Independent Expert

Steve Savage

Consultant, Savage & Associates

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).

From this Expert

Posted On: Sunday, 3/01/2015 7:13 pm
A: There are many interesting and valuable crop traits that could be achieved with current and next-generation genetic engineering tools. Because of the massive investment in biotechnology for medical and industrial applications, the cost of doing basic genetic engineering of a plant is now a small fraction of what it was 20 years ago. Many key patents have now expired, so it is even easier for diverse entities to develop new traits. The largest remaining cost, and the slowest step, is now the... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 8/28/2014 2:13 pm
A: It is difficult to predict the answer to this question. Originally, it looked like only major crops (e.g., corn, soy, cotton ...) would have GE traits, because the process of research, development and regulation was so expensive that the investment could not be justified for most crops. That cost barrier has been coming down because of newer and better tools — most of which were developed for the extensive medical and industrial applications of genetic engineering. There are now examples... Continue Reading
Posted On: Sunday, 1/19/2014 9:39 pm
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... Continue Reading
Posted On: Thursday, 9/05/2013 4:41 am
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... Continue Reading
Posted On: Friday, 8/09/2013 2:41 am
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... Continue Reading

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A Misplaced Concern About An Apple

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 10:34

In this post, Steve Savage discusses a new non-browning GM apple that could provide direct consumer benefits.
  • Impact on Society
  • Future of GMO
  • Science and GMO Basics
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Why Biotech Should Be Employed For Crop Disease Resistance

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Monday, December 22, 2014 - 16:42

In this blog post, Steve Savage outlines how genetic engineering could be used to combat plant disease.
  • Impact on Farms
  • Future of GMO
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Five Tasty Reasons To Reconsider GMO Crops

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Friday, December 12, 2014 - 11:40

In this post, Steve Savage discusses five plant pest problems and how GM crops could provide a solution.
  • Impact on Society
  • Impact on Environment
  • Future of GMO
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Misuse of a Vietnam Era Tragedy

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 19:39

What is 2, 4-D? Is it Agent Orange? Agricultural scientist and plant pathologost Steve Savage explains the difference between 2, 4-D and Agent Orange in this post, originally published in Biofortified.com.
  • Impact on Society
  • Impact on Environment
  • Safety, Health, and Nutrition
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Don't Believe What Dr. Oz is Saying About an Agricultural Herbicide

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 19:24

Get facts about Dr Oz's recent episode on GMOs and pesticide from agricultural scientist and plant pathologist Steve Savage.
  • Safety, Health, and Nutrition
  • Future of GMO
  • Science and GMO Basics
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Do GMO Crops Foster Monoculture?

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 21:35

In this blog post, Steve Savage provides context to what “monoculture” means in modern agriculture and discusses whether GM crops contribute to monoculture farming.
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Steve Savage Addresses Samsel and Seneff study, “Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance”

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Friday, March 14, 2014 - 15:14

In this article, agricultural technology expert Steve Savage analyzes a recent literature survey published by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff in which an argument is made for a possible link between celiac disease and the use of the herbicide glyphosate.
  • Impact on Environment
  • Safety, Health, and Nutrition
  • Science and GMO Basics
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Gorillas And The Future of Crop Biotechnology

By Steve Savage (Independent Expert) on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 20:53

There are some really cool improvements coming along in several crops that have been developed using the tools of biotechnology. Whether these new options actually make it to consumers depends a great deal on decisions made by players who have an out-sized influence on not only their market segment, but on their supply chain. The question is what role these “800-pound gorillas” will play for the next generation of potential crop improvements.
  • Impact on Society
  • Impact on Environment
  • Future of GMO
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tense enzymatic environment of our intestines. Most is quickly reduced to its component bases, which are to us, simply food.  Any RNA that escaped that fate is subject to further enzymatic breakdown while passing through the cells of the gut, and then once in the bloodstream, there are again plenty of RNA-crunching enzymes.  Add the further digestion that could occur on the way into any other cell in the body, and it is not surprising that even when scientists want to use RNAi as a drug therapy - it just does not work without some robust mechanism to protect the RNA. Without that, little if any ever gets to the target.  

That reality is why regulatory scientists have concluded that the use of this technology in crops presents no significant risk.  There is nothing about the small RNAs in the biotech crops that means they won't function just like all the thousands of other RNAs we eat every day.  There is an excellent example of the careful thinking process by global regulatory agencies published by Food Safety Authority Australia/New Zealand with lots of references to the relevant scientific literature.

I consider myself to be a “concerned scientist” when it comes to the safety and quality of the food supply. However, my concern about the Arctic® apple is that Dr. Mellon and others will succeed in unnecessarily alarming consumers about this good product and about apples in general.  If they are successful in that endeavor, that would be a great disservice to the public.

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