Can Farmers Choose What Seeds to Grow? - Food Dialogues

Can Farmers Choose What Seeds to Grow?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions related to GMOs as many consumers believe that farmers don’t have a choice when it comes to purchasing seeds. However, farmers have many choices and are free to choose the seeds they use to grow their crops based on specific soil type on their farm, the local growing environment, market demand and other personal preferences.

Farmers can purchase non-GM conventional seeds, GM seeds or organic seeds. Many farmers choose to use GM seeds to reduce crop damage from weeds, diseases and insects, as well as adverse weather conditions such as drought. Advancements in breeding and seed technologies have allowed many farmers to maintain or improve yield while using less fertilizer, pesticides and water. In other cases, farmers have used GM seeds to save a crop, such as Hawaiian papaya that was threatened by disease.

Through their own research and by working with certified seed advisors, university extension specialists and other professional partners, farmers are in an excellent position to select the right type of seed and the proper mix of inputs to best manage their farm for both profit and environmental stewardship.

Seeds have also been patented in the United States since the 1930s. The ability of universities, seed companies and individuals to patent their developments has spurred improved products that have significantly increased agricultural productivity. Farmers are very familiar with their choices of whether or not to buy patented seeds.

GE seeds provides farmers, regardless of the size of their operations, the potential to increase productivity and profitability by planting seeds with specialized value-added traits and resistance to insects, viruses and disease.