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View Full Version : Tifton 85 producing cyanide gas and killing cattle?!



Simkie
Jun. 24, 2012, 12:18 AM
How crazy is this?

http://www.foodrenegade.com/mutated-gmo-grass-makes-cyanide-kills-cattle-2/

WILD.

oldpony66
Jun. 24, 2012, 02:51 AM
I saw that, then googled a few things. Hopefully someone else can chime in but first of all, I don't see how Tifton 85 is a "GMO" or "mutated" when everything I'm pulling up says it is a hybrid between two other grasses - just crossed. So that's my first source of confusion. Is there an actual Tifton 85 that is a GMO? Did the grass really "mutate" and does it need to be killed off and replanted? Because that's not the impression I'm getting from what I'm looking up, but that's what all these articles about the cow deaths suggest.

I'm also finding information that suggests that producing cyanide gas happens in many grasses when the environmental stressors are there, and would love to know exactly how that happens (sorry, Biology major here and never heard of that... wondering when/where it happens in the plant!) haven't really had time to do enough searches on it.

JSwan
Jun. 24, 2012, 06:03 AM
Guess what happens when your horse eats wilted cherry leaves. And they will eat them.

Switchgrass and Johnsongrass are also very toxic under certain conditions.

cloudyandcallie
Jun. 24, 2012, 06:23 AM
Tift 85 was developed down in Tifton at the GA Ag Lab, wasn't it?

I suggest that anyone interested should contact the lab down there, during week days, and ask them about the article posted by OP.

Cloudy and Callie ate the Tift 85 grown within 60 miles of Savannah from 2002 through 2005 at 2 barns. I think I'll given Mr. Hart, the growner, a call this week and ask him about this although my horses don't board where his hay is used now.

Bluey
Jun. 24, 2012, 06:28 AM
I saw that, then googled a few things. Hopefully someone else can chime in but first of all, I don't see how Tifton 85 is a "GMO" or "mutated" when everything I'm pulling up says it is a hybrid between two other grasses - just crossed. So that's my first source of confusion. Is there an actual Tifton 85 that is a GMO? Did the grass really "mutate" and does it need to be killed off and replanted? Because that's not the impression I'm getting from what I'm looking up, but that's what all these articles about the cow deaths suggest.

I'm also finding information that suggests that producing cyanide gas happens in many grasses when the environmental stressors are there, and would love to know exactly how that happens (sorry, Biology major here and never heard of that... wondering when/where it happens in the plant!) haven't really had time to do enough searches on it.


We have that happened, driving a herd of 300+ heifers across a ditch.
They gobbled the pigweeds in there as fast as they could and it happened that those had grown just right to be poisonous and five died before we could get them all across that ditch.:eek:
It is a terrible situation.
Grass or weeds can be poisonous at times when you don't expect it, so can't prevent it.

Here, everyone knows to watch for that with the cane type grasses.
When you bale haygrazer, you don't want to feed it right off because of that.
After a week or two the cyanide is gone, but you may still have nitrate poisoning.
We always get those kinds of hay tested for both.

I don't know why that grass was affected, wonder if there was other in there they ate that did it?
I don't think that 15 years ago they would have any GMO grasses.
I don't think they have them today.
I wonder if the reporter just misunderstood hybrid for GMO, may not even know the difference.

alicen
Jun. 24, 2012, 08:15 AM
I'm also finding information that suggests that producing cyanide gas happens in many grasses when the environmental stressors are there, and would love to know exactly how that happens (sorry, Biology major here and never heard of that... wondering when/where it happens in the plant!) haven't really had time to do enough searches on it.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/CropNews/2011/0912barnhart.htm

Daydream Believer
Jun. 24, 2012, 08:16 AM
Sometimes hybridizing a plant species can produce very unexpected results. Modern dwarf wheat is a good example. Never genetically modified like a GMO but they managed to breed entirely new characteristics into the plant (other than being dwarf) such as changes to the gluten proteins which has led to the 4x incidence of gluten intolerance in people today versus prior to 1980. Some techniques such as irradiating seeds can lead to unusual mutations.

