Does the debate about genetically modified food matter?

Over at Grist, Nathanael Johnson has been writing an excellent series of pieces on genetically engineered crops, called “Panic-free GMOs.” The series as a whole has been excellent, and that is not just my opinion. Keith Kloor, another journalist who has often waded in to the GMO debate, said of Johnson’s Grist series: The overwhelming consensus judgement of science journalists is that Johnson has done a spectacular job of sifting through all the claims and counterclaims and the technical density of …

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Draft Environmental Impact Statement for 2,4-D Resistant Corn and Soybean Released

USDA-APHIS has just released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 2,4-D resistant corn and soybean. The 2,4-D resistant crops were developed by Dow AgroSciences using genetic engineering. The corn and soybeans will be marketed to growers as the “Enlist” weed control system. Crops with the Enlist trait will not only be 2,4-D resistant, but will also have stacked traits that make the crops resistant to glyphosate and glufosinate. The ability to use three very effective herbicide modes of action will …

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Cotton growers continue to battle herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth

A new press release from WSSA was released a few days ago. The post is related to my recent post on cotton yields in the South. From the WSSA piece: “The current model simply isn’t sustainable,” says Stanley Culpepper, Ph.D., a professor in crop and soil science at the University of Georgia and member of WSSA. “Growers have gone to war, and they are making progress from a weed management perspective, but not from an economic or environmental perspective. We …

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Large-scale impacts of herbicide-resistant weeds

As I was updating information on herbicide resistant weeds for class this week, I wanted to find some hard numbers on the large-scale impact herbicide-resistance can have. Obviously, my first thought was to find information on cotton production in the South. Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth has been something of a poster child for the potentially devastating impacts of herbicide resistant weeds in the last few years. It has been dubbed a “superweed” by many, including Nature News, the New York Times, …

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Do cultural and mechanical weed control practices delay development of herbicide resistant weeds?

Researchers from Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana will use kochia in a five-year study to help find a solution to weed-resistance to herbicides. Department of Plant Sciences associate professor Andrew Kniss has received a National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to analyze methods of weed control other than herbicide. “Diverse crop rotations and tillage are commonly recommended for management of herbicide-resistant weeds, but there is still not that much field-based information on how successful these approaches will be,” explained Kniss. “Since …

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Managing herbicide-resistant weeds

I made this word cloud in preparation for the class I’m teaching tomorrow. I thought it was pretty interesting, so I decided to post it here and share. In class, we’re going to discuss the effectiveness of various practices to manage herbicide resistant weeds. In preparation for tomorrow’s discussion, I asked my students to review 5 different herbicide industry websites to see what they were recommending to manage herbicide resistant weeds. This word cloud was created by taking recommendations from …

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Could a herbicide-resistance gene provide fitness benefits in the absence of the herbicide?

A really interesting study was reported by Nature News, and has been picking up steam around the interwebs (including Wired and Scientific American). The headlines read “Genetically modified crops pass benefits to weeds” and “weeds get unintended ‘fitness’ boost from genetic modification.” The stories are reporting on a study in New Phytologist titled “A novel EPSP synthase transgene for glyphosate resistance stimulates growth and fecundity in weedy rice (Oryza sativa) without herbicide.” Sorry, not open access. I’ve read the paper a …

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The problem with monoculture

I’ve been meaning to write a post on monoculture for quite some time. In fact, I began writing this post over 8 months ago, but for various reasons this topic never made the top of my priority list. This tweet by Michael Pollan finally prompted me to revisit this topic: Grist take on the Harmon OJ piece, reminding us that the real problem to which GM is “the solution”is monoculture. http://t.co/lQDg48SdgI — Michael Pollan (@michaelpollan) July 29, 2013 Pollan was …

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