• Food securityMillions may face protein deficiency as a result of human-caused CO2 emissions

    If CO2 levels continue to rise as projected, the populations of eighteen countries may lose more than 5 percent of their dietary protein by 2050 due to a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat, and other staple crops. Researchers estimate that roughly an additional 150 million people may be placed at risk of protein deficiency because of elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the first study to quantify this risk.

  • Livestock diseaseHelping prepare for livestock disease outbreaks

    The United States is the world’s largest producer of beef. In 2015, the latest year data is available, the beef industry was valued at $105 billion Protecting millions of cattle from potential disease outbreaks is thus a crucial part of our nation’s economic security, as well as a public health priority. Two new web-based tools funded by the DHS S&T are making it easier for public officials and livestock farmers to predict cattle shipments and prepare for potential disease outbreaks.

  • Food securityFarming practices require dramatic changes to keep pace with climate change

    Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change. To combat repeated, damaging storm events, which strip agricultural land of soil and nutrients, farmers are already adopting measures to conserve these assets where they are needed. Researchers investigating nutrients in runoff from agricultural land warn that phosphorus losses will increase, due to climate change, unless this is mitigated by making major changes to agricultural practices.

  • Animal diseaseA case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) discovered in Alabama

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week announced an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a neurologic disease of cattle, in an eleven-year old cow in Alabama. This animal never entered slaughter channels and at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States. BSE is not contagious and exists in two types — classical and atypical. Classical BSE is the form that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom, beginning in the late 1980s, and it has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people.

  • Water securityCurrent water use for food production is unsustainable

    About 40 percent of the water used for irrigation are unsustainable withdrawals that violate so-called environmental flows of rivers, a new study shows for the first time. If these volumes were to be re-allocated to the ecosystems, crop production would drop by at least 10 percent on half of all irrigated land, especially in Central and South Asia. Improvement of irrigation practices can sustainably compensate for such losses at global scale. More integrated strategies, including rainwater management could even achieve a 10 percent net gain of production.

  • 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.