GM Crops Saving Farm Economy from Drought

Published October 1, 2006

An August 11 federal government crop report shows biotechnology is saving the Midwestern farm economy from devastation in the wake of this summer’s prolonged drought.

The report projects 10.98 billion bushels of corn production this year, up from 10.74 billion bushels projected in the federal government’s July forecast. The report also projects a soybean crop that will come within 5 percent of last year’s record. The August forecast for the two crops is striking because severe drought ravaged the Midwest between the July and August forecasts.

“The biotechnology has improved corn and soybeans to be able to withstand some of the Mother Nature pressures that we have gotten,” said Kevin Dahlman, president of Dahlco Seeds in Cokato, Minnesota. Crop losses due to a similar drought would have been substantial as recently as a decade ago, Dahlman added.

Genetically enhanced seeds account for 61 percent of this year’s corn crop and 89 percent of this year’s soybean crop.

“If we look at what scientists in the United States and elsewhere have already developed, and what they currently are developing in the research pipeline, it is genuinely remarkable,” said Gregory Conko, director of food safety policy at the Washington, DC-based Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“We have to be cautiously optimistic, though, since developing a product that works is only half the battle,” Conko warned. “All around the world, important biotech advances are being stymied by bad regulation and opposition by radical greens.”

James M. Taylor

For more information …

“Crop report: Corn outlook improves despite heat, drought,” Bismarck Tribune, August 12, 2006,

“Corn, soybean production forecasts surprising,” Southeast Farm Press, August 18, 2006,

“Biotech Seeds Helping U.S. Crops Survive Heat, Analysts Say,” Bloomberg News, August 10, 2006,