GMO

Fitness of herbicide resistance genes revisited

Figure 2 from Giacomini et al. (2014)

Last August, an article was published in New Phytologist that claimed a transgene added to rice could increase the fitness of a weedy relative. The paper was covered in the media pretty widely. When I read the paper, I didn’t think the authors presented nearly enough data to support their conclusions. You can find my […]

The “failure” of biotechnology to increase crop yield

SugarbeetInjury

For some reason, over the last few days I’ve heard a lot of people criticizing GMOs for not increasing crop yields. This criticism certainly isn’t new. I don’t really understand the reason for the sudden resurgence of this claim, but it does provide an excuse to address the topic with some actual data. GMOs can claim […]

Are herbicides responsible for the decline in Monarch butterflies?

Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on a milkweed plant

The monarch butterfly is in bad shape. The number of monarchs returning to their overwintering sites in Mexico has been declining steadily for at least a decade. The consensus suggests there are several reasons for this decline, including loss of their overwintering habitat and unfavorable weather patterns. But the purported cause of monarch decline that […]

Does the debate about genetically modified food matter?

Sugarbeet field

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 […]

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

Corn

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 […]

Large-scale impacts of herbicide-resistant weeds

Palmer amaranth

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 […]

Managing herbicide-resistant weeds

Word cloud generated from herbicide industry recommendations on how to best manage 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 […]

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

Rice

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 […]