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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Soybean Response to Dicamba: A Meta-Analysis

(updated 23-Aug-2018 – version of the manuscript accepted for publication in Weed Technology) 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) estimate the dose of dicamba likely to cause measurable soybean yield loss under field conditions; and 4) quantify the relationship between …

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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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New study confirms herbicide use changed after adoption of GMO corn and soybean 

But, once again, we are left to wonder whether that’s good or bad.  A new paper was just published in the journal Science Advances that analyzes pesticide use data for farmers in the U.S. between 1998 and 2011. The authors (Edward Perry et al.) are currently agricultural economists at four different universities (Kansas State, Virginia, Michigan State, and Iowa State). Their goal was to determine if pesticide use differed between farmers using GMO varieties and farmers who did not use GMO varieties. Overall, …

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Herbicide resistance predates herbicides by over 80 years

The Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) recently posted a press release headlined “WSSA Scientists Say Herbicide Resistance Predates Genetically Engineered Crops by 40 Years.” From the WSSA release: You may think weeds resistant to herbicides are a new phenomenon linked to the overuse of glyphosate in genetically engineered crops, but according to the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) nothing could be further from the truth. This year marks only the 20thanniversary of glyphosate-resistant crops, while next year will mark the 60th anniversary …

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Spraying a herbicide study (video)

I took this video a couple weeks ago with a GoPro attached to our small-plot research sprayer. I thought I’d post it here in case anyone was interested in how we apply herbicides for our research. We also use a lot of hand equipment, but this rig works great for our larger studies (4 acres in this particular trial). A commercial rig could cover 4 acres in just a few minutes, but it took us about 6 hours to do …

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The role of reflected light quality in crop-weed interactions

This post is a slightly edited excerpt from an article we wrote for Reflections magazine. Plants need light – this is one of the first biology lessons children learn in school. Plants convert sunlight into forms of energy the plant can use to grow. Nearly everything humans eat is derived in some way from photosynthesis, whether the tomato picked from a garden or a ribeye steak that once grazed on grass. Sunlight seems like a plentiful enough resource, but there’s …

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Want to reduce herbicide resistance? Spray more herbicides!

A while ago, I wrote a post summarizing the pros and cons of using a regulatory framework to slow the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds. As a part of that post, I suggested there exists a “resistance management paradox.” In a nutshell, to reduce the problem of herbicide resistant weeds, one important strategy may be to actually use more herbicide. From my previous post: “The only way to assuredly prevent herbicide resistance from evolving is never to apply the herbicide; but if we are going to …

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