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Ancient horse DNA revealed human breeding preferences: Leopard complex spotting and congenital night blindness

White coat with black spots: almost every child knows “Lilla Gubben” the horse of Pippi Longstocking. But what about the popularity of spotted and speckled horses (so called leopard complex spotting) during the last millennia? Researchers found out that the occurrence of these horses fluctuated considerably in the course of history.

Under the leadership of scientists of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) an international team of researchers genetically analysed the phenotype (appearance) of 96 archaeological bones and teeth of horses originating from the late Pleistocene to the Medieval Times. Although a considerable number of domestic horses from the early Bronze Age (2700 — 2000 B.C.) have been genetically identified with leopard spotting complex, this coat colour seems to have almost disappeared at the end of this period. One reason might be that homozygous animals (e.g. Appaloosa and American Miniature Horse) are night-blind in addition to the white coat colour. The ability to see is of great importance for communication, orientation, search for food and avoiding predators. Therefore night-blind animals have a barely chance to survive in the wild. In human care night-blind horses are described as nervous and timid, which are difficult to handle at dusk and darkness.

About 1000 to 1500 years later the leopard complex again occurs increasingly. The coat colour was reintroduced into the domestic gene pool from numerous wild animals existing in those days. Different preferences of the horse breeders in the course of the millennia emphasise the importance of genetic diversity of domestic animals. In times where the original wild form of horse and cattle are long extinct and backcrossing hence is impossible, the modern animal breeding still target on a loss of genetic diversity. The decline in variability enormously restricts future changes in breeding aims and makes us dependent on only a few high-performance breeds.

After the Iron Age a renewed upswing on leopard complex spotted horses was reported. “The behaviour of breeders and their preferences changed at that time as it does today” says Arne Ludwig from the IZW, head of the study. The changing interests in leopard complex spotted horses can also be recognised in Medieval Times, where they enjoyed a high reputation as paintings and text samples demonstrate. They belonged to the favourite animals of the nobles and were symbol of chastity. Also in Baroque period they were favoured, before they go out of date. Today spotted coat patterns occur in many breeds and breeders show an increasing interest in recent years.

“If the theory of the alternative selection applies then it can explain how genetic diversity in domestic populations could be preserved in spite of relevant selection for or against a certain characteristic. The problem in breeding nowadays is that we cannot go back to the appropriate wildlife species, because they are simply eradicated or the wild types vanished by selection. This has to be evaluated negatively for the gene pool of the today’s domestic animal breeds. The missing genetic diversity highly restricts the possibilities of breeding in the future,” comments Ludwig.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Ancient horse DNA revealed human breeding preferences: Leopard complex spotting and congenital night blindness

White coat with black spots: almost every child knows “Lilla Gubben” the horse of Pippi Longstocking. But what about the popularity of spotted and speckled horses (so called leopard complex spotting) during the last millennia? Researchers found out that the occurrence of these horses fluctuated considerably in the course of history.

Under the leadership of scientists of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) an international team of researchers genetically analysed the phenotype (appearance) of 96 archaeological bones and teeth of horses originating from the late Pleistocene to the Medieval Times. Although a considerable number of domestic horses from the early Bronze Age (2700 — 2000 B.C.) have been genetically identified with leopard spotting complex, this coat colour seems to have almost disappeared at the end of this period. One reason might be that homozygous animals (e.g. Appaloosa and American Miniature Horse) are night-blind in addition to the white coat colour. The ability to see is of great importance for communication, orientation, search for food and avoiding predators. Therefore night-blind animals have a barely chance to survive in the wild. In human care night-blind horses are described as nervous and timid, which are difficult to handle at dusk and darkness.

About 1000 to 1500 years later the leopard complex again occurs increasingly. The coat colour was reintroduced into the domestic gene pool from numerous wild animals existing in those days. Different preferences of the horse breeders in the course of the millennia emphasise the importance of genetic diversity of domestic animals. In times where the original wild form of horse and cattle are long extinct and backcrossing hence is impossible, the modern animal breeding still target on a loss of genetic diversity. The decline in variability enormously restricts future changes in breeding aims and makes us dependent on only a few high-performance breeds.

After the Iron Age a renewed upswing on leopard complex spotted horses was reported. “The behaviour of breeders and their preferences changed at that time as it does today” says Arne Ludwig from the IZW, head of the study. The changing interests in leopard complex spotted horses can also be recognised in Medieval Times, where they enjoyed a high reputation as paintings and text samples demonstrate. They belonged to the favourite animals of the nobles and were symbol of chastity. Also in Baroque period they were favoured, before they go out of date. Today spotted coat patterns occur in many breeds and breeders show an increasing interest in recent years.

“If the theory of the alternative selection applies then it can explain how genetic diversity in domestic populations could be preserved in spite of relevant selection for or against a certain characteristic. The problem in breeding nowadays is that we cannot go back to the appropriate wildlife species, because they are simply eradicated or the wild types vanished by selection. This has to be evaluated negatively for the gene pool of the today’s domestic animal breeds. The missing genetic diversity highly restricts the possibilities of breeding in the future,” comments Ludwig.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Ancient horse DNA revealed human breeding preferences: Leopard complex spotting and congenital night blindness

White coat with black spots: almost every child knows “Lilla Gubben” the horse of Pippi Longstocking. But what about the popularity of spotted and speckled horses (so called leopard complex spotting) during the last millennia? Researchers found out that the occurrence of these horses fluctuated considerably in the course of history.

