Category Archives: News

Pesticide Study Sparks Backlash

By Kai Kupferschmidt

Science – When Ralf Reski read the latest paper from controversial French biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini, he quickly decided he wanted nothing to do with it. Séralini’s report in BioMed Research International describes how pesticides kill cultured human cells, with the hair-raising conclusion that pesticides may be vastly more toxic than assumed by regulatory authorities. Some scientists are criticizing the findings as neither surprising nor significant—but they have touched off a firestorm, with environmental groups calling for changes in how pesticides are regulated. That was too much for Reski. Within hours of reading the paper last week, the plant scientist at the University of Freiburg in Germany resigned as an editor of the journal and asked for his name to be removed from its website. “I do not want to be connected to a journal that provides [Séralini] a forum for such kind of agitation,” he wrote in his resignation e-mail to the publisher, Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

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Brazilian researchers develop technique for mass breeding of stingless bees

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Elton Alisson
Agência FAPESP – Stingless bees, such as the jataí (Tetragonisca angustula) and the uruçu (Melipona scutellaris), are well known as important pollinators for several crops such as eggplant, strawberries, tomato and coffee.
One of the main limitations on their use for this purpose, however, is the difficulty of producing colonies in sufficient quantities to meet the demands of farmers, as the majority of these species have small numbers of queens.
However, a new technique that could help overcome this limitation was developed by a group of researchers who reared the queens of one of these species in vitro: Scaptotrigona depilis, commonly known in Brazil as mandaguari…>>Continue Reading<<
 
Source and Photo: FAPESP, January 29th, 2014
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Agriculture can be an ally to biodiversity conservation

7By Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – In addition to producing food, services and energy, agricultural pastures have a secondary but equally important role, a role that should be strengthened: the conservation of biological diversity.

Professor Luciano Martins Verdade, of the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture at Universidade de São Paulo (CENA/USP), discussed this topic during the last meeting of the 2013 BIOTA-FAPESP Education Conference Cycle, organized by the FAPESP Research Program for the Characterization, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (BIOTA-FAPESP). Held on November 21, 2013 at FAPESP’s headquarters, the theme was “Biodiversity in Urban and Rural Anthropic Environments.” >>Continue Reading<<

Source and Photo: FAPESP, January 22nd, 2014
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Computer modeling helps to improve the quality and microbiological safety of food

8By Elton Alisson

Agência FAPESP – The foodstuff industries of several countries have utilized a new tool to improve the microbiological safety and quality of their products. Predictive microbiology is a software-based system that uses mathematical models and statistics to predict the behavior of microorganisms in fresh and processed food.

The new method is based on the principle that the ability of bacteria and fungi to multiply in food depends on the properties of the product, such as its composition, acidity, humidity, salt levels and antimicrobials present, in addition to the temperature conditions, relative humidity and atmosphere in which it is maintained. In this manner, the effect of each of these factors can be calculated mathematically using different predictive models… >>Continue Reading<<

Source and Photo: FAPESP, January 22nd, 2014
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GLOBAL POULTRY TRENDS 2013 – Asia Produces One-third of World’s Broilers

39The Poultry Site – Global growth in chicken meat production is slowing down but Asia maintains its share of the total, according to long-time industry watcher, Terry Evans, in the new series of ‘Global Poultry Trends’ for ThePoultrySite in 2013.

Global poultry meat output is expected to amount to 106.4 million tonnes in 2013, according to a forecast made by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Growth has slowed annually since 2010 from around 4.5 per cent to 1.8 per cent this year. Chicken meat output accounts for some 88 per cent of world poultry meat production… >> Continue Reading<<

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Chimeric Embryos May Soon Get Their Day in the Sun

F2_smallBy Dennis Normile

Science – Last week, a Japanese ethics panel decided that they are, recommending that the government lift a ban on certain experiments that mix human cells with those of other animals. But the scientist who is pioneering this research area and who pushed for an end to the ban, stem cell biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi of the University of Tokyo, is planning to set up a lab in California, bringing the debate—and the possible benefits—to the United States.

