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(CBS News)   Acre of Genetically Modified Grass kills herd of cattle through the very unexpected synthesis of cyanide gas. Cow slaughter thought to be self-defense and USDA is now dissecting the grass looking for mutations and gas generating organs   (cbsnews.com) divider line 61
    More: Scary, farming, cow slaughter, Central Texas, herds, mutants, organs, cattle, grasshoppers  
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8517 clicks; posted to Geek » on 24 Jun 2012 at 4:32 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2012-06-24 06:27:20 AM
6 votes:
i'm surprised Monsanto permitted that article to be printed...
2012-06-24 07:35:12 AM
5 votes:
This is NOT a genetically modified grass!!!!

http://www.examiner.com/article/gmo-food-hybrid-poison-grass-that-kil l s-texas-cattle-not-genetically-modified
2012-06-24 01:52:59 AM
4 votes:
I took it to mean the cyanide gas was concentrated in the stomachs of the cows -a process of their unique digestion.

Now that makes sense. Invoke google-fu:

"Prussic acid is formally known as hydrocyanic acid, and as the name implies, is a cyanide-containing compound. It is only produced by certain plants, but under conditions of plant stress, those plants can produce the problem. Cattle ingest the plant, and during the process of digestion the cyanide compound is released." Link
2012-06-24 09:52:53 AM
3 votes:
Since some people are apparently slow on the uptake:

This was conventional hybrid grass. It's not a GMO.

This was conventional hybrid grass. It's not a GMO.

This was conventional hybrid grass. It's not a GMO.


born_yesterday: Did they ever solve the mystery of "lateral gene transference"? Jeez, it's been about ten years, but I remember that was one of the biggest concerns about GM crops. (IYDK, lateral gene transfer is the phenomenon by which plants in the same vicinity "pick up" genes from neighboring plants, including resistance genes.


That's an excellent and insightful question. Let me break it down a little further.

Lateral (horizontal) gene transfer is common among lower organisms (bacteria and such), rare among higher organisms (multicellular plants and animals).

Anti-GMO folks believe that GM is fundamentally unnatural and dangerous because it involves this lateral transfer, which otherwise wouldn't happen.

They then try to claim that GMOs will spread their evil artificial genes wantonly throughout the biosphere, because this lateral transfer naturally happens all the time.

See the problem here?

What does happen is conventional crossing between GMOs and related species. So, for example, GM corn can cross with unmodified corn nearby. Both the GM industry and anti-GM groups are focusing a lot of attention on this problem. But it is not horizontal gene transfer.
2012-06-24 08:21:56 AM
3 votes:
Texas extension service report on forage problems seems to suggest nitrate poisoning is possible in a drought:

"Normally, plants reduce nitrates to ammonium ions
and then assimilate them into amino acids and other proteins.
This process, called nitrate reductase, occurs in the
roots of some grasses such as bermudagrass, and in the
leaves, stems and stalks of plants such as corn or sorghum.
When plants are stressed (for example, by drought) this
process slows or stops, allowing nitrates to accumulate."

Seeing as how the TFA got the GMO claim wrong, I see plenty of reason to be skeptical here ... and the vet in TFA suggested multiple factors may be at work.

The Merck vet manual points out cattle are particularly susceptible to nitrite poisoning:
"Many species are susceptible to nitrate and nitrite poisoning, but cattle are affected most frequently. ... Drought conditions, particularly if occurring when plants are immature, may leave the vegetation with high nitrate content. ... Affected animals may die suddenly without appearing ill, in terminal anoxic convulsions within 1 hr, or after a clinical course of 12-24 hr or longer."

'Course, if a particular breed of grass is more likely to kill cattle because of nitrates instead of cyanide, it's still a problem.

Still, this may give me an excuse not to mow the lawn, so there's that.
2012-06-24 06:50:57 AM
3 votes:

Coelacanth: (and after they get a load of this, that'll go down to zero)


A little googling found something interesting, the grass in question is part Bermuda grass and Bermuda grass is high in hydrocyanic acid. Given the recent drought in Texas it may have had a higher than normal amount of the acid, and when the grass got in the cows' stomachs say good night Gracie.
2012-06-24 06:47:32 AM
3 votes:

Weaver95: i'm surprised Monsanto permitted that article to be printed...


Monsanto doesn't have anything to do with the grass in question.

aearra: And the rest of the world was derided for being suspicious of frankenfood.


The grass in question is no different from many other varieties of grass where two varieties are crossed by natural means. It's just a straight up hybrid of two existing grass varieties.
2012-06-24 06:40:56 AM
3 votes:
And the rest of the world was derided for being suspicious of frankenfood. Apparently americans are to be the guinea pigs in the experiments.
2012-06-24 04:01:56 AM
3 votes:

Paris1127: WorldCitizen: vossiewulf: I took it to mean the cyanide gas was concentrated in the stomachs of the cows -a process of their unique digestion.

