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» December 13, 2007 «
A scientific study concludes that the potential movement of genes from biotech crops to wild plants will have little impact on human health or the environment. The report, issued yesterday (Wednesday), looked at the potential of "gene flow" from crops produced using biotechnology. A University of California specialist who helped write the report said that proven strategies make it possible for biotech crops and non-biotech crops to co-exist.
It's decision time for many farmers who have open ground, and who must figure out what crops to grow … and on how many acres … in the coming year. Uncertainty about how much water will be available complicates decisions for many in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. So do concerns about production costs and labor. But farmers note that strong prices for wheat, corn and other crops give them more options in dealing with those complications.
Bees could be an answer for problems that have reduced California prune production. Prune growers have suffered short crops in three of the past four years. Bad weather during bloom gets much of the blame, but farm advisors say a decline in wild bee populations also has hurt. The wild bees that once helped pollinate prunes have declined because of pests and disease. As a result, more prune growers may seek to place beehives in their orchards during pollination season.
Innovation in the use of a farming technique called conservation tillage has led to awards for two Central Valley farmers. University of California specialists honored farmers Jim Couto of Kerman and Tony Turkovich of Winters, for their work in adopting and advancing conservation tillage methods. Those methods encourage farmers to grow crops with minimal soil cultivation.Top