The Leguees – Jake and his wife, his sister and his parents – grow wheat, canola, peas, lentils, soybeans, and flax on a 12,000 acre farm near Filmore, Saskatchewan. Jake is also a blogger and a tweeter, sharing his farm life at southsaskfarmer.com.
For the last 15 years, the Leguees have been growing genetically modified (GM) canola, which makes up one third of all their crops, and five years ago, they also started growing GM soybeans. The reason for choosing GM is simple, says Jake – they wouldn’t have a crop if they didn’t, because of all the weeds.
“The herbicide tolerance of the GMO canola lets us use herbicides on the crop to control the weeds in our area,” he explains. “If we were to grow conventional canola, our weed control options would be so limited, we wouldn’t be growing it. We wouldn’t have success with canola without GM.”
The Leguees also grow GM soybeans because they offer similar benefits, which are especially important given Saskatchewan’s relatively short growing season for soybeans. There are no GM varieties for the other crops the Leguees grow; if there were, they’d be growing those too, without hesitation.
“I’m firmly on the side of how safe these crops are. We’ve been growing and eating them for a long time,” he says. “Our land is one of our most precious resources and as farmers, we wouldn’t grow GM crops or eat them if we thought it would do harm.”
The science is backing up farmers like him, he adds, pointing to a recent study by the University of California-Davis that found no impacts from GMOs on the more than 100 billion animals that have consumed GMO feed since its introduction in 1996.
The misinformation about GM is one of the reasons Leguee started his blog two years ago.
“I want to help people understand why it is that we do the things we do on our farm and what it’s like to farm as a career,” he says. “I won’t convince everyone, but I want to give input to the people who are undecided and who don’t have access to credible information.”