As Presented to Canadian Deputy Ministers of Agriculture

On January 23rd I had an opportunity to present my thoughts on opportunities and challenges facing Canadian Agriculture to ALL the Deputy Ministers of Agriculture.

I am not sure how I was chosen for this honour, however, I felt obliged to do a good job.

Here are the issues I chose to present.

BTW…no one can be an expert in all these areas, so I reached out to many people to get clarity.  I really did my best…I hope it helps.

The first thing I conveyed was the rapid pace of change in our sector is because, in my view, agriculture has entered the era of Agriculture 5.0, a time of convergence of technologies where synthetic biology, sensors, data streams, precision agriculture, robotics and  artificial intelligence will transform our industry like never before.

Farmers move at the “speed of business” and it is a struggle for government to keep up.  As government lags, so will our industry.  If Canada is to be a world leader, we must ask its agriculture ministries to be leaders as well.

  1. Private insurance / AgriStability

Of a ~$29.00/ac crop insurance coverage, the Fed/Prov covers about $20-22/ac.  If a farmer opts for private coverage, he/she takes that burden off the government’s hands, reduces administration and liability; a net benefit for taxpayers.  If we want to encourage more private insurance systems to develop, consider providing those farmers who opt of government programs out with a voucher (say $10-14/ac) or credit so they can pursue private insurance in a more competitive manner.

2. Transportation

Oil on rail will displace grain and commodities like potash. No matter what assurances we are given, THIS WILL HAPPEN.

If we cannot deliver we will be viewed as untrustworthy.  If we cannot be trusted to deliver we will lose customers and that is something our agriculture sector can ill afford.

The pipeline issue is not an oil issue…it is a Canadian issue and will hit farmers and their customers hard when we cannot deliver on time.

3. Seed Regulations

Lack of clarity surrounding ROI for seed breeders is hurting our industry.

Open pollinated crops like wheat, barley, oats, and pulses are not keeping up to corn, soybeans and canola advancements.

Some farmers are adamant they want to save and seed bin run seed.  The breeders/seed developers say they need a better return to invest in the sector.  We have lost a significant player who was looking at developing hybrid wheat; that is gone for now.

The seed sector needs a system that provides value, choice and transparency.  The Ag Ministries must wrestle this issue to conclusion that will move us forward.

4. Public Outreach

Mobilize your Agriculture Ministries to speak out about agriculture science.  Educate!

I asked “How many employees of the ministries of agriculture hold anti-GMO beliefs?” – this is an issue.

I called for cross ministry collaboration; agriculture x health x environment x education.

Support initiatives like the Canadian Center for Food Integrity, Ag in the Classroom; and Know Ideas Media (disclosure, my son, Nick Saik runs this site).

5. Activist Attack on Agriculture

There are many outside forces hell bent on painting agriculture and farmers as somehow evil.  There is activist and anti-science movements on GMO, Pesticides, Green House Gases and Livestock that is mostly not tied to science that is designed to create FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) about modern farming practices.

The FUD leads to panic polices that are turning into politic rather than science-based decisions.

I called on CFIA to fight deceptive labelling such as non-GMO Spinach or non-GMO Maple Syrup or non-GMO Himalayan Rock Salt.

6. Pressure on Tools

GMO – I urged Canada to stay the course on novel trait assessment and registration.  This is one of the most commons sense approaches in the world.  Canada should be proud of this system and we should educate consumers that just because a product is bred using RNAi technology it is just as safe as something bred through mutagenesis.

Example: Non-browning Arctic Apples derived through gene silencing is an excellent example of how we can reduce food waste through genetic engineering.

Neonicotnoids – Is the pressure to ban this product routed in deep science or cherry picked science?  Are we capitulating to activist pressures?  Are ALL treatment methods the same and should we be painting corn seed treatment the same as canola seed treatment?  AND, if banned what will farmers use instead and will these alternatives be better or worse for the environment?  What about RISK/BENEFIT analysis?

If we lose seed treatment tools and have to go back to indiscriminate spraying of foliar insecticide are the beneficial insects going to be better or worse off?