Nakauchi has been pursuing the idea of implanting human pluripotent stem cells into pig embryos genetically engineered to be incapable of developing their own pancreases. These cells could be either embryonic stem cells or, preferably, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells derived from a patient’s own skin or other tissue should avoid immune rejection, because the generated organ would genetically match the recipient. If all goes to plan, the stem cells would develop into human pancreases in the pig fetus. (Mouse experiments have shown that pluripotent cells can fill the developmental niche opened by the absence of an organ.) After the piglet’s birth, the pancreas would be harvested and islet cells isolated for transplantation into human type 1 diabetes patients, whose islets either no longer produce insulin or produce too little of the sugar-regulating hormone …. >>Contine Reading<<.

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South Korea Aims to Double Farm Exports by 2017

Italo_Busan_01South Korea – South Korea will work to double its outbound shipments of farm and fisheries products to US$16 billion in just five years, according to the agriculture ministry.
 
Under its plan revealed at a government meeting chaired by President Park Geun-hye, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it will invest nearly two trillion won (KRW; US$1.86 billion) by 2017 to develop new products and farming technologies, reports YonhapNewsAgency.
“The government plans to invest up to 2 trillion won by 2017, with most of the amount to be spent on research and development projects to develop country-specific products,” said Lim Jeong-bin, head of the ministry’s food industry policy bureau.
South Korea’s farm exports have been growing steadily with an average annual increase of 16 per cent over the past five years, according to the ministry.
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Livestock Resources and Environmental Issues in Asia

ConsumersThe Poultry SiteLivestock production is a significant and growing source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, range degradation and greenhouse gases, according to Benjamin Henderson (Livestock Policy Officer) and Henning Steinfeld (Chief of Livestock Information and Policy Branch), both with the FAO in Rome. They also identify possible solutions to these problems… >>Continue Reading<<

Source: The Poultry Site, 2013

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China’s Publication Bazaar

33By Mara Hvistendahl

SHANGHAI, CHINA—The e-mail arrived around noon from the mysterious sender “Publish SCI Paper,” with the subject line “Transfer co-first author and co-corresponding author.” A message body uncluttered with pleasantries contained a scientific abstract with all the usual ingredients, bar one: author names. The message said that the paper, describing a potential strategy for curbing drug resistance in cancer cells, had been accepted by Elsevier’s International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. Now its authorship was for sale.

“There are some authors who don’t have much use for their papers after they’re published, and they can be transferred to you,” a sales agent for a company called Wanfang Huizhi told a Science reporter posing as a scientist. Wanfang Huizhi, the agent explained, acts as an intermediary between researchers with forthcoming papers in good journals and scientists needing to snag publications. The company would sell the title of co–first author on the cancer paper for 90,000 yuan ($14,800). Adding two names—co–first author and co–corresponding author—would run $26,300, with a deposit due upon acceptance and the rest on publication. A purported sales document from Wanfang Huizhi obtained by Science touts the convenience of this kind of arrangement: “You only need to pay attention to your academic research. The heavy labor can be left to us. Our service can help you make progress in your academic path!”… Continue Reading

Source: Science, November 29, 2013
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Desert Farming Experiment Yields First Results

InsiderScience Insider – A project to “green” desert areas with an innovative mix of technologies—producing food, biofuel, clean water, energy, and salt—reached a milestone this week in the Gulf state of Qatar. A pilot plant built by the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) produced 75 kilograms of vegetables per square meter in three crops annually, comparable to commercial farms in Europe, while consuming only sunlight and seawater. The heart of the SFP concept is a specially designed greenhouse. At one end, salt water is trickled over a gridlike curtain so that the prevailing wind blows the resulting cool, moist air over the plants inside. This cooling effect allowed the Qatar facility to grow three crops per year, even in the scorching summer. At the other end of the greenhouse is a network of pipes with cold seawater running through them. Some of the moisture in the air condenses on the pipes and is collected, providing a source of fresh water.

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