Manifolds, Manolos & Manure...by Bona Heinsohn
I grew up in a healthcare family. I could explain COBRA and DNRs before I could complete a multiplication table. I also grew up in a farming family. Ultimately, I grew up trusting nurses, doctors, farmers, research and science.
I grew up running between my mom’s and aunt’s offices after school while skirting between nurses, doctors, and patients. Or running through my grandparents’ fields in search of my next great treasure or stray animal. My farmer and
I actually married next to one of those fields.
Between my upbringing and being married to a farmer, I’ve always had the luxury of knowing where my food came from and knowing the farmers who grow and raise my food because I was one of those farmers.
I also remember raising crops before genetically engineered seeds were commercially available. Years ago, before GPS, my farmer’s “foamer” stopped working so he asked his then-girlfriend to hop in and out of the tractor, count rows, and then point a flashlight at the row he needed to turn down. It’s a wonder that we ever made it down the aisle.
A sprayer’s “foamer’ is used to temporarily mark the final row that the sprayer applied crop protectants to. I’m not even sure if our current sprayer has foamers since we use GPS to guide us.
Despite the numerous times I went up and down the tractor’s stairs the most memorable aspect of the night was actually mixing the chemicals for the sprayer. We donned our face masks and gloves and poured Accent, Banvel, Choice, LA 700, and Exceed into 600-gallons of water. Accent is an herbicide that targets grasses, Banvel and Exceed target broadleaf weeds, Choice is a water conditioner, and LA 700 is a drift retardant. When combined, this delicious cocktail of crop protectants knocks down Burr Cucumber, Velvetleaf, Wooly Cup Grass, and Foxtail. After 50-football fields, you mix it all over again. That night we made the cocktail three or four times before calling it a night (actually by that time, it was morning).
My point isn’t just to make you giggle. Granted it is funny and is just the beginning of what a farm wife or future-farm wife will do to help their farmer.
Instead my point is to illustrate the difference between farming practices in the 90s compared to today. With the availability of genetically modified seeds, instead of mixing a cocktail of chemicals while donning our personal protective gear, we can instead use glyphosate, or what is more commonly known as Roundup. Like it or hate it, according to the scientific data available, Roundup has a lower toxicity than Tylenol. Peer-reviewed research tells us that Roundup is safe and Roundup is better for the environment than the delicious crop protectant cocktail described above. Roundup is also safer for my farmers to handle and as a mom and wife, I appreciate that.
Technology like genetically modified seeds, isn’t for everyone- consumers want and are demanding more choices- but it is a valuable tool for farmers wishing to feed a growing population. The United Nations estimates that the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and over 60 percent of the growth will occur in developing nations. It will largely be up to U.S. farmers to meet and exceed that demand. Genetically modified seeds are simply a tool in our crop raising toolbox. All I ask is that farmers are able to chose which tool is best for their farms, markets, and needs.