Study linking glyphosate to autism (in mice) actually supports the safety of glyphosate

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has both glyphosate and autism in the title, and so it is sure to re-ignite a firestorm around the world’s most widely used herbicide. The abstract of the article states that the authors “found ASD-like behavioral abnormalities in juvenile offspring after maternal exposure to high levels of formulated glyphosate.” [emphasis mine] One notable bit of information that is not in the title or the abstract is the …

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How much dicamba is required to injure soybeans?

Yesterday, I posted some photos to twitter, and have been asked to provide a little bit of context. My goal with these photos was not to “raise an alarm” – I was simply trying to provide a visual illustration of how susceptible soybean plants are to the herbicide dicamba. Recently, I published a meta-analysis of published literature on this topic. In that paper, I estimated the amount of dicamba required to cause both yield loss and visible injury symptoms. The …

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Have genetically engineered herbicide-resistant crops increased or decreased herbicide use?

It’s a simple question. And at first glance it seems like there should be a simple answer to this simple question. We have planted millions of acres of genetically-engineered (GE) crops, a vast majority of which are resistant to herbicides. In the U.S., we’ve collected lots of herbicide sales and usage data, spanning the entire time period when GE herbicide-resistant crops went from non-existent to dominating the landscape. So we should be able to simply look at the herbicide data before …

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Glyphosate and cancer – revisited

Recently, a jury in San Francisco, California recommended that Monsanto be forced to pay $289 million to a man who has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was a pretty stunning result from a court case that has been watched very closely. I haven’t read the court transcripts, and I don’t know what the jury was told or what was withheld from them. And I have no desire to make accusations that either side was acting in bad faith. So …

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Dicamba-Resistant Crop Timeline

Below is a non-exhaustive timeline of dicamba and dicamba-resistant soybean. I’ll add to it and update it as needed, perhaps with interesting information or current status updates. I’ve mostly put it together for my use in teaching/extension, but thought I’d post it here in case it is useful to others. 1958 Dicamba was discovered and first described. 1967 Dicamba was first registered for use under the trade name ‘Banvel’. It was widely used over the next 30 years to control …

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Soybean Response to Dicamba: A Meta-Analysis

UPDATE: This article has now been published in Weed Technology. The open access, formatted and copy-edited article is available here: Kniss AR. Soybean Response to Dicamba: A Meta-Analysis. (2018) Weed Technology. 32:507-512. doi: 10.1017/wet.2018.74  Abstract. A meta-analysis of 11 previously published field studies was conducted with the objectives to 1) estimate the no observable effects dose (NOED) for dicamba on susceptible soybean; 2) evaluate available evidence for hormesis, or increased soybean yield in response to low doses of dicamba; 3) …

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What does a pesticide taste like?

I honestly can’t believe I just typed that title. But here we are. The notorious Gilles-Eric Seralini published a paper recently called “The Taste of Pesticides in Wines.” As a part of the study, people were asked to choose a preference between organic and conventional wines. Okay, fine. But then the participants were given glasses of water, some of which were spiked with pesticides at doses purportedly found in bottles of wine. This is bizarre on so many levels. For …

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GMOs and Herbicides: it’s complicated

Herbicide use patterns in the US have changed a lot over the last 25 years. Depending on who you talk to, those changes are either proof that modern American agriculture will feed the world with fewer inputs, or proof that the US agricultural system is irreparably broken. There seems to be no middle ground in this discussion. Herbicide use is especially controversial when discussed in the context of genetically engineered crops (often called GMOs, for genetically modified organisms). The most …

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The tiresome discussion of initial GMO expectations

A new article in the New York Times has questioned the benefits associated with genetically engineered crops (which I’ll call GMOs for brevity). The response to the article has been pretty predictable; folks who don’t like GMOs are circulating it to say “I told you so.” And ag-twitter has exploded with claims that the New York Times is biased against the technology. The article makes some reasonable points that GMO crops are not a ‘silver bullet’ cure all technology. But almost any …

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Is the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) better than nothing?

This post is probably more technical than most that I write, but it is something that I think needs to be written. I actually debated submitting a short article to a peer reviewed journal, but really didn’t want to wait the months to a year that would require before it saw the light of day. So I’m putting the nuts and bolts here, and perhaps someday I’ll submit some version of this analysis to a journal where “serious academics” can read it. …

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