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Machinery hiccup hits Colombian pitahaya exports to Korea, Japan

Despite a free trade agreement (FTA) coming into effect between Colombia and South Korea, a machinery deconfiguration has put dragon fruit exports to the country and Japan on hold along with U.S. negotiations. Grower group Asoppitaya is seeking investments to rehabilitate its vapor heat treatment (VHT) equipment to get back on track with these prospective markets. 

pitahaya zoom

When www.freshfruitportal.com visited Asoppitaya’s packing plant in Pereira in August last year, the group’s general manager Sandra Garcia was excited for an upcoming inaugural shipment to South Korea.

But it did not come to pass.

“Last year we managed to have everything ready to export to Korea, but unfortunately we had an electrical failure and the machine was deconfigured,” she says.

The VHT machinery is supposed to keep the fruit, also known as pitahaya, at 46°C (115°F) for approximately three hours to meet the East Asian country’s specifications.

The treatment is also required for exports to Japan, and forms a vital part of negotiations for U.S. access.

“We didn’t manage to configure it because it has to be done by a Japanese technician, so our attempt failed.

“It cost us a lot of money but we’re still going to try again and we’re looking for foreign investment to bring a Japanese technician.

“It’s a large investment that has to be made in repairs, we’re talking about US$ 50,000 and as small growers for us that’s a lot of money.”

Garcia says discussions are underway with a South Korean company to provide the capital necessary to get the machine back on track, but she is open to further support.

She hopes the funding can be secured for repairs by the end of this year, getting the machine operational for the 2017 season.

In the 2015-16 deal, Asoppitaya exported 28 metric tons (MT) of pitahayas worldwide, to markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Canada.

When asked about the FTA with South Korea, Garcia says tariffs will be gradually reduced to zero over the next five years, and she will also try to use the agreement to improve some aspects of the export protocol.

“Specifically for pitahaya, the phytosanitary rules are not negotiated as it’s a sovereign right of every country. But what can be negotiated in line with the FTA would be the reduction of some costs to be able to comply with the rules,” she says.

“In this case it’d be about organizing the feesof the inspector which are very high, between transport, food, overseas calls. It cost us almost 30 million pesos (US$ 10,230).

“An important message is that as small growers and business, we want to know the opportunities of every agreement very well. A lot of the time growers don’t make the most of these agreements because they’re not known in the productive sector.”

What else could benefit from the Colombia-South Korea FTA?

In a search of Korea International Trade Organization (KITO) statistics, bananas appeared as the main fruit crop Colombia has shipped to the country in the past.

However, the last registered exports were in 2013 when 164MT were shipped, down from 360MT in 2011 and a much higher figure of 908MT almost two decades prior in 1993.

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

FreshFruitPortal.com

Oregon Worker Dies After Falling Into Meat Grinder

An Oregon man contracted to clean a meat processing plant died last week when he fell into a machine at the facility.

Hugo Avalos-Chanon, age 41, of Southeast Portland died late Friday night after becoming entangled in a blender at the Interstate Meat Disrtibutors, Inc. plant in Clackamas, OR, reported the Oregonian.

Interstate Meat Distributors was cited in October of 2012 for multiple violations of worker safety standards, among them that a table saw did not have a hood to protect against arm injuries, nor was a rotating blade “guarded to prevent inadvertent contact.”

However, these violations were corrected at the time of inspection, noted the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, which conducted the investigation.

And a spokesperson for Oregon OSHA told the Oregonian that it’s “way too early to say” whether the cause of Avalos-Chanon’s death was linked to the violations cited in that report.

Avalos-Chanon worked for a cleaning company that had been contracted to clean the Clackamas facility. At around 11:45 pm Friday, emergency workers responded to a call from the plant, and arrived on the scene to find him entangled in a blender used to regulate fat content in ground beef, according to the Oregonian. 

His body was extricated from the machine the following morning and the plant continued normal operation that day.

According to deputy medical examiner for the state, Dr. Cliff Young, Avalos-Chanon died of “blunt force injuries and chopping wounds,” reported the Oregonian.

Mesaros said OSHA’s investigation into the incident could take up to six months.

This incident is not the first negative one to be linked to Interstate Meat. In 2007, ground beef from the company was named as the source of an E. coli outbreak that sickened 8 people in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

The company recalled approximately 41,000 pounds of ground beef for potential E. coli contamination that year.

 

Food Safety News

Europe needs genetically engineered crops, scientists say

TGF-FruitImageApr. 25, 2013 — The European Union cannot meet its goals in agricultural policy without embracing genetically engineered crops (GMOs). That’s the conclusion of scientists who write in Trends in Plant Science, a Cell Press publication, based on case studies showing that the EU is undermining its own competitiveness in the agricultural sector to its own detriment and that of its humanitarian activities in the developing world.

