Why We Plant GMO Crops on Our Farm

by Mary Mertz


mary-mertz1I’m not a scientist or an agronomist. I am a mom. I’m someone that was born and raised in Chicago.

And I’m a consumer…just like you.

So I care about where my food comes from and how it is grown…just like you. I also hold the uncommon position of being married to a fourth generation Kansas farmer. We grow corn and soybeans. And for close to twenty years now we have chosen to use GMO seeds to plant our crops. There are many options and seed companies out there selling GMO and non-GMO products. After researching all the varieties available, there are several reasons we decided to purchase GMO seeds.

Primarily, GMOs allow us to use less chemicals, water, and fuel on our fields. And that’s better for the environment and all of us. GMOs also allow us to till the soil less frequently. This keeps nutrients in the soil. It keeps carbon in the ground. And, again, this is good for the environment and for all of us. Our yields are better. We can grow more food on less land, which is important as the population keeps growing.

If you walk into your grocery store today and look at the fruits and vegetables available to you there, none of these would look anything like they did 10,000 years ago…if they even existed. All of our food has been altered, modified, tweaked in some way over the centuries. Genetic Engineering is simply an advancement of this technology. Taking the DNA trait of one organism, you place it into the DNA of another organism. This is a precise and efficient method meant to improve the plant in some way…whether to make it stronger to resist pests…stronger to resist droughts…or even to make it more nutritious.

Gold Rice is a good example of the latter. Golden Rice is a grain that through biotechnology has been enriched with Vitamin A. In the Philippines, and in many other countries, hundreds of thousands of children die or go blind from Vitamin A deficiency every year. Golden Rice provides a dietary food-staple and a solution to their needs.

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I’m excited about the future of food and crop production. We have brilliant minds in our country working on biotechnology….looking ahead at the challenges we will face in terms of population growth and food demand. We will need all methods of farming. We will need to work together.

We all want to leave the land better than we found it. And we want to insure that our children and children’s children have an adequate food supply. GMOs play a part in that. I believe they should be acknowledged and applauded for the benefits they bring to the table.

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mary-mertz3In 1987, I left the security and comfort of my life in Chicago to move with my spouse, Bob, back to his fourth generation farm in Kansas. We have raised two beautiful children, Lisa and David. Our family business is River Creek Farms. Grain crops and cattle are our main operations. I feel strongly that as a transplanted urbanite I have an obligation to share the realities of farm life with those far removed from agriculture. Writing for my local newspaper and coordinating an event entitled “Feast of the Fields” are two ways that I advocate for ag. I have a bachelor’s degree in Business and Ethics.