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The Amish community takes to genetically modified agriculture in a big way

amish2There’s quite an interesting story about the use of genetically modified organisms by the Amish communities in the United States.  The Amish are noted for the conservative lifestyle associated with their religious practices.  They are not allowed to own or drive motor vehicles, so their horses and traps are a familiar sight in their areas, and electricity is not permitted in their homes.  The movie “Witness” with Harrison Ford was largely set amongst an Amish community.

Their conservatism has not prevented them from embracing GM agriculture, however.  Indeed, it helps them because their traditional methods are less productive than modern farming, and GM crops compensate them with increased yields.  GM products allow more environmentally friendly agriculture by enabling them to avoid using pesticides.  Many Amish farmers grow a GM nicotine-free tobacco plant that fetches about ten times the cash per acre than conventional corn does.  But some Amish farmers grow GM corn that has been modified to resist the caterpillar larvae of the corn borer pest.

The story is interesting because it compares with the resistance that has been whipped up against genetically modified organisms in the UK, for example.  GM crops are used all over the world in countries such as the US, Canada and Argentina.  They increase yields and they also enable less use of fertilizers and pesticides and the run-off pollution of rivers and lakes.  No-one has been made ill by GM foods, yet the mindless campaign against them continues.  Prince Charles is the most eminent member of that campaign, but he is just as wrong and misguided as the others.

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One Response

  1. I agree entirely with your comments about GM crops. Many years ago I saw the prolonged development of short stem wheat and it’s introduction to our farms at fairly close quarters. The original long stem crops were vulnerable to wind and rain. The crops were laid flat in bad weather and mildewed on the ground. The long process of plant breeding to produce short stem wheat which withstood wind plus the development of grain dryers allowed the UK to become almost self sufficient in wheat and other grain crops. If GM technology had existed all those years ago our dependence on imported grain would have been dramatically reduced and our economy would have benefited into the bargain. GM technology is the 21st century answer to the ancient plant breeding process and the end results are virtually identical.

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