Glyphosate – I applauded the Health Canada review on glyphosate following the 2015 re-registration of glyphosate use in Canada.  Now the agriculture ministries need to educate their staff and get the word out on this issue.

7. Canadian Agriculture is ANNUALLY 30 Million Metric Tonnes to the GOOD Carbon!

(Thanks to Dauphin Farmer and Engineer Fraser MacPhee on helping me with this one.)

Carbon tax will be punitive to farmers.  They live far from town. Drive more.  Use fertilizer.  Use diesel to farm. Have to truck their grain to elevators. And they are being told that livestock emits +14% of world GHG emissions (when the real number is closer to 3.3%).

Canada’s climate data says our Agriculture sector emits 60 Mt CO2e (Carbon Dioxide Equivalent) annually (includes loss from soil, manure and cow burps – Enteric Fermentaion).

We store 11 Mt CO2e annually in the soil (FYI 1% increase in OM = 20 Mt CO2e).

Yet no-where is the 79 Mt CO2e as carbon stored annually in the grain we produce taken into account.

Why not?

With the carbon stored in grain; our agriculture sector is 30 Million Metric Tonnes to the GOOD re GHG (green house gas) balance EVERY YEAR! 

Why doesn’t everyone know about this?  Are the agriculture ministries educating and defending this position?

8. Connectivity

Imagine running a $10M business in Toronto WITHOUT the internet.

Or, being told you should go to Mississauga to access the internet at the local library!

Yet, this is the situation with many farms today.  Many are operating $5M, $10, $20M businesses with little or poor internet or cellular coverage.

52% of farmers are dis-satisfied or very dis-satisfied with their internet access while 45% say the same of cellular coverage.

While not an agriculture ministry issue per se, this constraint affects the implementation of sensory, data, precision ag and robot technology at farm level.

To have “Smart Farms” we must have “Connected Farms”…in some areas THIS is the #1 constraint holding farmers back from adopting new, more efficient technology.

9. Technology Adoption

The number 1 reason (besides connectivity) farmers are not adopting technology at a faster rate is… there are not enough people to help support the tech and make it work.  Every year millions and millions of acres of yield data are left stranded on combine monitors because their is a lack of “Systems Integrators” to pull out the data and make it work.

Today’s tech is still not simple.  Just as once we were covered in hydraulic oil while trying to connect Pioneer, Case and John Deere couplings from implements to tractors; we are now covered in “digital hydraulic oil” because most of the data do not flow easily from system to system or colour to colour.

We MUST create new high tech agriculture curriculum.  This need must be recognized by the Advance Education Ministries and built into the post-secondary ecosystem.  Agriculture Ministries need to fight for this to happen.

10. Regulation Regarding Autonomous Robots

(Note: I am biased here as this topic is related to my role as CEO, of DOT Ready Retail).

People are applauding self driving cars.  We know self-driving trucks are coming.  We need to make way for autonomous robotic field machines.

We know that with GPS guidance such as RTK and RTX we can guide machines in the field to sub inch accuracy.

You think we could move a robot on an road between fields at 8-12 mph safely? Yet, are facing rules and legislation in most jurisdictions that would force farmers to load their robot onto a trailer to move between field rather than allow for “follow-me” or self movement.

If we are going to adopt autonomous robotic farming in broad acre agriculture we need to be able to efficiently move the equipment.  We need the ag ministries to work to make this a reality.

Conclusion:

Agriculture is the most complicated business I know of because so many biotic, abiotic and market factors are out of the control of the farmer and the system.

We are must embrace technology and advance our farming practices to ensure that agriculture is “infinitely sustainable” and can feed the growing population.

Canada is one of a handful of countries capable of producing more food than it consumes.  Our farmers are some of the best in the world at crop and livestock production in some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

To advance, we need the ministries of agriculture AHEAD of us…clearing the path – enabling farmers with technology – beating the drum of science with consumers and ensuring the government is a partner not an impediment to the future.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert D. Saik, PAg, CAC

Professional Agrologist, Certified Agriculture Consultant

Rob@RobertSAIK.com

Tips From The Top: Build Your Own Brand

Since this article was released, AGRI-TREND has been acquired by Trimble with Rob Saik working with the Trimble team as Global Business Development, extending AGRI-TREND internationally.

Rob has been a part of the entrepreneur coaching program, Strategic Coach for 24 years now.

Secrets to success from extraordinary entrepreneurs, Part 4

by | Leadership

Market segmentation and recruit

In the spirit of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we invited Strategic Coach clients to share their secrets to success. The fourth in the series is written by Rob Saik, founder and CEO of Agri-Trend in Calgary, Alberta.

Everyone can pinpoint a moment when they’ve stumbled upon words of wisdom that altered their life path. Like a key opening a lock, it’s as if something just clicks, and all of a sudden, everything makes sense.

I fondly remember the words that were a game changer for me: “Build your own brand.”

These words came from Jack Donald, former president and CEO of Parkland Fuel Corporation, Canada’s largest independent marketer of fuels.

I was forty-one at the time, and I remember sitting next to Jack in awe. I had come to a crossroads in my career, not sure if I should take the harder route and go out on my own or merge with another company, and the wisdom he shared gave me the courage I needed to take the next step.

Our conversation about establishing a personal brand, even with the temptation of falling under a larger corporation, had a profound impact on me. I realized the importance of constructing a brand that would maintain the integrity of my vision. I built a brand, and a culture, and I’ll always defend it.

Agri-Trend Inc. was built and grown with a concentrated effort on extending my personal vision of the perfect brand. It was about much more than a logo to me.

I asked myself, “How do our clients feel? What tone does our company set with them? What is the culture around the brand? Is our team proud of what we’re doing?”

Regardless of who we’re collaborating with, we wanted our own message to stand out. We’re about fun, professionalism, pride, and, all in all, being a cutting-edge firm.

It’s important to me to be true to myself and my passion. My business revolves around who I am as a person, and I’m focused on creating value extending far beyond my company to the broader community by being a champion for agriculture.

My decision to trust my gut and listen to the advice from my mentor allowed me to grow Agri-Trend to meet my personal values—a good indication that success aligns with who are we internally. It’s a lesson in life and business.

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

View From The Top: Robert Saik

Reported by Nate Birt (AGWEB Powered by Farm Journal)

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Robert Saik, CEOBackground:  Born on a farm in Alberta, Canada, Robert Saik (robertsaik.com) studied agronomy and ag economics at university and went on to specialize in soil chemistry, plant physiology and crop nutrition. He built two independent fertilizer retailers in his 20s and in 1997 founded AGRI-TREND, a professional ag coaching network, and AGRI-DATA, an online ag management platform, which Trimble acquired in 2015. He is the author of “The Agriculture Manifesto” and the executive producer of “Know GMO,” a film project about genetic modification.

Education: Bachelor of science in agriculture from the University of Alberta in Edmonton

Books every leader should read: “Abundance,” by Peter Diamandis. Our ability to work through problems with technology is pretty promising.

Leaders you admire: Jerry Stoller of StollerUSA is an unsung hero. Another is Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach.

Favorite quote for entrepreneurs: Give me a problem, get out of my way and let me work on it.

Why do you think people are such an important component of useful agricultural technology?

As we get wireless communication technology through our cellphones or Wi-Fi meshes on farms, the ability to connect to devices to bring in more sensory data will explode. The ability to handle that data is going to be a real challenge because there is going to be so much of it. While I think agriculture will take advantage of where we’re going technologically, I think it will always have a high-touch component to it, as well.

I explain this using a pyramid as an illustration. At the bottom is the question “Where?” There are lots of people chasing the question of “Where does the farmer have the problem?” The next question is “What?” It narrows the triangle. Fewer people know what the problem is. Then you start to figure out, “Why is it there?”

The Holy Grail is, “How do you fix it?” High tech at the bottom migrates up to high touch at the top that can be solved by agronomists and other ag experts. Some things will never be programmed into a machine.

We are moving to Agriculture 5.0, which is a convergence of agricultural science with exponential advances in technology. Genetic engineering should allow us to reduce our fertilizer and chemical footprint while providing increased resistance to biotic and abiotic stress. Seeds can be planted at variable rates based on topography and microclimate. Grain and input transactions may be significantly changed through the integration of technology such as blockchain.

