Food supply chain safety

  • U.S. conducted bioweapon tests in Japan in early 1960s

    The U.S. Army tested biological weapons in Okinawa, Japan in the early 1960s when the United States ruled the prefecture. U.S documents confirmed that the tests, conducted at least a dozen times occurred between 1961 and 1962. The test involved releasing rice blast fungus over rice paddies in order to measure the agent’s effect on production. With hundreds of millions of people dependent on rice as a staple food, failure of rice production could result in mass starvation. The fungus infects crops naturally, and experts estimate it destroys enough rice to feed sixty million people a year.

  • Stimulating plant growth and increasing crop yields

    Plants naturally slow their growth or even stop growing altogether in response to adverse conditions, such as water shortage or high salt content in soil, in order to save energy. They do this by making proteins that repress the growth of the plant. Growth repression can be problematic for farmers as crops that suffer from restricted growth produce smaller yields. Scientists have discovered a natural mechanism in plants that could stimulate their growth even under stress and potentially lead to better crop yields.

  • University of Florida Clinical Toxicology Online Graduate Course. Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction. Arm yourself with knowledge.
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  • Europe facing more severe and persistent droughts

    Drought is a major natural disaster that can have considerable impacts on society, the environment, and the economy. In Europe alone, the cost of drought over the past three decades has amounted to over 100 billion euros. Europe has been battered by storms in the last few years, but researchers warn that many river basins, especially in southern parts of Europe, are likely to become more prone to periods of reduced water supply due to climate change. An increasing demand for water, following a growing population and intensive use of water for irrigation and industry, will result in even stronger reductions in river flow levels.

  • Geoengineering measures to cool the planet would cause climate chaos

    Geoengineering — the intentional manipulation of the climate to counter the effect of global warming — is being proposed as a last-ditch way to deal with the problems of climate change. New research suggests geoengineering could cause massive changes to rainfall patterns around the equator, drying the tropical rainforests in South America and Asia, and intensifying periods of drought in Africa.

  • Improper use of biocides in food production poses public health risks

    Biocides used in the food industry at sublethal doses may be endangering, rather than protecting, public health by increasing antibiotic resistance in bacteria and enhancing their ability to form harmful biofilms, according to a new study.

  • Central African Republic, already mired in ethnic violence, faces another threat: famine

    Since last year, when they had to flee the intensifying violence across the Central African Republic, farming communities had to abandon their fields along the main roads to replant deep in the bush. This disruption led them to produce much less than in previous years, with a major impact on their food reserves, which will last till February instead of July. The success of the next planting season crucially hinges on the return of farming families to the fields. Families who are unable to plant in March will have to wait one whole year before they can hope to harvest again. Failure to plant in March will have dire consequences for the food security of the Central African Republic’s population.

  • Extensive use of antibiotics in agriculture creating public health crisis

    In the United States, 80 percent of the antibiotics are consumed in agriculture and aquaculture for the purpose of increasing food production. This flood of antibiotics released into the environment — sprayed on fruit trees and fed to the likes of livestock, poultry, and salmon, among other uses — has led bacteria to evolve.Mounting evidence shows resistant pathogens are emerging in the wake of this veritable flood of antibiotics — resulting in an increase in bacteria that is immune to available treatments. Scientists say that if the problem is left unchecked, this will create a health crisis on a global scale.

  • Freshwater loss compounds climate change’s detrimental effects on agriculture

    A warmer world is expected to have severe consequences for global agriculture and food supply, reducing yields of major crops even as population and demand increases.Agricultural models estimate that given the present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will directly reduce food production from maize, soybeans, wheat, and rice by as much as 43 percent by the end of the twenty-first century. Now, a new analysis combining climate, agricultural, and hydrological models finds that shortages of freshwater used for irrigation could double the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculturedue to the reversion of twenty to sixty million hectares of currently irrigated fields back to rain-fed crops.

  • Upper Rio Grande to experience growing gap between water supply and demand

    Increasing temperatures and changes in the timing of snowmelt runoff could impact the amount of water available on the upper Rio Grande in the future, says a news study. Temperatures will increase four to six degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the twenty-first century, according to the climate modeling used in the study. Although the modeling projects that total annual average precipitation in the basin will not change considerably, we are likely to see a decreasing snowpack, an earlier and smaller spring snowmelt runoff and an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of both droughts and floods.

  • Survey of deep-sea chemical munitions dump off California finds no chemical weapons

    Since the Second World War, U.S. nautical charts have shown seven “chemical munitions dumping areas” along the Pacific Coast between San Francisco and the Mexican border. Little or no information, however, is available about the amount, location, or nature of the materials that were dumped at most of these sites. Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) conducted a detailed survey of one supposed deep‐water dump site off Southern California, and found that it contained no chemical munitions. The researchers conclude that not all sites marked as chemical munitions dumps may actually have been used for this purpose.

  • India-Pakistan nuclear war would lead to world-wide famine: study

    An India-Pakistan nuclear war may see the use of about 100 Hiroshima-size bombs – about half of India and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals. A new study says that a nuclear exchange on such a scale would “probably cause the end (of) modern industrial civilization as we know it” by subjecting about two billion people to the risk of starvation, and causing massive economic and social disruptions far away from the theater of war. Among the consequences of a nuclear exchange: Chinese winter wheat production could decline by 50 percent during the first year and by more than 30 percent over ten years; there would be a 21 percent decline in Chinese middle-season rice production during the first four years and an average 10 percent decline in the following six years; corn and soybean production in the United States would decline by 10 percent on average for ten years.

  • Food security and self-provision of major cities

    Wealthy capital cities vary greatly in their dependence on the global food market. The Australian capital Canberra produces the majority of its most common food in its regional hinterland, while Tokyo primarily ensures its food security through import. The Copenhagen hinterland produces less than half of the consumption of the most common foods. For the first time, researchers have mapped the food systems of capital cities, an essential insight for future food security if population growth, climate change, and political instability will affect the open market.

  • U.K. tightens animal disease surveillance

    The U.K. Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency(AHVLA) has introduced a new surveillance system to detect new and re-emerging animal disease threats in England and Wales. The new system is expected to improve the geographical and species-specific coverage of disease.The new system will rely more on private sector laboratories for gathering surveillance intelligence and less on government laboratories.

  • Helping farmers cope with climate change is big business

    Monsanto estimates there is a $20 billion market for employing massive data analysis to provide weather forecasting and crop-growing advice tailored to individual plots of land. With a $300 billion agriculture industry in the United States exposed to climate change, predicting the effects of warming temperature is critical to the industry. Monsanto has recently acquired – for $1 billion — the Climate Corporation, a Silicon Valley company which uses data analysis and algorithms to redefine how farmers grow and harvest crops. The company provides farmers with insights which predict weather pattern and the changing effects on crops.

  • Planet’s arable land rapidly degrading

    Great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate. A new study describes how the productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity, and nutrient depletion.