Day 174–GMO Grass and Cyanide

Hereford Steer

Many years ago, before I was a mom, I decided one summer that I would read all the classic nineteenth century gothic horror novels. Some were good, some were terrible, but the one that stuck with me was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The novel (unlike the movies) was not focused on violence and gore, but on the implications of man playing God with science and the awful responsibility we take on when we create things that perhaps should not have been created. Yes, Monsanto, I’m talking to you.

There are some days when I think I just really don’t want to know anymore information about food. The whole subject can be so daunting and often very, very frustrating. I thought I had the beef thing figured out–reduce beef consumption and rely on only grass-fed, pasture raised beef. Enter, the Modern Prometheus.

Yesterday I read an article and watched a news report about cattle in Texas dying from eating Tifton 85 Bermuda grass. Tifton 85 has been described as both a GMO and a hybrid of Tifton 65 and an African Bermuda grass that is known to produce cyanide under certain situations. Apparently the grass has started producing cyanide and the cows eating the grass died fairly quickly. Here is the link to the article. While only cows from one farm have died, grass on other nearby Texas farms has also tested positive for cyanide gas. Now, there is some debate about how and why this happened, whether drought in the area affected the grass and/or fertilizer, and whether Tifton 85 is a standard hybrid or GMO. Regardless, it is a powerful lesson in how modifying our food structure, even with the best intentions, can have lasting effects. And sometimes we don’t know what those effects are until years later.

I have to say, at first I thought this was an urban myth because how weird is it that grass would produce a neurotoxin. So now I guess I should be asking our local farmers what kind of grass their cows eat? Could cows eating the grass have meat contaminated with cyanide? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it is a bit worrisome.

And, more importantly, what if this grass is in my neighborhood or school? Could mowing the grass kill you or make you sick? Blech. The whole genetic modification of crops and domestic plants is so insidious and pervasive in American farming that I have to say, I am a bit alarmed. Will keep watching for more information and share it as I find it. In this day of self promotion by big agriculture companies, though, it is hard to know what the truth actually is!

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6 Comments

  1. Scary stuff! Just when you think you’ve made a healthy decision, another new report comes out that changes things. But the first step is awareness, so thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  2. What in the world. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out…

    Reply
  3. Scary! I wish I didn’t like meat as much as I do. Although sometimes overwhelmed with info, it’s always good to know exactly what you are putting in your body!

    Reply

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