Pests show resistance to Monsanto corn plants

Photo by Patrick Dockens, Flickr

Could Monsanto Co.’s genetically modified corn plants cause the emergence of superbugs? That’s what findings by Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann suggest.

Gassman found that western corn rootworms at four Iowa fields developed a resistance to pesticides in the Monsanto plants. Continue reading

Fort Calhoun emergency alert recinded

Photo by Gordilly, Flickr

As the Missouri River flood waters finally begin to recede, the power plant’s emergency status is finally removed.

The Washington Post reports:

Officials say an idled Nebraska nuclear plant that was entirely surrounded by Missouri River floodwaters earlier this summer is no longer under a flood emergency. Continue reading

Iowa City and Cedar Rapids bring co-ops into the digital age

Photo by ElizD, Flickr

Local farmers from the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area are about to receive a digital boost. The Iowa Valley Food Co-Op is the latest co-op to try increasing the distribution of local food by utilizing the web. Des Moines’ Iowa Food Cooperative flourished after beginning a similar undertaking in 2008. Continue reading

On the Radio: UI center finds contaminants in Iowa’s well water

Photo by Travis Forsyth, Flickr.

Check out this week’s radio piece here.  This Iowa Environmental Focus segement discusses contamination in Iowa’s ground water.

What’s in your water? That’s the question that the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination is answering for many Iowans. Continue reading

UI Professor Steve Hendrix explains importance of bees

Steve Hendrix and assistant Caitlin Digman in the field

Steve Hendrix is a professor in the University of Iowa’s Biology Department. He is also a CGRER member, and recently received a seed grant from the organization. One of the focuses of Hendrix’s research is on bees – specifically, the possible decline of wild solitary bees. Hendrix discussed this research with the Iowa Environmental Focus.

How Professor Hendrix first got involved in plant-animal interactions:

“When I was a graduate student I took a graduate seminar in which I reported on a recent finding of insect molting hormones in plants, specifically in ferns. I was just fascinated by the fact that there could be plants that could produce these hormones. Then people immediately said that [the hormones] must be a defense against insect attacks. Continue reading

DNR unable to link fish kill to pollutant

Photo by Striatic, Flickr

A recent press release from the DNR indicates that the cause of a Hamilton County fish kill could have been determined if the citizen who noticed the dead fish hadn’t waited a day before reporting it.

This fish kill was the smaller of the two reported by the Iowa Environmental Focus earlier this month. According to DNR estimates more than 33,000 fish were killed between the two incidents.

While it’s believed the fish kill resulted from a aerial-sprayed corn fungicide, their were no traces of this pollutant or any other by the time the stream was tested.

The DNR encourages immediate reporting of dead fish to their 24-hour spill line: 515-281-8694.

Debate over lead shot goes national

Photo by Engelking's, Flickr

Iowa’s debate over the use of lead ammunition for dove-hunting is now receiving national attention. Major publications including USA Today picked up the story that puts environmentalist and many hunters on opposing sides.

Environmentalist worry that fragments of the toxic lead shots, which closely resemble seeds, will be eaten by animals and ultimately cause their death. An editorial in the Des Moines Register even suggests that the levels of lead deposited during the hunting season could cause health effects in humans.

On the other side, many hunters value lead shots over the non-toxic steel alternative because they’re cheaper and some find them more effective.

The decision to allow lead shot, like the decision to allow dove hunting in general, may be influenced by the economic boost provided by hunters. It’s estimated that Iowa dove hunters will contribute nearly $7 million this year.