Chall
Jun. 24, 2012, 08:33 AM
dwarf wheat ... changes to the gluten proteins which has led to the 4x incidence of gluten intolerance in people today versus prior to 1980..
Do you have references on this? And what percentage of wheat on the market, in human food products, is Dwarf wheat.
Google brings up vary different stats for gluten intolerance as a percentage of population. It "appears to me" that the higher stats belong to non scientific sources selling something.
However I anecdotally now know of more people with celiac.

sketcher
Jun. 24, 2012, 09:06 AM
Do you have references on this?

http://current.com/green/90340184_study-confirms-increase-in-wheat-gluten-disorder.htm

This little article references a scientific publication (which I did not look for):
http://resource.wur.nl/en/wetenschap/detail/more_toxic_gluten_in_todays_bread/

This is not a scientific publication but mentions that 99% of the wheat grown is dwarf wheat.

http://www.examiner.com/article/monsanto-s-mutant-wheat-is-making-you-sick-and-fat

paintjumper
Jun. 24, 2012, 09:21 AM
and the place that created Tift 85 and about 10000 other things, is about 2 miles from my house. My horses don't really like the 85 hay over the common and alicia that grows "wild" here, so I don't feed it. I'll investigate after next week (my last week in school) and report back. I sent the article to my hay grower here, that also has a few T85 fields, maybe he can help with any info.

Equibrit
Jun. 24, 2012, 09:28 AM
All about Tift 85; http://www.tifton.uga.edu/fat/tifton85.htm

Why believe loonies ?

LauraKY
Jun. 24, 2012, 09:54 AM
I wonder if the several year drought in Texas had something to do with it. Yes, they got the GM part wrong...I hate it when journalists aren't thorough. Fact check everything!

Bluey
Jun. 24, 2012, 10:07 AM
I wonder if the several year drought in Texas had something to do with it. Yes, they got the GM part wrong...I hate it when journalists aren't thorough. Fact check everything!

Ok, I checked some and here is one article:

http://forages.oregonstate.edu/fi/topics/pasturesandgrazing/grazingsystemdesign/preventingprussicacidpoisening

I am surprised that the Tifton grass is the cause.
I would bet some other is more probable, but the vet and lab that did the necropsies ought to know.

Daydream Believer
Jun. 24, 2012, 10:09 AM
Do you have references on this? And what percentage of wheat on the market, in human food products, is Dwarf wheat.

Yes, I do. I can write a few of them here for you, and if you buy the book "Wheat Belly," it is full of scientific references. I believe you'll find the vast vast majority of wheat grown today is the dwarf variety..at least in the US. Semonlina and Durum are still grown for pastas and some of the very old varieties like Einkorn and Emmer can still be found as artisanal varieties but they are hard to find.

Interestingly the dwarf varieties started to be grown in large quantities right about the 1985, gained to take over nearly the entire crop annually and shortly afterwards American's waistline exploded. This variety of wheat also has a compound that acts like an opiate and appetite stimulant..much more potent than older varieties. Wheat has a higher glycemic index than sugar also...very carb dense...and now you find it in everything...believe I know as I have to read every label on all food I buy. It hides under a lot of other names also so it can be very misleading if you are just looking for "wheat" on a label.

One reference for the glutens:

Song X ,Ni Z. Yao Y et al. Identification of differentially expressed proteins between hybrid and parents in wheat (Tritucum aestivum L.) seeding leaves. Theor Appl Genet 2009 Jan118(2):213-25

Gao X, Liu SW, Sun Q, Xia GM. High frequency of HMW-GS sequence variation through somatic hybridization between Agropyron elongatum and common wheat. Plant 2010 Jan;23(2):245-50.

Fan den Broeck HC, de Jong HC, Salentijn EM et al. Presence of celiac disease epitopes in modern and old hyxaploid wheat varieties: wheat breeding may have contributed to increased prevalence of celiac disease. Theor Appl Genet 2010 Jul 28.

There's a couple for you. The book is fascinating and worth a read if you are interested in that sort of thing. It's written by a Cardiologist, author is William Davis, MD.