Now that makes sense. Invoke google-fu:

"Prussic acid is formally known as hydrocyanic acid, and as the name implies, is a cyanide-containing compound. It is only produced by certain plants, but under conditions of plant stress, those plants can produce the problem. Cattle ingest the plant, and during the process of digestion the cyanide compound is released." Link

Ah, yes, that makes even more sense.

But it doesn't answer an important question: why now? Why these cows? Why this field? Who knows, maybe the drought had something to do with it...


Here's the thing about random chance: It doesn't care what you think is likely.

The basic proposal is that if something is possible, it either has happened or it will eventually happen - given enough time.

Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning 7 times. Weird stuff happens. Just because it's unlikely doesn't mean it aint gonna.

And yeah the drought probably had something to do with it.
2012-06-24 01:17:20 AM
3 votes:

WorldCitizen: vossiewulf: After being in the field for 15 years it suddenly releases large amounts of cyanide gas? Not going to say that's impossible, but it seems unlikely. At a minimum I would be looking for some radical change in conditions to begin to provide a rational explanation how plants could suddenly radically change their behavior. And I'd want to know how concentrations of cyanide gas high enough to kill 800lb cows somehow did not affect at all the people running around trying to help them.

I'm not saying that something isn't off here, because it certainly sounds like it is. But cows eat the grass meaning they keep their faces and snouts basically in the grass. Humans don't tend to walk around with their noses in the grass.


I took it to mean the cyanide gas was concentrated in the stomachs of the cows -a process of their unique digestion.
2012-06-24 04:32:52 PM
2 votes:

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: 7of7: I'm no farmer but from what I've read Tifton 85 is actually just a breed of grass, not a genetically modified grass.

FTFA: "The grass is a genetically-modified form of Bermuda known as Tifton 85."

If you're going to comment in a thread about TFA, it often helps a lot to RTFA before commenting on just headline. Especially if you're comment is based on "what I've read." Just a suggestion.


Let me amend that, and maybe give you a pass. You might be right, TFA may be wrong, and I may be an ass for putting too much trust in modern journalists.

According to Wikipedia, Tifton 85 is a 'hybrid,' and goes on to clarify that it is often *incorrectly* described as 'genetically modified'. WP doesn't cite a specific source for this, but another source linked from the same piece says: "Tifton 85 is the best of many F1 hybrids between PI 290884 from South Africa and Tifton 68, a highly digestible but cold susceptible hybrid that was released in 1983." That source, a University of Georgia subpage, cites 'The Georgia Seed Development Commission' as its primary source, which seems pretty legit.

I believe I owe you an apology, sir.
2012-06-24 12:04:56 PM
2 votes:

Coelacanth: I don't know how much cyanide it takes to kill a cow, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that it doesn't take much to kill three little girls. So asking my brother to keep his daughters off the lawn until there's a definite answer to what's going on with the dead cattle.


So tell them to not eat a hundred pounds of grass.

Grass has cyanide in it. That's why cyanide smells like fresh-cut grass. This hybrid grass has levels high enough to kill cows that eat it.
2012-06-24 11:39:48 AM
2 votes:

stucka: jso2897:
I grew up in east Texas - my family raised beef cattle. We fed both fresh and dry alfalfa, bermuda, and love grass, at all seasons, and thoughout the drought of the fifties. I have never heard of anything like this happening.
Google shows no incidents other than this one. Bullshiat. I am calling it.

Prussic acid poisoning with forage plants



Plants with Cyanogenic Potential
------------------------------------------------
Apple Johnsongrass
Apricot Lima bean
Arrow Grass Peach
Birdsfoot trefoil Poison suckleya
Cherry Sudangrass hybrids
Elderberry Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids
Flax Shattercane
Forage Sorghums Velvet grass
Grain Sorghums Vetch seed
Hydrangea White Clover
Indiangrass


I wouldn't rule that (or another plant) out just yet.


Hmm. I do remember my grandad saying cows shouldn't eat sorghum.
Only other thing like that I've heard of is sheep getting selenium poisoning from cropping ground cover plants too close to the ground in areas with selenium rich soil.
It will be interesting to see if the hybridization of this grass contributed to this event - may take them a while to figure it out.
People forget that plain old hybridization, like we've been doing for thousands of years, can be fairly potent genetic tinkering - it's produced unexpected and undesirable results before.
2012-06-24 10:57:35 AM
2 votes:

Coelacanth: But almost everybody agrees that something is wrong with the motherfarking grass!


Ok. So this not genetically modified grass, somehow managed to produce enough cynanide gass to kill the cows but the humans were A-Ok.

From that you can deduce that a) this gas is only deadly to cattle b) being a cow is fundamentally important to the reaction. Also, as the humans were A-Ok we can assume quite safely that this isn't airborne.

Which means, if it is cyanide (or indeed nitrate) poisoning it involves the odd digestion process of a cow.