Under the leadership of scientists of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) an international team of researchers genetically analysed the phenotype (appearance) of 96 archaeological bones and teeth of horses originating from the late Pleistocene to the Medieval Times. Although a considerable number of domestic horses from the early Bronze Age (2700 — 2000 B.C.) have been genetically identified with leopard spotting complex, this coat colour seems to have almost disappeared at the end of this period. One reason might be that homozygous animals (e.g. Appaloosa and American Miniature Horse) are night-blind in addition to the white coat colour. The ability to see is of great importance for communication, orientation, search for food and avoiding predators. Therefore night-blind animals have a barely chance to survive in the wild. In human care night-blind horses are described as nervous and timid, which are difficult to handle at dusk and darkness.

About 1000 to 1500 years later the leopard complex again occurs increasingly. The coat colour was reintroduced into the domestic gene pool from numerous wild animals existing in those days. Different preferences of the horse breeders in the course of the millennia emphasise the importance of genetic diversity of domestic animals. In times where the original wild form of horse and cattle are long extinct and backcrossing hence is impossible, the modern animal breeding still target on a loss of genetic diversity. The decline in variability enormously restricts future changes in breeding aims and makes us dependent on only a few high-performance breeds.

After the Iron Age a renewed upswing on leopard complex spotted horses was reported. “The behaviour of breeders and their preferences changed at that time as it does today” says Arne Ludwig from the IZW, head of the study. The changing interests in leopard complex spotted horses can also be recognised in Medieval Times, where they enjoyed a high reputation as paintings and text samples demonstrate. They belonged to the favourite animals of the nobles and were symbol of chastity. Also in Baroque period they were favoured, before they go out of date. Today spotted coat patterns occur in many breeds and breeders show an increasing interest in recent years.

“If the theory of the alternative selection applies then it can explain how genetic diversity in domestic populations could be preserved in spite of relevant selection for or against a certain characteristic. The problem in breeding nowadays is that we cannot go back to the appropriate wildlife species, because they are simply eradicated or the wild types vanished by selection. This has to be evaluated negatively for the gene pool of the today’s domestic animal breeds. The missing genetic diversity highly restricts the possibilities of breeding in the future,” comments Ludwig.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Cat bites dog: In India’s human dominated landscapes, top prey for leopards is dogs

A new study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society reveals that in India’s human dominated agricultural landscapes, where leopards prowl at night, it’s not livestock that’s primarily on the menu — it is man’s best friend.

The study, which looked at scat samples for leopards in India’s Ahmednagar’s district in Maharashtra, found that 87 percent of their diet was made up of domestic animals. Domestic dog dominated as the most common prey item at 39 percent and domestic cats were second at 15 percent.

Seventeen percent of the leopard’s diet consisted of assorted wild animals including rodents, monkeys, and mongoose, and birds.

Livestock, despite being more abundant, made up a relatively small portion of the leopard’s diet. Domestic goats, for example, are seven times more common than dogs in this landscape, yet only make up 11 percent of leopard’s prey. The author’s say this is because goats are less accessible and often brought into pens at night, while dogs are largely allowed to wander freely. Cows, sheep, and pigs were also eaten, but collectively made up less than 20 percent of leopard’s food. Most domestic cattle in this region are too large to be preyed on by leopards.

The author’s of the study say that the selection of domestic dogs as prey means that the economic impact of predation by leopards on valuable livestock is lower than expected. Thus, human-leopard “conflict” is more likely to be related to people’s fears of leopards foraging in the proximity of their houses and the sentimental value of dogs as pets.

Study co-author Ullas Karanth, WCS Director for Science-Asia, said: “During the past two-to-three decades, legal regulation of leopard hunting, increased conservation awareness, and the rising numbers of feral dogs as prey have all led to an increase in leopard numbers outside of nature reserves in agricultural landscapes. While this is good news for conservation and a tribute to the social tolerance of Indian people, it also poses major challenges of managing conflict that occasionally breaks out. Only sound science can help us face this challenge.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Arctic mammals can metabolize some pesticides, limits human exposure

Fortunately, you are not always what you eat — at least in Canada’s Arctic.

New research from the University of Guelph reveals that arctic mammals such as caribou can metabolize some current-use pesticides (CUPs) ingested in vegetation.

This limits exposures in animals that consume the caribou — including humans.

“This is good news for the wildlife and people of the Arctic who survive by hunting caribou and other animals,” said Adam Morris, a PhD student in the School of Environmental Sciences and lead author of the study published recently in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.

“The lack of any significant biomagnification through the food chain indicates that there is very little risk of harm from exposure to these CUPs in this region.”

Pesticides or heavy metals enter rivers or lakes and vegetation, where they are ingested by fish and mammals and, in turn, are consumed by other animals and humans. The substances can become biomagnified, or concentrated in tissues and internal organs, as they move up the food chain.

Biomagnification has been implicated as the cause of higher concentrations of many long-used pesticides and other toxic chemicals such as PCBs found in wildlife and in Inuit and other aboriginal and non-aboriginal Northerners dependent on hunting, Morris said.

Such “legacy contaminants” are now widely banned under the Stockholm Convention, he said. But some have been replaced by CUPs, and few studies have looked at whether they also biomagnify.

