Monday, June 25, 2012

Grass suddenly produces cyanide, kills cows

The story is here.  In Texas, supposedly stressed by drought, a hybrid grass variety, Tifton 85, produced HCN enough to kill cows that grazed on it.  This has not been observed before in the decades since its introduction.

What I find interesting is this, on from a web-page that has since been taken down (the original link

A little background is in order.  Tifton 85 bermudagrass was released from the USDA-ARS station at Tifton, GA in 1992 by Dr. Glenn Burton, the same gentleman who gave us Coastal bermudagrass in 1943.  One of the parents of Tifton 85, Tifton 68, is a stargrass.  Stargrass is in the same genus as bermudagrass (Cynodon) but is a different species (nlemfuensis versus dactylon) than bermudagrass.  Stargrass has a pretty high potential for prussic acid formation, depending on variety, but even with that being said, University of Florida researchers at the Ona, FL station have grazed stargrass since 1972 without a prussic acid incident.
The pasture where the cattle died had been severely drought stressed from last year’s unprecedented drought, and had Prowl H2O {a herbicide} applied during the dormant season, a small amount of fertilizer applied in mid to late April, received approximately 5” of precipitation within the previous 30 days, and was at a hay harvest stage of growth.  Thus, the pasture did not fit the typical young flush of growth following a drought-ending rain or young growth following a frost we typically associate with prussic acid formation.
My question is - how long will it take to unearth the dangers of Genetically Modified plants and animals?