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The Future of Food

Food CRISPR GMO Gene Modification Agriculture

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#141
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Today’s Special: Grilled Salmon Laced With Plastic

 

https://www.motherjo...-plastic-flesh/

 

Introduction:

 

(Mother Jones) Nearly 50 years ago, scientists studying the North Atlantic Ocean started noticing that tiny fragments of plastic were turning up in their plankton and seaweed samples. The microparticles, they found, absorbed toxic chemicals and were then eaten by flounder, perch, and other fish. Until recently, though, researchers thought these ingested plastics stayed in a creature’s guts and possibly its liver. Removing a fish’s entrails before serving it up appeared to eliminate the risk of eating plastic.

 

But recent research suggests that these tiny bits of plastic move into fish flesh. And now seafood, a recent study found, is the third-largest source of chemical-laden “microplastics” of sources analyzed so far for the average American consumer, behind bottled water and air. “Plastic is now part of our food system,” says Kieran Cox, a marine ecologist and PhD candidate at the University of Victoria in British Columbia who led the study. 


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#142
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German Study: Alarming Levels of Dangerous Plastics in Children's Bodies

 

https://www.commondr...hildrens-bodies

 

Introduction:

 

(Common Dreams) Plastic by-products were found in an alarming 97-100% of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017, according to a new study by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute.

 

Der Spiegel, the German weekly magazine, published the findings Saturday, which were part of a federal study focused on "human biomonitoring" of 3 to 17-year-olds. Traces from 11 out of 15 plastic ingredients were found in the test samples.

 

"Our study clearly shows that plastic ingredients, which are rising in production, are also showing up more and more in the body. It is really worrying that the youngest children are most affected as the most sensitive group," Marike Kolossa-Gehring, one of the study's authors, told the magazine.

 

Researchers said that they were especially concerned about high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that were found in the study. PFOA is an extremely persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemical frequently used in non-stick cookware and in waterproof clothing.

 

In 20 percent of those examined, they were above the limit, in the younger children, the proportion was even higher. The study also showed children from poorer families had more plastic residue in their bodies than children from higher-income families, according to German public broadcaster ARD


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#143
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Cowpeas Are Helping Us Prepare for a Hotter, Drier Future
 

https://ensia.com/ar...r-drier-future/

 

Extract:

 

(Ensia)  Imagine spending three weeks outside without water while temperatures regularly rise above 40 °C (104 °F). That’s a recipe for disaster for humans — and for most plants, too. But to many varieties of cowpea, it’s a mere hiccup on the way to producing high-protein, nutritious beans that have cultural significance around the world.

 

Ousmane Boukar, a cowpea breeder at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria, is working to understand how cowpeas withstand such brutal droughts. That’s important because regions of West Africa, where Boukar says that most people eat cowpea practically every day, are expected to get drier and hotter with climate change. For food security and economic stability, growers will need varieties that can withstand those changes.

 

Along with other scientists, Boukar is using emerging information about cowpea genetics to better understand how the crop responds to drought — and how we might make it even more tolerant. While cowpeas have a reputation for tolerating drought, individual varieties differ greatly. If researchers find that varieties that thrive under dry conditions all have the same mutation in one gene, they can investigate that gene to learn how — or if — it affects drought tolerance, then breed it into other varieties to make them more tolerant, too.

 

…(Ira Hernitera, Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside) recently helped sequence the cowpea genome, making it easier for researchers to determine the genetic underpinnings of specific traits, including drought tolerance. For instance, Boukar’s team screened over 1,000 cowpea lines to identify those with the highest drought tolerance. They selected the 10 varieties that performed best for further breeding. The genome sequence of cowpea could make it easier for Boukar’s team to figure out which genes — or combinations of genes — in those 10 varieties contribute to drought tolerance, helping breeders maximize the number of genes for drought tolerance in new varieties.

 

Herniter says that because less research has been done on cowpeas than on crops like rice and soybean, “many of the large leaps” in breeding have not yet been taken. That means potentially more bang for the research buck in terms of advancing crop productivity and food security.

Article_Cowpea_inline2.jpg

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture researcher Ousmane Boukar (left) and a colleague screen cowpeas for drought resistance.