BTW, I suffer from Celiac Disease and I know of a lot of people actually diagnosed. For each person diagnosed, there are many many more who have no idea. The incidence of Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity has quadrupled in the last decades.

Equibrit
Jun. 24, 2012, 10:13 AM
Tift 85 has been around since 1983. There have been droughts between 1983 and 2012. The whole story is not being told. No mention was made of how the field had been treated during or after the drought. This is the worst kind of sansationalism masquerading as journalism. It's the equivalent of adding 1+1 and coming up with 101 because you think it's a magic number.

Bluey
Jun. 24, 2012, 10:20 AM
I beg to disagree a little on dwarf wheat history.
All the wheat strains here since the 1940's are considered dwarf dryland wheat.
We used Concho for many years, some still do.
Not very good yields at the rate we sow wheat here, 1/2 lb/acre, but at least some yields, when no other wheat makes it in the droughts we have.

We generally can get 22 bushel/acre, good weight, testing high in protein, in "normal" years, have had up to 37 b/ac tops in a great year, 1984 and in bad years still can get from 12 to 17 b/ac.
We have saved our own wheat all these years, as has everyone around here that uses those strains.
We also have used other varieties, several TAM ones, for grazing beardless strains are best.

suz
Jun. 24, 2012, 10:33 AM
Sometimes hybridizing a plant species can produce very unexpected results. Modern dwarf wheat is a good example. Never genetically modified like a GMO but they managed to breed entirely new characteristics into the plant (other than being dwarf) such as changes to the gluten proteins which has led to the 4x incidence of gluten intolerance in people today versus prior to 1980. Some techniques such as irradiating seeds can lead to unusual mutations.

and this is why i gained seventy lbs on the american heart association diet!
i was eating plenty of bread and pasta with no oil or fat as recomended and i kept getting bigger and bigger. my stomach was so bloated (and i felt terrible) that i looked ready to deliver twins.
eliminating wheat from my diet was such a relief!

Bluey
Jun. 24, 2012, 10:39 AM
and this is why i gained seventy lbs on the american heart association diet!
i was eating plenty of bread and pasta with no oil or fat as recomended and i kept getting bigger and bigger. my stomach was so bloated (and i felt terrible) that i looked ready to deliver twins.
eliminating wheat from my diet was such a relief!

The new guidelines don't exclude fats any more, although they should be, as all else, consumed in moderation.
They do go light on simple carbohydrates, sugars mostly.
Here is a short take on that:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=carbs-against-cardio

Daydream Believer
Jun. 24, 2012, 11:56 AM
and this is why i gained seventy lbs on the american heart association diet!
i was eating plenty of bread and pasta with no oil or fat as recomended and i kept getting bigger and bigger. my stomach was so bloated (and i felt terrible) that i looked ready to deliver twins.
eliminating wheat from my diet was such a relief!

Yes, for me also and a number of other people I've suggested try to eliminate wheat. Doing nothing else, they immediately felt better...less bloated and less "fuzzy"..more clear headed..and lost a lot of weight. The book "Wheat Belly" is quite eye opening and it is backed up by real studies...yes it is slanted and no it's not impartial...but it's worth checking out. I can't imagine why anyone should eat six serving a day of grain...it's very fattening. Our food pyramid is so messed up.

Bluey, I am sure there were other dwarf varieties but I know the variety in question that he's referencing was widely grown first in the mid 1980's. This article was recently on his blog..it sums things up but does not have footnotes on it

http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/06/mind-games-man-boobs-and-muffin-tops/

I mainly referenced the wheat to show that old fashioned hybridization (and some new types like irradiating seeds) can have unexpected effects and can create some unusual changes in a plant.

foggybok
Jun. 25, 2012, 01:27 AM
Note that Cynodon species is implicated in this kind of poisoning and that regrowth after drought is a key trigger. While tragic for the cattle, this is not all that surprising.......

http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/111190/prussic-acid-poisoning-in-livestock.pdf

SGray
Jun. 25, 2012, 09:45 AM
geez, now we have to worry about Bermuda as well as Johnson

SGray
Jun. 25, 2012, 10:10 AM
"Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are dissecting the grass to determine if there might have been some strange, unexpected mutation." -- so if this happened "several weeks ago", when could we hope to see results? this year, next?

