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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






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Food, CRISPR, GMO, Gene Modification, Agriculture

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