Morris focused on studying the Bathurst region of the Canadian Arctic, working with Guelph toxicology professor emeritus Keith Solomon, adjunct professor Derek Muir, and collaborators from Environment Canada’s Aquatic Contaminants Research Division.

They examined the vegetation-caribou-wolf food chain in the area, where the presence of other organic contaminants such as legacy pesticides and fluorinated surfactants suggested that CUPs might be found in the vegetation and animals.

Caribou are among the most important subsistence animals for people living in the North, and the Bathurst caribou herd is particularly critical to the area’s socioeconomic security.

Wolves, like people, are a top “consumer” of caribou.

“It is an important responsibility, both for health and for food security issues that Northerner’s face, that we monitor traditional food sources,” Morris said.

By testing vegetation, the researchers found large enough concentrations of CUPs to confirm that they were entering the food chain.

In caribou eating that vegetation, CUPs were also present, but they did not increase (biomagnify) significantly in caribou compared to their diet. The concentrations were even lower in wolves, suggesting sufficient metabolism of CUPs in both animals to prevent significant biomagnification.

“The lack of biomagnification also means that we are unlikely to see sudden unexpected increases in concentrations of the CUPs in terrestrial top predators,” he said.

“But this needs to be confirmed in other food chains in the Arctic before general trends can be established that are applicable to larger data sets.”

Morris said these CUPs represent only a small percentage of contaminants in Arctic regions or in the environment globally.

“However, their unique set of properties does help us more clearly see how different contaminants behave in the environment and in food chains compared to legacy contaminants.”

Morris has widened his research to include marine food chains and is also studying the effects of a range of organic flame retardants on the same terrestrial food chain.

The animal samples used in the research were all provided by subsistence hunters and trappers. “There would be no study possible, at all, without their co-operation,” Morris said.

“I cannot stress enough how important local skills and knowledge were to this project. Generations of experience and knowledge often go into the hunts, and we simply cannot find that anywhere else in the world.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Groups Oppose Herbicide Approval, Citing Harm to Human Health and the Environment

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in April that it plans to permit a new weed killer called Enlist Duo onto the market, consumer advocates are attempting to dissuade the agency from doing so before a final decision is made.

The herbicide is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate and is made by Dow AgroSciences. If approved, it would be used on millions of acres of farm fields in combination with a new type of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered corn and soybean crops and at least triple the use of 2,4-D.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the top-selling weed killer developed by Monsanto.

When announcing the agency’s inclination to approve Enlist Duo, EPA added that “the proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, grower education and remediation and would allow EPA to take swift action to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and the use of the pesticide if resistance develops.”

EPA accepted public comments on the decision until June 30 and is expected to issue a final decision in late summer or early fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must grant approval of the crops genetically engineered to tolerate Enlist Duo, said it was prepared to its grant approval in January. USDA’s comment period closed on March 11.

A number of farm, food, health, public interest, consumer, fisheries and environmental organizations submitted comments in opposition to the proposals, and the EPA docket received more than 25,000 comments in total. At the end of June, 35 scientists, medical professionals and researchers also wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge the agency not to approve Enlist Duo.

On Wednesday, the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group hosted a briefing for congressional staffers to persuade members of Congress to pressure the two agencies to reject the proposals because of the potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Panelists at the event included Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety; John Wargo, professor of Environmental Health and Politics at Yale University; Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It.

The consumer advocates are concerned about the serious health risks associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.

When pregnant women are exposed to pesticides of all kinds, their child can sustain learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases.

Safety advocates are also concerned that 2,4-D and glyphosate have not been tested for combined toxicity. “We’re very concerned that this combination is going to cause not only additive effects, but multiplicative or synergistic effects,” Thomasson said.

In terms of environmental effects, critics say that Enlist Duo will increase soils, surface and groundwater contamination and perpetuate the “pesticide treadmill,” which is when farmers use larger amounts of increasingly toxic chemicals to control herbicide-resistant weeds, eventually requiring the use of different chemicals. Hirshberg called the herbicide a “three- to five-year solution, at best” and compared it to the issue of antibiotics overuse contributing to drug resistance.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who spoke at the start of Wednesday’s briefing, said that the struggle over Enlist Duo ties into the fight for the labeling of genetically modified food. It’s not just about giving consumers the chance to know the source of their food, but to voice whether they want to support the system.

“It’s an issue that 90 percent of the American public thinks that we should move ahead with … but sometimes when I turn around and say to people, ‘So what’s the part that worries you most about it?,’ honestly a lot of people don’t understand the health risks or the concerns or what the implications of it are,” she said.

Pingree and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are hoping that more members of Congress sign on to their letter to McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them not to approve Enlist Duo and 2,4-D-resistant crops.

Food Safety News

Groups Oppose Herbicide Approval, Citing Harm to Human Health and the Environment

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in April that it plans to permit a new weed killer called Enlist Duo onto the market, consumer advocates are attempting to dissuade the agency from doing so before a final decision is made.

The herbicide is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate and is made by Dow AgroSciences. If approved, it would be used on millions of acres of farm fields in combination with a new type of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered corn and soybean crops and at least triple the use of 2,4-D.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the top-selling weed killer developed by Monsanto.

When announcing the agency’s inclination to approve Enlist Duo, EPA added that “the proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, grower education and remediation and would allow EPA to take swift action to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and the use of the pesticide if resistance develops.”

