Son of a Farmer

“Everything is connected. That bond is what keeps this Planet dancing round in poetic choreography. That connection is what keeps us all alive. What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. If we are capable of destruction, we are most certainly capable of healing. ” – Eric Herm

Eric Herm, (organic farmer, author, activist and musician) translates modern day agriculture and life through various mediums and venues in his own unique West Texas manner. With plow, pen, guitar and sarcastic wit, Herm plunges forward into a world of tumbleweeds, sandstorms, droughts, GMOs, and rural existence.

Why I stopped planting GMOs

In 2005 and 2006, I talked my Dad into planting about 1,000 acres of Roundup Ready (genetically-modified) cotton on our 6,000-acre family farm in West Texas. It was a way for us to cut back on fuel and labor. Since GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) was marketed as the way of the future, I bought in hook, line and sinker.

But one day while planting the GM seeds in 2006, I began reading the bag. It was covered with one WARNING SIGN after another. There were more disclaimers on the bag of seed than a gallon of herbicide. A asked myself, “What exactly is this stuff I’m planting?” So I began to do a little research into GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) and Monsanto.

What I discovered through ceaseless internet pages and books was that I was severely disrupting the laws of nature. This high-technology seed was injected with genes from herbicides and pesticides. Essentially, I was planting poisonous seed. I read about studies in Jeffrey Smith’s book Genetic Roulette how the GM seed/food was creating severe health issues in mammals from mice to cows. Stomach lesions, organ shrinkage, liver atrophy, higher cancer rates, weakened immune system, sterility, infertility, sudden-death syndrome (SDS), and higher rates of newborn fatalities.

I would wake up in cold sweats during the middle of the night the remainder of that 2006 season, wondering what I was doing to wildlife, pollinating insects, and unsuspecting livestock that might feed on our cotton seed. What was I doing to thousands who would use the vegetable oil from our cotton seed? What was I doing to our soil and all the microscopic organisms needed to feed it?Going into 2007, I informed my Dad I would never plant another GM seed again. He didn’t exactly embrace my stance at first. But as he watched our crops out yield all of our neighbors planting GM cotton in 2007, Dad realized we were on the right path.

Everybody eats. Every living things is impacted by this issue. We are infecting not only ourselves with GMOs, but all living creatures. As farmers, we are the caretakers of the food chain. We make the decisions that impact billions of people and countless other beings.

When three consecutive generations are fed a purely GM diet, they can no longer produce a fourth generation. Thanks to an animal’s sixth sense, they will choose natural feed over GM feed every time. But we aren’t giving them a choice in commercial dairies, feedlots and factory farms. How many farmers, ranchers and everyday consumers buy corn to feed livestock, deer, geese and other wildlife? Ninety percent of corn is now genetically modified, as is cotton, canola, soybeans and sugar beets. This only took fifteen years for billion dollar corporations like Monsanto to dominate these five commodity crops. They now have alfalfa along with experimental plots of rice and a handful of vegetable crops like squash, peppers and tomatoes.

Currently, there are over 165 million acres of GM crops in the U.S. Meanwhile, more than 50 countries across the world have banned GMOs or require labeling on food products. We have neither. Everyone is eating GM ingredients, and they don’t even know it.

I’ve seen local infrastructure in our farming community decimated due to GM crops. Seed delinting companies, grain mills and other seed-related businesses are going bankrupt because farmers no longer support them. Farmers are forced to purchase the Roundup Ready cotton seed every year due to Monsanto’s STEWARDSHIP/TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT. This agreement holds the farmer completely liable for any issues that arrive from the crop, and due to the arbitration agreement the only compensation a farmer can receive is the price he paid for the seed. Companies like Monsanto have patents on these seeds and will prosecute farmers for violating that patent whether intentional or not. Just ask our fellow farmer Percy Schmeiser of Canada. His organic canola was contaminated by neighbors planting GM canola, but that didn’t stop Monsanto from filing suit. Is this a company we want to support?

By supporting billion dollar corporations, we are destroying our local economy. About 80 percent of a farmer’s budget is dedicated to the GM seed and herbicide, which is now costing about ninety dollars per acre. A 50 lb. bag of seed now costs farmers over $350. With our natural seed, we have less than $30 per bag invested. While we take a few more trips across the field each season and spend more on labor, I sleep better at night knowing that I’m going about farming the right way. I’m still a farmer, an extension of the earth and not an extension of a chemical company trying to dominate the world’s seed supply.

I encourage farmers and consumers everywhere to boycott GM crops or biotech companies like Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow Chemical. If we’re going to preserve agriculture for the next generation, we must do so in a natural way. Don’t fall for the snake oil sales pitch. What little money you might save in a couple of years will cost you and your community much more in the short and long term.