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Harvest was just around the corner at the Nunamaker Ranch near Washtucna when this photo was taken.
Photo by Grady Gfeller

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Just the facts

AMMO workshop serves as a one-stop-learning shop for falling number issue

March 2017
By Trista Crossley


Harvest may be long over, but discussions about quality issues that plagued the 2016 crop haven’t fallen silent.

The Agricultural Marketing and Management Organization (AMMO) tackled falling numbers—causes, testing and impacts on flour quality and marketing—in its first workshop of 2017 last month. Using experts from several different fields, the session served as a one-stop shop for all things falling numbers (FN). See more


The down low on GMOs

Examining some of the science behind genetic engineering

December 2016
By Trista Crossley

Can you pick out which of these plants are genetically modified according to the definition used by U.S. regulatory agencies?

1) Grapefruit mutagenized with thermal neutrons;

2) The fusion of cells from two different plant species to generate a hybrid with both sets of chromosomes;

3) Doubling the number of chromosomes in a cell/species; or

4) Reduced expression of a specific gene in a species through silencing.

Despite all four sounding like something that would happen through genetic modification (GM or GMO for genetically modified organism), only the last one would actually fall under the definition of a GM plant according to most U.S. regulatory agencies (and to much of the public as well). The other three options are classified as conventional breeding techniques despite the fact that in breeding, conventional or otherwise, DNA is being modified. That idea was one of the main points of the presentation given by Joseph Kuhl, a plant molecular biologist from the University of Idaho, at the 2016 Tri-State Grain Growers Convention last month.

Kuhl’s presentation, “The Dilemma: The Science behind GMOs,” focused on what GM crops are and how they fit with conventionally bred crops. Among other topics, he talked about different types of genetic engineering, common ways researchers insert DNA into cells and his belief that GM products are misunderstood.

“One point I really want to make is that GMO plants and animals are not defined by what they are or what traits they carry, they are defined by the process through which they are generated. It is the method of breeding that is used to generate them that has given rise to this term GMO,” he said. See more