Genetically modified crops such as sugar beets and corn have been a godsend to the farmers who grow them, an Idaho farmer and biotechnology expert told members of the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture July 27.
To try to change consumers’ understanding and perception of GMO crops, the nation’s sugar beet industry is preparing a $4 million online campaign that will launch this fall.
Roundup Ready sugar beets, which are genetically engineered to withstand applications of the glyphosate herbicide, enjoy 100 percent adoption among Amalgamated growers and save them about $22 million per year, he said.
Because the GMO beets allow growers to use fewer herbicides, the plants are disturbed less and they face much less competition from weed pressure, which has translated into higher yields, Grant said.
Since GMO corn was introduced in the 1990s, he said, U.S. corn acres have increased from just under 60 million to 90 million, while acres of wheat, which is not genetically modified, has dropped from about 60 million to 45 million in 2017, which is the lowest acreage since records began in 1919.
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