“Failing such a change, ultimately the EU will become almost entirely dependent on the outside world for food and feed and scientific progress, ironically because the outside world has embraced the technology which is so unpopular in Europe, realizing this is the only way to achieve sustainable agriculture,” said Paul Christou of the University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center and Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats in Spain.

“Many aspects of the EU agricultural policy, including those concerning GMOs, are internally inconsistent and actively obstruct what the policy sets out to achieve,” Christou and his colleagues continued.

For instance, the Lisbon Strategy aims to create a knowledge-based bioeconomy and recognizes the potential of GMOs to deliver it, but EU policy on the cultivation of GMOs has created an environment that makes this impossible. In reality, there is a de facto moratorium in Europe on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops such as maize, cotton, and soybean, even as the same products are imported because there is insufficient capacity to produce them by conventional means at home.

Subsidies designed to support farmers now benefit large producers at the expense of family farms, Christou says. The EU has also banned its farmers from using many pesticides and restricted them from other nonchemical methods of pest control, while allowing food products produced in the same ways to be imported.

“EU farmers are denied freedom of choice — in essence, they are prevented from competing because EU policies actively discriminate against those wishing to cultivate genetically engineered crops, yet exactly the same crops are approved for import,” Christou says.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Cell 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.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gemma Masip, Maite Sabalza, Eduard Pérez-Massot, Raviraj Banakar, David Cebrian, Richard M. Twyman, Teresa Capell, Ramon Albajes, Paul Christou. Paradoxical EU agricultural policies on genetically engineered crops. Trends in Plant Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2013.03.004

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

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Just what makes that little old ant… change a flower’s nectar content?

TGF-FruitImageApr. 24, 2013 — Ants play a variety of important roles in many ecosystems. As frequent visitors to flowers, they can benefit plants in their role as pollinators when they forage on sugar-rich nectar. However, a new study reveals that this mutualistic relationship may actually have some hidden costs. By transmitting sugar-eating yeasts to the nectar on which they feed, ants may be indirectly altering the nectar-chemistry and thus affecting subsequent pollinator visitations.

Many species of plants benefit from interacting with ants, and some even secrete special sugary substances to attract ants. Plants produce sugar, in the form of nectar, and in exchange ants provide services such as pollination or protection from herbivores.

The main components of nectar that attract pollinators include three dominant sugars — sucrose, fructose, and glucose — and amino acids (or proteins). The chemical composition of nectar differs among plant species and has been thought to be a conservative trait linked to pollinator type. For example, plants pollinated by hummingbirds tend to have nectar with high amounts of sucrose. In addition, nectar composition is thought to be regulated by the plant.

“When people think about how flowers are pollinated, they probably think about bees,” notes Clara de Vega, a postdoctoral researcher at the Estación Biológica de Doñana, Spain. “But ants also pollinate flowers, and I am interested in the role ants play in pollination since it is still poorly understood.”

De Vega joined forces with Carlos M. Herrera, an evolutionary ecologist at the Estación Biológica de Doñana, to investigate the relationship between ant pollinators and nectarivorous yeasts. Nectar-dwelling yeasts, which consume sugars, have recently been discovered in the flowers of many temperate and tropical plant species. De Vega and Herrera have already discovered that some ant species not only carry certain types of sugar-metabolizing yeasts on their bodies, but they also effectively transmit these yeasts to the nectar of flowers they visit.

In their most recent work, published in the American Journal of Botany, De Vega and Herrera investigated whether flowers visited by these ants differed from flowers that were not visited by ants in their sugar chemistry, and whether sugar-chemistry was correlated with the abundance of ant-transmitted yeasts found in the nectar.

By excluding ants from visiting inflorescences of a perennial, parasitic plant, Cytinus hypocistis, and comparing the nectar chemistry to inflorescences that were visited by ants, the authors tested these ideas experimentally.

When the authors compared the sugar content in the nectar of flowers visited by ants versus those enclosed in nylon mesh bags to exclude ants, they found that nectar of flowers exposed to ants had higher levels of fructose and glucose, but lower levels of sucrose compared with the ant-excluded flowers.

Interestingly, in flowers visited by ants, there was a high correlation between yeast cell density and sugar content. Nectar that had higher densities of yeast had more fructose and less sucrose, suggesting that the types of yeasts change the sugar content of the nectar. Flowers that were excluded from ants did not have any yeast in their nectar.

“Our study has revealed that ants can actually change the nectar characteristics of the flowers they are pollinating,” says de Vega. “The microorganisms, specifically yeasts, that are present on the surface of ants change the composition of sugar in the flower´s nectar.”

