Support Us

Walter Goldstein, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Mandaamin Institute, Inc.

W2331 Kniep Road Elkhorn, Wisconsin  53121


Dear Friend,

The Mandaamin Institute has two events open to the public. These are a field day in mid- September, showing our research plots, and a special Open House December 31st on New Year's Eve. I am writing you both to invite you to join us here (watch our website for further details) and to support our breeding program that has the potential to change our world positively into the future.

Mandaamin Institute has a vital non-for-profit research and breeding program.  We breed organic/biodynamic seed and use ancient Native American varieties to enhance the quality and sustainability of modern corn crops.

Starting in 2011, our institute built on experience and seed that I had gained from 22 years of research at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute where I served as Research Director. Since then our small team has created a corn that has the ability to both be competitive in the marketplace and solve a few very big problems. Corn by itself is very important because  it is the most productive cereal crop known to mankind.  Furthermore, it is the most-grown field crop by organic farmers in the US.  Corn is in just about every other thing Americans eat and drink.

Nearly 90% of the US corn crop is genetically engineered.  Big money is behind the genetically modified (GM) approach for multinational seed companies.  This industry has supporters in governments and universities throughout the world.  In universities, scientists are taught that corn is simply a type of genetic machine that should be altered and patented in order to reap higher profits.  We couldn’t disagree more.

This domination of the conventional approach leaves organic and non-GM corn seed and organic food in peril for 3 reasons:
  1. Organic farming methods require hardier corn plants that can withstand weeds and disease and nourish themselves without the aid of chemical inputs; however, the corn varieties commercially available to organic farmers are from the same breeding lines that were developed for high yield on conventional farms using chemical inputs.
  2. Profits for farmers are driven by high yields so the quality and taste of modern corn varieties has diminished.
  3. Genetically modified pollen drifts onto non-GM corn and contaminates it.
It is difficult for organic farmers and consumers who want to eat non-GM food to know what they are getting. Contamination of organic corn by GM corn is a big issue for the entire organic community because it affects so many feed and food products that permeate our food chain. With financial help from government grants and foundations, and in cooperation with USDA, universities, and private breeders, Mandaamin has used classical breeding methods to resolve problems in the following ways:

  • We are improving both yellow and white field corn and sweet corn.  This corn is meant for feeding chickens, pigs, cows, and for making flour, corn bread, tortillas, chips, polenta, corn nuts, and grits.
  • We have developed corn populations, inbreds, and hybrids with enhanced nutritional value.  This includes high protein content and quality and high carotene content.  Feeding our corn to chickens causes highly-sought-after, carotene-enriched, orange yolks.
  • We are developing corn that self-prevents contamination from GM corn (cross incompatibility).
  • We are also developing corn that is highly efficient at obtaining nitrogen.  This might solve a major problem in parts of the world where people are starving due to nitrogen depleted soils
  • We are combining these three traits into corn varieties that yield and stand like normal varieties, compete well with weeds, are disease- and stress-resistant, and do well under low-input, organic conditions.
This “super corn” should have increased value for consumers whether they be animals or people.  The high quality protein we have selected for allows farmers to decrease or eliminate the use of synthetic methionine when feeding organic chickens.  Reducing synthetic methionine fed to chickens is important to consumers because it induces a natural growth hormone (IgF-1) that is associated in the human diet with higher risk of cancer.  This is the same hormone that was induced in cows by injecting them with Bovine Growth Hormone.

Cross incompatibility works to provide a strong barrier helping to prevent contamination with GM pollen.  The biological basis for this is that some corn races possess genes (Ga1, Tcb1, Ga2) that recognize whether the pollen landing on their silks has those same genes.  If that pollen does not have the same genes the plant will not allow the pollen to fertilize a seed. In conjunction with USDA and with North Carolina State University, we have been breeding those genes from ancient races into our new varieties of corn.

In 2009 I began research with other ancient races of corn that appeared to have the ability to foster cooperative relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live in its tissues and in the area around its roots.  It is probable that this trait enables the plant to get some of its nitrogen from the air.

We have been breeding this nitrogen-efficiency/nitrogen-fixing trait into modern corn varieties.  Results from our 2016 yield trials indicate that nitrogen-efficient varieties can perform well relative to normal hybrids under conditions of reduced fertilizer.

This is especially important to our world because fertilizer nitrogen is polluting our ground waters; polluting our streams, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico; and causing greenhouse gases.

As the yields of our hybrids have become competitive, we have begun working with a small seed company to get our varieties to farmers.  We are also starting a seed club to access help from farmers.  However, it will take time to develop sufficient income streams from the corn to pay for our work.

Therefore, we seek financial support from you to continue our work of combining the three traits into varieties that perform well for organic farmers.

Our breeding program costs approximately $220,000 per year and this is the absolute minimum to even have any sort of serious breeding program work.  There is still lots of work to do to secure the results we are looking for. Unfortunately, we will need more funding by the end of 2017. Money is needed to confirm our results, test our varieties, and to purchase equipment and facilities which are currently not possible.

Unfortunately, we will have used up all our funding from government and foundation sources by the end of 2017 and are seeking new funding to continue.

I am asking your help to finance the alternative future we are growing for everyone.  Donations to us are tax deductible and we would appreciate your commitment before tax season is over.

We are the positive step into the future.  Please Join Our Mission and our team, that is on the brink of making your future and our children's generation great, by donating to the Mandaamin Institute here:

 

Sincerely,

Walter Goldstein