Bluey
Jun. 25, 2012, 10:54 AM
"Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are dissecting the grass to determine if there might have been some strange, unexpected mutation." -- so if this happened "several weeks ago", when could we hope to see results? this year, next?

My guess is the story may not be quite right.
The cattle ate some other also and there is where the problem lay.

SGray
Jun. 25, 2012, 11:58 AM
surely the necropsy would have found that?

Equibrit
Jun. 25, 2012, 12:18 PM
A more balanced view; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/24/1102815/-GM-Grass-Makes-Cyanide-Gas

SGray
Jun. 28, 2012, 11:08 AM
more info
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/28/1103885/-How-a-Cow-Pasture-Became-a-Gas-Chamber

excerpt

The Tifton 85 in this Texas pasture had been there for 15 years and the cattle had been doing just fine on it. 'Official' suspicions about why it suddenly turned into a gas chamber have to do with a common stress response in plants, especially after heavy nitrogen fertilization, which the rancher apparently did when prepping the field for his cattle. Stressed and/or ruptured cells mix their enzyme content with dhurrin to produce prussic acid (hydrocyanic acid). Stress in this case is likely to be pinned on long term drought. The prussic acid in this grass must surely have been high enough to have poisoned the cattle just from what they ate, though it seems the gas got them first. See: Texas AgriLIFE Research, Stephenville: Prussic Acid Poisoning (http://stephenville.tamu.edu/topics/forages/forage-species/possible-disorders/prussic-acid-poisioning/).

Most people don't realize that livestock poisoning by prussic acid in fodder (http://beef.osu.edu/library/prussic.html) is fairly common. Losses are from 3% to 10% annually (http://animalscience.tamu.edu/files/2012/04/beef-reducing-livestock-losses16.pdf). 3% from cyanide, 10% from all poisonous plants. This sensational Texas case demonstrates that even this kind of hybrid can destabilize without warning years down the line to become fatally toxic. Though I don't think there's anything Big Ag could (or would) do to prevent it. Shit happens.

Bluey
Jun. 28, 2012, 02:41 PM
http://www.cattlenetwork.com/e-newsletters/drovers-daily/Texas-livestock-tragedy-compounded-by-Internet-misinformation-160577935.html

---A livestock tragedy in Texas earlier this month spawned an Internet butchering of the facts, leading to further misperceptions about agriculture and the technology used to produce food.
Fifteen steers died on a small ranch east of Austin, Tex., from prussic acid poisoning after grazing a field of hybrid Bermuda grass known as Tifton 85. The story gained widespread attention after a local CBS News affiliate reported the grass that killed the steers was a genetically modified (GM) variety, which was incorrect, and the CBS affiliate later published a correction. The original story also said the steers had died from cyanide poisoning, which is prussic acid poisoning. Naturally, using phrases such as “GM” and “cattle deaths” and “cyanide” in a story can create a buzz among the anti-agriculture folks, especially when they have little knowledge of prussic acid poisoning."---

Tamara in TN
Jun. 28, 2012, 04:08 PM
esp when they leave out the part of about they stressed the cattle roping the crap out of them all day long and they dumped them into stressed well fertilized grass <eyeroll>

it was a perfect storm for those poor Corriente ,but that does not make headlines like the Scooby Doo reporting style does...('casue in the end no one really gave a rats ass about the dead cattle anyway) :<

Tamara

SGray
Jun. 28, 2012, 04:41 PM
it's still the gas part that really freaks me out

Tamara in TN
Jun. 28, 2012, 05:21 PM
but it shouldn't...don't let the under-educated scare you:

Prussic Acid Poisoning

by J.C. Whittier* (6/11)
Quick Facts...