“This means that nectar composition is not completely controlled by the flower — it is something created in cooperation with the ants that visit the flower,” she notes. “We also think that these ant-transported yeasts might have the potential to affect plant reproduction.”

Indeed, if a plant cannot control the sugar content of its nectar, then it may lose some of its target pollinators, which would potentially affect overall seed set and plant fitness.

Moreover, if introducing these yeasts to nectar changes the chemistry of the very components that serve to attract pollinators, then perhaps ants are indirectly changing the foraging behavior of subsequent flower visitors and thereby affecting seed dispersal patterns.

This study has revealed an additional layer in the complex association between ants and flowering plants, as pollinating ants alter sugar-nectar chemistry in flowers via sugar-consuming yeasts. But the story does not end here. De Vega plans to continue researching the role that these nectarivorous yeasts play on the reproduction of plants.

“I plan to study the whole interaction of plants, yeasts, and pollinators — how are they interrelated and what mechanisms shape these relations?”

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by American Journal of Botany, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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


Journal Reference:

  1. C. de Vega, C. M. Herrera. Microorganisms transported by ants induce changes in floral nectar composition of an ant-pollinated plant. American Journal of Botany, 2013; 100 (4): 792 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1200626

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

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Hydrogen sulfide greatly enhances plant growth: Key ingredient in mass extinctions could boost food, biofuel production

TGF-FruitImageApr. 17, 2013 — Hydrogen sulfide, the pungent stuff often referred to as sewer gas, is a deadly substance implicated in several mass extinctions, including one at the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago that wiped out more than three-quarters of all species on Earth.

But in low doses, hydrogen sulfide could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new University of Washington research shows.

“We found some very interesting things, including that at the very lowest levels plant health improves. But that’s not what we were looking for,” said Frederick Dooley, a UW doctoral student in biology who led the research.

Dooley started off to examine the toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide on plants but mistakenly used only one-tenth the amount of the toxin he had intended. The results were so unbelievable that he repeated the experiment. Still unconvinced, he repeated it again — and again, and again. In fact, the results have been replicated so often that they are now “a near certainty,” he said.

“Everything else that’s ever been done on plants was looking at hydrogen sulfide in high concentrations,” he said.

The research is published online April 17 in PLOS ONE, a Public Library of Science journal.

At high concentrations — levels of 30 to 100 parts per million in water — hydrogen sulfide can be lethal to humans. At one part per million it emits a telltale rotten-egg smell. Dooley used a concentration of 1 part per billion or less to water seeds of peas, beans and wheat on a weekly basis. Treating the seeds less often reduced the effect, and watering more often typically killed them.

With wheat, all the seeds germinated in one to two days instead of four or five, and with peas and beans the typical 40 percent rate of germination rose to 60 to 70 percent.

“They germinate faster and they produce roots and leaves faster. Basically what we’ve done is accelerate the entire plant process,” he said.

Crop yields nearly doubled, said Peter Ward, Dooley’s doctoral adviser, a UW professor of biology and of Earth and space sciences and an authority on Earth’s mass extinctions.

Hydrogen sulfide, probably produced when sulfates in the oceans were decomposed by sulfur bacteria, is believed to have played a significant role in several extinction events, in particular the “Great Dying” at the end of the Permian period. Ward suggests that the rapid plant growth could be the result of genetic signaling passed down in the wake of mass extinctions.

At high concentrations, hydrogen sulfide killed small plants very easily while larger plants had a better chance at survival, he said, so it is likely that plants carry a defense mechanism that spurs their growth when they sense hydrogen sulfide.

“Mass extinctions kill a lot of stuff, but here’s a legacy that promotes life,” Ward said.

Dooley recently has applied hydrogen sulfide treatment to corn, carrots and soybeans with results that appear to be similar to earlier tests. But it is likely to be some time before he, and the general public, are comfortable with the level of testing to make sure there are no unforeseen consequences of treating food crops with hydrogen sulfide.

The most significant near-term promise, he believes, is in growing algae and other stock for biofuels. Plant lipids are the key to biofuel production, and preliminary tests show that the composition of lipids in hydrogen sulfide-treated plants is the same as in untreated plants, he said.

When plants grow to larger-than-normal size, they typically do not produce more cells but rather elongate their existing cells, Dooley said. However, in the treatment with hydrogen sulfide, he found that the cells actually got smaller and there were vastly more of them. That means the plants contain significantly more biomass for fuel production, he said.

“If you look at a slide of the cells under a microscope, anyone can understand it. It is that big of a difference,” he said.

Ward and Suven Nair, a UW biology undergraduate, are coauthors of the PLOS ONE paper. The work was funded by the UW Astrobiology Program.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Vince Stricherz.

