GMO CROPS: ITS BIGGER THAN YOU

Of course, when you’re researching GMO crops you are most concerned with their safety for your family.  But maybe, their availability is bigger than you, bigger than your family, bigger than all of us.

GMO crops are grown around the world by approximately 18 million farmers, most of them in developing countries.  In total, more than 75 countries import, grow and/or research GMOs.  In 2016, 26 countries planted GMO crops.

GMO crops developing countriesGrowing GMO crops provides significant benefits to farmers around the world.  GMO crops increase their yield and lower their costs to farm.  This makes GMOs an important part of alleviating poverty for millions of poor farmers and farm families around the world (equaling approximately 65 million people total).

PG Economics estimates that farmers in developing countries received $3.45 for each dollar invested in genetically engineered crop seeds in 2015.

Use this guide to learn where GMOs are being grown and reviewed for approval around the world.

WORRIED ABOUT GMO FOODS?

Stop.

There are only 10 genetically modified crops available todayThey are alfalfa, apples, canola, corn (field and sweet), cotton, papaya, potatoes, soybeans, squash and sugar beets.

These crops have been genetically modified to express a positive characteristic that makes the crop easier to manage.  An example of these would be improved insect resistance.

Many of these crops are then used as processed ingredients, like sugar or cornstarch.  The sugar or cornstarch might then be included in food products at your local grocery store.  The only way to eat a GMO directly would be if your store includes varieties of papaya, potatoes, squash, sweet corn or apples in their produce aisle.

The list below identifies the genetic traits expressed and uses of the 10 GMO crops approved in the U.S.

GMOs in the U.S.

Although most of these GMO crops are edited for herbicide tolerance and/or insect resistance, this does not mean that the plant cells actually make herbicides or release chemicals.

Many of these crops produce a protein that is indigestible to insects.  When an insect feasts on the plant, it cannot digest the protein and it dies.  Humans CAN digest this protein, so the genetic mutation has zero impact to humans.

UNDERSTANDING HOW IMPORTERS VALUE U.S. CORN

The global corn market is increasingly competitive.  To adequately compete, U.S. corn has to be available, priced right compared to other corn, and of good quality.  This isn’t so different from how you chose one pair of shoes over another, is it?

To give the U.S. an advantage, we attempt to provide good information about the quality of our corn crop each year.  Because it’s usually very good, this information helps us compete with other countries selling corn to the global market.

The USDA also grades our corn.  You can see the requirements of each grade in the graphic above.  The general idea is that heavier corn with no heat damage is the higher grades.

In 2018, for the corn just now coming out of the field, we might expect higher grades because the weather has naturally dried out the corn and farmers likely will not have to artificially dry the grain in a dryer.  This means, less heat damage.  However, because the year was a pretty dry year, the weight of the corn might not be as heavy due to a lack of moisture.

It’s a balancing act to deliver the most perfect corn you can to your first purchaser.  But even after you’ve delivered perfect number 1 corn, the additional handling needed to get it to an overseas market might reduce the corn quality.

Farmers keep trying to raise perfect quality corn!  Some factors are outside their control, but they understand that perfect corn demands premium prices!

HOW MUCH CORN DO WE GROW AND WHAT’S IT WORTH?

Although corn (or maize, as it’s known throughout much of the world) is grown in nearly all 50 states, production is primarily concentrated in the northern and Midwestern states—collectively known as the U.S. Corn Belt.

Farmers in the Corn Belt grew quite a bit of corn in 2017 – enough to satisfy some pretty large markets with corn to spare!  Corn prices are low right now because farmers keep growing a lot of corn and the market demand isn’t keeping up.  U.S. policies about ethanol and trade are part of that impact.

For the market year September 2016 – July 2017, farmers sold Mexico 21.7 million bushels of corn for just over $6 billion.  They also sold 15.8 million bushels to Japan for $5.5 billion and 8.1 million bushels to South Korea for $2.8 billion.  These three countries are our largest corn importers.

Farmers are proud of the corn they grow and the economic activity they spur for our country.  With these numbers, who wouldn’t be?

HALLOWEEN AND POPCORN ARE THE PERFECT COMBO!

Thank you to A Spicy Perspective for this oh-so-yummy recipe using Illinois’s state snack!

Halloween Popcorn Mix

Candy coated party popcorn mixed with favorite Halloween candies!

Ingredients:

12 ounces purple candy melts
14 cup popped popcorn (from 1/2 cups kernels)
11 ounces candy pumpkins
1 cup green chocolate coated candies
1 cup candy corns
3 tablespoons Halloween sprinkles
salt

Directions:

  1. Place the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl.  Cook for 30 seconds.  Stir and repeat, until smooth.
  2. Place the popcorn on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Thoroughly salt the popcorn.  Then pour the melted candy over the top and stir to coat.  Once coated, apply the sprinkles.
  3. Allow the popcorn to dry.  Then break apart and toss in the candy.
  4. Store in an air tight container until ready to serve.