US farmers say GM crops help reduce inputs and enhance conservation

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The majority of US farmers and ranchers indicate biotechnology and GMO crops as an important solution in helping raise crops more efficiently, according to new survey results from the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). With technology shaping today’s farms, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are one tool in a farmer’s toolbox to enhance production and grow and raise our food supply more sustainably.

Over 280 farmers across the United States were surveyed about their attitudes toward GMO crops. They were asked to weigh in on a range of topics regarding the impact of GMO technology on the environment, pesticide use, and yields, among others.

Findings conclude that farmers believe biotechnology helps raise crops more efficiently, and that the environment and sustainability practices will suffer if GMO technology utilization is reduced in crop production in the future. Seventy-eight (78%) percent of farmers foresee increased environmental impacts—including an increase in water usage and application of pesticides—if GMO seeds were not to be available to them as a choice in crop production.

When asked about farmers’ ability to lessen their environmental footprint, 98 percent of those polled ranked GMO seeds at the top of their list. Additional survey findings include:

Pesticide Use/Crop Inputs: When asked about the reason for using biotechnology when raising crops, most farmers indicated GMO seeds allow them to minimize pesticide/herbicide usage (87%).
Sustainability: Three quarters (78%) of farmers also expressed being able to engage in advanced farming practices, such as conservation tillage.
Another two-thirds (64%) of farmers also believe GMO seeds allow for efficient management of resources, specifically, fuel, time and less wear-and-tear on their equipment.
Yields: Many farmers believe GMO seeds produce a higher yield (69%). This finding may also have an impact on why many farmers believe GMO seeds work best for their particular farm and region in enhancing productivity (65%).

“With GMOs and advances in agricultural technology, we’re utilizing our resources much more precisely today and have pinpoint accuracy when applying fertilizer, nitrogen and chemical applications. This is especially important on my farm in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Chip Bowling, vice chairman of USFRA and third-generation farmer. “The farmers’ perspective in the survey findings are a direct indication of how important genetic engineering technology is for the environment and our food supply, and how it benefits farmers and consumers alike.”

This most recent farmer survey follows USFRA’s September 2016 annual Perception Benchmark Study, which measured consumer opinions about agriculture, including attitudes toward environmental sustainability, GMOs and technology. Approximately half of the Consumer Food Connectors, or men and women surveyed between the ages of 21—65 (with no personal connections to farming), attributed increased yields and increased efficiency to the use of advanced technology on farms and ranches. While technology on the farm was perceived positively, only 11 percent of this group found GMOs favorable.

“As an organization that supports all farmers and their choice to plant and grow conventional crops, genetically modified crops, organic crops, or any combination, we believe in sustainability and technology to continually improve our farms for future generations,” said Randy Krotz, USFRA CEO. “Our research shows the continued need for agriculture to inform today’s consumer about the merits and benefits of GMOs and other technologies, while dispelling any misconceptions about negative impacts to human health and the environment.”

The survey was conducted online from October 11-26, 2016, among a sample of 282 farmers, 18 years of age and older, living in the US. The margin of error for this study is +/-5.84 % at a 95% confidence level. Of the 282 farmers polled, 92% have been using GMO seeds for 10 or more years, and grow a variety of crops, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat and cotton.

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