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederick D. Dooley, Suven P. Nair, Peter D. Ward. Increased Growth and Germination Success in Plants following Hydrogen Sulfide Administration. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e62048 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062048

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

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Italy: Unitec to speak at UC Davis’ workshop on new post-harvest technologies

Italy: Unitec to speak at UC Davis’ workshop on new post-harvest technologiesOn the 14th-15th of March 2013, Unitec spa, a company specialised in the design and manufacture of high-technology machinery and systems for the processing, selection and packaging of over 35 types of fresh fruit and vegetables, will be one of the speakers at the “Emerging Postharvest Technologies” workshop, organised in Davis (California, USA) by the California agriculture and natural resources division (ANR), the UC Davis postharvest technology center and the UC Davis department of Plant science.

Luca Montanari, vice president of Unitec, will intervene with a lecture on the “Use of non-destructive sensors in Eurpoe”, during which he will explain the guidelines for the development of new technologies in light of the efficiency and profitability needs of packing stations and of an ever-evolving global market.

Unitec’s participation to the University of California workshop is a confirmation of the dedication to research and development of the Italian company, which is now a benchmark for the sector at an international level.

For further info:
Unitec spa

Tel.: (+39) 0545 288884
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.unitec-group.com

Publication date: 3/12/2013

 

FreshPlaza.com

Bacterial slime: It’s what’s for dinner

If it were the end of the world as we know it, we’d be fine, according to Michigan Technological University professor Joshua Pearce.

“People have been doing catastrophic risk research for a while,” says Pearce. “But most of what’s been done is dark, apocalyptic and dismal. It hasn’t provided any real solutions.”

Even when looking at doomsday scenarios — like super-volcanoes, abrupt climate change and nuclear winter — society’s forecast isn’t horrific. In fact, Pearce says life will still have a sunny outlook. His research is outlined in a new book, Feeding Everyone No Matter What, out this week.

Survivalist Solution

“We researched the worst cases and asked, ‘is it possible to still feed everybody after a complete collapse of the agricultural system?’” he says. “All solutions until this book focused on food storage, the survivalist method of putting cans in closets. But for global catastrophes, you’d need at least five years of supplies — think bedroom size, not just a closet.”

That big a stockpile just isn’t possible globally, let alone in America, says Pearce. Families simply don’t have enough money, and stockpiling would only raise food prices, causing more of the world’s poor to starve.

Worry not, says Pearce. Even if the sun were blacked out for years at a time, killing all plants, we’re still okay sans brimming bunkers of canned goods.

After looking at five crop-destroying catastrophes (sudden climate change, super-weeds, super-bacteria, super-pests and super-pathogens) and three sunlight-extinguishing events (super-volcano eruption, asteroid or comet impact, and nuclear winter), Pearce says we have a way to feed everyone on Earth for five years. That’s enough time for the planet to recover, allowing a gradual return to the agricultural system we use today.

“We looked purely at technical viability — ignoring all the social issues that currently cause millions to go hungry and die every year,” he says.

Swap the Big Mac for Bugs and Slime

So how do we feed billions of hungry mouths if there is no more sunshine or farming? Swap your Big Mac and fries for bacterial slime and a side of bugs, and you’ll be okay.

“We came up with two primary classes of solutions,” Pearce says. “We can convert existing fossil fuels to food by growing bacteria on top of it — then either eat the bacterial slime or feed it to rats and bugs and then eat them.” The second (and easier) set of solutions uses partial rotting of woody plant fiber to either grow mushrooms or feed to insects, rats, cows, deer or chickens. “The trees are all dying from the lack of light anyway. If we use dead trees as an input, we can feed beetles or rats and then feed them to something else higher on the food chain,” Pearce says. “Or just eat the bugs.”

Of course, it would take some time to get such a new system established. In the interim, we could survive on fungi (mushrooms), bacteria and leaves. Tea steeped with pines from your front yard would provide a surprising amount of nutrition.

It wouldn’t be a life devoid of little luxuries either, he says. “We could extract sugar from the bacterial slime and carbonate it for soda pop. We’d still have food scientists, too, who could make almost anything taste like bacon or tofurkey. It wouldn’t be so bad.”

Nuclear Winter and Climate Change

Pearce is confident we have the technical know how to get ourselves through almost any predictable catastrophe. Perhaps his most reassuring conclusion, though, is that the two most likely global catastrophes (nuclear winter and abrupt climate change) are the ones we have the most control over.

“We don’t have to blow ourselves to smithereens if we don’t want to,” he jokes.

Pearce hopes his new book will help prevent the worst cases from actually happening and provide solutions to help people survive lesser catastrophes.

“The end of the book poses questions that we need to look at quickly,” says Pearce. “We can feed everyone if we cooperate and do a little thinking ahead of time — not in the dark when everyone is screaming. Life could continue to go on normally. Just a little dimmer.”

