QIve heard that some organic farmers would really like to be able to use biotech, and actually are appreciative of being able to benefit from a neighboring farms insect resistance, for example it helps their own field have less insects, too. Is that accur

Ive heard that some organic farmers would really like to be able to use biotech, and actually are appreciative of being able to benefit from a neighboring farms insect resistance, for example it helps their own field have less insects, too. Is that accurate?

AExpert Answer

It is not surprising that some organic farmers would like to be able to use biotech. There is a push by some academics for biotech to be part of the “green revolution,” including organics. After all, biotech, such as Bt crops, is a form of host-plant resistance, similar to traditional breeding for insect control. Moreover, Bt has been used in agriculture for over 50 years and is widely used in certified organic agriculture. So the scenario stated above, wherein an organic farmer benefits from a neighbor's farm that actively controls insect populations (does not have to be biotech or Bt crops; can be virtually any insect-control measure that reduces insect populations), has merit. Actually, the recipient of "free insect control" does not have to be an organic farmer. It could be any farmer who does not control the same insect species as rigorously as a neighbor. However, there are some caveats to this practice of using "free insect control":
 

  1. The insect population could be large enough that even if the population were suppressed in a neighbor¹s field, there would still be enough insects to damage neighboring fields.
  2. If the crop to protect has a very low ET (economic threshold‹the level of damage you can tolerate before you initiate some type of control), such as fresh market fruits and vegetables, where only a very small amount of damage can be tolerated, relying on insect population suppression solely by one¹s neighbors would be risky.
Posted on July 21, 2017
GMOs aren't really added directly to the meat, beef.  However, beef cattle may consume feed that comes from a genetically modified plant. All beef cattle begin their lives on a farm or ranch, grazing pasture or grass - none of which is considered a GMO. For many cows this will be their sole source of feed for their lifetime. Some cattle receive rations of grain, which may contain corn or soybeans, both of which have genetically modified hybrids and varieties. ... Read More
Posted on March 28, 2017
Thanks for the question, which I will address in two ways here.   1. What are three ways that organisms are modified by scientists? Here I will focus only on plants.   a. Agrobacterium: Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Agro) is a naturally occurring soil organism that causes a disease in plants called crown gall disease. In the late 1970s, Mary-Dell Chilton discovered that Agro actually transfers genes (DNA) from the Agro to the plant cell, where it becomes integrated into the plant... Read More
Posted on March 2, 2017
First of all, to clarify – hybridization is part of conventional breeding and conventional breeding uses hybridization to create new combinations of genes from parent varieties. For example, a disease-resistant wheat variety may be hybridized to a variety that makes flour better suited for making whole wheat bread. This is a common goal of most conventional breeding programs. It typically involves taking pollen from one parent and using it to fertilize another parent. The... Read More

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