So unless these children are a) cattle or b) genetically engineered to somehow have a cows digestive tract then I really don't see what you are panicing about. In fact you are busy spreading FUD. I suggest you make another phone call apologizing for causing a panic because you'd misunderstood something.

Ohh and it was most likely nitrates not being processed in the plant properly due to the drought.
2012-06-24 10:21:02 AM
2 votes:

BokChoy: Sigh. Its assholes like you who propagated the "VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM!!11" bullshiat through their hysterical knee-jerk reactions.


If it wasn't for me, my three nieces wouldn't have had any inoculations at all because of that McCarthy whore, so don't you call me any names.

Right now, we're dealing with an unknown quality. According to one news source, the cyanide comes from ingesting the grass. Another news source says it's contact. And still another says it's inhaled. But almost everybody agrees that something is wrong with the motherfarking grass!

I don't know how much cyanide it takes to kill a cow, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that it doesn't take much to kill three little girls. So asking my brother to keep his daughters off the lawn until there's a definite answer to what's going on with the dead cattle.
2012-06-24 08:10:30 AM
2 votes:

jso2897:
I grew up in east Texas - my family raised beef cattle. We fed both fresh and dry alfalfa, bermuda, and love grass, at all seasons, and thoughout the drought of the fifties. I have never heard of anything like this happening.
Google shows no incidents other than this one. Bullshiat. I am calling it.


Prussic acid poisoning with forage plants



Plants with Cyanogenic Potential
------------------------------------------------
Apple Johnsongrass
Apricot Lima bean
Arrow Grass Peach
Birdsfoot trefoil Poison suckleya
Cherry Sudangrass hybrids
Elderberry Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids
Flax Shattercane
Forage Sorghums Velvet grass
Grain Sorghums Vetch seed
Hydrangea White Clover
Indiangrass


I wouldn't rule that (or another plant) out just yet.
2012-06-24 08:08:48 AM
2 votes:
Many plants can produce cyanide-containing compounds. Link but the animals are poisoned when they eat the plant, not by release of cyanide gas. Even the original, poorly written article acknowledges that the cows were poisoned by eating the grass but somehow that turns into release of cyanide gas by the end of the article.
2012-06-24 07:41:37 AM
2 votes:

Coelacanth: The big problem here is that GMOs hybridize like crazy according to my sources.


The grass in question is sterile, and isn't a GMO it's just a regular hybrid.
2012-06-24 07:33:42 AM
2 votes:

WhyteRaven74: Coelacanth: (and after they get a load of this, that'll go down to zero)

A little googling found something interesting, the grass in question is part Bermuda grass and Bermuda grass is high in hydrocyanic acid. Given the recent drought in Texas it may have had a higher than normal amount of the acid, and when the grass got in the cows' stomachs say good night Gracie.


One of my brothers and his family lives in Texas. I just left him a message not to let the kids play in the grass until a few more voices pipe in on this I hope he doesn't freak.

The big problem here is that GMOs hybridize like crazy according to my sources. In Mexico, Monsanto had some fields of some variety of Biocorn. The Mexican army had to go with flamethrowers to get rid of the stuff because the pollen was endangering Monarch butterflies and that heirloom corn crops were becoming Biocorn crops.

I'm still looking for a mention of the flamethrowers online. About five or six years ago, the story was all over the place, but now *shrugs*.

One concern of mine is that GMO corporations like to use the same patented genes over and over again. Today it's grass. Tomorrow will it be tomatoes or strawberries? And the whole country is in a drought condition. What's next? Farm workers keeling over in the fields?
2012-06-24 07:25:58 AM
2 votes:

vossiewulf: After being in the field for 15 years it suddenly releases large amounts of cyanide gas? Not going to say that's impossible, but it seems unlikely. At a minimum I would be looking for some radical change in conditions to begin to provide a rational explanation how plants could suddenly radically change their behavior. And I'd want to know how concentrations of cyanide gas high enough to kill 800lb cows somehow did not affect at all the people running around trying to help them.


This.

But it will now be forever spread as truth in anti-GM-Foods hysteria, no matter what the outcome of this, if it is even reported.

Story done, time for the next chicken little. GM of course.
2012-06-24 07:23:51 AM
2 votes:

WhyteRaven74: Coelacanth: (and after they get a load of this, that'll go down to zero)

A little googling found something interesting, the grass in question is part Bermuda grass and Bermuda grass is high in hydrocyanic acid. Given the recent drought in Texas it may have had a higher than normal amount of the acid, and when the grass got in the cows' stomachs say good night Gracie.


I grew up in east Texas - my family raised beef cattle. We fed both fresh and dry alfalfa, bermuda, and love grass, at all seasons, and thoughout the drought of the fifties. I have never heard of anything like this happening.
Google shows no incidents other than this one. Bullshiat. I am calling it.
2012-06-24 06:32:39 AM
2 votes:
I wanted to submit this earlier, but damn it, sometimes we're so hung up on funny headlines that serious stuff doesn't get through all that often.