Feeding Everyone No Matter What: Managing Food Security After Global Catastrophe is coauthored by Pearce and David Denkenberger, research associate at the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute. More information on the book can be found at: http://store.elsevier.com/Feeding-Everyone-No-Matter-What/Joshua-Pearce/isbn-9780128021507/

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

SN Offers New iPhone/iPad App

TGF-FruitImageSN is offering a new and improved — and still free — iPhone app where food industry news, trends and much more are available at your fingertips.

The new universal app also works with iPads, and has been completely overhauled to improve user experience, including better navigation plus font resizing. It features more interactive content, improved photo gallery presentations, videos and infographics. Sharing functionality uses iOS6 Twitter and Facebook integration — easier than ever to share articles with colleagues. And, of course, the app alerts users to breaking food retail industry news as it happens.

Click here for more information and to download the free app to your iPhone or iPad.

The existing iPad app will no longer function from March 31; iPhone users will be prompted to update their app, but current iPad users will need to download the new version. A new Android app is in the works and will be available in a few weeks; the current BlackBerry app will stop working March 31.

Users are encouraged to leave feedback on iTunes about the new SN iPhone and iPad app. Feedback is important and valuable to help create the next generations of mobile device engagement.

Supermarket News

To wilt or not to wilt: New process explains why tomatoes are susceptible to a disease-causing fungus

Plant breeders have long identified and cultivated disease-resistant varieties. A research team at the University of California, Riverside has now revealed a new molecular mechanism for resistance and susceptibility to a common fungus that causes wilt in susceptible tomato plants.

Study results appeared Oct. 16 in PLOS Pathogens.

Katherine Borkovich, a professor of plant pathology and the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and colleagues started with two closely related tomato cultivars: “Moneymaker” is susceptible to the wilting fungus Fusarium oxysporum whereas “Motelle” is resistant. In their search for what makes the two different, the researchers focused on microRNAs, small molecules that act by regulating the expression of a variety of genes, including genes involved in plant immunity.

They treated roots from the two cultivars with water or with a solution containing F. oxysporum and looked for microRNAs that were increased in response to the fungus in Moneymaker (where they would inhibit resistance genes) or decreased in Motelle (where they would allow expression of resistance genes). They identified two candidate microRNAs whose levels went down in Motelle after treatment with the fungus.

Because microRNAs inhibit their targets by binding to them, computer searches can find target genes with complementary sequences. Such an “in silico” search for targets of the two microRNAs identified four candidates in the tomato genome, and all four resembled known plant resistance genes.

“When we compared the levels of the four potential targets in the two cultivars after exposure to the fungus, we found that all four were up-regulated in response to F. oxysporum — but only in Motelle; the levels in Moneymarker were unchanged,” said Borkovich, the corresponding author of the study.

To test whether up-regulation of the target genes was indeed what made Motelle resistant, Borkovich and her colleagues employed a virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) system that can down-regulate specific genes in tomato. After exposure to F. oxysporum, disease symptoms, including leaf wilting, were seen in VIGS Motelle plants that silenced any one of the four genes. Although the symptoms were not as severe as in Moneymaker plants, this suggested that all four targets contribute to resistance.

“Taken together,” Borkovich and her coauthors conclude, “our findings suggest that Moneymaker is highly susceptible, because its potential resistance is insufficiently expressed due to the action of microRNAs.” Moreover, “because the four identified targets are different from the only known resistance gene for F. oxysporum in tomato,” they say, “there is much to learn about the immune response to an important pathogen family that infects numerous crop plants.”

Borkovich was joined in the research by Shouqiang Ouyang (first author of the research paper), Gyungsoon Park, Hagop S. Atamian, Jason Stajich and Isgouhi Kaloshian at UC Riverside; and Cliff S. Han at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“Next, we would like to find out if any of the microRNAs we identified are conserved in additional plant species that are infected by other F. oxysporum strains,” Borkovich said. “We are interested, too, in identifying the proteins and genes in the fungus that are important for regulating expression of these microRNAs in one cultivar but not the other. In other words, what is it about the fungus that the plant is sensing?”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Seattle Puts Healthy Snacks in City’s Vending Machines

Three years after Seattle put healthy snacks in vending machines located in parks and recreation facilities, the city Monday applied the policy to all its properties.

That means that at least half of the options in vending machines on city-owned must be considered “healthier” and “healthiest” options. To meet this criteria, food items need to be on a list developed by the Seattle-King County Public Health Department.

This means baby carrots and celery sticks will share vending space equally with caramel chocolate bars and peanut butter cups.

