I have (sheepish grin) discovered cyanide and prussic acid are the same thing. Well, sort of, prussic acid is hydrogen cyanide, a compound with cyanide in it. So, I made a little correction to the previous article about the cows in Texas that died from eating grass that had started to make cyanide gas.
White clover naturally makes prussic acid. You don't want to let cows into a field of just clover to eat, because it'll kill them. But cows love to eat clover. For them it's like dessert. Farmers know this, and although a little bit of clover is OK for cows, they don't let cows into any fields of clover.
But one would reasonably expect this Tifton 85 not to be poisonous. Except, oooops.
I have another speculation about this: If the grass was cross-pollinated by something else that had a gene to make prussic acid, it could have evolved this way over time. Maybe there's another GMO kind of grass out there that makes its own pesticide - like the grass seed that got approved the other year for residential use - and it's cross pollinating with the Tifton 85?
But wouldn't Tifton 85 be sterile, being a hybrid? There are some hybrid plants you can grow their seeds, but then you get something else the next year. I did that with mammoth sunflowers and got sunflowers that made several smaller heads this year. I guess the mammoths were hybrids. I don't know enough about Tifton 85 to know if its seeds grow anything.
Or it could be the fertilizer, as Natural News speculated. Some fertilizer is sold that has cyanide in it.
It seems to me like the more tinkering we do with genetics, the more it bites us in the butt. We don't know the "fearful symmetry" of genetics well enough to not be ham handed about it. One might argue that we could push through it and come out the other side with enough knowledge, but I'm afraid we'll wreck the planet in the meantime.
If this is part of some eugenics/kill everyone plot, I would imagine that the perpetrators probably regard cattle as a methane-producing menace that they must eliminate. A bovine symptom of the human infestation or something like that. Never mind that there used to be vast herds of buffalo stomping about. So which is more menacing, cow farts or cyanide gas? Who are you trying to save the planet for, anyway? The snakes?