Sunday, June 3, 2012

Larger refuges needed

Larger refuges needed to sustain success of Bt corn
Press Release
Entomological Society of America
June 3, 2012

Lanham, MD - Transgenic crops that produce insect-killing proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have reduced reliance on insecticide sprays since 1996. Yet, just as insects become resistant to conventional insecticides, they also can evolve resistance to the Bt proteins in transgenic crops. Thus, to delay pest resistance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required farmers to plant “refuges” of crops that do not produce Bt proteins near Bt crops. But how much refuge acreage is enough?

In “Delaying Corn Rootworm Resistance to Bt Corn,” an article appearing in the June, 2012 issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology, authors Bruce Tabashnik (University of Arizona) and Fred Gould (North Carolina State University) conclude the EPA should more than double the percentage of corn acres planted to mandated refuges to delay insect resistance, encourage integrated pest management (IPM), and promote more sustainable crop protection.

[Read More…]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

GM crop trials (UK)

GM crop trials are needless and reckless
By Joanna Blythman
The Independent
May 24, 2012

Canadian researchers have found traces of GM pesticide in 93 per cent of baby foetuses

This Sunday, exasperated farmers and citizens will travel to a field near Harpenden to uproot a crop of genetically modified wheat. They have been denounced in purple prose by pro-GM commentators, as science haters, “Nazi book burners” and vandals. But what else can concerned citizens do when the company conducting the GM wheat trial, Rothamsted Research, presses on recklessly with an open field experiment that has the potential to contaminate neighbouring farmers’ crops and trigger unpredictable impacts on other species?

Recent Swiss research shows that some GM wheat varieties can cross-pollinate with crops more than 2.75km away, and that in the field, they cross-pollinate six times more than conventional varieties. Yet in contamination incidents involving long-grain rice in the US and flax in Canada, GM companies refused to accept liability.

[Read More…]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

War on weeds losing

War on weeds loses ground
By Helen Thompson
Nature News
May 22, 2012

With its jumble of leaves and pointy, green, flower spikes, the plant known as pigweed or palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) isn’t much to look at. But to farmers in the southeastern United States, it is a formidable foe. Having evolved the ability to withstand glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide Roundup, it now flourishes unchecked alongside crops such as cotton and soya bean that are genetically modified to be glyphosate tolerant.

And it is not unique, says agronomist Harold Coble at the Office of Pest Management Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina, part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), who notes that 383 known weed varieties have the genetic defences to survive one or more herbicides. “Weed resistance is a game changer for agriculture in the same way that drug resistance has been a game changer for the health-care industry,” says Coble, who spoke on 10 May at a Weed Summit in Washington DC convened by the National Academies. The problem has escalated since the widespread introduction of Roundup Ready and similar crops over the past decade allowed farmers to apply glyphosate more liberally. At the summit, distinctly different responses to the challenge were up for discussion.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Destroy GMO-tainted papaya!

Destroy GMO-tainted papaya crops, researcher says
By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation
May 18, 2012

Academics yesterday called on the Agriculture Department to destroy farms growing Hawaiian papaya in Kanchanaburi province after a recent study found that these crops might be contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMO).

The move came after a study conducted by Piyasak Chaumpluk from Chulalongkorn University’s Department of Botany revealed on Wednesday that 29 samples of Hawaiian papaya tested in Kanchanaburi province were tainted.

”Tests show that papaya grown in 50-rai in Kanchanaburi province have GMO,” Piyasak said. ”The department should destroy these farms in order to prevent the contamination from spreading.”

Piyasak said he had all the information ready, but did not want to make any of it public as it would affect the farmers. He also called on the department to compensate farmers whose farms would be destroyed, adding the authorities should not blame the farmers for this.

”I don’t think they knew that the papaya seeds were tainted with GMO,” he said.

[Read More…]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

No easy fix for superweeds

Super weeds no easy fix for US agriculture-experts
By Carey Gillam
Reuters
May 10 2012

WASHINGTON - A fast-spreading plague of “super weeds” taking over U.S. farmland will not be stopped easily, and farmers and government officials need to change existing practices if food production is to be protected, industry experts said on Thursday.

“This is a complex problem,” said weed scientist David Shaw in remarks to a national “summit” of weed experts in Washington to come up with a plan to battle weeds that have developed resistance to herbicides.

Weed resistance has spread to more than 12 million U.S. acres and primarily afflicts key agricultural areas in the U.S. Southeast and the corn and soybean growing areas of the Midwest.

Many of the worst weeds, some of which grow more than six feet and can sharply reduce crop yields, have become resistant to the popular glyphosate-based weed-killer Roundup, as well as other common herbicides.

[Read More…]

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