The healthy vending machine policy is intended to help those who work or visit city properties to avoid eating too much sugar, saturated and trans fat, refined grains and sodium.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said the city was trying to do its part in providing healthy choices “to those who want them.” The policy was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Seattle City Council. Councilmember Richard Conlin sponsored the measure.

“Healthy vending helps to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” Conlin said. “This is one way we can support healthy and productive City employees. City employees will now have more opportunities to consume more nutritious food and beverages while at work.”

The Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation adopted their vending machine guidelines in 2010. In addition to carrots and celery, the guidelines call for fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, fat-free dairy and lean meats and fish.

The joint Seattle-King County Public Health Department says more than one half of the area’s adults are overweight or obese.

Food Safety News

Are there enough fish to go around?

Scientists from the University of York have released a report highlighting the gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood.

While the health benefits of eating fish have become better appreciated in recent years, many wild fish stocks continue to be overfished.

In a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, Dr Ruth Thurstan, now a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, and Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, used historical fisheries data and population estimates to show how fish availability per person, both nationally and globally, have changed since records began.

Sifting through 124 years of fisheries landings records, the researchers found that UK domestic fishery landings have fallen to their lowest point for over 70 years. When they accounted for processing losses and human population growth, fish availability from domestic supplies showed an almost continual decrease since the early 20th century.

Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by the Food Standards Agency, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

The researchers say that global patterns in wild fish production reflect these worrying trends. In terms of fish available per person, supplies have been in decline for over 40 years, falling by nearly a third. Only rapid growth in fish farming has shielded consumers from the consequences of overfishing and human population increase. Half of our seafood now comes from farms. However, Dr Thurstan and Professor Roberts say that fish farming is not a win-win solution.

Professor Roberts said: “Many aquaculture operations inflict heavy environmental costs on wild fish stocks and coastal ecosystems, such as habitat loss, pollution, disease and pests. To be viable in the long-term and help feed the world, there has to be a Blue Revolution in fish farming to sustainable production methods. Better management of wild fisheries could also boost production while helping heal damage to ocean life.”

Although fish production is increasingly globalised, the trends observed in the UK, of falling domestic supply and an increased reliance on imports, are emblematic of many other developed nations. Europe imports 55 per cent of the fish it consumes, while America imported 91 per cent last year.

Dr Thurstan said: “Our paper shows the serious disconnect between healthy eating recommendations and the finite capacity of wild fish stocks to meet those aspirations. It demonstrates how UK consumers have so far been protected from falling domestic production by increasing imports, but this demand is often filled at a high social and environmental cost in producer nations, many of them very poor.

“These findings are a wake-up call to the UK government that our national health aspirations have to be considered on a global stage, and that we need to think carefully about the implications of promoting greater fish consumption in a world where many people are already protein deficient.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Are there enough fish to go around?

Scientists from the University of York have released a report highlighting the gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood.

While the health benefits of eating fish have become better appreciated in recent years, many wild fish stocks continue to be overfished.

In a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, Dr Ruth Thurstan, now a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, and Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, used historical fisheries data and population estimates to show how fish availability per person, both nationally and globally, have changed since records began.

Sifting through 124 years of fisheries landings records, the researchers found that UK domestic fishery landings have fallen to their lowest point for over 70 years. When they accounted for processing losses and human population growth, fish availability from domestic supplies showed an almost continual decrease since the early 20th century.

Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by the Food Standards Agency, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

The researchers say that global patterns in wild fish production reflect these worrying trends. In terms of fish available per person, supplies have been in decline for over 40 years, falling by nearly a third. Only rapid growth in fish farming has shielded consumers from the consequences of overfishing and human population increase. Half of our seafood now comes from farms. However, Dr Thurstan and Professor Roberts say that fish farming is not a win-win solution.

Professor Roberts said: “Many aquaculture operations inflict heavy environmental costs on wild fish stocks and coastal ecosystems, such as habitat loss, pollution, disease and pests. To be viable in the long-term and help feed the world, there has to be a Blue Revolution in fish farming to sustainable production methods. Better management of wild fisheries could also boost production while helping heal damage to ocean life.”

Although fish production is increasingly globalised, the trends observed in the UK, of falling domestic supply and an increased reliance on imports, are emblematic of many other developed nations. Europe imports 55 per cent of the fish it consumes, while America imported 91 per cent last year.

Dr Thurstan said: “Our paper shows the serious disconnect between healthy eating recommendations and the finite capacity of wild fish stocks to meet those aspirations. It demonstrates how UK consumers have so far been protected from falling domestic production by increasing imports, but this demand is often filled at a high social and environmental cost in producer nations, many of them very poor.

“These findings are a wake-up call to the UK government that our national health aspirations have to be considered on a global stage, and that we need to think carefully about the implications of promoting greater fish consumption in a world where many people are already protein deficient.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Are there enough fish to go around?

