Agriculture

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.

Food Demand and Climate Straining Soils
August 30, 2007 05:10 PM - Reuters, Alister Doyle

World food demand will surge this century with a leap in population, highlighting a need to protect soils under strain from climate change, experts said on Thursday. About 150 scientists and government experts will meet in Iceland from August 31-September 4 to try to work out how to safeguard soils from over-use and desertification when more food is needed and some farmers are shifting land to biofuels.

New U.S. Test: CO2 Could Make Grasslands 'Unusable'
August 30, 2007 10:26 AM - Maryke Steffens, SciDevNet

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could change the nature of grasslands and decrease their usefulness as grazing pastures, say researchers. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week (27 August). If carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, important grazing areas in parts of Africa, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Mongolia, and southern and South East Asia could be under threat, according to lead author Jack Morgan, a plant physiologist from the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

Demand For Organic Food Creating New Organic Farmers
August 30, 2007 07:30 AM - Joann Loviglio, Associated Press

U.S. Agriculture Department data shows the average age of U.S. farmers has been increasing for decades and is currently 55 to 56, while the overall percentage of young farmers continues to fall. But people within the movement say the numbers can be misleading. "Are there young people who are going into farming? Yes, more and more," said Dennis Hall of the Center for Farm Transitions, a Pennsylvania Agriculture Department office providing technical assistance to new and established farmers. He said the landscape started to change about 3 1/2 years ago.

GMO Contamination Sometimes Not So Obvious
August 29, 2007 05:18 PM - Ken Roseboro, The Organic and Non-GMO Report

IOWA - In spring 2000, Greg Matteson was preparing documents for the annual inspection of his organic farm in Shelby, Montana, when he noticed something disturbing. The label on a seed inoculant called “Dormal PLUS” that he had used on yellow blossom sweet clover said “genetically modified.”

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