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Non-G-M-O Seeds an Iowa “Endangered Species”

September 17, 2010

DES MOINES, Iowa - Years ago, finding non-genetically modified seeds for crops was easy, but today fewer and fewer seed companies are offering them. John Gilbert farms near Iowa Falls, where he feeds dairy cows and hogs, using his own corn. He prefers non-GMO seeds in order to avoid any side effects in his livestock, but says it's becoming more difficult to find them for sale.

"This company I dealt with for a lot of years, which was farmer-owned before it became a subsidiary of Monsanto, had six or seven non-GMO varieties a year ago. I think for this year there's only going to be two."

While the industry contends GMO seeds are safe and says there is an increasing demand for them, 32 percent of conventional farmers wish their seed company offered more non-GMO options, according to a "Farm Journal" Summer 2010 on-line poll of readers.

Gilbert says the big seed companies are more interested in profits than in providing what farmers want.

"It's obviously an economic thing. The seed companies make a lot more money selling the modified versions because of the tech-fees they are collecting."

Practical Farmers of Iowa is hosting a U.S. Testing Network field day on Sept. 23 in Ames to connect farmers with seed salesmen and corn breeders who are increasing the number of non-GMO (conventional and organic) corn hybrid options that are available. Information about the event is available by e-mailing sarah@practicalfarmers.org.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA