Nancy Kavazanjian: Why I grow genetically engineered crops

Nancy Kavazanjian: Why I grow genetically engineered crops


BEAVER DAM — For the last three years I’ve grown and donated well over 20,000 pounds of sweet corn to local food pantries, friends, family, neighbors, an FFA group and our church.

In addition to sweet corn (a small, sideline endeavor on our Beaver Dam crop farm) we make our livelihood growing soybeans, field corn and wheat.

All of these crops are grown using genetically engineered seed, also known as GMOs, to create clean, delicious and insect-free food for our community and customers. This technology has helped us to be better farmers. It has reduced our weed problems and allowed us to be much more precise in applying pesticide to control insects and weeds in our fields.

Given this, it’s frustrating to see so many misconceptions — and outright lies — being spread about a modern, seed-breeding technology that holds so much potential to fight disease, improve nutrition, allow for more precise pesticide use and feed hungry people across the globe.

A recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine proves the genetically engineered crops we have and grow on today’s farms are safe for people, animals and the environment.

We’ve been growing them for 20 years on my farm. And while we can, and do, grow traditionally bred seed when incentivized, I’ve raised my family alongside GMO crops. I eat them myself, and I’m proud to share them with my community.

As a volunteer leader with several state and national farm organizations, I often tell people how GMOs help make farming safer, easier and more sustainable. They also are making food more nutritious and useful worldwide.

Crops that are genetically engineered to fight diseases are saving the foods we love and the industries that grow them. GMOs saved the Hawaiian Rainbow papaya from a deadly virus that threatened to wipe out the crop and the industry. Florida citrus faces a similar threat today, and GMOs could help prevent the citrus greening disease.

A new, high oleic soybean variety offers improved, trans fat-free nutrition along with less food waste and new industrial uses. Meanwhile, countless other opportunities to improve diets and farmers’ lives worldwide have been lost to societies because of undue fears over thoroughly genetically modified seeds.

As a farmer, I aim to grow the most desirable crops in the most economically, environmentally and sustainable ways possible. Our sweet corn feeds the hungry, sends local young people to faith rallies, supports the FFA and brings together our family, friends and neighbors.

Best of all, it tastes great.

Kavazanjian, a soybean and wheat farmer in Beaver Dam, is chairwoman of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.


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