Tagged With agriculture

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Diamondback moths may be a mere half-inch in length, but their voracious appetite for Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower make them a major pain for farmers. This week, the US Department of Agriculture approved a potential solution: Moths genetically engineered to contain a special gene that makes them gradually die off. A field trial slated to take place in a small area of upstate New York will become the first wild release of an insect modified using genetic engineering in the US.

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Back on a crisp January day in 2016, I slipped around on a frozen lake in Wisconsin to ask a bunch of portly men in grey hoodies and trucker hats how the fishing had been compared to when they were kids. Secretly, I wanted to know what they thought about the changing climate. The men had various backgrounds, many of them in agriculture, and nearly all noticed fewer ice fishing days than when they were kids. They detailed their thoughts in gruff what-is-this-kid-doing-here Wisconsin accents from folding chairs beside flopping future fillets.

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Chicken farmers in Tennessee are about to shed a lot of blood. After noticing an unusually high death rate in a flock, some Tyson Foods-suppliers discovered that they were dealing with a new bird flu outbreak. Don't worry too much, though: The USDA says humans should be safe.

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The agricultural industry has long been considered an enemy of humanity when it comes to recklessly pumping antibiotics into animals. In further evidence that this practice is fuelling a public health crisis, a new study has found a disconcerting trend at Chinese farms: Flies are spreading the gene that gives bacteria resistance to our strongest antibiotics, and it's showing up in hospitalised humans.

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On January 1, a set of long-awaited FDA rules went into effect that could mark a major shift in the agency's approach to antibiotics for livestock animals. First, the new US policies place an outright ban on the use of any antibiotics considered "medically important" to help animals gain weight. The rules also require that such drugs only be given to animals under the supervision of a veterinarian, when animals are actually ill.

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Last week, Nigerian officials seized over 100 bags of what was claimed to be plastic rice. Lab tests have since shown the product isn't fake, as Gizmodo and other outlets reported. But it is badly contaminated rice that's unsafe for human consumption. The incident is casting light on the sorry state of the economy and food production in Nigeria — along with a government that's anxious to deflect the blame elsewhere.

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Agriculture company Monsanto has acquired a non-exclusive global licensing agreement from MIT's Broad Institute and Harvard to use the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system. The firm will use it to design and grow new seeds and plants, but there are key restrictions on its use to prevent Monsanto from abusing this revolutionary new technology.