Chapter 5. A Glowing Trend
Unlike many of his generational peers, Glowing Plant chief scientific officer Kyle Taylor was never put off by genetically modified organism (GMO) crops. On the contrary: Kansas-born and bred, cutting-edge agriculture was as natural to him as the torrid summers and frigid winters of the southern plains.
“GMO corn first hit the market while I was still in high school,” says Taylor, “And I have to admit I was fascinated by it. It was Roundup resistant, meaning that you could spray it with the most commonly used herbicide in commercial agriculture and it would remain unaffected. I found that really profound, a breakthrough.”
Agribusiness felt the same way. Roundup (generically, glyphosate) is relatively benign as commercial herbicides go (compared to 2, 4-D and Paraquat, anyway): it binds to soil so migration to waterways is minimal, and it generally degrades quickly. Roundup-resistant corn—and later, resistant soybeans—ushered in the era of no-till agriculture. Farmers no longer had to cultivate between their rows for weed control; they could spray right alongside their standing crops without affecting them. This bolstered profits, and it also had environmental upsides: fewer passes through the fields with heavy farming equipment meant a big drop in fossil fuel consumption and significantly reduced atmospheric carbon emissions. Less cultivation also meant less erosion because the topsoil wasn’t disturbed and exposed to rain and wind.