Photo courtesy of Ousmane Boukar


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#144
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New Research Warns Severe Climate-Related Droughts Could Threaten 60% of Global Wheat Crop by 2100

 

https://www.commondr...60-global-wheat

 

Introduction:

 

(Common Dreams) Underscoring the necessity of aggressive action to combat human-caused global warming, research published Wednesday warns that the majority of the world's wheat fields are at risk of enduring "severe, prolonged, and near-simultaneous droughts" by the end of the century—raising serious concerns about future food insecurity and political instability.

 

"If only one country or region sees a drought there is less impact," said study co-author Song Feng of the University of Arkansas. "But if multiple regions are affected simultaneously, it can affect global production and food prices, and lead to food insecurity."

 

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Science Advances, was conducted by team of researchers from the United States, Europe, and Asia.

 

Wheat accounts for about 20 percent of all calories consumed by humans worldwide and the global demand for wheat products such as cereal is expected to rise in the coming decades, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Recognizing humanity's reliance on the crop as a key food source, the study's researchers analyzed various climate models to assess the rising risk of drought in wheat-producing regions.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#145
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New California Lab Seeks Cure to Deadly Citrus Disease

 

https://www.courthou...citrus-disease/

 

Introduction:

 

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — In a lab southeast of Los Angeles, researchers are opening a new front in the yearslong battle against a tiny pest that has wreaked havoc on citrus groves around the world.

 

California citrus growers and packers and the University of California, Riverside on Thursday marked the opening of an $8 million lab dedicated to finding a solution to the tree-killing disease known as Huanglongbing that has ravaged groves in Florida, Brazil and China.

 

Until now, scientists said they haven’t been able to take a close look at the disease in California because of strict measures aimed at preventing contagion since it hasn’t reached the state’s commercial groves.

 

That will change with the Biosafety Level-3 lab near the campus, which was funded by growers and will let researchers study the bacteria carried by the Asian citrus psyllid in a secure environment.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#146
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CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus

 

https://www.nature.c...586-019-02770-7

 

Introduction:

 

(Nature) The race to engineer the next-generation banana is on. The Colombian government confirmed last month that a banana-killing fungus has invaded the Americas — the source of much of the world’s banana supply. The invasion has given new urgency to efforts to create fruit that can withstand the scourge.

 

Scientists are using a mix of approaches to save the banana. A team in Australia has inserted a gene from wild bananas into the top commercial variety — known as the Cavendish — and are currently testing these modified bananas in field trials. Researchers are also turning to the powerful, precise gene-editing tool CRISPR to boost the Cavendish’s resilience against the fungus, known as Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4).

 

Breeding TR4 resistance into the Cavendish using conventional methods isn’t possible because the variety is sterile and propagated by cloning. So the only way to save the Cavendish may be to tweak its genome, says Randy Ploetz, a plant pathologist at the University of Florida in Homestead. The variety accounts for 99% of global banana shipments.

 

James Dale, a biotechnologist at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, started getting enquiries about his genetically modified (GM) bananas in July, as the first rumours surfaced that TR4 had reached Colombia. “Then Colombia declared a national emergency,” Dale says, “and now the amount of interest is through the roof.”


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#147
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Plant Disease Is Devastating Spain’s Almond Trees

 

https://www.courthou...s-almond-trees/

 

Introduction:

 

ALCALALÍ, Spain (Courthouse News) — A lethal Central American plant disease devastating olive trees in southern Italy is now killing almond trees in southern Spain, a serious development for an outbreak threatening Europe’s crops.

 

The rugged terrain of Alicante province is the tragic stage for a chain of events similar to what’s happening in southern Italy’s Puglia region, where tens of thousands of olive trees are dying from an infection by the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium. There is no cure for the disease, which is known in the United States as Pierce’s disease.

 

Almond trees mysteriously started to show signs of sickness several years ago and in 2017 scientists declared they had identified the cause as Xylella fastidiosa.

 

Since then, about 521 square miles in Alicante have been designated as affected. To contain the outbreak, the European Union is that demanding that infected trees and other trees within a 320-foot radius be cut down. So far, about 1,300 sick almond trees and thousands of surrounding trees have been cut down.

 

Spain is the world’s second-biggest almond producer, after the United States.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#148
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Respect your elder-berries, they hold secrets for how to farm in climate change

https://www.motherjo...erleaf-farming/

 

Entire Article:

 

(Mother Jones) Cloverleaf Farm, a small produce operation in Davis, California, managed to do okay during the extreme drought that lasted from 2012 to 2016. But in the first wet year after the long dry period, the farm lost its entire apricot crop to disease—$40,000 to $50,000 down the drain.

