, many under-developed countries would struggle to feed their community members.

New High-Technology for Agriculture

If you want to understand how agriculture works today, you need to learn about the technologies they are using. Where we go for this trip is Hoober company, they have all kinds of equipment using for agriculture, the variety of tractors, combines, drone, sprayers. Humans create technology and somehow they rely on it because technology brings much convenient and easy life for us. Since some of the farmlands are huge, drones give a big help. They can fly all over farm fields. Instead of walking through the field and check in person, we can check the health of crops through the phone. The most impressive tractor in my mind is the one with the sprayer on both sides. The sprayers are birds’ wings set on both sides of the tractor. These tractors are huge and modern looking.  The Tractors can be set for an automatic drive. Very easy for us to use. Each of them cost 100,000 dollars, which is a lot of money to invest. However, it may save money for farmers for rest of life, since there will be fewer labors and time are required.

Mark Lynas Lecture

After listening to the Mark Lynas lecture about his change of thought on GMOs I strongly believe everyone involved in the GMO controversy should listen to his explanation and new thoughts on GMOs. I am in full support of the use of GMOs and agree with Mark Lynas change in approach. I respected how Mr. Lynas first took the time to explain why he was against GMOs in the first place and I believe many people have the same thinking processes as he did when he first heard of the use of GMOs. He explained how he thought GMOs were just being used by a big American corporation with not much thought and that it would go horribly wrong in the long run. He then explained how he had actually never done research in the field till later and then discovered that GMOs were a necessity for humankind and the growing population. Mark Lynas makes a very strong case for his change of heart by evaluating how he first approached the situation and then how he learned more about all the benefits of GMOs. Throughout his lecture he explains all of the reasons he now supports the use of GMOs including that GMO crops actually need less chemicals, it was benefiting farmers instead of big companies and finally he explained how it is actually a safer and more precise way of growing crops. I believe many people who are against the use of GMOs have not done research in the field and assume right away its bad like Mark Lynas did at the beginning of his career. I want to spread the knowledge of GMOs being safe and a necessity to farming with the growing population. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Mark Lynas lecture and am happy to see someone who was against GMOs spreading his new-found knowledge and supporting them.

Hoobers Inc Field Trip Experience

The picute above is my classmates and myself on one of the tractors we were able to opperate 

Being able to understand todays agriculture and how we get our food from farms to markets is an unbelieveable experience. The technology we have today, helps us further agriculture along with being able to feed over seven billion people! One of the main ways that agriculture has become easier for farmers is GPS systems. WIth this power farmers are able to use drones to scope out either the issues that are in their crop so they can make adjustments for the next set of crops. While at Hoobers we got the opportunity to see two different drones. One of the drones had the power to fly over an hour and has differnt cameras to show drout in crops! The other drone was able to fly for about thirty minutes but was able to fly by the users phone.  The technologyg used today is not only invested in drones; tractors have the capibility to have automatic stearing and can be positioned by satalites to keep in a very precise line and cause little to no errors with the spacing in the crops!Technology is beyong incredibe and will continue to grow and imrpove the world around us.

Mark Lynas Video

As I was taking notes on Mark Lynas’ video presentation, I noticed he kept reiterating the fact that he did no academic research into the study of biotechnology or plant science before making his political and ideological opinions against crops of GMO origins. He also explained why big companies get such a bad image when it comes to farming with biotechnology- the individuals, such as himself before, would complain about how bad this new approach would be versus the conventional way crops have been grown with fears that were more like myths. For instance, in this presentation, Mark mentioned that he read corn needed less insecticide versus his initial thought process that believed GMO crops would need more. It is important to remember a statistic he mentioned, that by 2020, agricultural producers will need nine billion people with the same size land, water available, and less materials to accommodate feeding more. Without agricultural innovation being created by people like Norman Borlaug who focused on the genome of domestic crops, there will not be enough time or crops available to feed the population- this makes biotechnology the only way to stay on track.

Additionally, there was an explanation about why it is that biotechnology can only be utilized by big name companies. The reason being that many people, much like how Mark Lynas used to be, have false or uneducated ideas relating to what the biotechnology has to offer and complain with myths that could potentially harm the consumers without any scientific proof. Mark mentioned, “…$139 million to discovering a new crop trait to go to full commercialization…” It costs more time and money with more complaints without scientific research because people against the idea of using biotechnology do not like this way of producing crops versus the conventional way. It was said that there are more chances of an individual being hit by an asteroid than to get harmed from a GMO product. This goes to show there is only fear in those who do not use scientific knowledge to back up their concerns. Overall, the farmers should be allowed to choose their preferred way of growing because they have a better insight in how the food can be grown productively, optimize the results when harvesting, and are open to biotechnology for a better future in providing food for people in the end.

