My Way of Thinking: Snow, travel and GM foods

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Rich Keller, AgProfessional MagazineRich Keller Did winter fly past as fast for you as it did me? This is even though the Kansas City area received more snowfall than in recent history. But did the snow start to break the hold of the 2012 drought so that good crops are grown in 2013?

Those 7-inch to 10-inch snowfalls still only amount to less than one inch of moisture each, and the big question is how much snow melt soaked into the ground instead of running off. I haven’t heard the estimates of the soak in for Kansas City soils or other parts of the upper Midwest. Those soil moisture values will probably have been issued by the time you are reading this, and if you’ve been checking our website, you’ll have the latest estimates.

The old adage is that time flies when you are busy. It seems that ag professionals were quite busy gathering information and learning about the latest technology this winter.

I definitely had plenty of meetings to attend, and luckily I avoided running into bad weather and actually was away from home when much of the worst weather hit Kansas City. That always upsets my wife. To appease her, we planned to take a vacation in Florida, but then I got the opportunity to participate in a media tour in Iceland. My wife actually was quick to agree for me to cancel our Florida trip and let me travel to Iceland, leaving her home.

A report that explains the potential for agricultural company investment in Iceland and the powering of any business operation through inexpensive geothermal energy is in this issue of AgProfessional. I took Kansas City weather with me as the biggest blizzard to hit the capitol city of Reykjavik in 10 years occurred the day after I arrived. Winds had to be gusting to 70 miles per hour, although conversion from metric to English measurement is one of my math weaknesses. Just like in Kansas City, the day after the blizzard the temperature was back to above freezing during the day. But wind kept blowing, which appears to be common, just not to the extreme of the blizzard.

Controlled growing of genetically modified barley, which the founder of a biotech genetics company, claimed is a “pristine” crop for pharmaceuticals production, was a highlight of the trip for me. This is not to say that GM modified foods are highly accepted in Iceland, but skin care products from GM-barley-produced proteins are well accepted from Orf Genetics—25 percent of women older than 30 are using the product.

I appreciate populations of the world accepting GM products instead of condemning them. There is no nation that has accepted GM/biotech crops as well as the U.S.

But the effort to eliminate or limit GM crops in the U.S. never stops. The war to require GM/biotech food to be labeled appears to be a non-ending effort by activists in the U.S. Hawaii’s legislature tabled a proposal to have a referendum on such labeling at the end of March.

California’s proposed labeling referendum was defeated last fall, and activists are trying to bring such labeling to a public vote in several other states.

A lot of effort and money was required to defeat the ballot initiative in California. We should expect activists that are showing resolve to require the labeling to continue their effort with a passion like we’ve not seen previously because they are effectively recruiting more and more soccer moms to join the fray.

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