• Food securityNew Web-based tools help protect the food supply

    Our economy, livelihood and wellbeing depend on food and its supply chains. Supply chains may break if a natural disaster destroys a crop in its primary production region, or if someone tampers with food to cause harm or raise profits. In such cases we need to find out quickly about these incidents and find alternative sources of food ingredients and supplies.

  • Food securityClimate change to deplete some U.S. water basins, reduce irrigated crop yields

    By Jennifer Chu

    A new study by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation. The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience reduced precipitation by midcentury. Less rainfall to the area will mean reduced runoff into water basins that feed irrigated fields.

  • BiodefenseNew foot-and-mouth disease rapid diagnostic kit licensed

    DHS S&T announced today the licensing of a rapid-response (three-hour) Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) diagnostic kit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB). S&T says that the diagnostic kit, developed by a large research consortium of federal agencies, academia and animal health industry scientists, is the first licensed FMD diagnostic kit that can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland, critical for a rapid response in the event of a FMD outbreak.

  • Resource securityMeeting human resource needs of “full earth”

    A new concept proposes to provide food, energy and water resources for the world’s growing population by combining systems that simultaneously use different parts of sunlight’s spectrum to produce crops, generate electricity, collect heat and purify water. The world’s human population is expected to grow from seven billion to more than ten billion over the next two to three generations, leading to a “full earth” scenario.

  • Food & securityCapable governments more important than weather in preventing food scarcity-related violence

    While climate change is expected to lead to more violence related to food scarcity, new research suggests that the strength of a country’s government plays a vital role in preventing uprisings. While previous studies had examined the impact of climate change-induced weather patterns on violence and the increased danger of violence in weak or failing states, this is the first study to demonstrate that the combination of the two risk factors is even more dangerous than they would be separately.

  • Food securityExpediting detection of harmful pathogens in food supply

    When food shopping, it is easy to overlook what it took to get your favorite meats and produce to the grocery store shelves. Anything perishable – beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, fruit, dairy and even water – must undergo a rigorous and time-consuming inspection process before shipping to its destination. FIU researchers are commercializing a device that reduces the screening process to just a few hours at the same cost as current devices.

  • Food securityAgTech innovator raises $7.5 million to help develop precision agriculture

    Today, the Ag industry loses more than $300 billion each year due to crop diseases and pests. Pests and diseases can destroy crops and devastate farmers’ agricultural yield, but chemical overuse comes with its own set of challenges, including pesticide-resistant disease strains. Meanwhile, rising temperatures and increasing levels of carbon dioxide create more challenges for farmers as crop pests and disease thrive in hot, CO2-rich environments. Taranis, a precision agriculture intelligence platform, announced it has closed a $7.5 million Series A round of financing. Taranis says it aims to lead the digital farming revolution by giving farmers around the globe the ability to predict and prevent detrimental threats to their crops—and bottom line.

  • Water securityEurope’s economy vulnerable to global water scarcity, drought

    A new study of the impacts that increasing water scarcity and drought may have on the European Union’s (EU) economy finds that around 38 percent of the EU’s water demand lies outside its borders because many of the goods consumed by its citizens or used by its businesses are produced abroad. “The highest risk that the European meat and dairy sector will face due to climate change and weather extremes lies outside its borders. This is because it is highly dependent on soybean imports from locations that are vulnerable to water scarcity and drought,” says one expert.

  • Food security In West Africa, investment key in adapting to climate change

    Climate change will likely have negative impacts on food production in West Africa, with crop yields and grass for livestock grazing likely to decline in the future. A new study provides insights on how strategic planning by decision makers could ease or exacerbate food security challenges in the region.

  • Food securityFamine: Nearly 1.4 million children at risk of death in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen

    Famine is looming in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and beyond, as nearly 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year. Some 22 million children are hungry, sick, displaced, and out of school due to war, conflict and drought. They now face the risk of death from starvation, but also from preventable diseases like cholera and measles, which cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. This crisis is largely human-made. Scorched earth tactics by conflicting parties are destroying crops and critical infrastructure like health facilities. Heavy fighting is forcing farmers to abandon their fields, while blocking humanitarian access to people in desperate need of food aid and clean water.

  • Food securityUnder climate change, farming is becoming riskier

    Climate change will have an impact on agriculture, but a new study puts these changes in terms which are directly applicable to farmers. For Illinois, for example, the corn planting window will be split in two to avoid wet conditions in April and May. Each planting window carries increased risk – the early planting window could be thwarted by frost or heavy precipitation, and the late window cut short by intense late-summer drought. Farmers and crop insurers must evaluate risk to avoid losing profits.

  • AgroterrorismHouse, Senate committees approve agroterrorism bill

    The U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee and U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act, clearing a key hurdle for the bill’s consideration by the full House and Senate. The Securing our Agriculture and Food Act requires the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), through the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, to lead the government’s efforts to secure the U.S. food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events.

  • Food securityLasers to keep poultry safe from avian bird flu

    Last week, the British government has extended the avian influenza (bird flu) prevention zone to April 2017. Also, the requirements of the zone have changed, meaning keepers may let their birds out provided that they have enhanced biosecurity measures in place. One such biosecurity measure is an automated laser which repels unwanted – and potentially infected — birds without causing harm to the wild birds, the chickens being protected, and the surrounding environment.

  • Water securityWhy farmers and ranchers think the EPA Clean Water Rule goes too far

    By Reagan Waskom and David J. Cooper

    President Trump issued an executive order 28 February directing federal agencies to revise the Clean Water Rule, a major regulation published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Framers and ranchers are particularly worried that the Clean Water Rule could expand federal regulations that impact their private property rights. However, regulatory agencies and the regulated community need to know the limits of the Clean Water Act’s reach so they can take appropriate measures to protect water resources. If the rule is scrapped, we still will need to know which water bodies require protection under the law. If the Trump administration withdraws or weakens the Clean Water Rule, it is likely to leave regulators interpreting case by case whether tributaries and adjacent waters are covered, as they have been doing since 2006, and land and water owners guessing about what they can do with their resources. So in the end, repealing the rule won’t answer the underlying question: how far upstream federal protection extends.

  • Grain dust explosionsFewer grain dust explosions reported in U.S. in 2016

    The number of grain dust explosions in the United States fell to a 10-year low in 2016, but two of the incidents resulted in the first reported fatalities since 2013, according to an annual report released by Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. There were five grain dust explosions in 2016, compared to eight in 2015 and a 10-year average of 9.2 per year.