Hoober Field Trip

This past weekend, we drove south down to Middletown, Delaware to go explore Hoober, Inc. On Saturday, we learned mostly on the topic of precision agriculture and how it has benefited the farming world from knowing where in a particular part of a field where your crops aren’t growing the best by using a drone, to having the tractor auto-pilot itself through GPS while you just sit there and watch. All of this is going towards increasing our food production as all people in the farming industry know that as the population grows, as a community, we will need to start growing food at a faster rate in order to provide for everyone in the world. The picture below shows all of us in front of a tractor that drives itself when programmed correctly. Hoober’s sure did blow my mind! 

Hoober Inc. Field Trip

Going to Hoober was a tremendous educational experience where we got to look at what precision in agriculture truly gets involved with. We learned how important technology is and how much technology has changed throughout the years. It’s crazy to think that we have gone from human steering with a blind eye to a more accurate read with GPS steering. Some combines even come with automatic steering, making it virtually possible for a farmer to just push a button from their desk on a home computer and the tractor will go all by itself in the field, essentially allowing farmers to have an efficient farm. Seeing the drone fly up in the air and cover a lot of ground was amazing and to hear that they not only detect problems with crop growth and deficiency in nutrients but to are able to spray for pesticides which takes less time and management. Using a drone and new automatic sprayers for spraying pesticides also increases safety precautions, where the newer models with GPS will automatically shut off, not overlapping pesticides. Getting to ride the tractor, was amazing, not only for fulfilling a goal of mine in taking Agricultural classes but grasping the complete perspective of farming and to see how technology impacts a farmer’s profit. Overall, Hoober Farms gave us an educational impact by teaching us how farmers greatly need technology. If farmers did not have the opportunity to fly a drone around their property learning things like plant nutrition, growth patterns and possible shortages on their farm they would need more laborers, making their business less efficiency, causing them to produce a lower income.

Precision AG at Hoober

Our trip to Hoober opened my eyes to the direction agriculture will take for the next generation of farmers. The fact that a new combine without any additions costs roughly $400,000 is mind-blowing. It’s hard to imagine that a piece of farm equipment can cost more than a house; which shows the opportunities for monetary success in the field of agriculture. With many new tractors, combines, and sprayers already having built-in automatic steering, it will be nearly impossible to do any large scale farming in the future without incorporating Precision AG. The drone demonstration was extremely interesting, especially the ability of more expensive drones to track nutrients, plant stress, moisture, and other important pieces of data. The accident prevention feature of the drone was awesome to witness in person. I imagine in twenty years we will forget what it was like to drive a tractor manually or to scout a field on foot.

Cartanza Farm

On September 9th my agriculture class and I went on a field trip to a poultry farm located in Dover, and owned by Georgie Cartanza. On this trip Georgie showed us what happens everyday on her farm. From the recreations the chickens use, to the feed lines, and how they check on the chickens. The most interesting thing is the device used to regulate the temperature inside the chicken house. It also lets you know how much feed and water is being used. This experience was very eye opening because I always had a different view on chicken farms from social media. I’m glad I was able to have this experience.

Switching Sides

As an environmentalist, Mark Lynas assumed he should be against genetically modified organisms, GMOs, because of course, the environment is natural and nothing about the term “genetically modified” really screams “natural.” However, with more research he realized that these genetically modified products are more in favor of the environment than he realized, and therefore he began to accept and fight for their use. I really appreciated listening to Mr. Lynas’ speech because it brought the science out in front of the understandingly intimidating name. I think a lot of people get hung up on the terminology of GMOs, and that prevents them from educating themselves further on the topic.

The analogy that Mr. Lynas’ drew between supporting the idea of climate change and supporting the idea of genetic modifications is really important. One cannot believe in science in some aspects, yet denounce it in others. Many people are starting to agree that science supports climate change, and that we, as a society, should recognize it as real. However, science also supports the benefits of genetic modifications, yet not as many people are willing to agree. The increased yields, the ability to apply less pesticides, and the ability to withstand environmental effects such as droughts are proven benefits of GMOs that research has supported.  Because he believed in climate change and supported it so passionately, Mr. Lynas’ knew he needed to give the same effort to his opinion about GMOs. Upon doing so, he realized he was misinformed and changed his opinion, which I believe was justified.

Mr. Lynas may have been a bit blunt in his discussion, but I do think that his points were well supported and are needed as an educational tool. Surely, if one were looking for information to form an opinion about GMOs, this video would be a beneficial source, but one should also look at other resources before completely forming his or her opinion. Personally, I have always been pro-GMO and as a supporter it is important to educate those around me. However, I think there is most likely more research to be done involving GMOs, which can hopefully provide reason to gain more public support. Mr. Lynas is right in that people are nostalgically looking towards old farming practices while the world around them is developing and changing, so why shouldn’t agriculture be allowed to progress into the future as well?

Hoober’s Ag Equipment Field Trip.

