herbicide resistant weeds

Academies of Science finds GMOs not harmful to human health
Genetically engineered crops do not cause increases in cancer, obesity,autism or allergies, a new report says

Genetically engineered crops are safe for humans and animals to eat and have not caused increases in cancer, obesity, gastrointestinal illnesses, kidney disease, autism or allergies, an exhaustive report from the National Academies of Science released Tuesday found.

Work on the 388-page report began two years ago and was conducted by a committee of more than 50 scientists, researchers and agricultural and industry experts convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It reviewed more than 900 studies and data covering the 20 years since genetically modified crops were first introduced.

Overall, genetically engineered (GE) crops saved farmers in the United States money but didn’t appear to increase crop yields. They have lowered pest populations in some areas, especially in the Midwest but increased the number of herbicide-resistant weeds in others. There’s also no evidence that GE crops have affected the population of monarch butterflies, the report said.

The review was thorough and systemic, assessing many of the issues that have been raised about genetically engineered crops over the years, said Gregory Jaffe, director of biotechnology at the non-profit watchdog group the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington D.C. The group was not involved in the report’s creation.

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anonymous asked:

I was wondering if you would be inclined to either make more posts on the GMO topic or even just post some resources. I feel like I don't know enough about the topic and would like to be better informed. Thanks.

I suggest that you start with this really lovely article from Slate on the GMO ‘controversy’:

The Misleading War on GMOs: The Food is Safe. The Rhetoric is Dangerous.

The blunt truth is that GM plants are capable of doing so much good. They can reduce the use of pesticides, they can have higher nutrition, they can cost less to farm, and they can even be safer for the environment around them. They’re not by any means a miracle cure for any problem, but they can certainly help.

Naturally, however, there are some valid concerns with this new technology, as with any technology. The main concern lies not with pesticide resistance, as is commonly misreported, but with herbicide resistance. GM crops can reduce pesticide use by producing small amounts of insecticide within the plant itself, a much more effective tactic than spraying pesticide indiscriminately. However, since herbicides kill plants, creating crops with higher herbicide resistances means that farmers are free to spray herbicides much more liberally, which in turn creates evolutionary pressure to evolve more herbicide resistance in weeds.

There is also the possibility that herbicide-resistant GM crops may cross-pollinate with related native weeds, creating ‘superweeds.’ In countries like the US where our most common crops have few close wild relatives, the danger is low, but it is much higher in many developing countries. 

But herbicide resistance isn’t exactly limited to GM crops- it’s a problem with ANY crop that has herbicide sprayed on it. And the solution for both GM and non-GM crops is simple: rotate what herbicides you use, instead of relying on just one, so weeds can’t keep up.

The same goes with nearly any legitimate issue you could think of for GM crops: unmodified crops have the same problems. People tend to think of genetic modification like magic, like slapping wings on a pig and inviting the wrath of some environmental god. But the things we’re trying to do with GMOs are literally the same things we’ve been trying to do with traditional breeding and crop-growing methods for millennia. Pesticides, herbicides, higher nutrition, higher yields, cross-pollination with native plants- none of these issues are new. Breed a herbicide-resistant tomato, or insert the gene manually. Spray crops with insecticide, or manufacture it directly in the plant. We’re reaching for the same end goals- the question is which method is cheaper, faster, and safer for humans and the environment alike. In many cases- though not all- the research points to GMOs.

As for the concerns about gene patenting and particularly the efforts of Monsanto, the case is again murkier and more complicated than documentaries like Food, Inc. will lead you to believe. For example, the farmer in the most famous case- Monsanto Canada Inc v Schmeiser- was not, as is commonly reported, merely trying to reuse seeds that had gotten accidentally cross-pollinated by Monsanto-patented crops from other fields. Over 90 percent of his ‘replanted’ crop was found to contain the patented gene, a figure much too high for there to have been simple cross-pollination. So Monsanto was likely correct when they accused him of trying to grow their crop without paying for the patent. Indeed, there aren’t any cases that Monsanto has filed against farmers based solely on cross-contamination.

As with the health and environmental issues, the ethical and corporate issues of GM crops are somewhat mirrored in their traditionally grown counterparts. If a farmer breeds a herbicide-resistant strain of weeds, does he own the patent to that organism? (According to US law, yes.) What if a scientist working for a company manufactures one with genetic technology?

In the case of Monsanto v Schmeiser, the Canadian government decided that while an entire plant can’t be patented, the technology that inserts the gene into the plant’s cells can be, and therefore manufacturing the genes by regrowing the crops is patent infringement. Conversely, United States laws now state that naturally-occurring gene sequences cannot be patented, so if it’s a gene already found in a plant or animal and used by a biotechnology company, no patent. This covers the vast majority of all genes used in GM organisms.

So in the US, people can own both traditionally-grown and GM plant strains, and can file lawsuits if someone regrows the strain without their permission. But Monsanto can’t own the genes themselves that it places in their products. Again, the issue of whether or not you can patent a living organism is not unique to GM crops.

Tl;dr: Commonly cited ‘problems’ with GM crops are often heavily misrepresented, and even when they aren’t, they’re usually not unique to crops where genes were mechanically inserted rather than bred.

Further reading:

There’s nothing dangerous or bad about the principle of GM foods and crops. (Contains links to a host of different scientific studies on the matter.)

Top Five Myths of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted (NPR)

How To Genetically Modify a Seed, Step by Step (Popular Science)

The Truth About Genetically Modified Food (Scientific American)

A Hard Look at 3 Myths about Genetically Modified Crops (Scientific American)

Does genetically modified corn cause cancer? A flawed study fails to convince (Forbes)

Genetically modified foods, cancer, and diet: myths and reality (Current Oncology)

Hello! My name is Katie and I’m new to the studyblr community so I’m making an introduction post~!

Some quick facts about me:

I’m in my 5th year of a combined Master’s/Ph.D program in Sociology. I’ve just passed my comprehensive exams and am getting started on my dissertation proposal! Woo! I specifically study agricultural systems (and how humans interact with them) and my dissertation is on farmer management of herbicide resistant weeds. Which means I have lots of folders just labeled ‘WEED’, which amuses me to no end.

I LOVE dogs, and am getting super into bullet journaling! I’m also starting to meditate, which is a HUGE help for controlling my anxiety. I play Ultimate Frisbee competitively and volunteer at the local animal shelter about once a week. I also knit, and am HUGE into social justice.

What I want this blog to be about:

Self-motivation and self-care! Being in graduate school, you start to feel like an impostor and it can be really really hard! 99% of finishing grad school is being persistent and working through all the obstacles they throw at you. I’m hoping this blog will help keep me motivated and remind me that I can’t work well if I don’t take care of myself first!

I’m super inspired by @hayley-studies, who is so sweet and posts great resources! I also LOVE @burymewithmyplanner, who is so gentle and self-care-promoting and makes AMAZING printables. @post–grad makes me feel like I’m not alone in my grad studies, @365text is so generous and organized, and @fuckstudy has an amazing attitude about studying that I would love to emulate. If you’re a studyblr that is all about self-care and motivation, reblog so I can follow (especially if you’re in grad school)! (this is a side blog so follows will come from @clandestinegardenias)


I’ve been through just about every hurdle you can go through in academia and am super happy to answer questions!! I hope I can motivate myself and contribute the studyblr community.