The Difference Between Hybrids and GMOs: A Lesson For the Colorado Corn Growers Association

On Tuesday we went to the Colorado Farm Show.  The Farm Show is an annual showcasing of different vendors aimed to sell stuff to farmers.  It’s in Greeley, Colorado, about 2.5 hours away from Lovely Lincoln County.  My husband and children enjoy looking at the new farm equipment that the various implement dealers bring there.  I’ve been there other years, so I’m over it, but it’s a day out and at least I can get lots of free pens and other swag. My kids loved the swag.

In past years, I had combed all the vendor tables looking for ones that can actually help us,  like vendors that sell seed or organic fertilizer or that kind of thing.  They are few and far between. We did buy some seed last year from a seed company that we had originally encountered at the Farm Show, but other that that one time, as far as practical aspects, the Farm Show has been a big bust.  This year, as I am no longer that fresh off the Jersey Turnip Truck, I went there without high hopes.  We don’t grow GMOs. We don’t use chemicals. We don’t live in Weld County.  That means 98% of the Farm Show vendors cannot help us.  It’s almost strange that we all use the same word “farm” to describe our operations.

My kids had fun climbing on the various displays at the Farm Show.

My kids had fun climbing on the various displays at the Farm Show.

About the second table I saw there was the table from the Colorado Corn Growers Association. Forgetting myself, I had a thought. Maybe they can point me in the direction of some non-GMO, non-treated corn seed. Ha! Ha! Ha! Yeah right.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  We all know that 90-some-odd percent of the corn grown in the United States is GMO.  Although I am unaware of the specific percentages for the state of Colorado, I figure it must be in that same neighborhood. Still, this was the Colorado Corn Growers Association.  I live in Colorado.  I’d like to grow corn.  I don’t think it was that big of a leap in logic to think they may perhaps be able to point me in the right direction.  Apparently that was an irrational thought.

(I should add that we do not grow corn.  I have been unable to find locally available non-GMO non-treated corn seed.  I have found some seed vendors in some other states, but the small quantity that I’d need and their distance makes doing business impractical on both sides.)

I approached a certain ColoradoCornGrowersAssociation employee.  They were smiling and friendly. “Would you know where I could get some non-GMO corn seed?” I asked.  I didn’t even mention the non-treated thing yet.
“We don’t support non-GMOs,” the ColoradoCornGrowersAssociationEmployee replied.  “And we opposed Proposition 105.”
“OK, well we don’t support GMOs.  I would like to grow corn and you are the Colorado Corn Growers Association.  I thought you could help me.”
“Well at least you want to grow corn,” they said.
“Yes, I would have no problem growing corn, but I will not grow a GMO.”
They then went on the explain the supposed benefits of GMOs.  It was the standard fare. You know, feed the world, higher yields, less chemicals, etc.  You and I have heard it all before. These potential benefits are unproven.  I shudder more at the potential for harm, both in the environment and within our own bodies.
“GMOs are unproven.  They have only been in the market for twenty years.  They have only been experimented on for another ten years before that.  That is not enough time to show the impact.”  I explained.
“People have been doing this from the dawn of time.”  They referred me to their website.
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but I decided to just let this go.  You can’t argue stupid.  I did refer them to my website (this blog) where I explain exactly what GMOs are.  I excused myself from the conversation.

So let me clear this up, for anyone, who like the ColoradoCornGrowersAssociationEmployee, does not know the difference between a GMO and a hybrid:
1. Hybrids are a crossbreed.  People have been breeding new varieties and cross breeds since the dawn of time.  Hybrids are made through natural means.  (Although in some cases of modern crossbreeding they irradiate the offspring to have the generations develop more quickly.)  Still, the actual DNA sequences are all natural, albeit perhaps accelerated nowadays.
2. GMOs are when scientists place the genetic code of one species and place it into the genetic code of another.  These DNA sequences would never exist in nature. Ever.  The resulting GMO has the supposed desirable trait, resistance to Roundup perhaps, right in its genetic code. GMOs are a whole different ballgame from hybrids. Really.

I find it unfathomable that an employee of the Colorado Corn Growers Association does not know the difference between a GMO and a hybrid.  I have met farmers who grow GMOs and do not know this difference. This blows my mind.  When you make a career certain professions, it means you must know certain basic information.  If you don’t want to know the difference between a hybrid and a GMO, you should be a plumber and not a farmer or a Colorado Corn Growers Association employee.


Posted in Uncategorized by with no comments yet.