What should producers expect from tech firms?

I recently asked a Canadian farmer who was seeding canola, “What value does Agri-Trend bring to you?” He held up a jump drive and he said, “I recognize the fact that you guys have deep agronomy and great science and a data system, but when I’m planting, I want to grab this file, shove it in the controller of my tractor and have it regulate the planter or the air seeder. You make the stick work.”

Precision agriculture is agronomy precisely applied. If you don’t have good agronomy, I don’t care how good the technology is, it’s still bad agronomy.

When did you realize agriculture needed to be proactive in talking about science in farming? 

It was at a rock concert by the Canadian band Chilliwack. There were 650 people in this auditorium. A third of the way through the concert, lead singer Bill Henderson said the next song would be about the poisoning of earth and the patenting of life. It was about an organic farmer in Saskatchewan trying to grow organic canola. Monsanto took him to court and Monsanto won.

Before he started playing, I just shouted out of the darkness, “You’re wrong.” He said, “What?” I said, “I know the facts. You’re wrong and in fact, you’re lying to the audience.” We got into it right there in the middle of the concert. That went on for about one minute, and then I got up and left.

My phone lit up with farmers who were at the concert saying, “Thanks for sticking up for us.” The next day, I wrote a letter to the editor of our paper saying there had been a commotion at the concert and explaining that I caused it and why. It went viral. That was the beginning of my advocacy.

Which misconception bothers you the most?

It’s this pervasive discussion that somehow farmers are not sustainable. It’s just ridiculous. I saw a tweet this weekend from a family that just pulled off its 110th crop on their farm. You don’t get there if you aren’t sustainable. We’ve got all kinds of people on social media who will tell you what farming is, yet they don’t even know what a three-point hitch is.

Talk about some of the projects you’re engaged in to educate the public about ag.

We have raised about $600,000 to do a film called “Know GMO.” My son is the filmmaker and has been in agriculture his whole life. Ninety-seven percent of the money has been raised from Canadian farmers

supporting the project, and we are seeking an additional $500,000. I have an entrepreneurial faith that the project will make a difference in the world. In addition, I am doing a lot of writing and social media work, including creation of memes that are supportive of modern agriculture, at knowgmo.ca.

What is the greatest risk for farmers in terms of consumer perception in the years ahead?

The risk is the continued ripping away of tools out of the agronomic toolbox. The European Union is quickly becoming the museum of agriculture on the planet. The one that gives me greatest concern right now is the anti-glyphosate movement. I have heard it said that glyphosate is a 1-in-100-year chemical. It’s so safe and so efficacious, yet people want to abolish it. What are we going to do, go back to a ton of tillage? Activism leads to fear-mongering leads to politicians creating panic policies.

TOP TWENTY GMO FAQs – by the Robert(s)

By: Robert Saik, Professional Agrologist, Certified Agricultural Consultant, CEO Agri-Trend Inc., Executive Producer of KNOW GMO the MOVIE RSaik@AGRI-TREND.com

and, Robert Wager, M.Sc  Biology Dept Vancouver Island University Robert.Wager@viu.ca

  1. What is a GMO?
    1. It stands for Genetically Modified Organism
    2. It is generally used incorrectly because most of our food has been Genetically Modified by one breeding process or another.
    3. It is used, more specifically to describe a class of breeding called genetic engineering (GE). In plant breeding it covers a broad series of techniques employed by plant breeders to achieve the desired breeding outcome faster, more accurately and safer that previous breeding techniques.
    4. Some of the breeding techniques encompassed by the term GMO includes RNAi technology (gene silencing) used in Arctic Apple or Transgenics which is the moving of specific genes from a donor to non-related host plant (eg Bt Corn) or Cisgenics which take genes from same genus like Innate potatoes with fungal resistance genes from wild potatoes.
    5. GMO or Genetic Engineering is possible because of the massive increase in computing power enabling scientists to isolate specific genes from genomic sequencing. In fact, plant breeding has advanced more in the past 5 years than the previous 5,000.
    6. GMO technologies are employed in many areas.
      1. If you know someone who injects insulin, they are being kept alive with this GMO product.
      2. Hemophiliacs are kept alive with GMO technology
      3. The vast majority of our hard cheese (>90%) in North America is made with GMO produced coagulating enzymes (we used to get these enzymes by scraping the lining of the 4th stomach of a calf or from camel stomachs) – now we use a safe, “not so yucky” tech for the job.
  2. Are GMOs new?
    1. Depends how you look at it. This (GE) technology is new, but we have been modifying organisms for a very long time.  Carrots were not orange.  Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts all come from the same plant.  Corn is not natural at all.  Canola is derived from rapeseed.  Dogs and cats are heavily modified as are most agricultural animals.
    2. Most people are familiar with Biotech use in medicine. GE or GMO is like edible Biotech.
    3. The technology itself has been used since the 70’s with the first major crops licensed in the 90’s….canola in 1996.
  3. What GMO crops are grown in Canada?
    1. There are basically three kinds
      1. Herbicide tolerant crops like Canola, Corn, Soybeans and Sugar beets.
      2. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis organic bacteria) in Corn which provide their own insect resistance. There might some GMO Squash grown in Canada as well.
      3. Arctic Apple has just been approved, which, through RNAi technology resists bruising and browning after cutting, increasing shelf life.
  4. Are GMO crops new?
    1. NO, several crops were commercialized in the mid 90’s (corn, soybeans, canola). They have been around a long time.
    2. One of the first commercially viable GMO crop was Papaya. Ringspot virus was destroying the papaya industry.  It was a GMO Transgenic solution that has saved that industry and allowed it to be a viable part of Hawaiian agriculture.
  5. Why are GMOs important?
    1. Canada is one of six regions in the world predicted to be able to grow more food than it consumes. This technology will be critical to helping feed the people of tomorrow.
    2. We cannot feed the people of tomorrow with the technology of yesterday.
    3. GMOs are just one part of the advancements in farming. Together with GPS/ precision agriculture technology, water conservation such as zero tillage; GMO technology is helping farmers in countries like Canada, the US, Argentina, Brazil and others feed people of the world.
    4. In many parts of the world, there are no cures for diseases attacking crops (Brown Streak Mosaic in Cassava), we are looking to GE to help solve these problems.
  6. Why don’t we label GMO?
    1. Labeling of foods falls under Health Canada and CFIA who looks after food safety.
      1. some claim GMOs cause allergies…this is not correct.  In fact a GE tech might be able to take the allergens out of peanuts and other crops.
      2. If something contains allergens it must be labeled as such.
    2. We label food based on the ingredients.
    3. People need to understand that GMO is NOT an ingredient.
      1. It is a description for a wide variety of breeding technologies.
      2. Each GMO crop submitted for review goes through its own rigorous testing on a case by case basis.
    4. We don’t label breeding techniques.
      1. If we did, we would have to label conventional breeding, hybridization, mutagenesis (breeding new plants by subjecting seeds to nuclear radiation or chemical submersion).
      2. Most foods would have several breeding methods listed which would confuse the consumer.
      3. We have not labelled these breeding processes because the science community has deemed them safe, as they have done for GMO technology.
      4. If these other techniques, that involve the random manipulation of tens of thousands of genes are safe…and are not required to be labelled, then why target the processes associated with Genetic Engineering?
    5. Just because other countries label GMO, does not make them right or based on science – think Scotland.  These labels make little science sense.