 

Researchers predict that as climate change worsens, there will be more frequent shifts between extreme dry spells and floods. As Cloverleaf learned the hard way, the phenomenon is already taking a toll on growers in the country’s largest food producing state. During the drought, California’s agricultural and related industries lost $2.7 billion in one year alone. Big cash crops like almonds and grapes are at particular risk in the future, unnerving farmers and vintners already taking hits from erratic and extreme weather.

 

Katie Fyhrie, a grower at Cloverleaf Farm, worries that the farm won’t be able to keep producing stone fruits—which depend on the timing and duration of winter chill—in the long-term. “It can be confusing to figure out how to move forward,” Fyhrie says. “Where we’re at right now, versus where we’re going to be 10, 20, 30 years down the line. It’s a really tricky thing to balance.”

 

Ancient plant species might hold important clues about which crops will survive in a harsher climate. With that in mind, Fyhrie and her team have started growing elderberries. An indigo pearl-sized fruit that grows on a big bushy plant, the elderberry is relatively unknown in the United States; the majority of the commercial market comes from an imported European variety. But Native American communities have been using a Western elderberry subspecies for centuries.

 

The elderberry that’s native to California grows remarkably well in drought conditions. After a couple of years, you can completely remove irrigation and the plant will keep producing. This last season, Cloverleaf harvested 130 pounds of berries from each of its most mature trees, none of which are irrigated. “That is a huge deal that we’re getting berries that are good for you, really versatile for a lot of products, and that require no additional fertilizer or water,” Fyhrie says.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#149
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Vietnam and Australia to work Together on Scientific Projects

 

https://www.chinanew...ntific-projects

 

Extract:

 

(China News) HO CHI MINH CITY - From sea cucumbers to cancer research, Vietnam and Australia will start collaborating on science initiatives that are meant to show how innovation can be used to spread out the benefits of economic growth evenly to more of the population.

 

The Australian government has given more than 1.6 million Australian dollars to the three winners of a competition it co hosted with the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam as part of its so-called Aus4Innovation program. The winning teams are three different pairs of universities, one from Vietnam and one from Australia, that will work together on scientific research.

 

…One of the grants will center around sea cucumbers, a long spindly marine animal commonly cooked in Asian cuisine, whether fried on their own, or braised with mushrooms and Chinese broccoli. Scientists who received the grant are researching how to produce a hormone they believe can increase the productivity of sea cucumber farming. This matters to Vietnam because it wants its farmers to increase productivity so they can make a sustainable living while not draining so many resources to harm the environment. At the same time, this product could raise questions of nutritional ethics among those who want minimal hormone and other human intervention in their food.

 

 

voa1571227539.jpg


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#150
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Hunting for microplastics in your seafood

 

https://www.theverge...r-verge-science

 

Introduction:

 

(The Verge) We live in a plastic-coated world. Sure, there are the obvious bits and pieces — the straws, the plastic bags, a seemingly never-ending stream of packaging — but a lot of the plastic in our lives is too small to notice. Microplastics, or plastics that are smaller than five millimeters, are just about everywhere. They’re in the air you breathethe tea you drink, and even the food you eat.

 

Some microplastics are easily washed off clothes or sent down the drain as people rinse away cosmetic products. Others are fragments of larger plastic items that have been broken down by wind, waves, or sunlight. No matter where they come from, many microplastics end up getting washed out to sea where they can be gobbled up by organisms — including some of the organisms we humans love to eat, like shrimp, oysters, and mussels.

 

Here at The Verge, we wanted to see if we could track down some of these tiny particles for ourselves, so we grabbed some fresh shrimp and headed to a lab at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory where Debra Magadini helped us hunt for microplastics. The process involved shrimp guts, ovens, test tubes, and some serious dye. Take a look at the video above and see what we found (see link provided above quote box).


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#151
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The world’s best drink cooler may come from pineapple scraps

 

https://www.sciencem...ineapple-scraps 

 

Introduction:

 

(Science) When life gives you pineapples—and hundreds of millions of tons of pineapple waste—what do you do? Engineers in Singapore and Vietnam decided to turn all those scraps into something useful—insulation for their piña coladas. Not only does their new material keep drinks chilled better than many commercial coolers, but it could also offer a final resting place for the world’s pineapple waste.

