Florida researchers conduct surveys on public acceptance of genetically modified crops

Whether the term is “GMO,” “genetically modified,” “gene editing” or the like, people in the general public distrust any word or phrase associated with the modification of food crops. To determine what the public knows and try to educate them, University of Florida researcher Brandon McFadden and three of his colleagues will use a new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to conduct focus groups and create educational materials.

McFadden and his team, University of Florida researchers Kevin Folta, Joy Rumble and Katie Stofer, will use the results of focus group surveys to prepare web-based national surveys. The surveys will try to gauge consumer preferences for regulations and consumption of gene-edited crops. Ultimately they will also help the team develop communication strategies and outreach materials. Continue reading

Pesticide Resistance Needs Attention, Large-Scale Study

To slow the evolutionary progression of weeds and insect pests gaining resistance to herbicides and pesticides, policymakers should provide resources for large-scale, landscape-level studies of a number of promising but untested approaches for slowing pest evolution. Such landscape studies are now more feasible because of new genomic and technological innovations that could be used to compare the efficacy of strategies for preventing weed and insect resistance.

That’s the takeaway recommendation from a North Carolina State University review paper addressing pesticide resistance published today in the journal Science. Continue reading

Information about July 17-20 FIFRA SAP Meeting on Resistance and Bt, Request for Comments on Experts for the Meeting, and June 5 Webcast on the Meeting Charge

On May 17, 2018, the Agency published a Federal Register notice announcing the location of the July 17-20, 2018, in-person meeting of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) to consider and review “Resistance of Lepidopteran Pests to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Plant Incorporated Plants in the U.S.” The meeting will be held in the Rosslyn Ballroom at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn at Key Bridge, 1900 North Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209. Please refer to the March 5, 2018 Federal Register notice for additional information.

The Agency also announced that the associated 2-hour preparatory webcast meeting will be held on June 5, 2018, from approximately 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The preparatory webcast meeting, conducted via Adobe Connect and telephone, will consider and review the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for the July 17-20, 2018, in-person meeting. Registration is required to participate during this meeting. Continue reading

UGA research hopes the key to fighting cowpea curculio lies in snap bean genes

By Julie Jernigan, University of Georgia

Once a top agricultural commodity in Georgia, the Southern pea’s presence in the state is now minimal. Growers are reluctant to plant the crop due to a tiny weevil, the cowpea curculio.

The cowpea curculio is a small, dark weevil that originated in Mexico. It feeds and lays eggs in the pods of Southern peas, making the peas unmarketable. The current management tactic involves spraying regularly with old and new insecticides, but the weevil has such high resistance that this technique has little impact. Continue reading

Study finds rotating with corn boosts cotton yields

In Delta Farm Press

Cotton following corn in rotation resulted in an average 8.9 percent to 17.1 percent yield increase compared to continuous cotton in a 12-year study at Mississippi State University.

Wayne Ebelhar, MSU research professor and agronomist, discussed the long-term research project at the recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio. The study was conducted on two sites, the Centennial Farm at Stoneville, Miss., where cotton has been grown continuously “for at least 100 years,” Ebelhar says, and the Tribbett farm, which is not as productive as the Stoneville location. Ebelhar says the yield advantage comes from “the rotation effect. All other factors were the same.” Continue reading

Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG)

The purpose of the BRAG program is to support the generation of new information that will assist Federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing into the environment genetically engineered organisms (GE), including plants, microorganisms — such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses — arthropods, fish, birds, mammals and other animals excluding humans. Investigations of effects on both managed and natural environments are relevant. The BRAG program accomplishes its purpose by providing federal regulatory agencies with scientific information relevant to regulatory issues. See the Request for Applications for details. Continue reading

FDA, USDA, and EPA to Hold Public Sessions on Agricultural Biotechnology

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs will be holding two public meetings to discuss FDA’s Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. This initiative calls for FDA to work with EPA and USDA to provide education and outreach to the public on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology. The purpose of the meetings is to provide the public an opportunity to share information, experiences, and suggestions to help inform the development of this education and outreach initiative.

The FDA is also accepting public comments on questions listed in the Federal Register Notice. Comments may be submitted through November 17, 2017. Continue reading