• Medical 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.

  • Pediatricians: 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.

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  • Hunger 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.

  • Global marine analysis: Food chain collapse likely

    A world-first global analysis of marine responses to climbing human CO2 emissions has painted a grim picture of future fisheries and ocean ecosystems. Marine ecologists say the expected ocean acidification and warming is likely to produce a reduction in diversity and numbers of various key species that underpin marine ecosystems around the world. The researchers found that there would be “limited scope” for acclimation to warmer waters and acidification. Very few species will escape the negative effects of increasing CO2, with an expected large reduction in species diversity and abundance across the globe.

  • Former peanut company owner to jail for 28 years for fatal 2009 salmonella outbreak

    In a rare instance of a prison sentence in a food contamination case, Stewart Parnell, the former owner of Peanut Corporation of America, was sentenced to twenty-eight years in prison for his role in a 2009 salmonella outbreak which killed nine people and sickened hundreds. Parnell, 61, who once managed the Peanut Corporation of America, and his brother, Michael Parnell, who was a food broker for the company, were convicted on Monday on federal conspiracy charges for knowingly shipping salmonella-tainted peanuts to customers.

  • Rather food versus fuel, think in terms of both food and fuel

    Whether you have taken a side or a backseat in the discussion, the “food versus fuel” debate affects us all. Some say growing more biofuel crops today will decrease greenhouse gas emissions, but will make it harder to produce food tomorrow, which has prevented the United States from maximizing the potential of environmentally beneficial biofuels. Scientists argue that farmers can sustainably, and affordably, meet humanity’s growing demand for food and fuel.

  • 2015 drought costs for California agriculture: Loss of $1.84 billion, 10,100 jobs

    The drought is tightening its grip on California agriculture, squeezing about 30 percent more workers and cropland out of production than in 2014, according to the latest drought impact report. In 2015, the state’s agricultural economy will lose about $1.84 billion and 10,100 seasonal jobs because of the drought, the report estimated, with the Central Valley hardest hit. The heavy reliance on groundwater comes at ever-increasing energy costs as farmers pump deeper and drill more wells. Some of the heavy pumping is in basins already in severe overdraft — where groundwater use greatly exceeds replenishment of aquifers — inviting further land subsidence, water quality problems, and diminishing reserves needed for future droughts.

  • Repurposing wasted food would feed the hungry, create jobs

    Roughly one third of all global food gets wasted. In the United States, that number is even higher, with nearly 40 percent of all food going to waste, making it one of the most wasteful countries in the world. Researchers have developed a new model for recovering would-be wasted — or surplus — food and repurposing it to feed hungry people, generate revenue, and even create jobs. The model — Food System-Sensitive Methodology (FSSM) — was recently piloted in West Philadelphia. The researchers say that applying FSSM nationally would likely yield about 1.1 billion pounds of recovered wasted food annually.

  • EU-funded research: Climate change and food safety

    The global fresh produce supply chain must take into account climate change in order to ensure food safety, warn EU-funded researchers. This was the key recommendation of the EU-funded VEG-I-TRADE project, which was launched in 2010 to assess the safety of fresh produce in a rapidly evolving context of climate change and expanding international trade.

  • Warming-driven substantial glacier ice loss in Central Asia imperils water supplies

    Central Asia is the outstanding case for human dependence on water seasonally delayed by glaciers. Nowhere the question about the glacier state is linked so closely to questions of water availability and, thus, food security. The glaciers in Central Asia, however, experience substantial losses in glacier mass and area. Along the Tien Shan, Central Asia’s largest mountain range, glaciers have lost 27 percent of their mass and 18 percent of their area during the last fifty years. Scientists estimate that almost 3,000 square kilometers of glaciers and an average of 5.4 gigatons of ice per year have been lost since the 1960s, saying that about half of Tien Shan’s glacier volume could be depleted by the 2050s.

  • Agroterrorism a serious risk to Americans, U.S. economy: Experts

    The word “terrorism” is typically associated with bomb and bullets, but security experts say that there are other types of terrorism which may bring death and disruption, chief among them is agroterrorism. Agroterrorism is the use of animal or plant pathogens to disrupt a nation’s food supply, or use the food supply to spread deadly disease.In 2004, Tommy Thompson, then secretary of Health and Human Services, said that, “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”

  • Accelerometers embedded in ear tags detect disease in beef cattle

    A smartphone switches its orientation from portrait to landscape depending on how it’s tilted. A car’s airbags inflate when it senses collision forces. By detecting earth’s vibrations, a computer can measure the magnitude and aftershocks of an earthquake. These technologies are made possible by accelerometers — small, electromechanical devices that measure acceleration. The devices are able to detect the most sensitive of motions, from the number of steps taken during a morning walk to the number of jaw movements during a heifer’s morning meal. In fact, some dairy producers use these devices to measure feed intake, detect heat and notably, identify sick animals.

  • Drones contribute to improving crops

    Researchers have used a drone to measure the temperature, humidity, luminosity, and carbon dioxide concentration in a greenhouse. The capacity of an aerial vehicle to move in three-dimensional space, and the possibility to place the sensor at any point, have clear advantages compared to other alternatives such as sensor networks. By building maps of environmental variables, the drones could help achieve optimal conditions for plant growth.

  • If global warming is left unchecked, fish will have to find new habitats -- or perish

    The goods and services our oceans provide are valued at hundreds of billions of dollars per year. A new study assessed the impact of climate change on marine and coastal ecosystems, ocean chemistry, tourism, and human health. The study specifically analyzed how warming will impact fisheries and the global economic gains we receive from these fisheries. It found that Climate change is forcing fish out of their current habitats and into cooler waters and many more species will soon be affected if climate goals are not met. “From looking at the surface of the ocean, you can’t tell much is changing,” said one researcher. “The oceans are closely tied to human systems and we’re putting communities at high risk.”

  • Rising fossil fuel energy costs risk global food security

    Ongoing efforts to feed a growing global population are threatened by rising fossil-fuel energy costs and breakdowns in transportation infrastructure. Without new ways to preserve, store, and transport food products, the likelihood of shortages looms in the future. In an analysis of food preservation and transportation trends, scientists warn that new sustainable technologies will be needed for humanity just to stay even in the arms race against the microorganisms that can rapidly spoil the outputs of the modern food system.