 

Pineapples make up about 20% of the world’s tropical fruit production, with more than 25 million tons harvested each year—but more than half of this forms waste byproducts like leaves, peels, and seeds.

 

To find a use for those leftovers, the researchers mixed pineapple fibers, which they shredded in a blender, with polyvinyl alcohol as an adhesive agent and deionized water as a solvent. They then treated the mix with ultrasound and heated it in an oven at 80°C for 2 hours. The suspension that formed was then chilled before being freeze-dried.


The result was a pale yellow aerogel that is lightweight, flexible, and more than 96% porous—properties that make it ideal as an insulating material against both heat and sound.

 

When the researchers wrapped a sheet of the pineapple aerogel around a military-style canteen bottle, they found that the gel could provide three times the thermal insulation of commercially available alternatives, they report this month in Materials Chemistry and Physics. The gel-wrapped bottle kept –3°C water cooled below 0°C for 6 hours and liquid heated to 90°C above 40°C for 2.5 hours. What’s more, the pineapple gel also acted as a sound barrier; in another test, the gel did a better job of damping noise than Basmel, a popular kind of soundproofing panel.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#152
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Scientists Say Quarter of All Pigs Could Die of Swine Fever

 

https://www.courthou...of-swine-fever/

 

Introduction:

 

SYDNEY (AP) — Around a quarter of the world’s pigs are expected to die from African swine fever as authorities grapple with a complex disease spreading rapidly in the globalization era, the World Organization for Animal Health’s president said Thursday.

 

A sharp reduction in the world’s pig population would lead to possible food shortages and high pork prices, and it might also cause shortfalls in the many products made from pigs, such as the blood-thinner heparin that’s used in people, said Dr. Mark Schipp, the organization’s president.

 

The disease’s spread in the past year to countries including China, which has half the world’s pigs, had inflamed a worldwide crisis, Schipp told reporters at a briefing in Sydney.

“I don’t think the species will be lost, but it’s the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we’ve ever seen,” he said. “And it’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation.”

 

African swine fever, fatal to hogs but no threat to humans, has wiped out pig herds in many Asian countries. Chinese authorities have destroyed about 1.2 million pigs in an effort to contain the disease there since August 2018.

                                                                                  

The price of pork has nearly doubled from a year ago in China, which produces and consumes two-thirds of the world’s pork. And China’s efforts to buy pork abroad, as well as smaller outbreaks in other countries, are pushing up global prices.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#153
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A recent article in Ensia is titled:

 

Entrepreneurs and Government Are Teaming Up to Boost Food Security in the United Arab Emirates - and Beyond

 

https://ensia.com/articles/uae-united-arab-emirates-food-security-agriculture-vertical-farming-food-waste/

 

The article touches upon different technologies and practices being undertaken to promote food security in the region. These include:

 

 

  • Development of vertical farms
  • Use of “drones to map farming areas that supply farmers as well as farming researchers with images, from bird’s-eye views of the fields to up-close images of individual plants.”
  •  Creation of “artificial caves in the Persian Gulf… to further contribute to food security by boosting fish stocks and promote sustainable fish farming.”
  • “(E)ncouraging the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in kitchens, particularly in hotels and restaurants, to track food waste and guide kitchens on how to minimize it.”

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#154
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Researchers Produce Coconut Palm Plantlets Using Tissue Culture


 

https://www.downtoea...e-culture-67535

 

Introduction:

 

(Down to Earth) Over the years, several economically important plants have been multiplied and conserved using tissue culture technique in which whole plants are re-generated from parts of plants. However, the technique has not been very successful with palms like coconut palm or toddy palm.

 

Now researchers from the regional station of ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) at Kayamkulam in Kerala have developed tissue culture plants of coconut palm.

 

The coconut palm is an important cultivated palm in the world, and is popular for its industrial and commercial applications. In India, it is cultivated mainly in the coastal tracts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Pondicherry, Maharashtra and the islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar.

 

At present, coconut palm is propagated through seeds. However, it takes five to 10 years for a plant to produce the first harvest. Consequently, crop improvement programmes in coconut is time consuming and tedious. A scientist has to wait for 20 to 30 years for releasing a new variety by conventional breeding approaches. Tissue culture can help overcome this. Even though many people have developed protocols using various parts of plant like tender leaf, immature inflorescence, shoot tip, and immature embryo.