BTW, 70% of our food is GMO. In Europe, less than 05% (and after they get a load of this, that'll go down to zero).
2012-06-24 05:48:33 AM
2 votes:
www.monologuedb.com

If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, ah, well, there it is.

Oh, and copypaste that monologue about adaptation in the plant world.
2012-06-24 02:13:37 AM
2 votes:

vossiewulf: I took it to mean the cyanide gas was concentrated in the stomachs of the cows -a process of their unique digestion.

Now that makes sense. Invoke google-fu:

"Prussic acid is formally known as hydrocyanic acid, and as the name implies, is a cyanide-containing compound. It is only produced by certain plants, but under conditions of plant stress, those plants can produce the problem. Cattle ingest the plant, and during the process of digestion the cyanide compound is released." Link


Ah, yes, that makes even more sense.
2012-06-24 12:59:00 AM
2 votes:

vossiewulf: After being in the field for 15 years it suddenly releases large amounts of cyanide gas? Not going to say that's impossible, but it seems unlikely. At a minimum I would be looking for some radical change in conditions to begin to provide a rational explanation how plants could suddenly radically change their behavior. And I'd want to know how concentrations of cyanide gas high enough to kill 800lb cows somehow did not affect at all the people running around trying to help them.


I'm not saying that something isn't off here, because it certainly sounds like it is. But cows eat the grass meaning they keep their faces and snouts basically in the grass. Humans don't tend to walk around with their noses in the grass.
2012-06-24 12:26:05 AM
2 votes:
After being in the field for 15 years it suddenly releases large amounts of cyanide gas? Not going to say that's impossible, but it seems unlikely. At a minimum I would be looking for some radical change in conditions to begin to provide a rational explanation how plants could suddenly radically change their behavior. And I'd want to know how concentrations of cyanide gas high enough to kill 800lb cows somehow did not affect at all the people running around trying to help them.
2012-06-23 11:35:13 PM
2 votes:
I'm no farmer but from what I've read Tifton 85 is actually just a breed of grass, not a genetically modified grass.
2012-06-26 02:55:22 AM
1 votes:

asurferosa: ZipSplat: Coelacanth: The big problem here is that GMOs hybridize like crazy according to my sources.

The anti-GMO movement is often motivated by fear, informed by fallacy, and driven by hysteria. More at 11.

So are voters. I mean, just look at the politics tab for one minute without going hysterical.


The pro-GMOs are just as hysterical. I phoned my brother to tell him to keep his daughters of the grass until this thing could be sorted out as a precaution because he lives in that same general area, and the next thing I know, I'm being compared to that babykiller Jenny McCarthy.
2012-06-25 09:05:10 AM
1 votes:
Support the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

If we get it passed in California we can get it passed in many other states as well. Other countries already have these laws on the books. The fact that we don't yet shows the power of Big Agra in putting a stop to what it is our right to know. What are they afraid of?
2012-06-25 06:46:22 AM
1 votes:
-not GM

-cyanide production is a known feature of some grasses under drought stress.

/bears repeating.
2012-06-25 06:46:02 AM
1 votes:

angrycrank: For what it's worth, all the anti-GMO advocates I know (the serious academic ones, anyway) are primarily concerned with the business practices of the industry and the decisions of international trade bodies that undermine the ability of states to regulate GMOs. There are definitely "science -spooky" types out there, but unlike the anti-vax movement, comprised entirely of charlatans and fools, there are people in the anti-GMO movement who raise serious and legitimate concerns.


Why Do Cattle Die Eating Bt Cotton Plants Only In The Telengana Region Of Andhra Pradesh In India?

- C Kameswara Rao Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education Bangalore, India, March 14, 2007, http://www.fbae.org/Channels/Views/why_do_cattle_die_eating_bt_cotton. htm krao+at+vsnl.com

For a month now, reports of dead cattle have occupied the centre stage in the Warangal, Khammam and Adilabad Districts of the Telengana area of Andhra Pradesh in India (Deccan Herald, February 7, 2007, The Hindu, March 2, 2007, GM Watch, March 4, 2007). None of the reports showed that Bt protein in the Bt cotton plants was the real culprit, but the purveyors of these reports would like the world to believe that there is something wrong with Bt cotton plants that cause these alleged animal deaths and so Bt transgenics should be banned.

With more than 90 per cent of cotton grown in the Telengana region being Bt cotton, the cattle graze on Bt cotton stubble. Since Bt protein is established beyond any reasonable doubt that it is non-toxic to mammals on account of its mode of chemical action, the investigation should concentrate on what other chemicals the dead/dying cotton plants contain affecting the cattle. The reported symptoms such as convulsions, nasal discharge, vomiting, respiratory problems and diarrhea can be caused by a variety of factors, and cannot be attributed exclusively to the chemical contents of Bt plants, as non-Bt cotton plants too contain the same chemical compounds except for the Bt protein.

