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Tifton 85 is a hybrid strain of Bermudagrass Cynodon dactylon, a forage perennial grass that originated in Africa and was brought to the United States as a pasture and hay crop for the humid Southern states. This variety was incorrectly reported by CBS News to be a genetically modified organism (GMO).
Tifton 85, like some other grasses (e.g. sorghum), produces cyanide under certain conditions and has been implicated in livestock deaths due to a condition commonly known as 'bloat', or Prussic Acid Poisoning.
In June of 2012 15 head of cattle in Bastrop County, Texas (near Austin) died of Prussic acid poisoning related to the consumption of Tifton 85. Prior to this event the cattle had been fed this grass for 15 years with no toxicity issues.
- Minimizing the Prussic Acid Poisoning Hazard in Forages AY-196 C. L. Rhykerd and K. D. Johnson Agronomy Department, Purdue University Purdue University http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/forages/publications/ay196.htm
- The Merck Veterinary Manual.2006; Merck & Co., Inc. Whitehouse Station NJ, USA. Available on-line at http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp
- Nitrate and Prussic Acid Toxicity in Forage. MF 1018. Cooperative Extension Service, Kansas State University, Manhattan. Available on-line at http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/crpsl2/MF1018.PDF
- Precautions When Utilizing Sorghum / Sudan Crops as Cattle Feed . 2006. University of Missouri Extension. Available on-line at http://agebb.missouri.edu/drought/sudan.htm