 

However, they lack reliability and repeatability.

 

CPCRI researchers used tissues from immature inflorescence. The team were able to re-generate rooted plants. The plantlets were similar to the mother plant from which they have taken the tissue. This has been confirmed by advanced molecular biology techniques.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#155
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South Korea deploys snipers and drones to fend off deadly pig virus

 

https://www.nature.c...586-019-03237-5

 

Introduction:

 

(Nature) South Korea has mobilized military snipers and drones along the demilitarized zone between itself and North Korea to stave off wild boars carrying African swine fever. The country is the latest to report cases of the highly contagious and lethal virus in pigs, which has wiped out tens of millions of the animals across Asia.

 

The South Korean outbreak comes as Chinese scientists report in Science on 17 October1 that they have obtained the most detailed picture yet of the virus’s structure, which could assist vaccine development. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for African swine fever, which is contained by culling pigs.

 

Cases of African swine fever began appearing in South Korea in wild boars and pigs on farms near the North Korean border last month. Authorities there have confirmed fifteen cases in wild boars and fourteen in domestic pigs. The nation has culled more than 150,000 pigs since then, says the agriculture ministry.

 

The defence ministry announced on 15 October that it has mobilized snipers and civilian teams of hunters to take down wild boars near the border with North Korea, according to the South Korean media. Drones with thermal vision have also been used to track boars, reported the South Korean agricultural ministry.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#156
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Bangladesh could be the first to cultivate golden rice, genetically altered to fight blindness

 

https://www.sciencem...fight-blindness

 

Introduction:

 

(Science) Soon. That has long been scientists' answer when asked about the approval of golden rice, a genetically modified (GM) crop that could help prevent childhood blindness and deaths in the developing world. Ever since golden rice first made headlines nearly 20 years ago, it has been a flashpoint in debates over GM crops. Advocates touted it as an example of their potential benefit to humanity, while opponents of transgenic crops criticized it as a risky and unnecessary approach to improve health in the developing world.

 

Now, Bangladesh appears about to become the first country to approve golden rice for planting. "It is really important to say we got this over the line," says Johnathan Napier, a plant biotechnologist at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, U.K., who was not involved in the crop's development. He says approval would show that agricultural biotechnology can be successfully developed by publicly funded research centers for the public good. Still, environmental groups haven't dropped their opposition—and the first harvest isn't expected until at least 2021. And more research will be needed to show the extent of real-world benefits from golden rice.

 

Golden rice was developed in the late 1990s by German plant scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer to combat vitamin A deficiency, the leading cause of childhood blindness. Low levels of vitamin A also contribute to deaths from infectious diseases such as measles. Spinach, sweet potato, and other vegetables supply ample amounts of the vitamin, but in some countries, particularly those where rice is a major part of the diet, vitamin A deficiency is still widespread; in Bangladesh it affects about 21% of children.

 

To create golden rice, Potrykus and Beyer collaborated with agrochemical giant Syngenta to equip the plant with beta-carotene genes from maize. They donated their transgenic plants to public-sector agricultural institutes, paving the way for other researchers to breed the golden rice genes into varieties that suit local tastes and growing conditions.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#157
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New Report on Ocean Oxygen Loss Gives 'Ultimate Wake-Up Call' to Act on Climate

 

https://www.commondr...all-act-climate

 

Introduction:

 

(Common Dreams) A new report on ocean oxygen loss released Saturday should serve as the "ultimate wake-up call" to take bold action to rein in planet-warming emissions and save the world's "suffocating seas," researchers said.

 

The publication from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows how the problem known as ocean deoxygenation, driven by global warming and human-caused nutrient pollution, is expanding, with impacts on humans and marine ecosystems alike.

 

…That's bad news, because changes in oxygen levels mess with species distribution. Species like jellyfish want low-oxygen areas, but low-oxygen sensitive ones, including most fish, don't.

 

Those species are then driven to other areas not affected by deoxygenation, but that can leave them susceptible to over-fishing by commercial operations.

Humans dependent on the affected species, especially smaller-scale fisheries, are adversely impacted. Communities may have a reduced catch or are forced to spend more to obtain the affected species—impacts that threaten not only nutrient loss but cultural loss.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls






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