Bacteria, soils and depression in humans

Soil fungi can depress a weed and excite a crop.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have more than a passing interest in soil micro-organisms and, sometimes, there is a bit of research elsewhere that implies a similar link between bacteria and a particular condition or disease, and of some further understanding of how things work. There has been report in Nature Microbiology recently that certain gut bacteria (Dialister and Coprococcus) are present in lower numbers in people who experience depression and that there is growing evidence that there is a link between the lack of these bacteria, inflammation and the mood disorder, i.e. these bacteria are good guys.

Similarly in soils, while we have known that the presence of particular bacteria can cause disease, we are only just beginning to learn about soil bacteria which will depress crop disease risk and enhance growth. For example, we know that when a crop is sprayed with selective herbicide, that some species of mycorrhizae (soil fungi), under the right circumstances, can take water and nutrients from the weakened weeds and transfer them into the crop roots/  The right circumstances?  Well, at least part of that looks like high organic matter in the soil.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.  15 March 19.

GM and GE

Last one for a while on GM.

One of the things I get asked about from time to time is what is commonly called “Genetically Modified” crops and animals – of which the uniformed press and individuals see (commonly said) as having “Frankenstein” risks.  It is, in their defence, true to say that all technology is two-edged.  Mistakes happen and when GM is done right, but in the wrong hands, it is potentially dangerous and immoral.  That, strange as it may seem, is why we should get involved. Genetic Engineering (GE) is dramatically more precise and accurate than “Dolly the Sheep” which was certainly a breakthrough.  With GE, we can now have “Gene Editing” and “Gene Snipping” which are dramatically more precise and safer. This means we can speed up the evolution of safer crops which are disease resistant and we will need less pesticides and animals can be healthier with less suffering and needing less veterinary treatments. We also need international agreements and supervision of it development and use, especially when applied to human development – which is already happening.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd.  1 March 19

Transgender risk


For those who wonder why we have this surge of activity around transgender, try following the link below.

Tyler C, “A fifth of male fish in UK rivers now ‘trans-gender’ due to chemicals in human waste”. University of Exeter News Letter, 3 July 2017.

For those who would like to see something done about it, try searching

or wait for the next book on this subject due out his spring.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd  26 Feb 19

Gene editing now!

If you would like to have bananas that have not had crop spray on them, get the gene edited ones that are coming.

Damion Carrington, Environment Editor of The Guardian reports; “The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, says intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.” This is why we have to use Genetic Engineering because it is now precise, safe and can eliminate the use of pesticides and push up food production. As example of this, see “Virus lurking inside banana genome has been destroyed with CRISPR gene editing” at

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd   22 February 19



People Vote on Brexit

Never mind the conventional etiquette, whAT ABOUT AN INFORMED DEMOCTATIC VIEW?

Never mind the emotional views of ambitious politicians, it really is time we, the people, instructed the politicians what we think.

Whatever you think about Brexit in or out, or about the performance of politicians, have a look at 

Bill Butterworth






All female offspring

Dairy farming, in most situations, would quite like to make sure all calves were female.

Some researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel think that they can use GE (Genetic Engineering) to produce cows that will have only female calves, or mainly so. This would make dairy farming less wasteful of male calves which often go for veal or are just slaughtered. The researchers think that CRISPR gene editing can be used to see that an embryo carrying an “x” and a “y” chromosome (i.e. a male embryo) fails to develop but one with two “x” chromosomes (i.e. a female) is allowed to carry on through pregnancy normally.  Nothing else is altered. Another example of safe, precision biological engineering.

(“GM” was an interesting breakthrough but not always as precise as we would have liked.  The development of gene editing and gene snipping is much more accurate and a very safe way of improving food production and animal welfare.)

Bill Butterworth,  Land Research Ltd, 17 February 19

Populist Trump and global warming

Will the seriousness of our situation ever be realised while we elect people who were not educated in the happenings of the real world and who have done a proper job?

A serious problem with populist utterances (of which Donald Trump is the best example, maybe ever) is that they tend to over-simplify answers to complex problems.  I refer specifically to climate change. What Trump does is appeal to the masses about protection of jobs and, in the short run, he may have a point, especially if he chooses to ignore the jobs being created in renewable energy. (In the USA, there are now more jobs in solar than in coal production.)  If Mr Trump and others want a quick fix for climate change, recycling waste to farm and forestry land and locking up the Carbon as organic matter would be a good start. If the UK Environment Agency in the UK could also revert to previous regulation on composting which would allow a farm to start composting without spending £ hundreds of thousands on concrete, that would help the environment, too. (Concrete takes a lot of energy to manufacture and put in place and with good practice, concrete is not actually necessary for large scale composting.  However, it will allow faster work with heavier equipment and a wider range of input materials.)

For more on “Only farmers can do this”, see “Survival”.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd. 14th February 2018