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Corn's bad reputation undeserved

Posted Tuesday, September 8, 2009, at 4:19 PM

Corn. It used to be such a nice crop.

Old songs and movies used to extol it's virtues, "Corn as high as an elephant's eye," etc. The Indians and settlers supposedly shared it on the first Thanksgiving.

People still clamor to get "roasting ears" in July and others spend an enormous amount to munch on popcorn at movie theaters and ballgames.

But field corn, the most widely grown crop in the United States is a raw commodity, used for livestock feed, exports, ethanol, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), starches, alcohols, cereals and seed.

In fact, the latter five items account for just 11 percent of the corn crop. Livestock feed uses up about 57 percent of the corn, while ethanol and exports account for the rest. However, corn, especially that 11 percent used as direct human feed, seems to be getting a lot of bad press lately.

And it is so undeserved. Really all corn has ever done is grow better and stronger through the years. In my 25 years on the farm, corn had become more tolerant of cold, drought, bugs and diseases. The yields have increased dramatically, making it possible to grow more on fewer acres with less labor.

Isn't that a good thing?

As a farmer I think so. After all isn't it a positive step to grow more food with less land, less tillage, less chemicals and pesticides. But if you read some press reports, you'll start to believe maybe it isn't.

Even before the rise in corn prices and spike in ethanol plants, reports were starting to surface that corn was the cause of America's obesity crisis.

Apparently some feel that because high fructose corn syrup and other corn-made products are in a lot of America's convenience and junk foods as a sweetener, instead of sugar, it is the reason we are fat.

The interesting thing is that most of the critics will admit that it doesn't matter whether a soda is sweetened with HFCS or sugar, if you drink too much of it, it will make you fat. Period.

In fact, the American Diabetic Association does not make a distinction between the sweeteners. It also states clearly that sugar consumption is not the reason people become diabetic.

One reason HFCS is blamed by some is because it has been used in the last 30 years -- the same 30 years we've gotten fatter and more diabetic.

Of course the critics forget that is the same 30 years that we have seen a rise in working mothers, one-parent households, microwavable junk food and fast food restaurants. We've also seen a dramatic rise in eating out altogether. Families don't sit down and eat together - and the "vegetables" we consume are all too often French fries.

It is also the same 30 years that almost every household has added air conditioning, cable television and computer games. Do you see children outside playing all summer like we did? I sure don't.

The truth is I'm as guilty as anybody. But I don't blame corn or corn farmers. As the saying goes, "I've seen the enemy and the enemy is us."

It's also odd to me that corn takes the blame, not the soda manufacturers or other processors who started using HFCS in their products because they found it was cheaper. I'm sure they didn't lower their price when they made the switch and they certainly didn't share any of their new profits with the corn farmer.

It's like blaming the hops, barley and the workers at the beer factory for people becoming alcoholics.

There are other corn critics as well, including those who claim using corn for ethanol is a terrible idea -- citing that it is taking food from hungry people, causing nations to starve.

Which is it? Is corn causing obesity or starvation?

The truth is in the 1980s and 1990s we had a surplus of corn and soybeans and very low prices -- but we still had millions of starving people in our world. Now, prices are higher, but we still have a surplus of crops. I'm no expert, but from what I understand it has a lot more to do with world politics and economics, than how many bushels of corn we can grow here in the U.S.

Of course, there is another group that thinks feeding corn to livestock is a waste of resources. They would like us to eat an all-vegetarian diet, doing away with hamburgers, steaks and pork chops altogether.

Another knock on corn has been that the traditional family farm, has been replaced by global corporations.

That is certainly not true in the U.S. According to USDA reports, 98% of the country's farms are still family farms. In Saline County, it seems that more and more young farmers are coming back to the farm.

As I've said before, and will no doubt say again, that is a good thing for our farms, for our county and for our community.

So corn, just keep growing "as high as an elephant's eye" and getting better.

I've got your back.

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Thanks for the link. Interesting to read.

In actually using the products I can say that corn yields have increased dramatically with GMO. We still use non-GMO as required for refuge acres. There is a big difference.

As for GMO, or Roundup Ready soybeans there is not a big yield difference, and some think there is a "yield drag." They are now coming out with RR2 soybeans, which are supposed to increase yields. We will see.

