Americans constantly question the agriculture community. From inquiries on livestock practices to investigations on pesticides, farmers and ranchers are continuously answering questions about their practices and farming methods. Most outside sources like to believe agriculture doesn’t have the answers. They craft articles and opinions on the make-believe-basis that farmers simply make spur-of-the-moment decisions with no thought for the welfare of the animals, the environment or the people who consume the food they produce. Not true! Everything we do – down to what color of tractors we drive – is done for a reason.
The latest publication to question agriculture’s intentions and production techniques is O, The Oprah Magazine. The May issue includes a series of articles about biotechnology and genetically modified foods.
The main article poses the question, “What impact do GM foods have on our health?” and follows with “no one really knows.”
Actually, we do. After biotech crops go through the typical six to 12 years of testing before they go to market, we know a great deal about them, according to the Council for Biotechnology Information. The group says that food made from biotech crops has been determined to be as safe as non-biotech foods by no less than the Food and Drug Administration, American Dietetic Association, World Health Organization, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the National Academy of Sciences. That’s a fairly impressive list of people who always have public health in mind and maintain the ability to prevent food from hitting the grocery store shelves.
Farmers understand that at no risk to the public, they can produce more food on fewer acres – saving fuel, water and land. Biotech crops are one of the many ways agriculture is making itself more efficient.
We also understand why we house poultry indoors and keep pigs from roaming free and eating garbage and one another in the great outdoors. We also know exactly why we till the soil and use pesticides to keep our plants pest-free. And finally, farmers and ranchers know exactly why they get up each morning and head to the fields, to provide food, fuel and fiber for a growing population.
Farmers dedicate their lives to providing for their families and millions of others around the world. Each practice – either in the fields or the at livestock barns – has been established because it solves a problem or makes agriculture more efficient and therefore more affordable. We have a reason for all of our methods and we are always happy to explain.
The American Farm Bureau Federation contributed to this article.