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Farming is one of the most difficult ways to earn a living. You'd think that with all the innovations mankind has developed over the centuries, we could make farmers' lives easier. But as it turns out, sometimes miracles of modern science make things tougher. Literally.

Take genetically modified organisms (GMO) for instance. For now, let's ignore the controversy over its safety, usefulness and ethical issues. The main issue for those guys actually growing and harvesting the stuff is much more practical. As it turns out, corn modified to stand tall and tough against pests is also wreaking havoc on tractor tires.

Mark Newhall of Farm Show Magazine tells American Public Media's Marketplace that after the stalks are cut during harvest, the leftover stubs are like "having a field of little spears."

So instead of tractor tires lasting the usual five to six years, they're getting chewed up after just one or two years. One tractor tire can cost thousands of dollars, and some tractors have as many as eight tires.

How does a modern farmer fight back against a genetically modified enemy intent on destroying the very thing his business rides on? The same way our military defends against its enemies: Kevlar. While these augmented tractor tires can't be cheap, they should at least outlast their thin-skinned counterparts.

The use of Kevlar in tires might seem extravagant, but in fact it's very appropriate. The material was invented in 1964 by DuPont during its search for a strong, lightweight material for, you guessed it, tires.

Take a listen to Marketplace's story with the player below.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      Autoblogist
      • 2 Years Ago
      I heard Monsanto makes Round Up for tires, you just have to buy their tires every year............
        rstonnerdd
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Autoblogist
        . . . .and you are not allowed to pu them on another tractor or save any of the treads unless you first sign an agreement and pay royalities . . .
        Jerny James
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Autoblogist
        What I heard about Monsanto was, they actually the worst company in 2011 according to this article (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/31/monsanto-worst-company-of-2011.aspx) it's because of their GMO works
      stphinkle
      • 2 Years Ago
      Easy, go organic and farm non-GMO crops. They are safer, healthier, and his tractors tires will last longer!
      lasertekk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Send the bill to Monsanto, they're the ones who created the Frankencorn.
      IBx27
      • 2 Years Ago
      The best solution is to get rid of modified corn and all the subsidized crap that comes from it like corn syrup. Food will be slightly more expensive but we won't have nearly as many cases of diabetes chewing away at our money, food will taste better, and we'll be able to stop being one of the least healthy nations in the world.
        MX
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IBx27
        I am a type 1 diabetic and you don't know what you are talking about. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease and has nothing to do with what you eat. BTW I am 5' 8" and 145 pounds.
          TsarBomba
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MX
          He is talking about type 2 Diabetes which makes up about 90% of diabetic cases (the other 10% being type 1). If you do some research you'll find that the US suffers more from this condition than just about any other country. There have been many case studies linking HFCS with diabetic conditions.
          midworken
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MX
          TsarBomba: Correlation does not mean causation. The rise in Type II Diabetes is caused by an unhealthier diet overall, and not just one food ingredient.
          Zoom
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MX
          dont argue against the ignorati. spewing out facts will do nothing to shut them up.
        Jason Alan Sipes
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IBx27
        Actually genetically altered food tastes better, is safer to eat, grows more abundant and grows in more places than normal plants. I agree that corn syrup is way overused but just stopping GMO crops will not stop corn syrup.
          Drakkon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason Alan Sipes
          Do you only eat food that comes wrapped in cardboard or plastic wrap? I have to chase my son out of the tomatoes we grow or the rest of the family won't get any. Don't get me started on the taste and quality of the eggs we get from our own chickens. Most people don't actually know what 'real' food tastes like any more...
          Jason Alan Sipes
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason Alan Sipes
          The pure ignorance with the disagrees is dumb founding, if it wasn't for genetically altered crops Africa, India and China would have deaths from starvation at 10x the current rate. In fact if all the food on Earth was created under the current ideals of organic farming than 2 billion people would have to die from starvation.
      ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why don't they just use steel tracks instead?
        erjhe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ken
        There's a variety of reasons: Steel tracks damage the public roads farmers must use to move equipment. -Steel tracks ride rough on hard surfaces leading to driver discomfort and potential machine damage. -Steel tracks are generally very noisy. -Steel tracks may have a higher initial cost or higher repair costs (speculation on my part)
          rsdds1958
          • 2 Years Ago
          @erjhe
          Steel tracks or tires also cause serious compaction of the soil, making planting more difficult and the plants have to work harder to ger roots going in compacted earth..
      mchlrus1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sorry I buy from Trader Joe's. The food is so much better, and I can get decent prices, too. The biggest difference between organic and non organic food I found was cinnamon. Buy organic!
        S.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mchlrus1
        Thank you for sharing something that nobody cares about...
      Harold O
      • 2 Years Ago
      More 'unintended consequences' ! Well if the stalks are so tough maybe someone will use the fibers fo make a stronger fiber composite such as for MDF in home construction. Another problem caused by the Global Warming scam !
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Harold O
        Awesome -- I love how the sweetener used in sodas is derived from corn. Why not make my house from corn too?!!
        Zoom
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Harold O
        ignorati example number one. see above.
      darkness
      • 2 Years Ago
      100% Obamas fault
        Autoblogist
        • 2 Years Ago
        @darkness
        Like the Afghanistan, Iraq, AIDS, Vietnam, WWII, the Great Depression, the Spanish Inquisition....... Did I forget anything?
          Drakkon
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Autoblogist
          Bring pestilence to the innocence of the New World...
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Zoom
        • 2 Years Ago
        amen. next up will be the medical industry figuring out ways to coat your stomach in kevlar so you can eat this crap.
          RudyH
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Zoom
          It's kinda funny, farmers need to spend more for GMO corn and therefore need to spend more for tractor tires...then you have other negative affects which are much like drug commercials. OR, you can do it like farmers have been doing it for decades before hand... Sorry to start a politics debate
      Katie
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hi Chris, Great article! Could you please send me your email address? I'm katie.sheppet@edelman.com - the link to your email opens an email that's blank in the 'to' line. Thanks, Katie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Katie
        [blocked]
          Jeff Elkins
          • 2 Years Ago
          No, she's right. I don't know why she wants to contact him, but there's a link on his posts page that doesn't preload the "mailto:" Katie, he's on Linkedin (results of one quick search): http://www.linkedin.com/pub/chris-tutor/7/417/b61
      e46mike
      • 2 Years Ago
      8 tires? Some Case IH Steigers have as many as 12 and there are a few Big Buds out there with 16 on them.
      Making11s
      • 2 Years Ago
      I heard this story on KPCC. Interesting stuff...
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