GMOs: Distinguishing fact from fiction

By Mary C. Gruszka

Genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms can be controversial subjects. Growers often have to field questions about GMOs from concerned consumers, and it can be challenging to clearly explain what they are and how they differ from traditional cross-breeding.

So it was timely that the keynote speaker at the recent Empire State Producers Expo in Syracuse, Dr. Margaret Smith, Pant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University, presented a clear and concise overview of genetic engineering (GE), a comparison with traditional plan breeding, commonly grown GE crops, a review of scientific studies on the impact of GE crops and safety, and what to expect in the future. [Read more…]

Combating antibiotic resistant bacteria

CEW-MR-1-COMBATING-BACTERIA1by George Looby, DVM

For years the critical question of antibiotic resistant bacteria and it’s relationship to the health and welfare of the general population has been debated and discussed at a variety of levels. Now the question has reached the highest level of government prompting President Barak Obama to issue an Executive Order to thoroughly study the problem. This order would appear to signal a significant shift in the thinking of those who have long been involved in studying the problem. For decades the addition of antibiotics to animal feed has been an accepted practice defended by animal scientists as having little or no impact on the possibility of antibiotic resistance. [Read more…]

Kicking the proverbial can down the road

CM-MR-3-KICKING-CAN_03861by Steve Wagner

Pennsylvania “has a lot of open space,” said Governor Tom Wolf to a legislative lunch audience at the Harrisburg Hilton Hotel. Ten weeks into his term, this was his first agricultural exposure since becoming the commonwealth’s chief executive. “We have a unique geography,” the Governor added, reminding those in attendance that they are located smack-dab in the middle of the richest market possibly in the world. With several metropolitan markets like New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington D.C. in close proximity, the Governor said “There is no other place in the world that can say this, in the 1700s, Pennsylvania was the breadbasket of the colonies and that was no accident.” [Read more…]

Identifying mastitis

CEW-MR-2-MASTITIS01701by Steve Wagner

Mastitis is the most common disease affecting dairy cattle. “Preventing mastitis is certainly important but identifying it is equally important,” said Ernest Hovingh, DVM/PhD, a highly visible presence at ag gatherings, he averages about 100 presentations a year, often more. His original topic at the 2015 Lebanon Dairy & Crops Compliance Day was ‘Objectively Investigating Milk Quality Issues’, but mastitis took front and center. After identifying mastitis, he says, “it must be properly managed.” Hovingh opened with a Socratic questioning method, wanting to know from attendees if they could tell from varied slides “whether or not this cow has mastitis”; if not, what could it be? [Read more…]