Monday, June 25, 2012

The Good New is that the Bad News Is Wrong

The headlines screamed:

GM grass linked to Texas cattle deaths

Only one problem:  The grass here was NOT genetically modified grass at all.  Tifton 85 is just a simple old-fashioned hybrid, i.e. a simple cross between an African Bermuda grass and Tifton 68, another hybrid grass first produced in Tifton, Georgia.  

Another small problem is that grass-based arsenic-poisoning is not new or uncommon.  In fact, in dry areas under poor grazing management, grass-based cyanide poisoning is pretty common, as the Merck Veterinary manual makes clear.

Most grass contains cyanide, and cyanide and selenium poisoning in grass-fed cattle occurs all the time. Selenium buildup is generally due to bad soil, but cyanide-poisoning in grass-fed cattle is generally due to improper grazing on dry soil or on low-cut grass that has a low-water content.

So what should the headline have been?  Here are two options:
New York-based reporter that has never seen a live cow fails at basic reporting and research

A bad rancher with poorly-managed fields manages to poison his cattle through a combination of ignorance, sloth and greed


Kerry Cowman said...

I think the only GMO forage permitted in the US is alfalfa, which only came on the market last year.

I heard about this article second hand, and was wondering about its veracity as there is probably no profit motive to bioengineer common grasses at this time.

jb said...

Another example of the $12/hr reporter thats now taught sensational reporting sells (facts be damned) and the receptive "I'll believe anything I read" public.