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Steve Savage

Consultant, Savage & Associates

Expert Bio

Steve Savage has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural technology having worked in academics (Colorado State University), at a global research company (DuPont), at a biotechnology start-up (Mycogen), and for the last 16 years as a consultant. Over the years, his research and consulting topics have ranged from biological control to crop protection chemicals (synthetic and natural product based); traits based on advances from traditional genetics to biotechnology; and crops from grains to specialty fruits and vegetables. He has also worked extensively on bio-fuels, fertilizers and on footprints of farming (carbon, water, energy and land-use).

Studies, Articles and Answers

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Showing 10 out of 21 results

Question

Q: How are GMO foods regulated?

Answered By Steve Savage - Jul 18, 2013

A: This is a great question. Let me start by providing a bit of historical context.   Most industries that are regulated have a history of past environmental or health problems that precipitated the need for governmental oversight in the first place. In the case of crops improved by biotechnology, the regulations were put in place well before any such crops were commercialized, with the express purpose of ensuring that this promising technology would not cause problems. The scientific community began thinking though any potential health or environmental issues starting with a major confer [...]

Health & Safety How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: How can companies producing GMO plants confirm that their plants will not affect non-GMO plants? Could GMO plants cross with non-GMO plants? If so, has any testing occurred to know what the outcomes are and how they may affect people or other plants?

Answered By Rod Herman - Oct 10, 2013

A: In addition to the response provided by Steve Savage, it may be helpful to know that technology developers conduct numerous years of studies on new GM plants in the field to assess whether the introduced GM trait impacts the “weediness” of the plant, relative to its non-GM counterparts.  In other words, we conduct studies and collect data to answer these questions:  Is this GM plant more likely to become a weed? If the trait transfers to a non-GM relative, would it make those plants more aggressive or weedy?  As Steve Savage notes, the closely related relatives that can su [...]

Answered By Steve Savage - Aug 13, 2013

A: Plants can only pollinate members of their own species or sometimes very closely related species.  It is relatively easy to know whether there are any "outcrossing issues" with a new GM plant.  This is one of the issues that the USDA considers whenever it approves of outdoor trials with new GM crops and when it makes the final "deregulation" decision.    Of course, GM versions of a crop can cross pollinate non-GM versions of the same crop, but this is nothing new to agriculture.  For a very long time, it has been necessary to isolate seed production fields of var [...]

Environment Crop protectants

Question

Q: How can an organism that has been genetically modified to produce "Round Up" Be considered safe to eat when all there is a variety of anecdotal evidence readily availible that states Glyphosate is harmfulhttp://action.responsibletechnology.org/p/salsa/we

Answered By Steve Savage - Aug 12, 2013

A: First of all, no organisms have ever been modified to produce Roundup (glyphosate). Several crops have been modified with a minimally altered version of one of their existing enzymes (EPSPS) which makes them tolerant to that herbicide, but they don't make it. Second, regulatory agencies around the world don't base their decisions on “anecdotal evidence,” no matter how much is available. They stick to solid science. The consensus among regulators is quite clear that glyphosate has no real health or environmental issues. I'm sorry that so many people think that agencies like the EPA are so [...]

GMO Basics Health & Safety

Question

Q: About regulation... Another answer by Steve Savage says the following -- "The USDA considers whether there are any “plant pest” issues with the specific crop and trait such as the ability to cross with weedy relatives." and "The EPA gets involved if

Answered By Steve Savage - Aug 07, 2013

A: No, this is not an example of a biotech crop crossing with a weed. The “pig weed” in question here is actually what is known as Palmer Amaranth―a serious weed problem in its own right, regardless of herbicide tolerance. As with many other weeds that have become resistant to herbicides, including those long before biotechnology, it is not an issue of the tolerance moving to the weed by outcrossing, but rather that the use of the herbicide selects for resistant types that occur within the natural genetic diversity of the weed population. If anything, the issue has been that farmers have rel [...]

Health & Safety How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: I have three questions that arise from a blog post by Steve Savage that appeared at Biofortified.org [http://www.biofortified.org/2013/03/a-defense-of-plant-and-crop-related-patents/]1. Quoting the article: "A company that has developed a new trait has t

Answered By Steve Savage - Aug 16, 2013

A: Good questions, I’ll address each of them individually. 1a. Can you explain what license terms might be typical for allowing other seed companies to utilize a patented biotech trait? Typically the license agreement includes a royalty (e.g. a certain fee assessed per bag of seed sold) and an agreement by the other seed company to have their customers follow the same rules as those of the patent-holding company.  Those might include restrictions on the saving of seeds and/or stewardship rules to help prevent selection of resistant pests.  1b. Also, if my understanding i [...]

