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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As consumers shift to non-GMO sugar, farmers may be forced to abandon environmental and social gains

Dan Charles at NPR has recently done two interesting pieces about sugar production. In the first, he uses sugar as a proxy to look at the environmental costs and trade-offs of growing food in different places. It makes for an interesting comparison because there are two completely different crops (sugarcane and sugarbeet) that can be grown to produce the exact same product, refined sugar. The two crops have very different climatic needs, pest management requirements, and growing seasons. It is an …

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Everything in Agriculture is a Trade-Off

The idea of trade-offs is familiar to everyone. None of us have unlimited money, time, or energy. We make decisions every single day about how to spend our money, our time, and our energy. Do I buy the red shirt or the blue shirt? Do I watch the football game or go to the concert? Should I ride my bike to work or hope I can find a good parking place? Do I call a plumber or try and fix the sink myself? Do …

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Dead plants are probably bad for earthworms

I’ve gotten a number of questions recently about a new study titled “Glyphosate-based herbicides reduce the activity and reproduction of earthworms and lead to increased soil nutrient concentrations” that was recently published in the online journal Scientific Reports. Although the title seems pretty straightforward, there are some flaws in the study design that preclude any broad conclusions from this research. I would especially be cautious of making statements like Roundup is “imperiling streams, lakes, [and] aquifers” or that there are “far-reaching consequences of [glyphosate] use in ecosystems” …

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Seralini Rat Study Revisited

Anyone interested in the GMO debate has probably heard about the Seralini paper that I criticized a while back. That paper was eventually retracted by the original journal, and it has now been re-published in a different journal. There are quite a few articles describing the background, so I won’t get into those details. I suggest reading recent pieces at Retraction Watch or Grist if you want to get the background information. The Seralini press release for the re-published article states “The raw …

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Salt, Vinegar, and Glyphosate

I’ve been asked quite a few times over the last several years about a “homemade” herbicide recipe that is floating around the web. Many of you have probably seen it posted to Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, or on your favorite home gardening site. One of my favorite descriptions calls it a “magical, natural, weed killing potion.” The recipe is largely the same regardless of the source. There are a pretty wide variety of claims about its safety, effectiveness, and “naturalness” depending on the …

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Where are the super weeds?

In a recent issue of Nature, Natasha Gilbert took “A hard look at GM crops.” Ms. Gilbert states: “it can be hard to see where scientific evidence ends and dogma and speculation begin.”   “Researchers, farmers, activists and GM seed companies all stridently promote their views, but the scientific data are often inconclusive or contradictory. Complicated truths have long been obscured by the fierce rhetoric.” I agree wholeheartedly. Especially when browsing the internet, there is a lot of misinformation, half-truths, and …

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Herbicides for sainfoin

We continue to get quite a few questions about weed control in sainfoin. Unfortunately, there are very few herbicide options currently registered for use in sainfoin (only 6 different active ingredients). We are investigating some additional herbicides in ongoing research trials. Although several herbicides look promising in our trials, these potential options will not be registered in time for the 2013 growing season (in fact, it is a distinct possibility they never will be). The following table lists currently registered herbicides for …

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Why I think the Seralini GM feeding trial is bogus

UPDATE: If you’re looking for information on the ‘republished’ version of this manuscript, a full statistical analysis of the released data can be found here. If you’re following the news about the French GM maize feeding trial, you’ve probably heard: (A) we need to pull GMO crops off the market immediately; or (B) that the study is flawed and is basically meaningless. I guess I find myself leaning toward the second group on this one. Here is why I think the …

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