EPA accepted public comments on the decision until June 30 and is expected to issue a final decision in late summer or early fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must grant approval of the crops genetically engineered to tolerate Enlist Duo, said it was prepared to its grant approval in January. USDA’s comment period closed on March 11.

A number of farm, food, health, public interest, consumer, fisheries and environmental organizations submitted comments in opposition to the proposals, and the EPA docket received more than 25,000 comments in total. At the end of June, 35 scientists, medical professionals and researchers also wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge the agency not to approve Enlist Duo.

On Wednesday, the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group hosted a briefing for congressional staffers to persuade members of Congress to pressure the two agencies to reject the proposals because of the potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Panelists at the event included Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety; John Wargo, professor of Environmental Health and Politics at Yale University; Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It.

The consumer advocates are concerned about the serious health risks associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.

When pregnant women are exposed to pesticides of all kinds, their child can sustain learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases.

Safety advocates are also concerned that 2,4-D and glyphosate have not been tested for combined toxicity. “We’re very concerned that this combination is going to cause not only additive effects, but multiplicative or synergistic effects,” Thomasson said.

In terms of environmental effects, critics say that Enlist Duo will increase soils, surface and groundwater contamination and perpetuate the “pesticide treadmill,” which is when farmers use larger amounts of increasingly toxic chemicals to control herbicide-resistant weeds, eventually requiring the use of different chemicals. Hirshberg called the herbicide a “three- to five-year solution, at best” and compared it to the issue of antibiotics overuse contributing to drug resistance.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who spoke at the start of Wednesday’s briefing, said that the struggle over Enlist Duo ties into the fight for the labeling of genetically modified food. It’s not just about giving consumers the chance to know the source of their food, but to voice whether they want to support the system.

“It’s an issue that 90 percent of the American public thinks that we should move ahead with … but sometimes when I turn around and say to people, ‘So what’s the part that worries you most about it?,’ honestly a lot of people don’t understand the health risks or the concerns or what the implications of it are,” she said.

Pingree and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are hoping that more members of Congress sign on to their letter to McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them not to approve Enlist Duo and 2,4-D-resistant crops.

Food Safety News

Groups Oppose Herbicide Approval, Citing Harm to Human Health and the Environment

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in April that it plans to permit a new weed killer called Enlist Duo onto the market, consumer advocates are attempting to dissuade the agency from doing so before a final decision is made.

The herbicide is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate and is made by Dow AgroSciences. If approved, it would be used on millions of acres of farm fields in combination with a new type of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered corn and soybean crops and at least triple the use of 2,4-D.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the top-selling weed killer developed by Monsanto.

When announcing the agency’s inclination to approve Enlist Duo, EPA added that “the proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, grower education and remediation and would allow EPA to take swift action to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and the use of the pesticide if resistance develops.”

EPA accepted public comments on the decision until June 30 and is expected to issue a final decision in late summer or early fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must grant approval of the crops genetically engineered to tolerate Enlist Duo, said it was prepared to its grant approval in January. USDA’s comment period closed on March 11.

A number of farm, food, health, public interest, consumer, fisheries and environmental organizations submitted comments in opposition to the proposals, and the EPA docket received more than 25,000 comments in total. At the end of June, 35 scientists, medical professionals and researchers also wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge the agency not to approve Enlist Duo.

On Wednesday, the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group hosted a briefing for congressional staffers to persuade members of Congress to pressure the two agencies to reject the proposals because of the potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Panelists at the event included Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety; John Wargo, professor of Environmental Health and Politics at Yale University; Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It.

The consumer advocates are concerned about the serious health risks associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.

When pregnant women are exposed to pesticides of all kinds, their child can sustain learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases.

Safety advocates are also concerned that 2,4-D and glyphosate have not been tested for combined toxicity. “We’re very concerned that this combination is going to cause not only additive effects, but multiplicative or synergistic effects,” Thomasson said.

In terms of environmental effects, critics say that Enlist Duo will increase soils, surface and groundwater contamination and perpetuate the “pesticide treadmill,” which is when farmers use larger amounts of increasingly toxic chemicals to control herbicide-resistant weeds, eventually requiring the use of different chemicals. Hirshberg called the herbicide a “three- to five-year solution, at best” and compared it to the issue of antibiotics overuse contributing to drug resistance.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who spoke at the start of Wednesday’s briefing, said that the struggle over Enlist Duo ties into the fight for the labeling of genetically modified food. It’s not just about giving consumers the chance to know the source of their food, but to voice whether they want to support the system.

“It’s an issue that 90 percent of the American public thinks that we should move ahead with … but sometimes when I turn around and say to people, ‘So what’s the part that worries you most about it?,’ honestly a lot of people don’t understand the health risks or the concerns or what the implications of it are,” she said.

Pingree and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are hoping that more members of Congress sign on to their letter to McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them not to approve Enlist Duo and 2,4-D-resistant crops.

Food Safety News

Groups Oppose Herbicide Approval, Citing Harm to Human Health and the Environment

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in April that it plans to permit a new weed killer called Enlist Duo onto the market, consumer advocates are attempting to dissuade the agency from doing so before a final decision is made.

The herbicide is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate and is made by Dow AgroSciences. If approved, it would be used on millions of acres of farm fields in combination with a new type of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered corn and soybean crops and at least triple the use of 2,4-D.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the top-selling weed killer developed by Monsanto.

