• Horsemeat Still Showing up in EU Beef

    Up to 5% of European Union products labelled as beef contain horsemeat, according to results published by the European Commission yesterday (16 April). The results came after eight weeks of DNA testing on more than 4,000 beefs products, of which 193 were positive for horse. The Commission also found that 0.5% of the 3,000 tested horse carcasses contained traces of phenylbutazone, a potentially harmful drug which is banned from entering the human food chain, known as bute. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fungi Found to be Culprit for Horseradish Root Rot

    Horseradish grown in the Midwest of the United States has been experiencing significant yield reductions for the past 30 years due to internal discoloring and root rot. According to crop science professor Mohammad Babadoost at the University of Illinois, "If the roots are discolored, they are not accepted for processing." This affects the success of these plants and the livelihood of Illinois farmers who grown over half of the horseradish produced in the United States. >> Read the Full Article
  • Selenium deficiency 'endemic' in Malawi

    Low availability of selenium, an essential human micronutrient, in Malawian soils is responsible for its deficiency among the country's population, a study has found. Researchers from Malawi, New Zealand and the United Kingdom sought to establish both whether selenium content in different Malawian soils affects the mineral content of food crops grown in them, and its ultimate influence on the status of human health. >> Read the Full Article
  • Britain's love affair with bottled water

    Leading academic brands industry a "scam" as campaigners condemn our growing thirst for bottled water. The UK bottled water industry releases 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. One of Britain's leading authorities on water supplies has branded the bottled water industry a scam, backing campaigners' claims of wasted millions and environmental pollution at a time when tap water standards have never been higher. Professor Paul Younger, Rankine Chair of Engineering at Glasgow University, has highlighted growing fears that our increasing consumption of bottled water is damaging the environment while raising huge profits for the big brands, despite Britain having one of the best mains water supplies in the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Norwegian Pinot Noir?: Global Warming to Drastically Shift Wine Regions

    In less than 40 years, drinking wine could have a major toll on the environment and wildlife, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study finds that climate change will likely force many vineyards to move either north or to higher altitudes, leading to habitat loss, biodiversity declines, and increased pressure for freshwater. Some famous wine-growing areas could be lost, including in the Mediterranean, while development of new wine areas—such as those in the Rocky Mountains and northern Europe—could lead to what the scientists describe as "conservation conflicts." >> Read the Full Article
  • Use of GM cotton linked to rise in aphid numbers

    In an unexpected trade-off, the cultivation of cotton that has been genetically engineered to reduce caterpillar damage by producing its own insecticide has been linked to higher numbers of another pest - aphids. Previous studies had linked the increase in aphids to reduced insecticide use by farmers cultivating Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton. >> Read the Full Article
  • Synthetic Biology

    A new paper says a discussion on the benefits and risks of synthetic biology to conservation is necessary. The potential exists to re-creating extinct species and to create genetically modified super-species. An upcoming conference at Clare College in Cambridge, England, will examine the nexus of synthetic biology and conservation What effects will the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology have on the conservation of nature? The ecological and ethical challenges stemming from this question will require a new and continuing dialogue between members of the synthetic biology and biodiversity conservation communities, according to authors of a new paper. According to the paper, the field of synthetic biology—a discipline that utilizes chemically synthesized DNA to create organisms that address human needs—is developing rapidly, with billions of dollars being invested annually. Many extol the virtues of synthetic biology as providing potential solutions to human health problems, food security, and energy needs. Advocates also see in synthetic biology tools for combating climate change and water deficits. Critics warn that genetically modified organisms could pose a danger to native species and natural ecosystems. >> Read the Full Article
  • Agricultural NOx

    NOx. such as nitric oxide, comes from many sources. It is a misconception that it is only the result of combustion devices. There are natural sources such as thunderstorms and ordinary plant life. Changes in agricultural practices could reduce soil emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and the atmospheric pollutant nitric oxide, according to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Davis. "Agriculture is the main source of nitrous oxide globally, so this study is a starting point to help us understand how to manage and control it," said UC Davis professor of soil biogeochemistry William Horwath, whose lab conducted the study. >> Read the Full Article
  • Urea may have competition - Human urine

    Human urine is superior to urea, a common nitrogen-rich mineral fertiliser, according to the results of a study carried out in a farmer’s field outside Nepal's capital city. Researchers who tested the effects of applying different combinations of urine, compost and urea on sweet pepper, Capsicum annuum, found that urine synergises best with compost. Urine for the study was sourced from mobile public toilets in the city and compost prepared from cattle manure. >> Read the Full Article
  • Using 'Biochar' To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    'Biochar' is the name for charcoal when it is used as a soil amendment. People add charcoal to land in order to increase soil fertility and agricultural productivity. In addition to these benefits, researchers are now saying that biochar has potential to mitigate climate change as it can help sequester carbon and thus cut our greenhouse gas emissions. >> Read the Full Article