  7. Why doesn’t the EU allow GMOs?
    1. Actually they do. Without feed from GMO soy meal and corn grown in North and South America the EU livestock industry would collapse.
    2. Farmers in Spain are allowed to grow GMO corn.
    3. Additionally the EU is going through a change in their GMO policy and individual countries like Netherlands, Denmark, Spain and UK are embracing the need for GMO while other countries (Scotland) are not. Much of this posturing is capitulation to special interest or activist groups such as Greenpeace or Sierra Club or is a non-tariff trade barrier (France, Germany) and is not grounded in science.
    4. Scotland has confirmed that their anit-GMO stance has NOTHING to do with science and is a marketing ploy.
    5. European science agrees with North American science on safety of food derived from GE crops.
    6. In fact a major independent study in Italy concluded that GMO’s are safe. The findings of the study pointed out the flawed logic of EU policy regarding GMO.
  8. Are GMOs Safe?
    1. Over 1,200 independent studies have been performed on GMO technology. The consensus of over 88% of scientists is that GMOs are safe.
      1. This is a higher consensus than those who agree on climate change at 86%.
    2. Either you we trust scientific consensus (which can never be 100%) or we don’t…we cannot pick science in one area and ignore the consensus in another.
    3. We have been consuming food from GM crops for over 20 years.  There has not been ONE documented case of human harm from consuming GMO derived food.
  9. Do we know GMOs are safe for the long term?
    1. The consensus is GMOs are safe.
    2. In science you cannot prove a negative. In science this is called the precautionary principle.  Are your cell phones safe?  Is driving safe? You can never definitively prove something is safe.
    3. GMOs are the most studied foods in human history. Their record is unblemished.
    4. There is no scientifically defensible hypothesis why food from GE crops represents a unique risk.
  10. Are farmers forced to buy their seeds from Monsanto?
    1. NO, there are plenty of choices for farmers to purchase both GMO and non-GMO Seeds.
    2. In North America, Monsanto have sued 144 farmers (out of millions of customers) for breach of contract to protect their IP.
      1. Of these only about a dozen have gone to court.
      2. In court, Monsanto has never lost and when they win, they donate the proceeds to local charities.
    3. The name Monsanto is not interchangeable with GMO and they are one of many players.
    4. Just because you might have bought into the on-line hate of a corporation, does not mean we should take tools away from the farmers of the world.
  11. Are GMOs causing chemical use to go up?
    1. NO, in fact, GMO technology has reduced both the toxicity load of herbicides and insecticides applied to the land.  Yes, glyphosate (RoundUp) use has gone up, but the use of many other herbicides has gone way down (think soil applied Atrazine).
    2. In Bangladesh, the Bt Brinjal (eggplant) has reduced insecticide spray 70-90% while simultaneously increasing yields.
  12. What are some of the benefits of GMO
    1. In Canada since we have begun growing GMO (HT) Canola in 1996…
      1. 53% reduction in herbicide use
      2. 55% reduction in producer exposure
      3. 1.3 Million Kg reduction in active ingredient (AI)
      4. Environmental Impact/Ha ‘95 – ’06 down 37%
      5. Yields up from 21 bu/ac to 41 bu/ac (2012)
      6. Reduction in soil erosion 66%
      7. Reduction in Greenhouse Gas 26%
      8. Contribution to Canadian Economy >$19B
    2. In Ontario, while the land seeded to corn has remained relatively flat there has been
      1. A 69% increase in yield since GMO corn
      2. A reduction in total herbicides used to grow corn.
    3. GMO technology has allowed farmers to use safer, more reliable, and more specific, less toxic products to control pests.
    4. One of the MAJOR benefits of GMO Bt tech is the tremendous reduction in the application of insecticides.
  13. I heard that farmers douse their crops with chemicals because of GMO?
    1. This is simply a distortion. Why would farmers spend any more money on crop protection products than necessary?
    2. Farmers and custom sprayers are certified and trained to apply these products safely and in accordance with specific label instructions.
    3. For example glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round Up) is applied typically at or below the rate of 545 gms per acre.
      1. That is like taking 545 grams of salt and spreading it over an area the approximate size of a football field.
    4. Most of the memes showing farmers spraying (dousing) their fields is in-fact, water used as a carrier which is sprayed on the crop usually between 5-20 gallons per acre.
  14. I heard glyphosate is toxic?
    1. It has a toxicity rating (LD50) that is safer than caffeine, salt, aspirin or nicotine. If caffeine were a pesticide it would not receive registration in Canada today because it is too toxic.
    2. Glyphosate has been recently classified by IARC of WHO as a “possible” carcinogen – so have cell phones.  This ruling on glyphosate will likely be challenged as it one of the most studied agrochemicals in the world with the vast majority of science organizations classifying it as safe.