When announcing the agency’s inclination to approve Enlist Duo, EPA added that “the proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, grower education and remediation and would allow EPA to take swift action to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and the use of the pesticide if resistance develops.”

EPA accepted public comments on the decision until June 30 and is expected to issue a final decision in late summer or early fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must grant approval of the crops genetically engineered to tolerate Enlist Duo, said it was prepared to its grant approval in January. USDA’s comment period closed on March 11.

A number of farm, food, health, public interest, consumer, fisheries and environmental organizations submitted comments in opposition to the proposals, and the EPA docket received more than 25,000 comments in total. At the end of June, 35 scientists, medical professionals and researchers also wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge the agency not to approve Enlist Duo.

On Wednesday, the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group hosted a briefing for congressional staffers to persuade members of Congress to pressure the two agencies to reject the proposals because of the potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Panelists at the event included Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety; John Wargo, professor of Environmental Health and Politics at Yale University; Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It.

The consumer advocates are concerned about the serious health risks associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.

When pregnant women are exposed to pesticides of all kinds, their child can sustain learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases.

Safety advocates are also concerned that 2,4-D and glyphosate have not been tested for combined toxicity. “We’re very concerned that this combination is going to cause not only additive effects, but multiplicative or synergistic effects,” Thomasson said.

In terms of environmental effects, critics say that Enlist Duo will increase soils, surface and groundwater contamination and perpetuate the “pesticide treadmill,” which is when farmers use larger amounts of increasingly toxic chemicals to control herbicide-resistant weeds, eventually requiring the use of different chemicals. Hirshberg called the herbicide a “three- to five-year solution, at best” and compared it to the issue of antibiotics overuse contributing to drug resistance.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who spoke at the start of Wednesday’s briefing, said that the struggle over Enlist Duo ties into the fight for the labeling of genetically modified food. It’s not just about giving consumers the chance to know the source of their food, but to voice whether they want to support the system.

“It’s an issue that 90 percent of the American public thinks that we should move ahead with … but sometimes when I turn around and say to people, ‘So what’s the part that worries you most about it?,’ honestly a lot of people don’t understand the health risks or the concerns or what the implications of it are,” she said.

Pingree and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are hoping that more members of Congress sign on to their letter to McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them not to approve Enlist Duo and 2,4-D-resistant crops.

Food Safety News

Groups Oppose Herbicide Approval, Citing Harm to Human Health and the Environment

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in April that it plans to permit a new weed killer called Enlist Duo onto the market, consumer advocates are attempting to dissuade the agency from doing so before a final decision is made.

The herbicide is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate and is made by Dow AgroSciences. If approved, it would be used on millions of acres of farm fields in combination with a new type of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered corn and soybean crops and at least triple the use of 2,4-D.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the top-selling weed killer developed by Monsanto.

When announcing the agency’s inclination to approve Enlist Duo, EPA added that “the proposal would impose requirements on the manufacturer including robust monitoring and reporting to EPA, grower education and remediation and would allow EPA to take swift action to impose additional restrictions on the manufacturer and the use of the pesticide if resistance develops.”

EPA accepted public comments on the decision until June 30 and is expected to issue a final decision in late summer or early fall.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must grant approval of the crops genetically engineered to tolerate Enlist Duo, said it was prepared to its grant approval in January. USDA’s comment period closed on March 11.

A number of farm, food, health, public interest, consumer, fisheries and environmental organizations submitted comments in opposition to the proposals, and the EPA docket received more than 25,000 comments in total. At the end of June, 35 scientists, medical professionals and researchers also wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to urge the agency not to approve Enlist Duo.

On Wednesday, the Center for Food Safety and the Environmental Working Group hosted a briefing for congressional staffers to persuade members of Congress to pressure the two agencies to reject the proposals because of the potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Panelists at the event included Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety; John Wargo, professor of Environmental Health and Politics at Yale University; Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director at Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of Just Label It.

The consumer advocates are concerned about the serious health risks associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.

When pregnant women are exposed to pesticides of all kinds, their child can sustain learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly chronic diseases.

Safety advocates are also concerned that 2,4-D and glyphosate have not been tested for combined toxicity. “We’re very concerned that this combination is going to cause not only additive effects, but multiplicative or synergistic effects,” Thomasson said.

In terms of environmental effects, critics say that Enlist Duo will increase soils, surface and groundwater contamination and perpetuate the “pesticide treadmill,” which is when farmers use larger amounts of increasingly toxic chemicals to control herbicide-resistant weeds, eventually requiring the use of different chemicals. Hirshberg called the herbicide a “three- to five-year solution, at best” and compared it to the issue of antibiotics overuse contributing to drug resistance.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), who spoke at the start of Wednesday’s briefing, said that the struggle over Enlist Duo ties into the fight for the labeling of genetically modified food. It’s not just about giving consumers the chance to know the source of their food, but to voice whether they want to support the system.

“It’s an issue that 90 percent of the American public thinks that we should move ahead with … but sometimes when I turn around and say to people, ‘So what’s the part that worries you most about it?,’ honestly a lot of people don’t understand the health risks or the concerns or what the implications of it are,” she said.

Pingree and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are hoping that more members of Congress sign on to their letter to McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them not to approve Enlist Duo and 2,4-D-resistant crops.