A veterinary doctor reportedly said that the treatment is symptomatic since the 'culprit toxic substance is not identified'. 'It needs more than a laboratory analysis to curb the occurrence of animal deaths due to suspected poisoning' another veterinarian observed. The State Legislative Assembly seems to have been informed that no deaths of cattle attributable to the consumption of Bt cotton plants were reported. Yet the NGOs claim that the Government Veterinary Department ascribed the deaths to grazing Bt cotton plants.

I was in the Warangal District in the middle of December 2006, along with Professor Ronald Herring (Cornell University) and Dr S Shantharam (Biologistics International, US) and discussed sheep deaths with different groups of people and no one said that the sheep died only because they consumed Bt cotton plants.

The representatives of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CAS, Secunderabad), the most vocal face of anti-agricultural biotechnology and sheep death movement said that basing on the data provided by the Andhra Pradesh Shepherds Union, about 120 sheep died on eating Bt cotton leaves in 11 Mandals of Warangal and Khammam districts, last year. According to them there were many other reports of death of a large number of sheep in the region. CSA admitted that Bt protein is not toxic to mammals, but this wisdom evaporates when they go to the press. They also seem to consider that sheep deaths are due to 'nitrate toxicity'. But the nitrate content was not estimated either in the plants or the sheep body fluids and tissues. Drought and water stress results in the accumulation of a large number of chemical compounds in the drying plants, such as resins, polyphenols such as gossypol and several others, which can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. The leaves of such plants are no longer green; they acquire hues of red to deep purple. However, nitrates or other toxic compounds cannot be exclusive to Bt cotton plants

The Officers of the Department of Agriculture of the Warangal District we met said that sheep death cannot be attributed to Bt cotton and that residual pesticides are probably the cause, and sheep died even before Bt cotton was cultivated in the area.

An agriculture reporter of a local vernacular daily also does not believe that there is any connection between sheep deaths and Bt cotton.

We met several cotton seed and pesticide dealers who do not see any connection between Bt cotton and sheep deaths. They said that 'Chituku rogam', a fatal bacterial disease of sheep, appears in the District now and then and that what else the cattle have eaten along with cotton plants is also important.

Most of the large number of farmers we met in the District heard about sheep deaths but have no first hand knowledge of the issue. They have indicated that most reports of sheep deaths come from the township of Oorugunda where an NGO operates and also from the village area of Veladi.

None of the activists speak about sheep deaths that occurred before Bt cotton cultivation came into practice in this region. The big question is why cattle only in a few Districts of the Telengana region die? If cattle are reported to be dying on eating Bt cotton plants only in the Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh, the causes are probably elsewhere, other than in the Bt stubble.

Next wave of reporting would be about people who fell sick on drinking milk from the cows and buffalos that ate Bt cotton plants. The remedies are simple-provide the cattle with proper feed and prevent them from grazing on drying cotton plants, no matter Bt or non-Bt.

As per the records of the District Department of Agriculture, a compensation of Rs. 3.27 crore was paid to the farmers in the Telengana District on account of alleged failure of Bt cotton crop during the last couple of years. From this precedence, it looks that the Government of Andhra Pradesh and producers of Bt cotton seed should now get ready to dish out compensation for cattle deaths in Telengana


http://www.agbioworld.org/newsletter_wm/index.php?caseid=archive&news i d=2662

Syngenta charged for covering up livestock deaths from GM corn Link

Report on horizontal gene transfer Link

What You Eat Affects Your Genes: RNA from Rice Can Survive Digestion and Alter Gene Expression Link
2012-06-25 02:00:15 AM
1 votes:
That field needs to be burned down to the roots, all the fields near it too as a precaution. Might be nothing, but a mutation like that cannot be allowed to take root... so to speak. If you want to get rid of a new species you don't wait until it is everywhere first.

/Like Scotch Broom on Vancouver Island
2012-06-25 12:42:18 AM
1 votes:

wildcardjack: 7of7: I'm no farmer but from what I've read Tifton 85 is actually just a breed of grass, not a genetically modified grass.

THIS!

Mendel was doing this type of hybridization 150 years ago.

Last line in the article

"The grasshoppers are enjoying it now," he said.

I call BS on the whole "Grass produced cyanide" story.


Well, the article sucks all around:

a) As many many many others in this thread have noted, the grass in question is no more "GMO" than a Labradoodle is...or, hell, the hybrid cherry tomatoes growing and throwing off fruit in my square-foot garden (OH NOES!). And if producing a hybrid crop is "GMO frankenfoods", then a certain dead monk by the name of Gregory Mendel should be canonised as the Patron Saint of Genetic Engineering RIGHT NAO. :D

b) In the case of this grass, you are NOT going to die of cyanide poisoning unless you EAT the stuff--much like with apple seeds and the seeds of most pomaceous fruit, yes, they DO contain cyanide but for it to become DANGEROUS you have to eat a hell of a lot of it and your stomach acid has to liberate the cyanide salts to hydrogen cyanide first

Guess what hungry cattle will do the first time they see a green field of grass, especially after a drought? Gorge the living mooing crap out of themselves, that's what. Which would make them susceptible to cyanide poisoning if the plant had a higher-than-normal amount of cyanide salts (basically the equivalent of a human eating something like twenty apple cores, seeds and all).

