Tuesday Talks With Dr. Patterson

September 2014 ARCHIVES

SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

SUPERBUGS

On September 18, 2014 President Obama signed an executive order creating a taskforce to develop a national strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The order called this problem a serious threat to public health and the economy. The taskforce will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. The President’s executive order coincided with the release of a report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) entitled “Report to the President on Combating Antibiotic Resistance.” The task force is to submit a five year plan to the President by February 15, 2015. The executive order also called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “continue taking steps to eliminate the use of medically important classes of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes in food-producing animals” (Obama).

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

BAD WEEDS

Last week, the USDA approved a new seed technology for corn and soybeans developed by Dow AgroSciences, which makes these crops resistant to the herbicide 2, 4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid). This is the latest offering of an herbicide resistant (hr) or herbicide tolerant (ht) crop variety. These crops are genetically engineered to be tolerant or resistant to the effects of specific herbicides. Once growing, the crops can be sprayed by the herbicide to control weeds, thereby killing the weeds without harming the crops. Dow’s new product line, named Enlist, is being brought to market to address the growing problem of herbicide resistant weeds. While the crops were genetically engineered to resist the effects of herbicides, weeds have evolved to also be resistant to the herbicide. The primary resistance is to glyphosate or Monsanto’s Roundup. Approval of Dow’s companion herbicide containing 2, 4-D and glyphosate, named Enlist Duo, must be obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency. The USDA’s approval only signifies that growing these crops will not pose a threat to other agricultural plant or animal species. The EPA will insure the safety of the herbicide and seed for the environment and human health.

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

HITTING A WALL

With just three and one-half months left in 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to finalize the levels of renewable fuels that must be blended into transportation fuels as required under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). Not only has this agency not finalized the levels for 2014, it has yet to propose the levels for 2015. It would appear the agency has hit a wall in administering this legislation.

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SEPTEMBER 9, 2014

MANY ARE NOT BRINGING HOME THE BACON

On August 19, 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly report on the consumer price index (CPI), which included data for the month of July. Since July 2013, prices for all goods and services increased about 2.0 percent. This is a moderate to low rate of inflation. However, food price increases are running ahead of many other product categories, putting further pressure on low income families during the still lackluster economic recovery.

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2014

FLY LIKE AN EAGLE

On Saturday, August 30, 2014, Auburn University played its first football game of the season at home. Before kickoff, as is tradition, an eagle flew from the upper deck to the field, while Auburn fans yelled the long echoing cry of “war eagle.” This is perhaps one of the most dramatic pre-game traditions in all of college sports. There is great majesty in seeing the eagle fly before the game.

Auburn University has a great interest in other kinds of flying, as well. Specifically, researchers in the College of Agriculture are very interested in developing technologies that will make effective use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in production agriculture. Auburn has the facilities, the research equipment, and the necessary personnel. What it does not have is authorization to conduct this kind of research.

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