The hot topic right now in food safety and agriculture is about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and more importantly, whether or not they should be labels. Like any other debate, there are pros and cons to implementing these laws. For the consumer, having these labels let’s them know what they are eating, and it is their right to this information. Many people feel strongly for and against GMOs, so having this information will make it easy for them to make their grocery decisions. On the other hand, labeling products will be expensive; with new labels being made and potentially even changing ingredients to go to one side or the other. This will raise prices for the consumer. For the industry, there are also pros and cons. One pro is that it may raise sales of their product, since consumers will have the information they need, and may not avoid purchasing that product due to lack of information. One con is that if labeling varies by state, it will be very difficult to produce different labels for each state, and it will be costly, both in time and money.
Mark Davis came to give us a lecture about an industry I never really think about: horse racing. It was very interesting, and I learned a lot about how it works and what goes into it. Apparently the differences between different race horses is not just physical appearances, but also how many races they have a year. I also found out that not only do the jockeys get drug tested, but the horses do too! It makes sense, I just hadn’t thought about it. Another interesting fact was how important horse racing has been to Delaware in history. I have been to Delaware Park, but it really is significant to the horse racing industry. You may argue that horses should not be considered an agricultural industry anymore, what with tractors and other technologies replacing their labor in the field, but the horse racing industry is huge in the United States. It was also interesting to hear about casinos, especially in a class focused on agriculture!
Tracy Wootten and Valann Budischak did a fantastic job during their lecture on “Delaware’s Green Industry” and everything associated with it. Like I have said in previous posts, I am a Plant Science major, and it’s always a great day when we get a chance to break through in Agriculture, rather than livestock always having the spotlight. I thought it was great that Tracy and Valann kind of defined what the Green Industry included, especially job wise, so that if this is something you really liked, you could see that there are lots of jobs for many different things. I liked that State Parks and land management was included because I have completed internships with State Parks and want to continue working with them once out of college. They also mentioned nursery and floriculture production, which is what I originally came to the University of Delaware for, so it was good knowing I was not too far off track.
Michele Walfred, one of the professors for this course, gave a lecture about social media. In an ag class??? Yes! We learned a lot of important information about self-branding that will really help with our careers in the future, and some background information about social media platforms in general. We were given some examples about posts that would look bad when a future employer looked you up, and how to have a professional profile. My favorite part was when it came to teaching us how to AGvocate. I have been told about this before, having taken many agriculture classes, but it was especially important in the context of social media. Most fake news about agriculture is seen on social media, so being able to respond responsibly to it and give people our side of the story will really help in opening the world’s eyes to how important agriculture really is.
Mark Isaacs gave this lecture to the class about the Research Center that he works on. This is a part of the University of Delaware, though it is not on Newark Campus. The three missions of this center are research, extension/outreach, and teaching. I knew that this place was a thing because I am actually receiving a significant scholarship in the name of Elbert N. & Ann V. Carvel, but I had no idea what they did there. One of their programs is the Master Gardener program, which I have heard about, but I find it very interesting. I would think that the job they provide would be some highly educated professor, but it is very amazing that you can become a master gardener and volunteer your time to help the community. I really enjoyed this lecture because I am a Plant Science major, and it was great to see different career opportunities I could think about for when I graduate!
I am 100% for the use of GMOs. In my last 4 semesters here at UD, I have used this topic for research papers, speeches, and even made my own website about them. I love when he says that he was foolish for being anti-GMO just because they were supported by a big corporation. I feel as though this is why most people are against GMO, and they do not know enough about them to support that opinion. I feel as though he definitely makes a successful case for his change of heart for the way he now views GMOs.
The conflict I feel comes from when I forwarded this video to my dad, who feels very strongly against GMOs. Throughout my experience in the Plant Science major, I have learned a lot about the benefits and technology that goes into genetically modifying crops. He on the other hand, is having a harder time believing me. When I sent him this video, he was a little upset with me that I did not do my research about who Mark Lynas was, and he shared with me what he found. When he looked Lynas up, he found articles about his positions on nuclear power and global warming, with nothing about the anti-GM movement, which is very interesting, seeing as though he claimed being a leader of it. He also found a list of 10 people to be an “ambassador” for this campaign to better the image of GM crops in society’s mind, Mark Lynas being on it. This was just a little weird, and I appreciated my dad sharing this with me. All in all, I loved seeing a video of someone saying how they regret being on the other side of an argument I feel very strongly about.
The last field trip we went on was to Hoober Equipment. Honestly, I think this was the most interesting trip we have been on so far. I did not know most of the information given on Saturday, whereas at Fifer’s Orchards, I did, being a Plant Science Major.
We started out the tour by hearing about the history behind the company, and how the two employees got to where they are now. Their business is very important in the ag industry, and precision ag is a phenomenal thing. We walked around and saw a lot of different machines, and they were all so big! Of course we got to see their toy- a drone! That was amazing; being able to have the drone survey the field while you spend your time doing something else. Before we left, we all got the opportunity to drive a machine, and here I am doing it!
Saturday, 9/23 our class visited the Fifer Orchard around Dover, DE. On the way there, I was wondering why we did not just go around the corner to see Milburn Orchards; they have apples and awesome apple cider too! It all made sense when we got there though.
Fifer Orchards was huge, and we were given a pamphlet listing all the fruits and vegetables they grew. I never imagined it would be that much. When taken to some vegetable fields, I was surprised that they not only grew traditional cauliflower, but they grew cheddar cauliflower, explained that it had beta-carotene in it, and purple cauliflower because the consumers asked for it!
It was great applying other classes to the field trip as well. Pictured here is drip irrigation in strawberries, which I learned the benefits about in PLSC204!
Of course we ended the trip with a trip to the market; the apple cider slushies were to die for!
On Saturday September 9, our class visited the Organic Poultry Farm of Georgie Cartanza. Upon arrival, we were greeted with excitement and given a little presentation about her farm and other poultry farms in Delaware in general. I always knew that Delaware was huge on chickens, but it was really put into perspective for us. It was very interesting to hear how Georgie worked for more than one industry throughout her career for her own personal reasons, especially since I had never even heard of Mountaire and always heard about Tyson and Perdue. Along with information about Delaware poultry, Georgie provided us with advice for ourselves and our future, and I appreciated that a lot. We then got suited up and headed to the houses (37,000 chickens per house by the way)!
It was amazing to see how different it was inside there than it has been portrayed in the media. I expected lots of noise, chaos, wings flapping, etc. Instead, the chickens were eating, drinking walking around, and it smelled worse outside the houses than it did inside! It was also very funny to see that free range chickens do not even go outside, what with all the fuss over it.