Food Safety News

Oldest ever schistosomiasis egg found may be first proof of early human technology exacerbating disease burden

The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6200-year-old grave at a prehistoric town by the Euphrates river in Syria may be the first evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to disease burden, according to new Correspondence published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by several species of flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. Infection can result in anemia, kidney failure, and bladder cancer. This research shows it may have been spread by the introduction of crop irrigation in ancient Mesopotamia, the region along the Tigris-Euphrates river system that covers parts of modern-day Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey.

According to one of the authors Dr Piers Mitchell, at the University of Cambridge, UK, the discovery might be among the oldest evidence of human-made technology inadvertently causing disease outbreaks.

“The individual who contracted the parasite might have done so through the use of irrigation systems that were starting to be introduced in Mesopotamia around 7500 years ago. The parasite spends part of its life cycle in snails that live in warm fresh water, before leaving the snail to burrow through the skin of people wading or swimming in the water. These irrigation systems distributed water to crops and may have triggered the beginning of the enormous disease burden that schistosomiasis has caused over the past 6000 years.”

The discovery at Tell Zeidan in Syria was made by an international team of archaeologists and biological anthropologists working at Cambridge (UK), The Cyprus Institute (Cyprus), and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute (USA). It shows that the parasite infected humans there at least a thousand years earlier than has been found in Egypt. The oldest Schistosomiasis egg found previously was in Egyptian mummies from 5200 years ago.

The egg was found in the pelvic area of the burial where the intestines and bladder would have been during life. Control soil samples from the head and foot areas of the grave contained no parasitic eggs, suggesting that the gravesite was not contaminated with the parasite more recently.

“Schistosomiasis has become progressively more common over time so that it causes a huge burden across the world today, with over 200 million people infected. It causes anemia which significantly decreases physical productivity in infected people, and may also cause bladder cancer. We would expect these consequences in ancient peoples to have had a significant impact upon early civilizations in the region,” says Dr Mitchell.

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The above story is based on materials provided by The Lancet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

FDA Approves Campylobacter Vaccine for Human Trials

A vaccine to protect against Campylobacter jejuni was recently approved for human clinical trials by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Campylobacter is a major cause of bacterial diarrhea worldwide — estimated to be the cause of 4-15 percent of cases. It’s a problem in both developed and developing countries and is associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry and produce.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that campylobacteriosis affects more than 1.3 million people every year.

Although Campylobacter infections are generally mild, complications can include reactive arthritis neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

The latest potential vaccine for the bacteria was developed through the collaboration of the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) and Professor Mario Monteiro of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Campylobacter is one of a select group of pathogens that produces a polysaccharide capsule — or sugar coating on the surface of the bug — which is kind of a protective layer, explained Dr. Patricia Guerry, head of the NMRC Campylobacter research group.

So the vaccine is a conjugate containing polysaccharides from C. jejuni joined to a protein to enhance immunogenicity.

“The idea is it can generate antibodies against the polysaccharide capsule,” Guerry says. This, in turn, causes lysis, or a disintegration of the bacteria.

If you were infected by Campylobacter and got sick, you’d generate antibodies and you would likely be protected against a second infection. The vaccine gives an individual the opportunity to make these antibodies without the infection.

There are a number of polysaccharides conjugate vaccines on the market today. Prevnar for pneumococcal pneumonia is one of the best-known examples.

They have been very successful for pneumococcal infections, Guerry notes, but “Campylobacter is unusual for an enteric pathogen in that it also expresses the polysaccharide capsule.”

There are currently no licensed vaccines for Campylobacter, but NMRC has tested two others that it ultimately did not develop past Phase I.

This latest vaccine is currently in Phase I testing where it’s being tested for safety and immunogenicity. The previous ones “passed in terms of safety, but they weren’t particularly immunogenic,” Guerry explains.

If the current vaccine passes into Phase IIB, “we would immunize other volunteers with what appears to be the best dose and then challenge them with a strain of Campylobacter to see if it protects against diarrhea,” she says.

In a 2009 study, the vaccine provided 100-percent protection against diarrhea in monkeys when challenged with C. jejuni 81-176.

It’s important to note that the model for the testing in humans involves a strain of the bacteria developed by NMRC that is unable to induce Guillain-Barré syndrome (caused by a certain structure on the cell wall of some strains).

“We have been through FDA approval of this and it’s been through 100 people already in other studies, so we are unique in having the ability to come back and do a human challenge with this strain,” Guerry says.

If the vaccine were ultimately licensed, Guerry says it would be primarily for travelers.

“The military is interested in it because troops are a certain sub-class of travelers, but it could also be marketed to civilian travelers going to endemic areas,” she says.

Food Safety News

Antibiotics in manure a far-reaching impact on abundance of human pathogenic bacteria in soils

Scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München, in a joint study with researchers of Julius Kühn Institute in Braunschweig, have found that the repeated application of manure contaminated with antibiotics lastingly changes the composition of bacteria in the soil. The focus of the investigation was on sulfadiazine (SDZ), a widely used antibiotic in animal husbandry which enters the soil via manure. In the latest issue of the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers report that repeated application of the antibiotic leads to a decrease in beneficial soil bacteria and at the same time an increase in bacteria that are harmful to humans.

