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Doug Gurian-Sherman

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About the author: Doug Gurian-Sherman is a widely-cited expert on biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. He holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology. See Doug's full bio.

A Hole in the Regulation of GMOs that Kudzu Could Fit Through

A little-noticed, almost nonchalant, article in the Columbus Dispatch last week portends substantial environmental and economic mischief. Read More

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Fait Accompli—USDA Decision on Herbicide-Resistant Crops Betrays Farmers and the Public

On Friday, January 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This clears the way for approval of engineered soybeans and corn resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, pending a final EIS and pesticide tolerances from EPA. Read More

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Tackling the Epidemic of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds with Sustainable Solutions

Weeds that have developed resistance to glyphosate herbicide used with Monsanto’s engineered herbicide resistance trait have reached epidemic proportions. A recent survey puts the area infested by these weeds at 61 million acres, and increasing rapidly. Read More

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Do We Need GMOs?

Most observers agree that we are facing big obstacles to producing enough food sustainably in coming decades. Issues of distribution and food justice remain paramount, but production must also be adequate, and the huge impact that agriculture has on the environment must be reversed. Read More

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Small Farms, Not Monsanto, Are Key to Global Food Security

In the land of humongous farms, the critical importance of small farms for food security is a counterintuitive message. But if we look at what most of the largest farms are growing in the U.S. Midwest, or Argentina and Brazil, it is corn and soybeans to feed livestock and biofuel production. Neither contribute much to supplying food—and especially good nutrition—to the billions who cannot afford meat. Meat is a welcome part of many diets, but besides being expensive, is also an inefficient means to produce protein. Read More

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Small Insect’s Big Lessons for the Farm Bill: Agroecology and Breeding Top Monsanto’s Industrial Agriculture

My last post discussed the success of public sector scientists who discovered and developed genes in soybean, using conventional breeding, that confer resistance to the invasive soybean aphid. These insects cost US farmers billions of dollars per year.

In contrast, an article in the New York Times in late July used the dramatic example of citrus greening disease, which is threatening the citrus industry in the US, to tout the possibility of GE to remedy challenging pest problems. Whether these will eventually work is far from certain. But we should keep in mind that while such future promises catch the public’s eye, breeding continuously makes significant advances in crop improvement. Read More

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Genetic Technology’s Answer to A Major Insect Pest

It’s a huge insect pest problem on soybeans, one of the country’s major crops. A recent paper estimates that it costs growers 2 to 5 billion dollars annually in lost productivity and insecticide use. But fortunately technology has an answer—several genes that control the pest, and can reduce or eliminate the need for chemical insecticides that harm people and the environment. Read More

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Monsanto and the World Food Prize

As reported in the New York Times, the prestigious World Food Prize was awarded today to a trio of scientists who had important roles in the early development of crop genetic engineering. One, Robert Fraley, is at Monsanto, and another Mary-Dell Chilton, is with another seed giant, Syngenta. The third is European scientist Marc Van Montagu. Read More

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Pesticide Use is Actually Much Greater Than Reported

In a revealing article in the Wall Street Journal, Ian Berry explains how resistance to an engineered Bt gene by corn rootworms is leading to reversals in the trend toward declining insecticide use on corn in the U.S. Resistance was first discovered by entomologist Aaron Gassman, as we reported, about two years ago. Read More

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USDA to Tackle 2,4-D-Resistant Engineered Crops Without Needed Regulations

It is encouraging that USDA will produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for crops resistant to 2,4-D or dicamba. These crops, through the herbicides they are designed to use, have potential to cause substantial environmental and human harm, especially due to drift and volatility. Weed scientists have projected dramatically increased use of these herbicides, and herbicides in general, if these crops are approved. Read More

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