• A natural food preservative kills food-borne bacteria

    Salmonella and E. coli account for more than half of all food recalls in the United States; salmonella contributes to an estimated 28 percent of more than 3,000 U.S. deaths related to foodborne illness each year; researchers have discovered and received a patent for a naturally occurring lantibiotic — a peptide produced by a harmless bacteria — that could be added to food to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria

  • Melting ice sheets release toxic pollutants outlawed in 2001

    The melting of arctic ice sheets causes the rise in sea levels — but there is another danger: the melting causes dangerous chemicals, including the notoriously toxic DDT, to be freed from Arctic sea ice and snow; the chemical — known as “persistent organic pollutants” (POPs) — were widely used as insecticides and pesticides before being outlawed in 2001; they are extremely tough molecules that take decades to break down in nature; they also bio-accumulate, meaning that as they pass up the food chain, concentrations rise, posing a fertility threat to higher species

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  • New way to attack Salmonella bacteria found

    Nitric oxide is naturally produced in the nose and the gut and other tissues in the body to ward off infection; new research underscores that nitric oxide’s antimicrobial actions are due to its interference with the metabolism, or energy production, of pathogens —p and that these antimicrobial characteristics may be harnessed to inhibit the growth of Salmonella

  • Japan halts shipments of radioactive beef

    The Japanese government is coming under fire for only halting shipments of contaminated cattle now, four months after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami that led to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic energy station; authorities recently discovered that 637 cattle had been fed hay contaminated with radioactive cesium and then shipped from farms in northern prefectures including Fukushima

  • Microalgae : Texas' next big cash crop

    There are an estimated 200,000 to 800,000 species of microalgae — microscopic algae that thrive in freshwater and marine systems; scientists say microalgae offers a huge, untapped source of fuel, food, feed, pharmaceuticals, and even pollution-busters; it is set to be Texas’ next big cash crop

  • Sprouts blamed for U.S. Salmonella outbreak

    After infecting more than 4,000 people across Europe and North America, sprouts have been blamed once more for a food-borne outbreak, this time in the United States; on Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that sprouts were the source of a Salmonella outbreak which has sickened more than twenty people across five states including Washington, Montana, and Idaho

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  • New tool predicts drought

    Knowing when to instigate water saving measures in dry times will be easier from now on, following a breakthrough in drought prediction: an Australian researcher has developed a way to predict droughts six months before they begin

  • Report warns falling crop yields could spell disaster

    A recent study found that as temperatures continue to rise the geographical range of staple crops like corn and beans will become increasingly limited, potentially resulting in massive food shortages; there are currently fifty-six million people who lack food security as temperatures are expected to rise above 86° Fahrenheit; at that temperature, beans are no longer a viable crop, while rice and corn yields suffer

  • Sprouts declared source of deadly E.coli outbreak, again

    After declaring last week that sprouts were not the culprit of the deadly E. coli outbreak, German officials are now saying that sprouts were indeed the source after all; the announcement comes without conclusive evidence that sprouts were the source of the bacterial outbreak; instead health investigators are relying on circumstantial evidence; tests from the farm located in Lower Saxony have come up negative for the rare strain of E. coli that is sickening patients

  • EU harshly critical of Germany's approach to E. coli crisis

    In Germany, responsibilities for responding to a crisis — any crisis — are spread across local, municipal, state, and federal agencies, with no central information center to inform the public, and with little coordination among the various responding bodies

  • Terrorist may use food poisoning as weapon

    Food and drink sold in Britain — in stores, at restaurants — are under an increasing threat from terrorist groups which might try to poison supplies, thus wreaking havoc and sowing fear, a government security advisers have warned

  • Germany falsely identifies sprouts as source of outbreak

    German health officials have mistakenly identified the source of the deadly E. coli outbreak once again; over the weekend, officials had announced that sprouts were the cause of an outbreak that has killed at least twenty-two people and left more than 600 in critical condition; authorities tested eighteen sprout mixtures, but on Monday results showed that they were not the source of the outbreak; much to the displeasure of Spanish farmers, last week German authorities incorrectly pointed to Spanish cucumbers; officials estimate that Spain’s fruit and vegetable exporters are losing as much as $290 million a week; Spain is seeking reparations

  • Bacteria designed for sleuthing

    Seven Cambridge University undergraduates spent the summer of 2009 genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a variety of colored pigments, visible to the naked eye; they designed standardized sequences of DNA, known as BioBricks, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria — so the bacteria can now change its color to red, yellow, green, blue, brown, or violet; the bacteria can be programmed to do useful things, such as indicate whether drinking water is safe by turning red if they sense a toxin; other uses for the design bacterium include monitoring food additives, patenting issues, personalized medicine, terrorism, and new types of weather

  • How safe is Kansas bio lab from twisters?

    DHS officials say they are confident that the proposed bio-defense lab in Manhattan, Kansas, located in the heart of tornado alley, is capable of withstanding a direct hit from a powerful twister; engineers have hardened the $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to withstand wind speeds of up to 230 miles per hour; but critics of the planned facility argue that the new standards are inadequate and that the facility must be further reinforced to ensure that in the event of a natural disaster the deadly pathogens and viruses stored there are not spread

  • Germany struggles to find source of deadly E.Coli outbreak

    German health officials struggling to find the source of deadly E.Coli outbreak suffered another setback when Spanish cucumbers were found to have been incorrectly declared the source of the infections; so far seventeen people have died and more than 1,500 Europeans have been sickened by a rare strain of enterohemorrhagic E. Coli (EHEC); eighty new cases were reported in Hamburg between Monday and Tuesday alone and hospitals are treating 110 patients critically ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS); the current outbreak has disproportionately affected women, and health officials are struggling to understand why; health officials have urged to not purchase any vegetables declared as potentially dangerous