As the world wonders how it can feed itself with the growing appetite of the new rich and the increasing population in the underdeveloped world, some nations have turned to GMO for answers. GMO promises higher yield compared to conventional crops and better resistance against bacteria and pests. But it also destroys the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who can’t afford the more expensive seeds and the chemicals it requires. Modern Farmer, which content proves more constructive than its cover gives credit for, features success stories of farmers who returned to conventional seeds after their failed venture with GMO, which benefits waned after a few years of harvests. Their move is encouraged by the growing demand for non-GMO products and supermarkets like Whole Foods that recently decided to label all its foods containing genetically modified ingredients by 2018.
This magazine also discusses other thought provoking agro issues such the possibility and dangers of agro-terrorism, as well as the over-reliance on refrigeration in the food supply chain (a case proven by the wrath of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy). Most of these contents are not highlighted on its cover, although they should. The short (500-1000 word) pieces combined mass media headline news (terrorism, Hurricane Sandy etc) and the less familiar farm issues, which could interest the lay to inform themselves with these obscure but pertinent problems. That is to say, serious readers who are expecting in-depth discussion—in the case of the GMO piece, the downside of conventional seeds and how they were resolved by the farmers who returned to them—will be disappointed. Some of the articles even leave one to wonder what the stakeholders have to say.
Then of course the magazine successfully “hipsterizes” the farming job, as its cover promises it will do. There’s a section on cool machineries (one that picks out bad grapes from the good ones), a feature on an opulent residency on a barn, and a rather informative piece on the best types of sheeps for wool, meat or milk targeted at the clueless amateur farmers. But a $1,326 Bernhard Willhelm silk dress in the fashion section could set an unrealisitically high expectation among aspiring farmers on the returns of farming.