    3. Pictures of people spraying crops with Haz Mat suits or using masks is showing proper safety management. These are standard procedures when applying synthetic or organic pesticides thus reducing worker exposure.
  15. What about weed resistance or super weeds?
    1. This is not a GMO issue.
    2. There are no “super weeds” although weeds can become resistant to herbicides. This is more common in non-GMO herbicides.  There are far more weeds resistant to non-GMO herbicides.
    3. Herbicide resistance is an important issue. Farmer need to rotate chemistry they use in the field otherwise they will lose the use of certain products.
    4. We have some weeds that are becoming resistant to products used in GMO production. Scientists are working on new solutions with farmers and industry.
    5. This is happening in the UK where they do not yet have GMO crops yet herbicide resistance Black Grass is so wide spread, the wheat yields in the UK are being compromised.
  16. What about Bees?
    1. Bees are not a GMO issue.
    2. In fact the use of Bt GMO tech in corn and soybeans is significantly reducing farmer’s use of harsh broad spectrum insecticides that would harm bees.
    3. There have been some questions surrounding the use of seed treatments and bee population however there are no confirmed conclusions.
    4. In fact the bee populations in North America including Canada are near a 20 year high.
  17. What about Monarch Butterflies?
    1. Farmers get paid to grow crops, not Milk Weed. As they have cleaned up their land, there is less milk weed.  This would have happened with or without GMOs.
    2. We need to look at increasing Monarch host plants in their migration paths. This can be done in non-crop land areas.
  18. What if we just promote organic production that doesn’t use pesticides?
    1. Organic farmers DO spray on pesticides.
    2. Bt – the compound inside GMO Bt Corn and Soybeans IS an organic insecticide sprayed several times on organic crops.
    3. There are all kinds of organic pesticides such as Bt, pyrethrin and rotenone that are used in organic farming.
    4. There is no proof that organic food is safer, healthier or more sustainable. It is a brand and a marketing tool indicative of a philosophy of farming that some are prepared to pay 30-300% more to support.
  19. What is the future of GMOs
    1. The citrus industry in North America is dying one tree at a time as the citrus greening bacteria kills the groves in Florida and now California. There is no cure.   They are working on a GMO cure.
    2. Chemicals used in the strawberry industry are being discontinued this fall. Without a GMO solution, production of strawberries will decline.
    3. As we experience climate change, growing conditions will change. GMO solutions are being worked on for saline resistance and drought tolerance.
    4. There will be many more breakthroughs in nutrient enhancement such as Golden Rice which is fortified with Beta Carotene.
  20. Why all the pressure against GMOs.
    1. Special interest and activist groups.
      1. You cannot sell memberships and raise money without fear….think bees, butterflies and GMOs.
      2. It is much easier to sell fear than science…science is hard…you have to think.
      3. It is much easier to sell higher priced specialty foods (think non-gluten) or organic foods if you make the population scared of how food is produced. It is easy to sell fear.
    2. The Academic Review on the Organic Industry estimates there is $2.5 Billion annually distributed through over 300 disparate groups whose mission is to discredit agriculture and GMO science specifically creating fear to drive a higher priced food agenda.
    3. Monsanto talks positively about GMO to its customers…farmers (1% of the pop) and has 66,000 followers on Twitter.
    4. Whole Foods talks negatively about GMO to its customers (the other 99%) and has over 4,400,000 million followers on Twitter – and sells organic water for $6.00 per bottle.
    5. In Canada, a 16 year old Anti-GMO activist, is trying to make a name for herself by demanding labeling for GMO in Canada and appears to be providing guidance to the Federal New Democrat Party. Her Mother and Grandparents own an organic food company, her father is CEO of the same company.  We have asked her  along with The Food Babe in the US to visit farms with us…so far … crickets.

Farmers represent less than 1.5% of the population in North America.  Many of these farmers rely on GE technology to make their farmers efficient, profitable and sustainable.  Most of these farmers are busy growing crops and raising livestock to feed people; they don’t have time to spend on social media fighting Non-Science.  This is why we produced this fact sheet…we hope is has been of use to you.

Sincerely, Robert Saik, PAg, CAC and Robert Wager, Msc

These twenty items are meant to serve as talking points and do not represent an exhaustive view of each issue.  Readers are encouraged to explore each area themselves using reputable sources.  A good place to start is www.geneticliteracyproject.org.