Since antibiotics are commonly used in animal husbandry, the implications for agricultural areas that are fertilized with the manure of these animals are of great interest. The study results confirmed the scientists’ hypothesis that the application of antibiotics has an effect on the composition of soil bacteria. “After repeated application of manure contaminated with antibiotics, we found a decrease in the bacteria that are important for good soil quality. This means a loss of soil fertility and thus in the long run a decline in crop yields,” said Professor Michael Schloter, head of Research Unit Environmental Genomics at Helmholtz Zentrum München. “Moreover, the number of microbes living in the soil that are harmful to humans increased under the experimental conditions of the study.”

Wide-reaching consequences for human health

“The increase in human pathogenic microorganisms in the environment has wide-reaching consequences for human health,” says Professor Schloter. “We are in continous contact with these microorganisms, and the probability of contracting an infection increases accordingly. This applies particularly to diseases of the respiratory system and the lungs, as bacteria are spread through the air and inhaled. Moreover, many of the bacteria are resistant to commonly used antibiotics, which often makes treatment more difficult. We must therefore urgently develop a new mindset as regards the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.”

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The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Centre for Environmental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hears Testimony on Poultry Worker Safety

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard testimony Tuesday that worker safety in the U.S. meatpacking and poultry industries could be compromised by pending rule changes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), along with the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights and the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, petitioned the commission for the hearing.

During his testimony, SPLC staff attorney Tom Fritzsche called for the federal government to implement work speed safety standards that reduce poultry evisceration line speeds and to stop USDA’s Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rule because of its potential to increase line speeds to 175 birds per minute.

Fritzsche said that SPLC and other human rights groups and labor unions “have submitted comments to the USDA urging it to abandon this rule, and have informed the agency that it is about to subject workers to grave human rights violations,” but that the final rule is still expected in April.

“This exhaustion of our domestic avenues for relief is part of why we are here before the commission seeking assistance,” he said.

Before introducing experts from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Agriculture, Lawrence Gumbiner, Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States, set out a limitation: “In reference to any pending rulemaking and/or petitions related to pending rulemaking by U.S. government agencies, the United States unfortunately cannot discuss these matters due to the ongoing deliberative nature of the regulatory process.”

Representatives from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) acknowledged that the meatpacking industry has some of the highest rates of occupational injuries and illnesses, but they also cited the recent National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report that found no link between increased line speeds and worker safety.

“We are aware that, in the course of our rulemaking, some have raised concerns that the changes in the way that plants will operate under the new inspection rule could adversely affect safety of workers in the plants,” said Rachel Edelstein, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Policy and Program Development at FSIS.

“As a food safety agency, FSIS does not have the legal authority or expertise to regulate worker safety,” she continued. “However, USDA would never put forward a rule that would put anyone in harm’s way.”

While moving forward with the rule, Edelstein said that FSIS is “working closely” with OSHA and NIOSH.

Food Safety News

Do elephants call ‘human!’? Low rumble alarm call in response to the sound of human voices

African elephants make a specific alarm call in response to the danger of humans, according to a new study of wild elephants in Kenya.

Researchers from Oxford University, Save the Elephants, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom carried out a series of audio experiments in which recordings of the voices of the Samburu, a local tribe from North Kenya, were played to resting elephants. The elephants quickly reacted, becoming more vigilant and running away from the sound whilst emitting a distinctive low rumble.

When the team, having recorded this rumble, played it back to a group of elephants they reacted in a similar way to the sound of the Samburu voices; running away and becoming very vigilant, perhaps searching for the potentially lethal threat of human hunters.

The new research, recently reported in PLOS ONE, builds on previous Oxford University research showing that elephants call ‘bee-ware’ and run away from the sound of angry bees. Whilst the ‘bee’ and ‘human’ rumbling alarm calls might sound similar to our ears there are important differences at low (infrasonic) frequencies that elephants can hear but humans can’t.

‘Elephants appear to be able to manipulate their vocal tract (mouth, tongue, trunk and so on) to shape the sounds of their rumbles to make different alarm calls,’ said Dr Lucy King of Save the Elephants and Oxford University who led the study with Dr Joseph Soltis, a bioacoustics expert from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and colleagues.

‘We concede the possibility that these alarm calls are simply a by-product of elephants running away, that is, just an emotional response to the threat that other elephants pick up on,’ Lucy tells me. ‘On the other hand, we think it is also possible that the rumble alarms are akin to words in human language, and that elephants voluntarily and purposefully make those alarm calls to warn others about specific threats. Our research results here show that African elephant alarm calls can differentiate between two types of threat and reflect the level of urgency of that threat.’

Elephant ‘human’ alarm call rumble

Significantly, the reaction to the human alarm call included none of the head-shaking behaviour displayed by elephants hearing the bee alarm. When threatened by bees elephants shake their heads in an effort to knock the insects away as well as running — despite their thick hides adult elephants can be stung around their eyes or up their trunks, whilst calves could potentially be killed by a swarm of stinging bees as they have yet to develop a thick protective skin.

Lucy explains: ‘Interestingly, the acoustic analysis done by Joseph Soltis at his Disney laboratory showed that the difference between the ”bee alarm rumble” and the ”human alarm rumble” is the same as a vowel-change in human language, which can change the meaning of words (think of ”boo” and ”bee”). Elephants use similar vowel-like changes in their rumbles to differentiate the type of threat they experience, and so give specific warnings to other elephants who can decipher the sounds.’