As I've said before, GMO has helped to reduce the amount of tillage, the chemicals and the pesticides.


-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Sun, Sep 20, 2009, at 11:45 AM

"UCS Study Says Genetically Modified Crops Have Failure to Yield"

NaturalNews) A 43-page study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reveals that since the inception of genetically modified (GM or GMO) crops, no significant increases in crop yields can be attributed to them. This is directly contrary to what Monsanto and other seed-makers have often pointed out in their own research and the UCS study answers why that is. The study, titled Failure to Yield, is available online, free of charge1.

While crop yields overall have increased substantially, including in corn and soybean crops--both of which have a significant percentage of share in GMO--these increases have not been directly related to the use of genetic modifications. Instead, they are due to several changes in farming practices, agriculture in general, and the overall trend towards higher yields in all of food production.

The study, led by Doug Gurian-Sherman, a lead scientist in UCS Food and Environment Program, is a compilation of published, peer-reviewed, and scientifically-accepted studies done since the early 1990s. These studies looked at crop production, various attributes of different crops, how environment and other factors affected yields, and so forth. According to UCS, overall these studies have shown that the yield increases often attributed to genetic modifications are often not because of the GMs at all, but due to other factors.

The UCS study shows that genetically engineered corn varieties have only increased crop yields marginally while engineered soybean varieties haven't increased yields at all.. more at:


-- Posted by Third Child on Sun, Sep 20, 2009, at 10:11 AM

Thanks for all the responses. I do want to note that GMO crops are not banned in the "whole world." There are 30 countries who ban some or are considering banning some (or all) GMO crops. There are 195 countries in the world. In fact, even Europe is rethinking their ban, mainly because they are no longer able to feed themselves. They now import over 40 percent of their food. They are in danger of becoming dependent on countries like China to provide their food. I believe we are better off having our food raised here in our own country, than in a foreign country with no regulations.

In addition to that, I am wondering how critics propose feeding our growing population without advances in agriculture. In fact the Vatican recently praised GMO crops for the ability to feed the poor. http://www.voiceoftheenvironment.org/gmo...

As for Monsanto and other big agriculture companies, that is nothing new for farmers. Even Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about the "middle man" back in the 1920s.

As a farmer, actually using GMOs, I can tell you it has changed the way we farmed. We till less, which means less soil erosion, and we use fewer pesticides and herbicides. The chemicals we use now are safer and do not "leach" as older chemicals do.

I also want to note that when hybrids came into use in agriculture, many people were just as suspicious. There are some that still are.


-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 11:00 AM

JMO that there would be much less cancer and other horrible diseases if parents just made their children eat right, get enough rest and play in the sunshine!

I do not feel that farmers are to blame nor is genetically engineered seed. Farmers use the least amount of chemicals as possible to produce crops. Chemicals are expensive, and the average farmer needs to profit to stay in business.

As for as ethanol I think we should produce more and rid our selves of the need to rely on oil from other nations, however, I also believe that more solar and wind energy should be used on a whole in our country.

I think that stimulus money should have been used to create wind farms, install solar panels, and actually DO something useful.

-- Posted by litlmissme on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 5:57 AM

What was wrong with the continued use of hybrid corn? Why the GMO? What are the farmer's benefits in being locked into a forced renewal contract with Monsanto? A contract Monsanto can change every year and you have no choice but to accept the terms?

Is the pay back that good to be hitched to Monsanto? Forever? This is become marketing problem, at least, for the farmer. You are saddled with the ire against Monsanto, plus Monsanto owns you. This can't work out good..

GMO goes against God.

Three billion years of God's creation perverted for profit. Is there really a better yield? Some great improvement?

At what cost. No one knows what will mutate out of these laboratory engineered mutations. This is like giving the whole world a big ol' fat injection of squaline loaded mercury. We'll be seeing fish headed goats before long as this stuff gets injected into the marrow of our very existance. Mad scientist taking over the world.. Who could make this stuff up? It's a conspiracy, of course.. greedy people at the top, directing it all.

Bertrand Russell wrote about this a long time ago. Eugenics, to cull the earth of useless eaters.. look it up.. I ain't lyin'

Each person is eating pounds of herbicides and poisons. It's in everything and it is making us sick. Our bodies don't recognize these new life forms as food. Our bodies recognize God's food and he has provided all that we need to survive and prosper. Everything.. no help needed..