Prussic acid poisoning can be a lethal problem for cattle grazing sorghums.
A characteristic sign of prussic acid toxicity is bright cherry-red blood, a symptom that persists several hours after death.
Treatment of prussic acid poisoning, with a mixture of sodium nitrate and sodium thiosulfate or with methylene blue, can be successful if administered by a veterinarian soon after symptoms appear.
There is a qualitative test for prussic acid potential in forages.

Prussic acid, also called hydrocyanic (HCN), normally is not present in plants. However, several common plants can accumulate large quantities of cyanogenetic glycoside. When plant cells are damaged by wilting, frosting or stunting, the glycoside degrades to form free HCN. Conditions in the rumen also favor degradation of the glycoside to free HCN. Thus plants that contain the glycoside have the potential to cause HCN toxicity when consumed by ruminants.

In Colorado, plants most likely to cause HCN poisoning are sorghums. The potential is greatest for johnsongrass and least for true sudans. Other materials with HCN potential include white clover, vetch seed and chokecherry.

As with nitrate buildup, some stress usually triggers accumulation of cyanogenetic glycoside in plant tissue. The potential for accumulation and HCN toxicity increases during drought. Occasionally, poisoning occurs when hot, dry winds induce temporary moisture stress in plants. The potential for poisoning is greater with excessive soil nitrogen and young plants. Toxicity also is more likely when periods of rapid growth are followed by cool, cloudy weather. Lush regrowth after cutting for hay, grazing or frost is particularly dangerous.

Unfortunately for the livestock producer, often the only indication of prussic acid poisoning is dead animals. HCN is one of the most potent, rapid-acting poisons known. It interferes with oxygen use at the cellular level. When a lethal dose is consumed, animals die from asphyxiation in a few minutes.

When seen, clinical signs occur in rapid succession. Initially there is excitement and muscle tremors. Rapid and difficult breathing follows. The animal goes down, gasps for breath and may convulse. The pupils are pink. A characteristic sign of HCN toxicity is a bright cherry-red color to the blood, a symptom that persists for several hours after death. Although blood is oxygenated, HCN interferes with the release of oxygen from oxyhemoglobin to other tissues. This situation contrasts with nitrate toxicity, where oxygenation of blood is restricted. The rumen may be distended with gas, and the odor of “bitter almonds” may be detected when the body cavity is opened.

Treatment of HCN poisoning, with a mixture of sodium nitrate and sodium thiosulfate or with methylene blue, can be successful if administered soon after symptoms appear. Consult a veterinarian for diagnosis and drug treatment, because HCN toxicity often is confused with nitrate poisoning and other toxins of plant origin. A veterinarian also can assist in collecting plant and animal tissues for analysis and in interpreting laboratory results.
Preventing Prussic Acid Poisoning

As with nitrate, most problems with prussic acid can be avoided with proper management of forage and animals. Test any forage crop thought to contain HCN before animals are grazed or fed. Sorghums fertilized heavily with nitrogen and stunted by drought or cool, cloudy weather should be suspected. Reduce risk of poisoning from sorghums by using a maximum of about 50 pounds of nitrogen per application.

Young plants have a higher HCN potential than more mature ones, so do not graze sorghums until plants are 18 to 24 inches high. This practice also applies to regrowth that occurs after cutting for hay or grazing. If regrowth occurs following frost, delay grazing until a hard freeze kills the entire plant. Do not pasture sorghums following a killing frost until plants thaw and wilt for a few days. Spraying of cyanogenetic plants with a herbicide may increase the toxic hazard.

Graze pastures to a uniform height, then remove animals to prevent selective consumption of lush regrowth. Rotation grazing and heavy stocking rates help in this regard. To acclimate cattle to new pasture, fill animals on native grass or hay during the day, then graze sorghums in late afternoon and evening.

Proper field curing or ensiling results in considerable loss of HCN. If the forage is questionable as pasture, harvesting for hay or silage reduces the potential for HCN toxicity. However, if hay is poorly cured before baling, extremely high in HCN potential at cutting, or contains johnsongrass, it still may cause problems.

Plant varieties differ in their potential for prussic acid poisoning. As with nitrate, chances for HCN toxicity are somewhat lower with true sudans and sudan-sudan hybrids than with sorghum-sudan or sorgo-sudan hybrids.

