Food supply chain safety

  • GridCourt to decide a Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” case

    Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” law is the center of a case set for trial later this week, in which developers of CapX2020, the region’s power grid improvement project, will contest a lawsuit by Cedar Summit Farm. The state law requires utilities building high-voltage power lines to buy out farms along the path of the power line if the affected landowners demand it. CapX2020 argues the farm does not meet the buyout criteria set in the law.

  • Rain making“Dressed” laser aims at clouds to induce rain, lightning

    The adage “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” may one day be obsolete if researchers further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning. The researchers work on surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam. Gaining control over the length of a filament would allow the creation of the conditions needed for a rainstorm from afar. People could thus artificially control the rain and lightning over a large expanse.

  • University of Florida Clinical Toxicology Online Graduate Course. Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction. Arm yourself with knowledge.
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  • Food safetyBritons worry that new EU food inspection rules would risk U.K. food safety

    The European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) in June will introduce a new Europe-wide food inspection regime, arguing that there is a need to modernize the food inspection process. The EFSA plans to reduce seventy pieces of detailed regulation down to a framework of five overarching laws to “reduce the burden on business.”Among other things, the new rules will replace laws that list diseases banned from the meat supply with a more general requirement on safety, health, and welfare. The EFSA claims that many of the diseases and parasites inspectors currently find are harmless to humans and are not considered major animal diseases. U.K. consumer advocates, meat inspectors, and veterinarians say the new rules threaten the safety of the U.K. food supply.

  • Food terrorismFood-related disease outbreaks can teach us about the consequence of food terrorism

    Since unintentional food-related outbreaks have become so common, policy makers could use data from unintended foodborne disease outbreaks to estimate the effects of intended foodborne disease outbreaks. The impact on trade and economies is the primary motive for food terrorism, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but beyond the financial loss, such intended foodborne disease outbreaks may even impact political stability.

  • Food safetyBacteriophage “cocktail” eradicates 99 percent of E. coli in meat, spinach

    Treating food products with select bacteriophages — viruses which target and kill bacteria — could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli, a new study shows. An injection of bacteriophages — also known informally as “phages” — nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, in some cases decreasing E. coli concentrations by about 99 percent. Interest in using phages as antibacterial treatments has increased with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  • Food safetyFDA proposes rules to prevent terror attack on U.S. food supply

    Food terrorism could have drastic economic effects. A DHS risk assessment discovered that should a pathogen like foot-and-mouth disease be introduced to Great Plains ranchers, total damages would exceed $50 billion, affecting U.S. beef exports and dramatically reducing consumer demand for beef products.In order to prevent or reduce the risk from a potential terror attack on the nation’s food supply, the FDA proposed new rules to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

  • Food securityHeat waves threaten global food supply

    A new study has, for the first time, estimated the global effects of rising temperatures and elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the production of maize, wheat, and soybean. Earlier studies have found that climate change is projected to reduce maize yields globally by the end of the century under a “business as usual” scenario for future emissions of greenhouse gases; however, this new study shows that the inclusion of the effects of heat waves, which have not been accounted for in previous modelling calculations, could double the losses of the crop.

  • WaterInternational food trade can alleviate water scarcity

    International trade of food crops led to freshwater savings worth $2.4 billion in 2005 and had a major impact on local water stress, a new study finds. Trading food involves the trade of virtually embedded water used for production, and the amount of that water depends heavily on the climatic conditions in the production region: It takes, for instance, 2,700 liters of water to produce one kilo of cereals in Morocco, while the same kilo produced in Germany uses up only 520 liters. The researchers found that it is not the amount of water used that counts most, but the origin of the water.

  • Food securityClimate change will reduce crop yields sooner than earlier thought

    A new study shows that global warming of only 2°C will be detrimental to crops in temperate and tropical regions, with reduced yields from the 2030s onward. In the study, the researchers created a new data set by combining and comparing results from 1,700 published assessments of the response that climate change will have on the yields of rice, maize, and wheat.

  • Oil spillsMethane from Deepwater Horizon oil spill has entered food web

    When millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, so did large volumes of methane, or natural gas. Now, researchers have confirmed that methane-derived carbon has entered the Gulf’s food web through tiny organic particles floating in the Gulf. The presence of methane is not cause for alarm though, the researchers said. Overall, it has a benign impact on the food that makes it from the sea to people’s dinner tables.

  • Food securityImproving livestock diets to bolster food security, combat climate change

    Livestock production is responsible for 12 percent of human-related greenhouse gas emissions, primarily coming from land use change and deforestation caused by expansion of agriculture, as well as methane released by the animals themselves, with a lesser amount coming from manure management and feed production. A new study shows that within the current systems, farmers would find it more profitable in coming years to expand livestock production in mixed systems — where livestock are fed on both grass as well as higher quality feed — rather than in pure grass-based systems. This development, would lead to a 23 percent reduction of emissions from land use change in the next two decades without any explicit climate mitigation policy.

  • Food securityResistance shapes the discovery of new insecticides

    By Margaret C. Hardy

    Recent news around the world has focused on the dangers of antibiotic resistance. – and the CDC estimates over two-million illnesses and 23,000 deaths occurred in 2013 as a result of antibiotic resistance in bacteria and fungus. But what of another type of resistance which can also have a huge impact on the population: that to insecticides? Livestock, for example, are affected by buffalo flies; farmers and customers are familiar with the total devastation caused by fruit flies; malaria mosquitoes and bed bugs are becoming more resistant to existing chemicals. Even our pets are affected: fleas and ticks are continuing their march, leading to a need for newer, often more expensive synthetic chemistries. The price of insecticide resistance — in the form of R&D costs for new compounds — is passed from chemical companies, to farmers, to consumers.

  • Food securityLong-term perspective on food security and climate shock

    What role do pre-existing vulnerabilities play for people who experience a climate shock? Do these vulnerabilities amplify the effects of the climate shock or is effect negligible? Four Arizona State University archaeologists are looking into this as part of an international team examining how people can be most resilient to climate change when it comes to food security.

  • Food securityResearch on bacteria-invading virus to help the agriculture community

    Innovative work by two Florida State University scientists shows the structural and DNA breakdown of a bacteria-invading virus. This type of virus is called a bacteriophage, and the deconstruction of its DNA could be particularly useful for the agriculture community and seed companies. Important crop plants depend on biological nitrogen fixation by the bacteria which is preyed upon by this phage. Nitrogen fixation is the process by which abundant nitrogen gas in the atmosphere is converted to the scarce soil resources ammonia and nitrate.

  • Food safetyFloods caused lead poisoning in U.K. cattle

    Massive floods in England and Wales have forced thousands to evacuate their homes and destroyed railways and roads. Scientists say the U.K. floods of recent years carry yet another danger with them: lead poisoning. Silage cut from fields soon after they were inundated in the 2012 floods and then fed to cattle raised the lead levels in the animals, killing some of them. Blood samples taken from cattle showed that all of them had lead levels beyond the safe limit for human consumption. An autopsy carried out on one of the casualty animals found lead concentrations 79 times the safe level in its kidney. The contaminated material is thought to originate from historical metal mining in the area. Scientists say a number of river catchments throughout England and Wales face a similar risk.