But no, you are NOT going to kack over from mowing the grass if this cultivar is in your yard, unless you've gone completely bugshiat nuts and have the clever idea of mowing your yard with a Super-Soaker full of muriatic acid. :D And even then I think you might have worse problems from the inevitable chemical burns to the lungs...

c) It's still rather iffy whether it's a case where plants concentrated cyanide salts due to drought; another likely possibility is nitrate/nitrite poisoning (as others have noted), which can ALSO happen when cows gorge the living mooing shiat out of themselves on fresh green grass that's finally growing after a prolonged drought. And yes, cattle can pretty much suffocate and die quickly (appearing almost like cyanide poisoning, superficially at least) from a bellyful of nitrate-loaded grass just as much as they can from a bellyful of cyanide-salt-laden grass.

d) There is a peculiarity of how cattle eat that would make them more susceptible to ANY kind of poisoning where the poison was liberated by stomach acid. Namely, cattle are ruminants with multiple "stomachs" (more properly, stomach-compartments that are more specialised than omnivore stomachs like ours)--cows can wolf down grass which collects in a "grass ball" that's initially broken down by symbiotic microbes that digest collagen (much like those that live in termites), then they hork this back up an hour or two later as cud (and contentedly chew it in true blissful-moo fashion) then re-swallow this to undergo further digestion down the alimentary tract. (The only real analogues to cud-chewing in ruminants are how rabbits will eat their "first poo" (which is really more of a cud--yes, bunny cud comes out the OTHER end) and the crop in birds, and even then these are just analogues to how a reticulorumen works.)

tl;dr version: It's entirely possible that by the time any sort of plant-borne poison gets to the actual digestive "stomach" of a cow (the abomasum, which produces stomach acid) it's been rendered more bioavailable by the pre-digestion in the reticulorumen and the chewing of the cud...meaning Bessie or El Toro would be quite possibly more susceptible to being poisoned.

(And yes, that would explain why grasshoppers would be safe--insect digestion is generally quite different, no use of stomach acids, more of digestive enzymes and symbiotic bacteria.)
2012-06-24 11:22:13 PM
1 votes:

7of7: I'm no farmer but from what I've read Tifton 85 is actually just a breed of grass, not a genetically modified grass.


THIS!

Mendel was doing this type of hybridization 150 years ago.

Last line in the article

"The grasshoppers are enjoying it now," he said.

I call BS on the whole "Grass produced cyanide" story.
2012-06-24 10:00:23 PM
1 votes:

jso2897: I worked in the jewelry trade for many years - cyanide smells like marzipan - like almond extract. It smells absolutely nothing like fresh cut grass.


Hmm. Googling cyanide jewelry reveals a lot of accidents.

But yeah, all the detective stories I've ever read made one thing clear, and that is that cyanide smells like almonds.
2012-06-24 09:12:24 PM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: Mister Peejay: Coelacanth: I don't know how much cyanide it takes to kill a cow, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that it doesn't take much to kill three little girls. So asking my brother to keep his daughters off the lawn until there's a definite answer to what's going on with the dead cattle.

So tell them to not eat a hundred pounds of grass.

Grass has cyanide in it. That's why cyanide smells like fresh-cut grass. This hybrid grass has levels high enough to kill cows that eat it.

[i.imgur.com image 521x949]

I honestly don't know. What does cyanide smell like?


I worked in the jewelry trade for many years - cyanide smells like marzipan - like almond extract. It smells absolutely nothing like fresh cut grass.
2012-06-24 06:44:34 PM
1 votes:
rwfan : My bad if someone already pointed this out already but apparently it's phosgene that smells like fresh cut grass.

Why do many mundane things contain poisons, (and why do the poisons smell so mundane).

Mustard gas smells like ... mustard

Phosgene smells like, grass (or does grass smell like phosgene).

Cyanide smells like, almonds.
2012-06-24 06:35:48 PM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: rwfan: My bad if someone already pointed this out already but apparently it's phosgene that smells like fresh cut grass.

That's possibly even scarier. I love the smell of fresh cut grass!


I don't know but I don't think the compounds released from fresh cut grass have any relationship to phosgene, they just smell similar.
2012-06-24 06:09:51 PM
1 votes:

big_pth: goddamnit. i hate it when m. night shamylan is right.


Over in one
2012-06-24 06:07:24 PM
1 votes:

rwfan: My bad if someone already pointed this out already but apparently it's phosgene that smells like fresh cut grass.