There is a quick qualitative test for HCN potential in plant tissue. It also can be used to confirm the presence of HCN in rumen contents of animals that die from prussic acid poisoning. Leaves are higher in HCN potential than stems. Glycoside levels increase during the morning, then level off and begin declining in the afternoon and evening. Therefore, samples for prussic acid analysis must include leaf tissue and should be collected in late morning or early afternoon.

Randomly sample fresh forage from several locations. For hay, take cores from several bales. Seal two or three handfuls per sample in a plastic bag, store in the dark, refrigerate unfrozen, and deliver to the laboratory without delay.
Test for Prussic Acid

This is a qualitative test to evaluate forages (hay, pasture, silage) for prussic acid poisoning potential in ruminants.

Prepare picrate paper by wetting filter paper with a solution of 5.0 grams of sodium bicarbonate and 0.5 gram picric acid in 100 ml water.
Dry the paper and cut into strips about 1/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. Store dried strips in a stoppered bottle or sealed plastic bag.
Finely chop or crush a small quantity of plant material and place it in a test tube or bottle that can be sealed with a cork or rubber stopper. Slit one end of the stopper to hold a picrate paper strip.
If plant material is dry, moisten with a few drops of water and allow to hydrolyze several minutes in stoppered tube.
Moisten the picrate paper with water.
If the temperature is below 80 degrees F, warm the solution by holding the container in hand. If the paper changes from yellow to brick red within 30 minutes, prussic acid is present.

Toxic Levels

The level of HCN required to cause toxicity varies, depending on rate of intake and individual animal tolerance. Generally speaking, view as dangerous any forage analyzing more than 200 ppm HCN on an as-fed basis.
Summary

Prussic acid (HCN) causes acute poisoning in ruminants grazing sorghums, especially johnsongrass. Many of the same factors that tend to cause nitrate accumulation – reduced sunlight, excessive soil nitrogen, young plants – also increase HCN potential.drought, HCN potential is greater in leaves than stems. Proper curing for hay or ensiling greatly reduces the potential for HCN poisoning. Lush regrowth in sorghums after cutting for hay, grazing or frost is often dangerous.

Contrasted to nitrate toxicity, HCN poisoning is characterized by a bright cherry-red color to the blood. As with nitrate, minimize HCN potential through proper fertility programs and variety selection and by testing questionable forage. Treatment of prussic acid poisoning, with a mixture of sodium thiosulfate or with methylene blue, can be successful if administered by a veterinarian soon after symptoms appear.

* J.C. Whittier, Colorado State University professor, department of animal sciences. 9/92. Revised 6/11.

Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.

Go to top of this page.

Updated Thursday, May 17, 2012

SGray
Jun. 28, 2012, 05:25 PM
sorry to be so dense but it speaks of feeding, consumption, etc -- are you saying the references to 'gas' are really to gasses formed internally?

Tamara in TN
Jun. 28, 2012, 05:36 PM
yes.
In fact the whole article said this to me"
"Zombie Apache War Chief Kills Texas Cattle"

it has as much truth to it....
there were after all at the end of the day,dead cattle in Texas.
I would be FURIOUS if someone had tried to scare me with such stupid nonsense.

Tamara

Quarante-deux
Jun. 28, 2012, 06:14 PM
Table "...comparing transgenic technology (GMO) with other forms of plant improvement. Which is truly less understood and more invasive?"
Via Kevin Folta on Google+

http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2012/06/more-frankenfood-paradox.html

Katy Watts
Jun. 29, 2012, 09:40 AM
Table "...comparing transgenic technology (GMO) with other forms of plant improvement. Which is truly less understood and more invasive?"
Via Kevin Folta on Google+

http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2012/06/more-frankenfood-paradox.html

Good article. But I doubt that opportunities for rational education in science will effect those emotionally involved about this issue. Scary stories are so much more entertaining that learning boring facts.

I've had genetics, and I'm far more concerned with the loss of genetic diversity than changes in any one patented plant.
We fear the wrong things.