Safe Spraying

Weed Pic
Weeds like this can rob plants and fields of vital nutrients, water and necessary sunshine. Photo From:

Dr. Oz recently hit the airwaves AGAIN slamming GMO crops and the people who grow them. But if you have paid attention to the good doctor over the years, you have noticed that his criticism and language has changed as past arguments fall victim to the truth.

What was once an assault on the nutritional value of GMO crops is now an admission that there is no nutritional difference between GMO and non-GMO crops – and that they have no negative impact on human health. To catch the admission you have to pay attention – he says it all quickly and as an aside to his new argument against crop technology. But now he has moved on to a new argument, blaming the pesticides used on the crops to keep weeds at bay.

With their new argument, Dr. Oz and others on his side link the use of pesticides to health issues – nothing specific – just bad health. But the doctor makes some major assumptions – of which all are false about GMOs, pesticides and the impact on human health. Allow me to explain:

  1. All farmers who grow GMO crops use pesticides: FALSE! We use GMO corn and soybean seeds in our fields because they substantially diminish the need for pesticides. GMO seeds are engineered to stand up to insects, worms, bugs etc. So if the plant can tolerate the pests, we don’t have to spray. In fact, we go many years and never spray an ounce of pesticides on our GMO crops. Pretty simple – and exactly the opposite of what Dr. Oz is trying to sell the American public.
  2. Controlling weeds is a bad thing. FALSE! When Dr. Oz talks about pesticides, he shows images of weeds in the field. The doctor actually has his terms confused – pesticides are for pests (aka worms, insects, bugs), herbicides are used to control weeds – but back to my point. The ability to kill weeds without harming the plant is a major part of the appeal of using GMO seeds. Weeds suck up vital nutrients and water from the soil, impact plants’ ability to receive adequate sun and provide an overall negative impact on crop yields. American farmers are successful because of their ability to do so much with so few inputs. Allowing weeds that rob those vital nutrients from plants to remain in the field is poor crop management and only helps to encourage the growth of new weed varieties.
  3. Farmers can spray their fields with anything at any time. FALSE! All herbicides used in commercial farming are approved by the EPA, which uses rigorous testing methods to ensure there is no impact on human health. In addition to application standards, farmers must abide by guidelines that dictate when the herbicide should be applied so as not to impact the harvested crop. Farmers work diligently to properly time and apply all herbicides and whenever possible, they find other means of controlling weeds.
  4. Organic crops are raised without herbicides and pesticides. FALSE! Even organic farmers use varying forms of herbicides and pesticides. The main difference is that the sprays must be derived from natural sources. But the label in itself does not guarantee a hands-off approach to weed and pest control.
  5. Farmers don’t use other weed control methods. FALSE! Herbicides and pesticides are expensive and not always the best weed-control solution. Farmers use a variety of weed-control methods including tilling the ground to uproot the weeds, pulling the weeds by hand, planting a cover crop to choke out weeds, rotating crops grown in a field to alternative different weed tolerances and burning fields after harvest to kill all vegetation – including the unwanted weeds.

No farmer wants to see weeds in his or her field. They are detrimental to plant growth and undermine efforts to make the most of the land. Dr. Oz may have fancy graphics and a good story, but he doesn’t have the facts or the truth. GMO crops do not negatively impact human health and weeds are not our friends.

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