That's possibly even scarier. I love the smell of fresh cut grass!

Seems like one could put together a real fun scent smelling party. My ex used to, and my girls love to drag me into stores that sell soaps, candles, perfume, crap like that. Might be fun to rewrite the labels....
2012-06-24 05:57:08 PM
1 votes:

RoyBatty: Mister Peejay: Coelacanth: I don't know how much cyanide it takes to kill a cow, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts that it doesn't take much to kill three little girls. So asking my brother to keep his daughters off the lawn until there's a definite answer to what's going on with the dead cattle.

So tell them to not eat a hundred pounds of grass.

Grass has cyanide in it. That's why cyanide smells like fresh-cut grass. This hybrid grass has levels high enough to kill cows that eat it.

[i.imgur.com image 521x949]

I honestly don't know. What does cyanide smell like?


My bad if someone already pointed this out already but apparently it's phosgene that smells like fresh cut grass.
2012-06-24 04:15:57 PM
1 votes:
So my horse died a couple weeks ago. She was fine the evening before, and was dead the next day. She ate tifton 85. I doubt the cyanide thing happened... but reading about the nitrite thing and being so wet the week before... I think I know now what got her :/

/tifton 85 isn't GMO... anyone said that yet?
//I mean, it kinda is, but in the same way say... the puppies resulting from two different breeds of dog are genetically 'modified'...
2012-06-24 04:01:51 PM
1 votes:
This is a hybrid. This is a cross bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, featherbed bent, and northern California sinsemilla. The amazing stuff about this is that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt at night on this stuff. I've got pounds of this stuff. [hands his joint] Here, take a puff on this big ole' Bob Marley joint.

/you'll get nothing and like it.....
2012-06-24 02:32:43 PM
1 votes:
Just noticed this was CBS. I'm surprised that they didn't shove a model rocket engine up a cow's ass and then claim the ensuing explosion was the result of a "design defect."
2012-06-24 02:27:59 PM
1 votes:
According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service, Tifton 85 is a hybrid between an African Bermuda grass and Tifton 68, a different hybrid produced in Tifton, Georgia(*). Tifton 85 is highly digestible and has good protein content, something that first drew Mr. Abel to the grass. Hybridization has been practiced by farmers as long as plants have been grown, and is not the same as GMO at all. (Story continues below.)
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According to local station KEYE, Abel first knew something was wrong when the cows started bellowing. He thought he was about to witness a calving but instead saw his unfortunate animals staggering around, obviously dying. Others in the area have also since tested their grass and found the same results-the grass has started venting cyanide.

True: Cattle died after eating grass that suddenly started venting cyanide
False: The grass was genetically modified

Texas is starting to recover from a long drought and this may be a factor in the sudden self-poisoning of the grass. The USDA has dispatched scientists to find out what went wrong.

According to the Animal Health Library, Bermuda grass is high in hydrocyanic acid, which may be concentrated during times of drought. Those fighting the GMO food good fight will need to find another cause, because the only thing in this story that's been genetically modified are the facts.


Fear mongering story is fear mongering.
2012-06-24 01:49:00 PM
1 votes:

Coelacanth: I wanted to submit this earlier, but damn it, sometimes we're so hung up on funny headlines that serious stuff doesn't get through all that often.

BTW, 70% of our food is GMO. In Europe, less than 05% (and after they get a load of this, that'll go down to zero).


Broadly speaking, unless you're eating crops like emmer and meat like moose, 100% of your food is genetically modified. In the old days, the modifications were from simple cross breeding; later they were made with things like x-rays and mustard gas, which was a shotgun approach: some of the mutations were useful, but the breeders had no idea what all of the mutations were; more recently recombinant DNA, gene-splicing, and other techniques are being used.
2012-06-24 12:19:28 PM
1 votes:

Mister Peejay: Grass has cyanide in it. That's why cyanide smells like fresh-cut grass. This hybrid grass has levels high enough to kill cows that eat it.


Thanks. Right now I'm actually wishing that it's something else that's as evil as MRSA and spreads like the Black Death. And in this age of great uncertainties, I might get my wish.
2012-06-24 11:46:06 AM
1 votes:
Tifton 85 is a hybrid that includes an African grass, so obviously this is Obama's fault and evidence that Agenda 21 is underway.

Yeah, laugh, but you know we'll see something on WND or a similar spot claiming exactly this. 50% chance *that* story gets greenlit on fark.
2012-06-24 11:42:17 AM
1 votes:
Or it's all just a big insurance scam by the farmer.
2012-06-24 09:31:00 AM
1 votes:

Coelacanth: WhyteRaven74: Coelacanth: (and after they get a load of this, that'll go down to zero)

A little googling found something interesting, the grass in question is part Bermuda grass and Bermuda grass is high in hydrocyanic acid. Given the recent drought in Texas it may have had a higher than normal amount of the acid, and when the grass got in the cows' stomachs say good night Gracie.