Business Practices GMOs & Farmers

Question

Q: Care to explain GMO Marijuana? now that you are patenting it, you are fighting for its legalization? does monsanto approve or condone the use of marijuana? and why is GMO marijuana considered acceptable, while organic marijuana is not.

Answered By Cathleen Enright - Aug 22, 2013

A: We don’t know of any legitimate GM Marijuana in development or in existence. Any rumored involvement by CBI or seed companies is “urban legend.” [...]

Answered By Steve Savage - Aug 22, 2013

A: Cannabis has definitely been genetically modified for the underground and “medical” markets, but not using the modern methods that get called “GMO”. The modification of the genetics of marijuana achieved using a combination of traditional breeding techniques and clumsy, “old-school” techniques like chemical mutagenesis and induced polyploidy. In other words, various enterprising people used toxic chemicals to cause mutations or used Colchicine to induce the plants to double the number of chromosomes in every cell. Some of these plants grew better and/or made more THC. That is why modern mariju [...]

Other

Question

Q: Are the submergence tolerant rice varieties developed by IRRI -GM Crop? Is it possible to have drought tolerant and salinity tolerant GM Crop?

Answered By Steve Savage - Aug 23, 2013

A: Interesting questions.  No, it is not "GM."  The submergence tolerant rice developed by IRRI (The International Rice Research Institute) is based on a trait first identified in "land race" rice cultivars first collected in the 1950s.  The role of biotechnology is that modern gene sequencing technology (marker assisted breeding) was used to identify the "locus" or part of the rice genome so that it could be more efficiently bred into modern cultivars.  The trait involves two or three genes but it was not moved into the modern cultivars with genetic engineering techniques wh [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: To your opinion, how is the continuing GMO-experimentings in wineproducing grapevines, (to create a possible 'beter' havest...) defendable in despite of the fact over 400.000 hactares of grapevines in Europe have to be destroyed by European government law

Answered By Steve Savage - Oct 31, 2013

A: The wine industry in the Europe has issues of over-production and challenges from competition in export markets.  Certain "reforms" of the industry are being orchestrated by the EU in an attempt to address this situation (http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/capreform/wine/potential/index_en.htm). I can't really comment on the wisdom or fairness of that process, but anything that negatively impacts a grower is of concern to me.  There are some ideas for transgenic traits which could help to make EU wine grape production more competitive vs. other production regions around the world.  [...]

GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made

Question

Q: Regardless of the safety of chemicals being sprayed on food crops, what are the effects to the environment and communities who are surrounded by chemicalseed companies who spray pesticides around the clock?

Answered By Steve Savage - Sep 24, 2014

A: For the last 44 years, the pesticide use in all commercial agriculture categories is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. That includes food crops (conventional and organic), golf courses, parks and the seed crops that are produced in Hawaii and elsewhere. Every product has to be "used according to label requirements," and those requirements are customized to mitigate any potential risks to workers (health), the environment (effects on non-target organisms), the neighboring farms (pest-resistance management) and consumers (health). If the particular chemical could be harmful [...]

Answered By Steve Savage - Sep 24, 2014

A: For the last 44 years, the pesticide use in all commercial agriculture categories is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. That includes food crops (conventional and organic), golf courses, parks and the seed crops that are produced in Hawaii and elsewhere. Every product has to be "used according to label requirements," and those requirements are customized to mitigate any potential risks to workers (health), the environment (effects on non-target organisms), the neighboring farms (pest-resistance management) and consumers (health). If the particular chemical could be harmful [...]


Question

Q: Regardless of the safety of chemicals being sprayed on food crops, what are the effects to the environment and communities who are surrounded by chemicalseed companies who spray pesticides around the clock?

Answered By Steve Savage - Sep 24, 2014

A: For the last 44 years, the pesticide use in all commercial agriculture categories is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. That includes food crops (conventional and organic), golf courses, parks and the seed crops that are produced in Hawaii and elsewhere. Every product has to be "used according to label requirements," and those requirements are customized to mitigate any potential risks to workers (health), the environment (effects on non-target organisms), the neighboring farms (pest-resistance management) and consumers (health). If the particular chemical could be harmful [...]

Answered By Steve Savage - Sep 24, 2014

A: For the last 44 years, the pesticide use in all commercial agriculture categories is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. That includes food crops (conventional and organic), golf courses, parks and the seed crops that are produced in Hawaii and elsewhere. Every product has to be "used according to label requirements," and those requirements are customized to mitigate any potential risks to workers (health), the environment (effects on non-target organisms), the neighboring farms (pest-resistance management) and consumers (health). If the particular chemical could be harmful [...]