Agriculture

Mo. Wineries Expect Tiny Harvest
September 4, 2007 07:46 AM - The Associated Press

A combination of the Easter freeze and hungry birds has left Missouri's wineries predicting a tiny harvest this year and big economic losses. Vineyards across the state are reporting 85 to 100 percent losses of certain types of grapes, while the overall loss is estimated to be around 60 percent. Agricultural officials are still assessing the damage, but they say losses could total $2 million to $3 million. Wine enthusiasts likely won't see much difference because wineries said they'll buy grapes from other states to make up the difference. But that does little to assuage the economic bite.

Lettuce, leafy greens and E. coli
September 3, 2007 08:51 AM - Society for General Microbiology

The rise in year-round consumption of fresh leafy greens such as lettuce and baby spinach is increasing the difficulty of keeping produce free from contamination by food poisoning bacteria, according to US scientists speaking today (Monday 3 September 2007) at the Society for General Microbiology’s 161st Meeting at the University of Edinburgh, UK, which runs from 3-6 September 2007.

Environmental effects kept in check on farms
September 3, 2007 08:31 AM - University of Guelph

Environmental activists have long criticized pharmaceutical use by hog farmers and veterinarians in treating swine disease, saying pharmaceuticals are being overused and errantly contaminating the environment. But new research from the University of Guelph has shown that environmental contamination from antibiotics does not pose appreciable risks to soil and aquatic organisms.

Experts Urge Gene Bank of Rare Livestock Breeds to Ensure Healthy Diversity
September 3, 2007 08:19 AM - Frank Jordans, Associated Press

Precious genetic material that could protect farm animals from future threats posed by disease and climate change might be lost unless action is taken to protect rare breeds from extinction, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Monday.

Climate change and N. America farms to be studied
September 1, 2007 08:37 AM - Reuters

Iowa State University researchers will join a study of climate change to produce mid-century projections by late next year of the likely regional effects on North American farms from global warming. "There is no question now that the climate is changing on a global scale," said Gene Takle, an Iowa State University professor of geological and atmospheric sciences who will lead a study to project North American climate from 2040 to 2070. Iowa and Illinois are the epicenter of the U.S. Midwest farm belt, which produces the world's largest exportable surpluses of corn, soybeans and wheat and vast amounts of meat, dairy products, poultry and vegetables.

USDA Orders Changes and Threatens to Revoke Organic Certification For Largest US Dairy
August 31, 2007 12:07 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

WASHINGTON - The USDA has ordered the nation's largest certified organic dairy to make substantial, wide-ranging changes to the livestock management practices at their operations in Texas and Colorado after violations of organic standards were uncovered in their feed lots. The USDA reached a compromise with the company, Aurora Organic Dairy, after threatening to revoke organic certification for the dairy, which supplies Wal-Mart and other major chains with "certified organic" dairy products.

Experimental anti-cancer drug made from corn lillies kills brain tumor stem cells
August 31, 2007 09:23 AM - Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

A drug that shuts down a critical cell-signaling pathway in the most common and aggressive type of adult brain cancer successfully kills cancer stem cells thought to fuel tumor growth and help cancers evade drug and radiation therapy, a Johns Hopkins study shows. In a series of laboratory and animal experiments, Johns Hopkins scientists blocked the signaling system, known as Hedgehog, with an experimental compound called cyclopamine to explore the blockade’s effect on cancer stem cells that populate glioblastoma multiforme. Cyclopamine has long been known to inhibit Hedgehog signaling.

Is A Bioeconomy fueled by Biorenewables, Sustainable?
August 31, 2007 08:07 AM - Iowa State University

This spring farmers responded to the ethanol industry's demand for grain by increasing their corn acreage by 19 percent over last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. What if that happens again next year? What if farmers decide against crop rotations and plant corn on the same fields, year after year? Or, what if farmers begin growing biomass crops such as switchgrass for the production of ethanol from plant fiber?

Dole Food Takes New Steps to Head Off More E.coli
August 31, 2007 07:34 AM - Reuters

Dole Food Company, a top U.S. food and fruit producer, has stepped up testing and tracking of produce to prevent outbreaks of E.coli like the one that sickened hundreds last fall, the firm said on Thursday. Eric Schwartz, Dole's president for worldwide vegetables, told Reuters in an interview the company is testing samples from every acre of spinach and other vegetables that will be marketed under the Dole label.

Green Africa Conference Seeks to Help Continent Feed Itself
August 31, 2007 07:14 AM - Doug Mellgren, Associated Press

Africa's drive to feed itself by boosting agricultural production through funding, market access and improved technology must be balanced against the risk of environmental damage and market collapse, delegates at an Oslo conference said Thursday.

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