This collaborative research on how elephants react to and communicate about honeybees and humans is being used to reduce human-elephant conflict in Kenya. Armed with the knowledge that elephants are afraid of bees, Lucy and Save the Elephants have built scores of ‘beehive fences’ around local farms that protect precious fields from crop-raiding elephants.

‘In this way, local farmers can protect their families and livelihoods without direct conflict with elephants, and they can harvest the honey too for extra income,’ says Lucy. ‘Learning more about how elephants react to threats such as bees and humans will help us design strategies to reduce human-elephant conflict and protect people and elephants.’

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The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. The original article was written by Pete Wilton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion

Sep. 24, 2013 — About 10,000 years ago, the Neolithic age ushered in one of the most dramatic periods of human cultural and technological transition, where independently, different world populations developed the domestication of plants and animals. The hunter-gatherers gave rise to herders and farmers. Changes to a more sedentary lifestyle and larger settlements are widely thought to have contributed to a worldwide human population explosion, from an estimated 4-6 million people to 60-70 million by 4,000 B.C.

Now, researchers Aiméa, et al., have challenged this assumption using a large set of populations from diverse geographical regions (20 different genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations), and compared their genetic results with archaeological findings. The dispersal and expansion of Neolithic culture from the Middle East has recently been associated with the distribution of human genetic markers.

They conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age. Therefore, hunter-gatherer populations were able to thrive with cultural and social advances that allowed for the expansion. The authors also speculate that this Paleolithic human population expansion may be linked to the emergence of newer, more advanced hunting technologies or a rapid environmental change to dryer climates.

Finally, they also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic. Indeed, the authors also demonstrate that the populations who adopted a sedentary farming lifestyle during the Neolithic had previously experienced the strongest Paleolithic expansions. Conversely, contemporary nomadic herder populations in Eurasia experienced moderate Paleolithic expansions, and no expansions were detected for nomadic hunter-gatherers in Africa. “Human populations could have started to increase in Paleolithic times, and strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift toward agriculture during the Neolithic,” said Aiméa.

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The above story is based on materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press), via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion

Sep. 24, 2013 — About 10,000 years ago, the Neolithic age ushered in one of the most dramatic periods of human cultural and technological transition, where independently, different world populations developed the domestication of plants and animals. The hunter-gatherers gave rise to herders and farmers. Changes to a more sedentary lifestyle and larger settlements are widely thought to have contributed to a worldwide human population explosion, from an estimated 4-6 million people to 60-70 million by 4,000 B.C.

Now, researchers Aiméa, et al., have challenged this assumption using a large set of populations from diverse geographical regions (20 different genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations), and compared their genetic results with archaeological findings. The dispersal and expansion of Neolithic culture from the Middle East has recently been associated with the distribution of human genetic markers.

They conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age. Therefore, hunter-gatherer populations were able to thrive with cultural and social advances that allowed for the expansion. The authors also speculate that this Paleolithic human population expansion may be linked to the emergence of newer, more advanced hunting technologies or a rapid environmental change to dryer climates.

Finally, they also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic. Indeed, the authors also demonstrate that the populations who adopted a sedentary farming lifestyle during the Neolithic had previously experienced the strongest Paleolithic expansions. Conversely, contemporary nomadic herder populations in Eurasia experienced moderate Paleolithic expansions, and no expansions were detected for nomadic hunter-gatherers in Africa. “Human populations could have started to increase in Paleolithic times, and strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift toward agriculture during the Neolithic,” said Aiméa.

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Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press), via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Genetic study pushes back timeline for first significant human population expansion

Sep. 24, 2013 — About 10,000 years ago, the Neolithic age ushered in one of the most dramatic periods of human cultural and technological transition, where independently, different world populations developed the domestication of plants and animals. The hunter-gatherers gave rise to herders and farmers. Changes to a more sedentary lifestyle and larger settlements are widely thought to have contributed to a worldwide human population explosion, from an estimated 4-6 million people to 60-70 million by 4,000 B.C.

Now, researchers Aiméa, et al., have challenged this assumption using a large set of populations from diverse geographical regions (20 different genomic regions and mitochondrial DNA of individuals from 66 African and Eurasian populations), and compared their genetic results with archaeological findings. The dispersal and expansion of Neolithic culture from the Middle East has recently been associated with the distribution of human genetic markers.

They conclude that the first significant expansion of human populations appears to be much older than the emergence of farming and herding, dating back to the Paleolithic (60,000-80,000 years ago) rather than Neolithic age. Therefore, hunter-gatherer populations were able to thrive with cultural and social advances that allowed for the expansion. The authors also speculate that this Paleolithic human population expansion may be linked to the emergence of newer, more advanced hunting technologies or a rapid environmental change to dryer climates.

Finally, they also suggest that strong Paleolithic expansions may have favored the emergence of sedentary farming in some populations during the Neolithic. Indeed, the authors also demonstrate that the populations who adopted a sedentary farming lifestyle during the Neolithic had previously experienced the strongest Paleolithic expansions. Conversely, contemporary nomadic herder populations in Eurasia experienced moderate Paleolithic expansions, and no expansions were detected for nomadic hunter-gatherers in Africa. “Human populations could have started to increase in Paleolithic times, and strong Paleolithic expansions in some populations may have ultimately favored their shift toward agriculture during the Neolithic,” said Aiméa.

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Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press), via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News