While we are on the subject of GMOs I would be amiss if I didn’t bring up the oft repeated topic of China rejecting shipments of American corn that contains some new GMO trait that hasn’t yet met the Chinese government’s approval process. That’ll allegedly be approved in the near future. The shipments started to be redirected last winter. Never mind that the Chinese government has stated that they are going to eliminate the large stockpiles of corn (and other commodities) they have been keeping in exchange for a more market oriented approach. I can only liken the Chinese storage as a hedge against starvation. Much like the old American corn reserve that paid farmers to store excess corn holding it off the market until a shortage showed up. Creating a definite moderating effect on the market price. As long as the market knew that corn was in storage the less it had to ramp up prices to stifle demand. There was always a cushion built in.

Where would corn prices have topped two years ago without Chinese stockpiles? Parity perhaps?

The commodity market commentators have repeatedly pointed out that the GMO issue was only the Chinese way of implementing this switch. An easy scapegoat to point to to explain why they are reneging on a sales contract once prices worked lower due to world and American farmers ramping up corn production in the wake of the great green energy movement into the corn bins of the Midwest. Think ethanol. How we can tell that this GMO issue is more politics than reality is the simple fact that at least one Chinese corn seed company executive is currently cooling his heels in jail and many more are on the run for trying to steal the very technology from American seed companies that their governments are trying to deny entry into their country. They won’t buy it but they will steal it to grow it over there. How disingenuous is that?  It’s like buying a car but refusing delivery as you try to steal one at the same time. Quite comical actually.

While we’re on the subject of where things come from I want to broach the subject of labeling meat. Specifically I’m talking about the COOL law. Also known as the country of origination label law. A couple of years ago our Congress passed the COOL law. A law that mandates that meat list on it’s label where on earth it came from. It has yet to be implemented. Now my thought that it aught not have to be a law because good business practices dictate it already will be put aside for the duration of this post. The fact that Canada and Mexico have threatened to “retaliate” for us wanting to know who raised our meat is another of those warning sirens and flashing lights moments in time. What are the Canadians and the Mexicans trying to hide? What are they doing to their animals that would make them not want us to know they came from over the borders?

I would think that like a Rolls Royce they would be proud of their meat and would want to differentiate the product on the store shelves. Not too many a Rolls Royce are re branded Chevrolet to slip them past the consumers. Why would the Canadians and the Mexicans be trying to do basically the same thing with their meat? Why only meat? When I buy Crown Royal I know it came from Canada and I buy it just the same. When I buy Jose’ Cuervo I know that it comes from Mexico and I buy it just the same. Grapes from Chile have a label that says so and I buy them just the same. As does most of the fruit and vegetables that are sold fresh in the supermarket. How can meat be any different? I would argue that given the huge amount of resources that are consumed in the raising of meat and the diverse and varied ways to raise meat a label on meat explaining at least where they came from would be prudent. But obviously not in the hallowed halls of NAFTA.

Maybe it’s time to scrap NAFTA. Like Ross Perot said, that giant sucking sound proves NAFTA sucks.

From the corn patch …….





The lead cow has already headed off the beaten path. The herd won’t be far behind. It’s a little like turning a battleship, the rudder moves long before the bow. But once it’s done Neptune knows even if  Jupiter has yet to discern the course’s correction. Like a turning battleship the herd is best respected in it’s inevitable direction. Or you’ll likely be pulled down into it’s path and eventually discarded a broken corps into it’s wake. The herd wants to know what’s growing in it’s pasture. It’s useless to not tell them. They’ve already had a whiff, and you should see the size of those nostrils. Not to mention ears and eyes. Eyes big enough to see the smallest print. Or the absence of enough print. The customer is always right. If you don’t want them all up in your face you better put the information right up in their face. Let them turn it over and find out right there on the label. If you want it on their table better come clean on the label.

Without a label you’re liable to eat something you don’t want to. So I think businesses and individuals who sell things to be eaten or consumed by the body in any way would be pertinent if they listed any and all ingredients and where they’re from on the label. I don’t care if it’s the law or not. It shouldn’t have to be the law, it should be part and parcel to good business management to freely give out any and all information about what goes into the product being sold. There’s a big push on to create laws to force  companies to admit if their products contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms. The very fact that so many purveyors of these products are willing to expend large amounts of money fighting these grass roots led labeling initiatives is like a loud siren with bright flashing lights. What on earth are they trying to hide? What do they expect the consumer’s reaction to this opposition to be?

I would argue that by obviously fighting hard to nip this GMO labeling effort in the bud they are De-facto admitting that there’s something negative about GMOs. Mabe something that slipped by during it’s adoption. I have been openly growing Roundup Ready soybeans since the third or fourth year they were made available to plant. Prior to Roundup Ready beans we were spending too much money on pre and post applied weed control chemicals to effectively compete with conventionally grown beans.  Tillage was still much cheaper than a total chemical way to kill weeds. Planting in clean tilled soil allowed your beans to compete evenly with weeds and harrowing, rotary hoeing and multiple cultivator passes could knock down and keep down any weeds the soil incorporated chemicals let slip by. The dry soil mulch that needed to be maintained caused tons and tons of soil to be unduly eroded away to streams.

No till saves soil. Round Ready made no till cheap and easy. Maybe that was the goal. Make this so cheap and easy that the farmer can’t refuse to use it. Give him the window to see what this no till system can do for their soils and consequential yields. Now that we know how could we ever go back to tillage? Even though many of the same problem weeds have developed a tolerance to Roundup herbicide. Even though the costs to control these Roundup Ready weeds is climbing back up to where we were before Roundup Ready. We can see the erosion still even with no till, we will never willingly go backwards like tillage represents again. Some of us are thinking of converting to cover crops to smother out the problem weeds and add other benefits to the soil. Some are going back to soil applied pre-emergent chemicals during April’s rainy season so the rain can incorporate them into the soil instead of tillage. Some quit growing beans.

Whether it be by label through popular demand or whether it be through evolving agronomic realities The Roundup Ready era is over. That said the GMO era is alive and well. Coming soon is something new for the no tiller. In the pipeline for soybean seed are two new GMO created traits. One is Dicamba Ready stacked on top of Roundup Ready. Dicamba is a herbicide nearly as old if not older than Roundup. So there are probably already a slew of weeds that have developed resistance to it’s chemistry. Good luck with the shelf life of that. The other newly GMO created trait for beans is a new formulation of 2-4-D  called 2-4-D Choline Ready. I’m not sure if it’s stacked on top of Roundup Ready or not. But given the fact that Choline is a very important substance to our health I’m not sure it will be safe whether seed companies “science” says it is or not. If they’ve slipped Roundup Ready problems past us this long I don’t think we can trust this 2-4-D Choline out of the gate.