ASA Refutes New York Times Article

Kelly MarshallAg Group, ASA, GMO

asaThis past Saturday, the New York Times published an article that compared the use of pesticides and yield data from North America to Western Europe.  The article featured several inaccuracies, as well as omissions, and the American Soybean Association has responded.  ASA President, Richard Wilkins made a statement concerning the issue:

“We appreciate a continued dialogue on the issue of GMOs and biotechnology. We continue in our work to be more open and transparent on our operations and we welcome the questions that this article raises. In the interest of a fair and honest discussion of this issue, we have to confront the inaccuracies and false conclusions of the article.

“In his interpretation of the data, the author fails to standardize the data from France when comparing it to similar data from the U.S., where we have more than 9 times the amount of arable land. Additionally, while he has no problem drawing sensational and plainly false links to sarin and Agent Orange, the author fails to distinguish between even the most basic types of chemicals used. For example, over the past two decades, farmers have excelled at replacing more toxic herbicides with less toxic ones, even when applied at a higher poundage.

“The article also lacks any mention of reduced or eliminated tillage as a result of increased use of GMOs on American soybean operations. Our farmers live on their land, drink from the wells, and rely on productive soil that will yield for their children and grandchildren as well. GMO technology provides for weed control without tilling the soil multiple times. This has dramatically increased the use of conservation tillage, reduced soil erosion, improved water quality, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“While it is fair for the Times to point out that GMO technology is not a ‘silver bullet,’ it is important to remember that farmers are practical businesspeople. They look at what will give them the best total return, factoring in yield, seed price, input price and the price of practices like tillage. Farmers are not loyal to GMO technology based on principle, but rather on sound business logic, and overwhelmingly, these men and women have made the determination that GMO technologies make economic sense. The business judgements of millions of individual farmers – made each year for the past 20 years – provide a more complete picture about the benefits of GMOs than the New York Times’ cherry-picked data.”