Last month, Vermont became the first state to require labeling of genetically engineered foods, also known as GMOs. The law won’t take effect until July 1, 2016 — if it ever happens. A federal bill introduced recently would ban states from passing such laws, and Vermont is preparing for a battle in court with the food industry.
But with Maine and Connecticut having passed similar laws, and GMO labeling legislation pending in 29 other states, it’s clear there’s a market for non-GMO crops.
In Illinois, no-tiller Allen Berry receives a premium for his non-GMO corn and soybean, with soybeans seeing a premium as high as $1.60 per bushel. He doesn’t have a problem with GMO labeling because he feels the consumer’s choice should dictate the market.
“It has GMOs in it? Say so on the label,” Berry says. “If the consumer wants to buy it they buy it, and if they don’t, they don’t.
“If we do have a lot of consumers who want to buy non-GMO food and they’re willing to pay a premium, we can grow it and get a premium.”
Kansas no-tiller Gail Fuller switched back to growing non-GMOs a couple of years ago after experiencing glyphosate resistance. While he hasn’t sold his crops for a premium yet, he knows the market is there. He says he’s getting calls from companies “all over the country” looking for growers with any non-GMO crops on hand.
Regardless of the legal wrangling, it’s clear that a good number of consumers want non-GMO crops and no-tillers can capitalize on that. Are you no-tilling non-GMO corn or soybeans? Send me an e-mail and let me know how you’re making it work.
If you’re not growing non-GMOs but think it may be a good production change, be on the lookout for our August edition of Conservation Tillage Guide, where we’ll be sharing the ins and outs and pros and cons of non-GMO production in a no-till system.