Could the Use Of GMOs Help Our Environment?

We are very fortunate to live close to our elementary school and I pick up my daughters after school every day. We walk in any kind of weather; rain, snow or shine. As we walk, we pass a long line of cars waiting for children to come out the doors when the bell rings and–this annoys me–their engines are running the entire time. All I can think about are those noxious fumes going into the air.

walking to school

Ever since my parents bought me my first copy of Ranger Rick, I’ve been interested in preserving our environment. So it was very interesting to me when I learned that organic farming, something we think is good for the environment, actually has a larger carbon footprint than farmers who use genetically modified crops. Why? The simple explanation is that organic farmers need to go over their fields more often to till up weeds.

Sometimes, even when we try to make the right choices, we don’t completely understand the environmental impact our choices have. Yes, organic farming is good for the environment because it uses more natural pesticides and herbicides, but it also uses more gas to run the tractors over the fields more often. Every time a farmer tills the ground, nutrients and water are released into the air. Tilling can also lead to water run-off and fertilizers may enter the water system. Even natural fertilizers can cause problems in our waterways. Nitrogen and phosphorus that help crops grow also cause algae to grow. The algal bloom in Lake Erie last summer affected the drinking water of thousands of people.

Many farmers are protecting our environment, the soil and the water by using the no-till method. Genetically modified crops enable farmers to use this method. As I research genetically modified crops, I have become more excited about the technology and science behind GMOs. It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it? How can I consider myself to be an environmentalist and also be excited about the possibilities GMOs offer?

Field Mom Corn Acre

On Saturday, I have the amazing opportunity to visit Monsanto, a company well-known (and vilified) for producing GMO products. One of the questions I will be asking is how GMOs affect the environment.

I’m glad we live in a place where we have a variety of farms and so many food choices. Do I buy organic food? Not usually. When I gave up my career to stay at home with my children, I also became very budget conscious. Organic foods usually don’t fit into that budget. Part of the luxury of working part time, however, is being able to buy less processed food and make more meals from scratch.

Do I support your choice to buy organic food? Absolutely! I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. It’s good to be skeptical and to search for answers. I believe that the key word here is to search, and not rely on just one source or one point of view. In the next few farming posts, I’ll tell you about my search process, including my trip to Monsanto.

Be honest with me. What do you think about GMOs? What questions do you have about GMOs?


Field Mom Ambassador



In our discussion about organic foods and GMOs, please be respectful. Any comment that is inappropriate or inflammatory may be removed.


Baby Animals

Spring is in the air! Many times we associate spring with baby animals being born. While this is certainly true out in the wild, baby animals are born year round on the farm!

During my time as a Field Mom, I had the opportunity to see both calves and piglets. I know you’ve seen this photo before, but I’m showing you again because it’s just so cute! (I’m talking about the piglet, not me, dressed as I am in my special cap and overalls!)

holding piglet

Behind me are farrowing stalls that modern pig farmers use to keep the mom and baby pigs safe and comfortable. These stalls have become very controversial because the sows are unable to freely move around. The reasoning behind these stalls are varied. Sows are very aggressive and fight over food. A younger sow may be attacked and be unable to eat in a group pen because of sow “bullies.” Sows are also notorious for lying on their piglets and crushing them. Not a very maternal thing to do, is it?

The sows I observed did seem content. It is hard to understand how pigs can be content when they are confined in this manner. While gestation and farrowing stalls seem cruel, I’m not a pig farmer. I haven’t cared for sows day in and day out and I don’t know much about their natural behavior. I do know from talking directly with pig farmers that they want what’s best for their animals and are always looking for better ways to take care of them.

There is a great video on Watch Us Grow that explains more about the use of pig gestation and farrowing stalls. If you’d like to know more about modern pig farms, I encourage you to go watch.

Field Mom Ambassador