Our country is sick and dying. Our kids are sick. Our health is from what we eat and breathe. It's all junk food now. This consumer wants good food for my children. I side with Europe on this. Europeans know what real food is. Americans think it is doritos.. pure poison.. I can't forgive Jay Leno for all those dorito ads. Those flavored chips are pure MSG.. burns holes in your brain.. and it's all cumulative.. like the mercury that's in the HFCS.. that's right.. it's in 50% of about everything cause HFCS is in about everything.. ain't makin' that up either..

Ok I've rambled on enough. Some people can't stand it but I'm doing it out of love. I can't, not tell you these things. I want your children to be healthy. Mad Science is not their friend..

Please pardon my crude writing. I'll let someone say why GMO is a good thing for the consumer, cause we're all consumers now.. farmer's kids too..

-- Posted by Third Child on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 4:24 PM

Marcia, sorry about the shouting on the interweb.. soapbox.. Please don't think it was anything personal. I think you and I could agree on a whole lot more issues than what we disagree about so let's just call this a discussion and see where it goes.

I'm a bit more than suspicious of GMO's. I'm convinced I don't like or want GMO's and for good reasons. I don't know why hybrid wasn't good enough.. Yes, I do.. Monsanto.. my bp rises..


-- Posted by Third Child on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 11:10 AM

Thanks for all the comments.

I realize some people are suspicious of GMO crops and obviously I believe they are safe. However, I've been trying to honor my mother-in-law, who always said, "Say what you have to say and then be quiet. No need to argue."

So with that said I am curious as to people's opinions on ethanol. It is interesting to me that some people are against a renewable and clean fuel. It seems to me keeping "oil" money in the U.S. would be a good thing for everybody. I'd love to hear comments.

-- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 9:00 AM

Wonder: you said "Poor corn; and poor, misunderstood, underprivileged farmers. What would we do without high fructose corn syrup, ethanol, nor farm subsidies?" I just didn't appreciate your sarcasm regarding farmers. Had nothing to do with being armed forces or patriotic.

By the way - I eat home grown beef and all the veggies I can get at the local farmers market. Actually, eat anything I want to, corn syrup and all.

-- Posted by Air Force Wife on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 11:19 PM

*it seems that more and more young farmers are coming back to the farm.*

Because they can't get a job?

Anyone farming today is a tenant farmer for Monsanto. Farmers got sucked into this GMO thing.

3 billions years of Gods creation reinvented in 10 short years by Monsanto. And patented.

People HATE GMO around the world. I don't want it. I wish my grandchildren were not fed it. It is not the same as natural food, even though Clarence Thomas, ruled that it was.

Monsanto executives don't eat their own product. They have a seed bank in Iceland where they are hoarding all the heritage seeds in the world. Why? It's not for you or me.

GMO, MSG, HFCS, aspartame, vaccination, mercury, fluoride in everything.. CHEMTRAILS!

Childhood cancers, diabetes and autism. There's your pandemics..

People do need to return to the farm. We need to grow some real food and heal this country. And we need to do it now.

-- Posted by Third Child on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 3:11 PM

Just when you think you have heard it all, someone comes up with a new one. So now it is the farmers fault that most American's are fat? Does anyone take blame for their own actions and the results of those actions? I remember a parent sueing McDonald's because her teen age son ate there all the time and was severely obese - then I saw the mother and wondered who she was blaming her obesity on. Just what the farmer's need - someone griping about what they grow. wow WonderJim - what do you eat?

-- Posted by Air Force Wife on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 11:46 AM

And what would you eat?

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 8:05 PM

Thank you Marcia, you keep in there. Corn is not the problem. Corn is the solution. How many different things can you make out of Broccoli? Corn like sunflowers, peanuts and soybeans are crops that can be made into so many things both for human consumption as well as human use.

I'm so glad that Mr. George Washington Carver was born in Florida Missouri. His work on the peanut charted the course for modern agriculture. We could cry and bemoan the fact that we are not as healthy as we should be but is that because of our choices. It certainly is not because of corn.

Again I ask how many things can you make out of Broccoli?

-- Posted by movaldude on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 5:37 PM

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