• Food security Food for billions: Inland fisheries and global food security

    Inland capture fisheries are much more crucial to global food security than realized, according to the first global review of the value of inland fish and fisheries. The review shows that although aquaculture and inland capture fisheries contribute more than 40 percent of the world’s reported finfish production, their harvest is greatly under-reported and value is often-ignored. Topping the list of the value of inland fish and fisheries is food and economic security: these fisheries provide food for billions of people and livelihoods for millions worldwide. They are a primary animal protein consumed by many of the world’s rural poor, especially those in developing countries.

  • Food securityNurturing the future of agriculture

    Climate change and man-made events put global food security at risk. But researching how plants produce seeds and evolve could help us find new ways to ensure food security. For the first time in its history, the Global Seed Vault on the Svalbard Islands, Norway, has authorized a withdrawal. It was requested in 2015 by Syria, a country where the war is endangering the local agricultural seed collections.

  • Emerging threatsSevere drought no longer caused just by nature

    Scientists are calling on drought researchers and managers around the world to consider both human activity and natural phenomena in their battle to preserve increasingly scarce global water supplies. The experts say that severe droughts experienced recently in countries such as China, Brazil and the United States can no longer be seen as purely natural hazards. Changes to the way people use the water and the landscape contribute to extreme water shortages.

  • Food securityNew plant growth technology may alleviate climate change, food shortage

    A research team has developed a new strategy to promote plant growth and seed yield by 38 percent to 57 percent in a model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, hence increasing CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. This technology may also have potential in boosting food production and thus could solve another danger of human civilization: food shortage due to overpopulation.

  • Food securityDrought, heat deleterious for global crops

    Drought and extreme heat slashed global cereal harvests between 1964 and 2007 — and the impact of these weather disasters was greatest in North America, Europe, and Australasia. At a time when global warming is projected to produce more extreme weather, a new study provides the most comprehensive look yet at the influence of such events on crop area, yields, and production around the world.

  • Food safetyGlobal reductions in mercury emissions should lead to billions in economic benefits for U.S.

    By Jennifer Chu

    Mercury pollution is a global problem with local consequences: Emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources travel around the world through the atmosphere, eventually settling in oceans and waterways, where the pollutant gradually accumulates in fish. Consumption of mercury-contaminated seafood leads to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairments. A new study reports that global action on reducing mercury emissions will lead to twice the economic benefits for the United States, compared with domestic action, by 2050. However, those in the United States who consume locally caught freshwater fish, rather than seafood from the global market, will benefit more from domestic rather than international mercury regulations.

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  • Food securityClimate-induced disasters linked to food security across time and place

    Teams of researchers in the American Southwest and North Atlantic Islands have found that historic and prehistoric peoples in these regions who had created vulnerabilities to food shortfall were especially susceptible to impacts from climate challenges. Their “natural” disasters were human made in conjunction with climate challenges.

  • Food securityWild bee decline threatens U.S. crop production

    About 39 percent of U.S. croplands depend on pollinators — from apple orchards to pumpkin patches. Between 2008 and 2013, the number of bees in the contiguous United States declined in 23 percent, creating a mismatch between rising demand for pollination and a falling supply of wild bees. The first national study to map U.S. wild bees suggests they are disappearing in many of the country’s most important farmlands — including California’s Central Valley, the Midwest’s corn belt, and the Mississippi River valley. If losses of these crucial pollinators continue, the new nationwide assessment indicates that farmers will face increasing costs — and that the problem may even destabilize the nation’s crop production.

  • Food securityU.S. facing looming grain failures

    Across the United States, record quantities of corn and soybeans have been harvested in recent years. However, according to new research, this trend may soon change. “By midcentury,” the interdisciplinary team reports, “temperatures in Illinois will likely be closer to those of today’s mid-South, and precipitation will range somewhere between that of today’s East Texas and that of the Carolinas.” In the face of a rapidly changing climate, the researchers call for a U.S. Midwest field research network to address crucial agricultural challenges.

  • Food securityClimate change poses multiple threats to global food system

    Climate change is likely to have far-reaching impacts on food security throughout the world, especially for the poor and those living in tropical regions, according to a new international report. The report warns that warmer temperatures and altered precipitation patterns can threaten food production, disrupt transportation systems, and degrade food safety, among other impacts. As a result, international progress in the past few decades toward improving food security will be difficult to maintain.

  • BiodefenseSurface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) technology for on-site detection

    Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) technology currently is applied using chemical analysis of materials, such as scanning at airports to identify what materials may be inside of glass vials. Researchers want to expand SERS for use in biological applications that could employ antibodies for purposes such as identifying viruses, water toxins, or pathogens in food samples. The researchers work on developing a small hand-held device that allows users to take a sample, put it in a glass vial and insert into the instrument for rapid identification.

  • SyriaSyria’s civil war, Europe’s refugee crisis the result of spikes in food prices: Experts

    The disintegration of Syria and Europe’s refugee crisis are only the latest tragic consequences of two spikes in food prices in 2007-08 and 2010-11 that triggered waves of global unrest, including the Arab Spring. Researchers have traced these spikes and spiraling crises to their root causes: deregulated commodity markets, financial speculation, and a misguided U.S. corn-to-ethanol fuel policy which removes nearly five billion bushels of corn from markets each year.

  • Food securityMedical research techniques to help food crops withstand climate change

    Roughly one in nine people on Earth do not have enough food to eat. And climate change is only making it harder for farmers to meet the global demand for food, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By 2030, the IPCC expects climate change to reduce crop and pasture yields by as much as 14 percent in some parts of the world. Adapting crops, livestock, and fisheries will be critical for global food security. A new Center for Research on Plant Transporters (CROPS) at UC San Diego aims to help develop the molecular tools necessary to grow the hardier crop varieties that farmers need now and will increasingly need in coming years — corn, wheat, and rice that are more tolerant to heat, drought, salinity, and other adverse conditions.

  • Food securityPediatricians: Food insecurity ongoing health risk to U.S. children

    The latest data show that more than fifteen million U.S. children live in households still struggling with hunger. For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that pediatricians screen all children for food insecurity. In a new policy statement identifying the short and long-term adverse health impacts of food insecurity, the AAP also recommends that pediatricians become familiar with and refer families to needed community resources, and advocate for federal and local policies that support access to adequate, nutritious food.

  • Food securityHunger levels “serious” or “alarming” in 52 developing countries: Report

    Despite progress in reducing hunger worldwide, hunger levels in 52 of 117 countries in the 2015 Global Hunger Index remain “serious” (44 countries) or “alarming” (8 countries). The Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia had the highest hunger levels in the report, which was released last week. Conflicts can be strongly associated with severe hunger, according to the report, which focused on armed conflict and the challenge of hunger.