This Saturday we visited Hoober’s equipment company. Seeing their showroom, combines, tractors, and drones was very interesting. I was shocked to learn that one of their drones cost $10,000! The fixed wing drone could fly for about an hour, and take hundreds of different pictures of a farmer’s crop. I never knew exactly how much went into being successful at precision agriculture until I learned about all of the amazing technology that Hoobers can supply to their clients. Aside from using drones, they can outfit old and new farm vehicles with hi-tech devices like auto steering and numerous sensors. I also enjoyed seeing the garage where the mechanics worked on different combines, sprayers, and tractors. At the end of our field trip, we all got to drive a tractor and see what it is like. Even though it is a massive piece of equipment, it was surprisingly easy to maneuver and drive. Overall, I learned a lot and enjoyed our visit to Hoober’s.

My Trip to Hoober

This past Saturday, my classmates and I visited Hoober Inc. to tour its site and learn about the history of the company along with how technology plays a vital role in agriculture today.   I’ve never visited a store like Hoober so the field trip was very informative.  We were toured around by two very kind workers.  They began the tour by telling us a little bit about themselves and how their company was brought up.  I was shocked to hear that one of the workers didn’t go to college and the other did but majored in pre-vet. That goes to show that life is inevitable and like professor Isaac always says even if your desired job is to be let’s say a doctor you could end up being something completely different like a sales associate at Hoober!  After we were given this introduction we were taken out back to the garage where we saw machines getting repaired.  It was amazing seeing some of these machines up close because I’ve only really seen them in pictures.  I wasn’t expecting them to be as big as they actually are.  Later on, we were taken outside and we learned more about the machines that were located near a corn field.  Again, I was shocked to see how big these machines are and even more shocked to hear how much they cost.  After hearing about how the machines are engineered and the technology inside of them, I understood why the machines are expensive.  The last part of the field trip was my favorite.  Not only did we learn about drones but we also got to see two in action.   I’ve seen drones before but nothing compared to the one that I saw that day. To end our day at Hoober, we got to take a machine out for a whirl. Although I was a bit apprehensive about driving one at first, I’m glad I got to do it.  Not many people can say they’ve driven a sprayer before!

Ed Kee’s Guest Lecture on Iowa and California Agriculture

Mr. Kee gave a very insightful guest lecture on Iowa and California agriculture, which are the two biggest agricultural states in the U.S. Iowa is number one for corn, soybean, pork, and egg production. 85% of Iowa’s landmass is used for agriculture, about 30.5 million acres, with 87,500 farmers! 92% of Iowa’s cash farm income comes from corn, soybeans, pork, and beef. Iowa grows about 13 million acres of corn, about 2.5 billion bushels.Iowa grows about 9.8 million acres of soybeans, about 553,7 million bushels.  They produce 968 million dozen of eggs, and raise 20.9 million hogs, 32% of the nations pork production.  The owner of Stine Seeds is located in Iowa, which is the largest family owned seed company. Harry Stine developed the soybean genetics that accounts for 63% of seed in North and South America. Iowa is also recognized for its hand in ethanol production and the 15%  that is now incorporated into gasoline. California is the biggest agricultural producer ranking first in Milk & cream, almonds, grapes, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, flowers, walnuts, and hay. California’s biggest problem is water, which they get from snowmelt. Farmers have to grow crops that will at least return the cost of water.  They export 26% of their ag products, valued at about 21 billion. California is the 10th largest general economy in the world. They can produce strawberries 9-10 months out of the year, where most states have a very short growing period. 95% of processed tomato products come from California, where they have mixed breeds to create a crop that can be mechanically harvested. It is unbelievable how much knowledge Mr. Kee possess about agriculture and how much he has impacted Delaware agriculture during his time as the vegetable extension agent and as Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture.

Great Trip to Hoober Inc.

This past Saturday field trip to Hoober’s was an eye opener into the equipment side of agriculture. It really put into perspective the amount of labor and money that goes into each machine. It did make me appreciate the investment each machine really is and I do agree with Mark that whenever I pass by a machine again I will know more about it and appreciate how much money and time that farmer actually has put into that machine. Of course with technology, it is not perfect but lucky for people that own Hoober equipment they have a great repair shop with specialized mechanics to handle specific pieces of equipment. When a machine has to be fixed that is time and money wasted on repairs for the farmer. Having someone who is specialized for one machine is great for fixing it in an efficient amount of time because they know what they are doing so the farmer can get right back to using it.

I learned about a couple pieces of equipment they had like the combine, sprayers, and planters that I had never been that close to before. The tires were taller than I was! The best part was being able to ride and drive one of the planters. It was a lot smoother than I thought it was going to be and it even had a radio and air conditioning. The amazing technology allowed you to pick a straight line and the machine would straighten itself out and go along that straight line for you. They even had drones that could look at the whole field of crops and tell which plants were not growing efficiently. Drones are great for raising the farmers’ crop yield. Precision Ag is changing constantly to help farmers grow even more crops and faster.

A Class Journal for UDel CANR AGRI 130