Pesticides

While biodiversity is an important issue, the relationship to agriculture and to agricultural crop protection chemicals is a bit complex.  First of all, since its beginnings 10,000 or more years ago, farming has been quite intentionally an effort to

While biodiversity is an important issue, the relationship to agriculture and to agricultural crop protection chemicals is a bit complex.  First of all, since its beginnings 10,000 or more years ago, farming has been quite intentionally an effort to make one plant species dominant in any given tended area or field.  From the plant biodiversity side, the struggle has always been with other plant species that are particularly “weedy” which means they are well adapted to being competitive with the crop under the artificial conditions of farming.

By • April 13, 2018

The following is an excerpt of an article at The Conversation that reports on the latest Food Literacy and Engagement Poll from Michigan State University’s [email protected] initiative, specifically looking at the difference between attitudes of wealthy Americans compared to lower income Americans. 

Socioeconomics play a significant role in attitudes about food – especially concerns about safety and purchasing behavior. And higher income doesn’t always correlate with informed choices. On the contrary, our research shows that affluent Americans tend to overestimate their knowledge about health and nutrition.

The latest Food Literacy and Engagement Poll from Michigan State University’s [email protected] initiative reveals that nearly half of Americans (49 percent) in households earning at least US$50,000 annually believe they know more than the average person about global food systems, while just 28 percent of those earning less are as confident. However, when we surveyed people on a variety of food topics, affluent respondents fared no better, and at times worse, than their lower-earning peers.

We sampled over 2,000 Americans age 18 and over online. Results were weighted to reflect U.S. census demographics for age, sex, race and ethnicity, education, region and household income to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

To read the conclusions of the poll, please visit The Conversation website

In order to answer this question, it is important to first be clear about what a GMO/GMO farm is and secondly to discuss the complex issues relating to herbicide and pesticide use.What is a GMO/GMO farm?It is assumed that this question refers to genetical

In order to answer this question, it is important to first be clear about what a GMO/GMO farm is and secondly to discuss the complex issues relating to herbicide and pesticide use.

What is a GMO/GMO farm?

It is assumed that this question refers to genetically modified crops. GM crop technology has been widely used since the mid-1990s and in 2016 were planted on about 178 million hectares worldwide. The main GMO traits convey:

QHow much of an impact does pesticideherbicide use have on aquatic life?

How much of an impact does pesticideherbicide use have on aquatic life?

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QCan the overuse of pesticides cause air pollution?

Can the overuse of pesticides cause air pollution?

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QAre there any other ways to make organisms not have viruses and bacteria in them, not using GMOs?

Are there any other ways to make organisms not have viruses and bacteria in them, not using GMOs?

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QWhy is the cost per acre of herbicide for nonGMO soybeans 40 compared with 18 for GMO?

Why is the cost per acre of herbicide for nonGMO soybeans 40 compared with 18 for GMO?

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By • February 01, 2018

The following is an article by agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo at Huffington Post about the success that South Africa is having in growing genetically modified crops, and how the rest of the continent can look to them as a model. 

I was reminded this weekend of an article I wrote for Business Day late last year, arguing that Africa would do well to follow South Africa's lead in order to feed her children.

In the article, I discussed the continent's standing in global grain production in anticipation of the 2016-17 bumper maize harvest in some Southern African countries. However, I also offered a cautious view regarding the 2017-18 production season, which is currently underway:

'There are still risks that could turn things on their head, most notably the possibility of a return of the fall armyworm. The Zambian government has already warned it expects another outbreak and it will be working closely with farmers to manage the situation if it recurs'.

These words came hurtling into my head this weekend when I read on the newsthat Zambia's maize production could decline from the 2016-17 production season's level of 2.8 million tonnes (the magnitude of the expected decline was not specified).

The reasons offered for this expected decline include the outbreak of the fall armyworms and the late delivery of farming inputs in areas under a government-subsidised programme, among others.

The presence of the fall armyworm makes this seem like a repeat of the 2016-17 production seasons challenge, where countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia had to rely heavily on pesticides and other measures to mitigate the effect of the pest.

To read the entire article, please visit the Huffington Post

 

By • February 01, 2018

The following is an excerpt of a new report about a new study using a soil bacterium (Bt) to help tomatoes fight off pests. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 2.75 million metric tons of pesticides were used worldwide in 2015 with a significant proportion of these chemicals used for insect control. The dangers of various insecticides and their misapplication have been a topic of interest since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring about DDT in 1962.

A promising control method is the use of a bacteria-derived protein to protect plants from insect attack and damage. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a soil bacterium that produces insecticidal crystal proteins which bind to receptors in the insect’s gut. These receptors are not found in vertebrates including humans; therefore, these organisms are not harmed. Application of Bt crystal proteins to crop plants has been used in organic farming for more than 50 years. Different types of crystal proteins exist and can provide protection against one or more target insect species. An alternative to external application of Bt crystal proteins is genetic engineering of the crop plant to produce the protein itself using Bt crystal protein (cry) genes. Bt crops were first developed in 1996 and are now widely used in many parts of the world.

Work in our lab was aimed at determining if the expression of a Bt cry gene in tomato could provide control of the leaf miner Tuta absoluta. This insect was initially only a threat to crops in South America but within the past decade it has spread to Europe and Africa where it has earned the nickname ‘tomato Ebola.’ Control of this pest is especially difficult in developing countries which may not have access to insecticides or may not be able to afford the repeated sprays that are needed to eliminate leaf miner. Indeed alternatives to chemical formulations such as camel urine are being tested in parts of Africa for leaf miner control.

In our research, the cry1Ac gene was introduced into tomato plants. The transgenic plants were then examined for their response to leaf miner infection. Up to 100% of leaf miner larvae died after feeding on leaves producing crystal proteins. Moreover, gallery formation by the insect was reduced by 57 to 100%, ensuring that the leaves suffered limited damage and that marketable fruits could be produced. These results indicate that, if adopted, Bt tomato could reduce the use of insecticides for the control of leaf miner and potentially other insects.

To read the entire report, please visit the Science Trends website

To expand on the answer to your question, glyphosate is used in the production of wheat in the U.S., however, its use is limited. In the majority of U.S. wheat fields, it isn’t used at all. In fact, for 2016, it was applied to only 33 percent of whe

To expand on the answer to your question, glyphosate is used in the production of wheat in the U.S., however, its use is limited. In the majority of U.S. wheat fields, it isn’t used at all. In fact, for 2016, it was applied to only 33 percent of wheat acres in the U.S., according to an independent consumer research firm, GfK. Of this 33 percent, nearly all of the acres have glyphosate applied when a harvestable wheat crop is not present, either in fallow or no-till cropping systems prior to planting.  

 

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