Occam’s Razor rarely includes conspiracy theories

Proponents of genetically engineered crops (often called GMOs) often decry the anti-GMO movement for promoting implausible conspiracy theories. I’ve been blocked on Twitter by people claiming the Department of Agriculture and Supreme Court of the United States were simply pawns of Monsanto and the pesticide industry. I’ve pushed back against those saying that pesticides are the cause of microcephaly (instead of the Zika virus). I’ve written blog posts explaining the evidence that debunks some of these improbable stories. Spreading these …

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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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Do genetically engineered crops really increase herbicide use?

Another interesting article about GMOs has been making the rounds today. This one was written by Dr. Charles Benbrook, Chief Science Consultant for The Organic Center. This publication is an updated version of a report that The Organic Center published in 2009. The new version has been published in “Environmental Sciences Europe” and can be downloaded here for free (hooray for open access!). The title of the article is “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first …

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