We take water for granted: Open the tap, out it flows. Hot day? Hit the pool. But America’s water supply isn’t as endless as we may think. Last year was the second hottest in Earth’s history — continuing the pattern of record-shattering heat we’ve seen over the past decade.1https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/long-term-warming-trend-continued-in-2017-nasa-noaa As the climate warms, droughts are getting more severe.2http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n1/full/nclimate2067.html?foxtrotcallback=true And across the country, most states are expecting water shortages within the decade.3 http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-430

It’s virtually impossible to overstate how much water means to our families and way of life — or how much farming can affect our water. So it may surprise you to learn that one of the best kept secrets in water conservation and quality is GMO Farming methods.

From slashing water use and making farms drought-resistant, to reducing soil erosion and agricultural runoff into nearby water sources, GMO Farming is proving there’s a better way to grow our food with less water and less pollution. And by farming with fewer resources, farmers can charge less for healthy food. Read on to see how.

Saving Our Most Precious Resource

Anyone who’s ever tried to start an herb garden or keep a houseplant alive knows it isn’t easy. Even one missed watering can be the end. Now expand that challenge to the millions of farms dotting America’s landscape, add in population growth and climate change, and you start to see why water conservation is such an urgent challenge.4 http://www.fb.org/newsroom/fast-facts

With less predictable weather comes a less stable water supply. And with a rising population comes rising demand for food. To keep up, farmers need to use water more and more efficiently — or compete for it with the same people they’re trying to feed. It’s a complex issue, and it’s why a lot of farmers are turning to GMO Farming methods to help use less water more efficiently.

How? One of the biggest ways is enabling farmers to till — or work the fields — less. Leaving the soil alone makes it healthier and more resilient, absorbing more water and holding onto it longer.5http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095633915300630

Ever wish that houseplant could survive more than two days without a watering? That’s basically what GMO Farming does for our water use.

Don’t Drink the Water!

Even if you’ve never taken a family fishing trip, won’t set foot in a kayak for fear it’ll flip over and refuse to dip a toe in the local swimming hole, the health of our nation’s waterways has a direct impact on you and your family’s health.

Unfortunately, farms are among the top sources of pollution in the waterways we rely on for drinking water.9 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969713008474  

Here’s why. When you have to till, scraping and digging across the field to help keep weeds down — like with traditional farming methods — the soil suffers. That makes it easier for fertilizers and pesticides to escape through erosion and runoff, contaminating nearby groundwater.

Using GMO Farming methods, farmers can till a lot less — if they have to till at all10 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095633915300630 — which is why they’re able to increase soil health, reduce erosion and cut herbicide runoff by 70 percent.11 https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publication/?seqNo115=68911 And that makes a big difference.

Source: 12https://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publication/?seqNo115=68911

Preparing Our Kids For a Drier Future

Thirty years in, the GMO debate is now dominated largely by debunked myths that play to the fears of people with legitimate concerns but outdated information. And what can still be hard to see is that advanced farming methods that use fewer natural resources matter as much to our kids today as they do to future generations.

Weather records already show that droughts have been on the rise since 1970. By 2025, the best estimates predict that nearly 2 billion people will be living in areas with “absolute water scarcity.”13 http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/52/download/isaaa-brief-52-2016.pdf And here in the U.S. most states expect water shortages within the next six years.14 http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-430

For our children’s sake, we need to be ready. With GMO Farming, we can be. All plants lose water as it evaporates from their leaves. Farmers can now grow corn that holds onto 175 percent more water by reducing that evaporation — producing healthy crops even in drought conditions.15 http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/52/download/isaaa-brief-52-2016.pdf

Drought Map of the US in July, 2012 — one of the hottest summers since the Dust Bowl. 16 http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

Farming for the Future

It doesn’t take an environmental science degree to see that GMO Farming methods can help solve a lot of problems we’re facing today, and even greater challenges our kids will face tomorrow.

Whether it’s slashing agricultural water use, making sustainable food more affordable, or keeping our water sources clean, one thing is clear: GMO Farming is about more than our food — it’s about our future.

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A Fresh Look, Inc. A family farmer-led non-profit