Farmers Sour on Genetically Modified Seeds
But 86% of America's farm acres are planted with biotech crops
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2010 6:58 PM CDT
Updated Oct 9, 2010 9:07 AM CDT
In this Monday, Oct. 31, 2005 picure, a harvester works through a field of genetically modified corn on the dairy farm owned by Al Lafranchi, near Santa Rosa, Calif.   (AP)

(Newser) – Genetically-modified crops are pervasive—last year 86% of America's farm acres were planted with biotech crops—but some farmers are beginning to sour on the technology. They say that the advantages are not worth the soaring prices charged by seed giants like Monsanto: The cost of corn seed jumped 32% last year; soybean seed increased 24%. "A lot of it, to be perfectly honest, is herd mentality," John Gilbert, an Iowa farmer tells the Christian Science Monitor. "They believe Monsanto when they say it's going to yield more."

There may be more coming around to Gilbert's point of view: sales of genetically-modified seeds rose just 1% last year, the smallest increase since 2001, and many farmers refused to buy Monsanto's latest and priciest versions. A common criticism leveled at companies like Monsanto is that crop yield increases have largely been the result of advances in conventional breeding, but that those features are only available in strains sold with genetically-modified traits as well. Monsanto countered through a spokesman that the biotech traits—which deal with pest control more than yield amplification—help "by protecting yields that would have otherwise been lost due to insects and weeds."