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May 21, 2000


soybean herbicide use (and BSE)


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Date: May 22 2000 17:19:31 EDT
From: carpente@ncfap.org (Carpenter, Janet)
Subject: soybean herbicide use

In response to a recent post from Allan Shapiro requesting information on
herbicide use on herbicide tolerant soybeans, we have done some analysis
of trends in soybean herbicide use since the introduction of
glyphosate-tolerant soybeans. Using USDA National Agricultural Statistics
Service pesticide use data, we found that herbicide use, in terms of total
pounds applied, has risen 14% between 1995, the year before
glyphosate-tolerant soybeans were introduced, and 1998, the last year for
which there were data available when we did the analysis. (1999 data were
just released last week.) This increase occurred while there was a 12%
increase in acreage, so overall, there has been a slight increase in
herbicide use in soybeans since glyphosate-tolerant varieties were
introduced. While the data do not allow for direct comparison of
herbicide use by growers planting herbicide tolerant varieties vs. growers
planting conventional varieties, we would expect to see a much greater
increase in total pounds of herbicide applied if herbicide use on
herbicide tolerant crops was greater than on conventional varieties.

Though total pounds of herbicides used on soybeans was about thesame, we
did find a large reduction in the number of herbicideapplications made in
1998 compared to 1995. We calculated an aggregate reduction of 16 million
herbicide applications between 1995 and 1998, which reflects growers'
ability to use fewer active ingredients per acre and making fewer passes
over the field.

Our report on glyphosate-tolerant soybeans is on our website:


Another report addressing herbicide use in herbicide-tolerantsoybeans has
been published by the USDA Economic Research Service. They provide
estimates of herbicide use in herbicide-tolerant soybeans, compared to
conventional varieties, findig that growers make significantly fewer
herbicide treatments on herbicide-tolerant acreage. That report can be
found on the ERS website:


Janet Carpenter
National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy
1616 P Street NW, Suite 109
Washington, DC 20036
phone: 202-328-5044
fax: 202-328-5133

Date: May 22 2000 14:03:49 EDT
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: BSE


The method of transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or
'mad cow disease') has not yet been nailed down, nor, even, its cause.
Some have long suspected that the prions implicated in BSE are not
infective in the sense in which bacteria and virii are infective.
Suspicion has, for instance, fallen on the use of organophosphates for the
control of warble fly in cattle, which by some mechanism cause a
proliferation of malformed prions (which are normally benign) in the
bovine nervous system.

The same, accordingly, could possibly account for the advent of
new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome in humans, an account which has
nothing whatsoever to do with eating beef, but with ingesting a certain
chemical instead. I would point out that Europeans are singularly lax in
allowing toxics to escape into the food chain.

This recently appeared in the journal Science:

Charles Weissmann of the Imperial College School of Medicine in London
and colleagues at Biogen in
Cambridge, Mass., and the University of Zurich in Switzerland have
worked to find ways to prevent the
mutated prions from spreading through the nervous system.

Writing in the journal Science, they said prions seem to be produced by
immune cells in the spleen known as follicular dendritic cells (FDCs).

If we take these new findings at face value, could this indicate that the
assumptions behind the response to the 'mad cow' epidemic were erroneous,
and that there might be not merely a different causative agent, but a
different 'mode' of 'transmission?'