Monday, June 17, 2013

Squirrels Prefer Organic Over GMO Corn

Paul Fonder had heard about experiments showing that when given the choice animals will prefer non-GMO over GMO corn.

After reading an article from the May 2008 issue of The Organic & Non-GMO Report, “Mice eat farmer’s non-GM corn, ignore GM,” Fonder decided to try an experiment himself.

“I was curious to see what kind of corn squirrels would favor,” said Fonder, an organic dairy farmer in Big Stone City, South Dakota.

Squirrel always ate organic

Last fall, Fonder conducted an experiment in his backyard. He built a squirrel feeder and put genetically modified corn fresh from a neighbor’s field on one post and one-year-old organic corn on the other.

The squirrels ate the organic corn first. “You would expect squirrels to prefer fresh corn over corn that’s a year old, but they totally preferred the organic corn,” Fonder said.

Fonder repeated the experiment five times, using different varieties of organic and GM corn. Each time the squirrels ate the organic corn. They would eventually eat the GMO corn but only after the organic corn was gone.

“The squirrel could have switched to GMO, but it didn’t,” he said. “It knew it was different.”

Fonder posted his findings on Twitter and Facebook, and his experiment went viral, receiving 20,000 Facebook likes.

A representative from Pioneer Hi-Bred seed company even contacted Fonder and suggested that a more accurate test would be to use the same varieties of non-GMO and GMO corn.

Transitioned to organic dairy production

Fonder, his brother, and four cousins transitioned to organic dairy production in 2003. “We got tired of riding the conventional milk roller coaster and using the chemicals,” he said.

Other farmers tried to discourage Fonder from going organic. “We told ourselves that if others can do it we can too,” he said. “All the things people try to scare you with about weeds and health (problems) of cows (with organic farming), it’s not true.”

Fonder and his family sell milk to Organic Valley. “Organic Valley has been good to us and is real good about educating farmers,” he says. “They are a wonderful co-op to work with.”

Fonder still finds his experiment hard to believe and hopes it contributes to greater awareness of GMO the risks. “It’s one thing to read about it; it’s another to see it. I just want to educate people. Monsanto has something to hide,” he says.

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