Brave New Farm World

first_imgWith a visit to Ag Showcase ’96 June 29 in Tifton, Ga., anyone can learn about farming.Even farmers.Scientists with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences planned and planted crops to show how farming is moving into the 21st century.Consumers, students and farmers can see just how far agriculture has come and howresearch and technology keep changing Georgia-grown crops.Today’s farmers use satellites, computers and bioengineering to get better crops andbigger yields than ever before.In 1994, each U.S. farmer grew enough crops to feed and clothe 129 people here andabroad. That’s up by more than 100 people since the 1960s. Farmers are learning to worksmarter.”Technology and precision farming help farmers produce food and fiber moreefficiently,” said Rich Baird, a UGA plant pathologist.Baird and John Woodruff, an Extension Service agronomist, worked together with morethan 30 colleagues. They prepared fields for Showcase guests to explore near the RuralDevelopment Center in Tifton.CAES scientists often team up to find better ways to grow crops. What they learn getsout to farmers through the Extension Service and to students in agricultural colleges. Inthe end, they help improve farming and the food and fiber farmers get to consumers.”We’re learning more about each other and how to help each other, as well asteaching Georgians about the new developments and ideas in crop production,” Bairdsaid.These teams work to bring new varieties into Georgia, breed insect- anddisease-resistant plants or devise control plans that improve crops without harming theenvironment.One example growing at the Showcase farm is crimson clover. “It helps in severalways,” Baird said. “It covers the ground and keeps soil in place. It’s a legume,so it fixes nitrogen into the soil, so farmers may not need to apply as much in otherforms. And it attracts beneficial insects that control harmful insects.”Showcase crops include peanuts, corn, cotton, peppers, eggplant, watermelons,cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes, strawberries, kenaf, millet and soybeans.Woodruff said visitors will see new crops as well as better old crops and better waysto grow them. The Showcase fields will show how varieties differ and how lime alters thesoil pH. They’ll have everything from weed control to genetically engineered diseaseprevention to biological insect control. New farm equipment will be there, too. Baird said computers are showing farmers wherethey can cut crop costs to improve their profits.Computer records of yields, pest damage or moisture levels can provide maps of farmers’fields. This saves the farmer from applying costly chemicals where they’re not needed.Instead of spraying an entire 50-acre field, he may need to spray only 10 acres.”When some chemicals cost $30 an acre and up, that’s a big savings,” Bairdsaid. It helps the environment, too, he said.Part of looking ahead requires seeing where you’ve been. Woodruff said some soybean andcotton plots show a living history. They reveal what these crops were once like and howmuch growing them has changed.”We’re growing plants that have been cultivated since the turn of thecentury,” he said. “And we’re growing them right beside varieties released inthe last year or two.”We’re all making progress together,” he said. ANew crops and productionmethods improve profit opportunities for farmers. And they improve the quality consumerswant.”last_img read more


Experimental virus drug remdesivir failed in human trial

first_imgThe summary said the Chinese trial involved 237 patients, with 158 on the drug and 79 in a control group. Remdesivir was stopped early in 18 patients because of side effects.The authors said remdesivir was “not associated with a difference in time to clinical improvement” compared to the control.After a month, 13.9 percent of the patients on remdesivir had died compared to 12.8 percent of those in the control group. The difference is not statistically significant.The WHO told the Financial Times that the draft is undergoing peer review and was published early in error. Trials continue A spokesman for Gilead told AFP: “We believe the post included inappropriate characterizations of the study,” saying it was terminated early due to low enrollment and was therefore not statistically meaningful.”As such, the study results are inconclusive, though trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease,” the spokesman added.The study does not represent the final word on the matter, and there are several large-scale trials in advanced stages that should soon provide a clearer picture.Remdesivir, which is administered intravenously, was among the first drugs suggested as a treatment for the novel coronavirus and as such has great hopes riding on it. Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the research, said “the trial was too small in numbers recruited” to detect either benefit or risk.But he added: “If the drug only works well when given very early after infection, it may be much less useful in practice.”Last week, Stat reported it had shown significant efficacy at a Chicago hospital where patients who are part of one of the major trials are being treated.The US National Institutes for Health also reported it had proven effective in a small experiment on monkeys. Remdesivir, which previously failed in trials against Ebola, belongs to a class of drugs that act on the virus directly — as opposed to controlling the abnormal and often lethal autoimmune response it causes.It mimics one of the four building blocks of RNA and DNA and gets absorbed into the virus’s genome, which in turn stops the pathogen from replicating.The antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are also being widely used on COVID-19 on a so-called “compassionate basis” pending results from large trials, with early studies decidedly mixed.Other therapies that are being studied include collecting antibodies from COVID-19 survivors and injecting them in patients, or harvesting antibodies from genetically-engineered mice that were deliberately infected. Topics :center_img The experimental coronavirus treatment remdesivir has failed in its first randomized clinical trial, inadvertently released results showed Thursday, dampening expectations for the closely watched drug. A draft summary went online briefly on the website of the World Health Organization (WHO) and was first reported by the Financial Times and Stat, which posted a screenshot.But Gilead Sciences, the company behind the medicine, disputed how the now-deleted post had characterized the findings, saying the data showed a “potential benefit.” last_img read more