One of my brothers and his family lives in Texas. I just left him a message not to let the kids play in the grass until a few more voices pipe in on this I hope he doesn't freak.

The big problem here is that GMOs hybridize like crazy according to my sources. In Mexico, Monsanto had some fields of some variety of Biocorn. The Mexican army had to go with flamethrowers to get rid of the stuff because the pollen was endangering Monarch butterflies and that heirloom corn crops were becoming Biocorn crops.

I'm still looking for a mention of the flamethrowers online. About five or six years ago, the story was all over the place, but now *shrugs*.

One concern of mine is that GMO corporations like to use the same patented genes over and over again. Today it's grass. Tomorrow will it be tomatoes or strawberries? And the whole country is in a drought condition. What's next? Farm workers keeling over in the fields?


Did they ever solve the mystery of "lateral gene transference"? Jeez, it's been about ten years, but I remember that was one of the biggest concerns about GM crops. (IYDK, lateral gene transfer is the phenomenon by which plants in the same vicinity "pick up" genes from neighboring plants, including resistance genes.
2012-06-24 08:53:49 AM
1 votes:
WHY DO THOSE COWS HATE SCIENCE!!!
www.joeydevilla.com

If they don't like it, they can damn well move and get the fark out of the way of scientific progress!
2012-06-24 08:19:18 AM
1 votes:

ZipSplat: Coelacanth: The big problem here is that GMOs hybridize like crazy according to my sources.

The anti-GMO movement is often motivated by fear, informed by fallacy, and driven by hysteria. More at 11.


PLONK

And the pro-GMO suits are motivated by profits.
2012-06-24 07:59:39 AM
1 votes:

Coelacanth: The big problem here is that GMOs hybridize like crazy according to my sources.


The anti-GMO movement is often motivated by fear, informed by fallacy, and driven by hysteria. More at 11.
2012-06-24 07:35:05 AM
1 votes:

jso2897: I grew up in east Texas - my family raised beef cattle. We fed both fresh and dry alfalfa, bermuda, and love grass, at all seasons, and thoughout the drought of the fifties. I have never heard of anything like this happening.
Google shows no incidents other than this one. Bullshiat. I am calling it.


Where did you get your grass?
2012-06-24 06:19:07 AM
1 votes:

jtown: [www.monologuedb.com image 150x150]

If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, ah, well, there it is.

Oh, and copypaste that monologue about adaptation in the plant world.


Oh, don't be silly. There's no way that clever-ass Man could ever screw up messing around with shiat he doesn't understand.
2012-06-24 05:37:06 AM
1 votes:
This is exactly the sort of shiat I do not like to read first thing in the morning.
2012-06-24 05:04:11 AM
1 votes:
Asa Phelps: Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning 7 times.

Did he really get struck by lightining, or did he really just get hit by the splash damage, IE, the lightning hits the ground near where he's standing. The lightning hits a tree and arcs to him, etc.
2012-06-24 03:04:06 AM
1 votes:

WorldCitizen: vossiewulf: I took it to mean the cyanide gas was concentrated in the stomachs of the cows -a process of their unique digestion.

Now that makes sense. Invoke google-fu:

"Prussic acid is formally known as hydrocyanic acid, and as the name implies, is a cyanide-containing compound. It is only produced by certain plants, but under conditions of plant stress, those plants can produce the problem. Cattle ingest the plant, and during the process of digestion the cyanide compound is released." Link

Ah, yes, that makes even more sense.


But it doesn't answer an important question: why now? Why these cows? Why this field? Who knows, maybe the drought had something to do with it...
2012-06-24 01:14:01 AM
1 votes:

WorldCitizen: vossiewulf: After being in the field for 15 years it suddenly releases large amounts of cyanide gas? Not going to say that's impossible, but it seems unlikely. At a minimum I would be looking for some radical change in conditions to begin to provide a rational explanation how plants could suddenly radically change their behavior. And I'd want to know how concentrations of cyanide gas high enough to kill 800lb cows somehow did not affect at all the people running around trying to help them.

I'm not saying that something isn't off here, because it certainly sounds like it is. But cows eat the grass meaning they keep their faces and snouts basically in the grass. Humans don't tend to walk around with their noses in the grass.


I'm going with "I'm not saying it's aliens, but it's aliens"
2012-06-24 12:51:54 AM
1 votes:

vossiewulf: After being in the field for 15 years it suddenly releases large amounts of cyanide gas? Not going to say that's impossible, but it seems unlikely. At a minimum I would be looking for some radical change in conditions to begin to provide a rational explanation how plants could suddenly radically change their behavior. And I'd want to know how concentrations of cyanide gas high enough to kill 800lb cows somehow did not affect at all the people running around trying to help them.


Yeah, something is weird with this.
2012-06-23 11:06:54 PM
1 votes:
goddamnit. i hate it when m. night shamylan is right.
 
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