Scientists from the University of York have released a report highlighting the gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood.

While the health benefits of eating fish have become better appreciated in recent years, many wild fish stocks continue to be overfished.

In a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, Dr Ruth Thurstan, now a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, and Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, used historical fisheries data and population estimates to show how fish availability per person, both nationally and globally, have changed since records began.

Sifting through 124 years of fisheries landings records, the researchers found that UK domestic fishery landings have fallen to their lowest point for over 70 years. When they accounted for processing losses and human population growth, fish availability from domestic supplies showed an almost continual decrease since the early 20th century.

Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by the Food Standards Agency, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

The researchers say that global patterns in wild fish production reflect these worrying trends. In terms of fish available per person, supplies have been in decline for over 40 years, falling by nearly a third. Only rapid growth in fish farming has shielded consumers from the consequences of overfishing and human population increase. Half of our seafood now comes from farms. However, Dr Thurstan and Professor Roberts say that fish farming is not a win-win solution.

Professor Roberts said: “Many aquaculture operations inflict heavy environmental costs on wild fish stocks and coastal ecosystems, such as habitat loss, pollution, disease and pests. To be viable in the long-term and help feed the world, there has to be a Blue Revolution in fish farming to sustainable production methods. Better management of wild fisheries could also boost production while helping heal damage to ocean life.”

Although fish production is increasingly globalised, the trends observed in the UK, of falling domestic supply and an increased reliance on imports, are emblematic of many other developed nations. Europe imports 55 per cent of the fish it consumes, while America imported 91 per cent last year.

Dr Thurstan said: “Our paper shows the serious disconnect between healthy eating recommendations and the finite capacity of wild fish stocks to meet those aspirations. It demonstrates how UK consumers have so far been protected from falling domestic production by increasing imports, but this demand is often filled at a high social and environmental cost in producer nations, many of them very poor.

“These findings are a wake-up call to the UK government that our national health aspirations have to be considered on a global stage, and that we need to think carefully about the implications of promoting greater fish consumption in a world where many people are already protein deficient.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Are there enough fish to go around?

Scientists from the University of York have released a report highlighting the gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood.

While the health benefits of eating fish have become better appreciated in recent years, many wild fish stocks continue to be overfished.

In a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, Dr Ruth Thurstan, now a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, and Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, used historical fisheries data and population estimates to show how fish availability per person, both nationally and globally, have changed since records began.

Sifting through 124 years of fisheries landings records, the researchers found that UK domestic fishery landings have fallen to their lowest point for over 70 years. When they accounted for processing losses and human population growth, fish availability from domestic supplies showed an almost continual decrease since the early 20th century.

Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by the Food Standards Agency, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

The researchers say that global patterns in wild fish production reflect these worrying trends. In terms of fish available per person, supplies have been in decline for over 40 years, falling by nearly a third. Only rapid growth in fish farming has shielded consumers from the consequences of overfishing and human population increase. Half of our seafood now comes from farms. However, Dr Thurstan and Professor Roberts say that fish farming is not a win-win solution.

Professor Roberts said: “Many aquaculture operations inflict heavy environmental costs on wild fish stocks and coastal ecosystems, such as habitat loss, pollution, disease and pests. To be viable in the long-term and help feed the world, there has to be a Blue Revolution in fish farming to sustainable production methods. Better management of wild fisheries could also boost production while helping heal damage to ocean life.”

Although fish production is increasingly globalised, the trends observed in the UK, of falling domestic supply and an increased reliance on imports, are emblematic of many other developed nations. Europe imports 55 per cent of the fish it consumes, while America imported 91 per cent last year.

Dr Thurstan said: “Our paper shows the serious disconnect between healthy eating recommendations and the finite capacity of wild fish stocks to meet those aspirations. It demonstrates how UK consumers have so far been protected from falling domestic production by increasing imports, but this demand is often filled at a high social and environmental cost in producer nations, many of them very poor.

“These findings are a wake-up call to the UK government that our national health aspirations have to be considered on a global stage, and that we need to think carefully about the implications of promoting greater fish consumption in a world where many people are already protein deficient.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Are there enough fish to go around?

Scientists from the University of York have released a report highlighting the gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood.

While the health benefits of eating fish have become better appreciated in recent years, many wild fish stocks continue to be overfished.

In a study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, Dr Ruth Thurstan, now a Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, and Professor Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation at the University of York, used historical fisheries data and population estimates to show how fish availability per person, both nationally and globally, have changed since records began.

Sifting through 124 years of fisheries landings records, the researchers found that UK domestic fishery landings have fallen to their lowest point for over 70 years. When they accounted for processing losses and human population growth, fish availability from domestic supplies showed an almost continual decrease since the early 20th century.

Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by the Food Standards Agency, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

The researchers say that global patterns in wild fish production reflect these worrying trends. In terms of fish available per person, supplies have been in decline for over 40 years, falling by nearly a third. Only rapid growth in fish farming has shielded consumers from the consequences of overfishing and human population increase. Half of our seafood now comes from farms. However, Dr Thurstan and Professor Roberts say that fish farming is not a win-win solution.

Professor Roberts said: “Many aquaculture operations inflict heavy environmental costs on wild fish stocks and coastal ecosystems, such as habitat loss, pollution, disease and pests. To be viable in the long-term and help feed the world, there has to be a Blue Revolution in fish farming to sustainable production methods. Better management of wild fisheries could also boost production while helping heal damage to ocean life.”

Although fish production is increasingly globalised, the trends observed in the UK, of falling domestic supply and an increased reliance on imports, are emblematic of many other developed nations. Europe imports 55 per cent of the fish it consumes, while America imported 91 per cent last year.

Dr Thurstan said: “Our paper shows the serious disconnect between healthy eating recommendations and the finite capacity of wild fish stocks to meet those aspirations. It demonstrates how UK consumers have so far been protected from falling domestic production by increasing imports, but this demand is often filled at a high social and environmental cost in producer nations, many of them very poor.

“These findings are a wake-up call to the UK government that our national health aspirations have to be considered on a global stage, and that we need to think carefully about the implications of promoting greater fish consumption in a world where many people are already protein deficient.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

A new innovative way to fertilize through leaves

A new study, conducted by researchers from UPM and the UAH, suggests that foliar fertilization could be used as a tool to produce plants for high quality reforestation.

Various nitrogen sources were tested in this study in order to fertilize pine leaves and oak leaves instead of using the traditional fertilization which is based on the nitrogen absorption through the root. After assessing the efficiency of leaf nitrogen uptake of the two studied species, the researcher team from Universidad de Alcalá and Politécnica de Madrid concluded that this fertilization system can be an efficient tool to complement radical fertilization regimes in order to improve plant nurseries and to plantations in nutrient-poor soils or arid conditions.

Foliar feeding is used in agriculture to rapidly and precisely control the nutrition of plants. This technique has not been tested in the forestry area, but its application for nursery production can provide solutions to improve plant quality produced for afforestation.

Researchers have used four types of nitrogen fertilizers in this study (urea, nitrate, ammonium and glycine) in two Mediterranean species typically used in restoration: the holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) and the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.). By using a stable isotope of nitrogen (N), researchers assessed the absorption efficiency of various nitrogen sources for both species. They observed that the best absorbed source was urea, followed by ammonia, glycine, and finally, the nitrate. These differences among the four sources can be explained due to their physicochemical properties as polarity, hygroscopicity, and solubility of compounds.

Likewise, the holm oak absorbs via foliar better than the pine, and this is associated to different anatomical properties at leaves scale, such as stomatal density. Researchers have found within every species a close relationship between cuticle permeability and foliar absorption although this relationship can vary depending on the fertilizer used. Besides, the usage of organic sources such as glycine is something new in these types of research.

Throughout this study, researchers confirmed that the two species studied can absorb intact glycine via foliar. The foliar feeding caused an increase of the plant nitrogen content in the oak and the pine studied and all the products used.

The results confirm that foliar feeding is a suitable tool to complement the traditional methods of nursery fertilization based on the radical absorption (pointing out the urea as the most efficient fertilizer). Besides, foliar feeding could be a tool potentially useful in forest plantations and in situations in which absorption via radical is not possible. Likewise, the differences observed at the absorption rates between both species will allow researchers to predict the effects of atmospheric deposition on forest systems depending on the dominant species.

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

A new innovative way to fertilize through leaves

A new study, conducted by researchers from UPM and the UAH, suggests that foliar fertilization could be used as a tool to produce plants for high quality reforestation.

Various nitrogen sources were tested in this study in order to fertilize pine leaves and oak leaves instead of using the traditional fertilization which is based on the nitrogen absorption through the root. After assessing the efficiency of leaf nitrogen uptake of the two studied species, the researcher team from Universidad de Alcalá and Politécnica de Madrid concluded that this fertilization system can be an efficient tool to complement radical fertilization regimes in order to improve plant nurseries and to plantations in nutrient-poor soils or arid conditions.

Foliar feeding is used in agriculture to rapidly and precisely control the nutrition of plants. This technique has not been tested in the forestry area, but its application for nursery production can provide solutions to improve plant quality produced for afforestation.

Researchers have used four types of nitrogen fertilizers in this study (urea, nitrate, ammonium and glycine) in two Mediterranean species typically used in restoration: the holm oak (Quercus ilex L.) and the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.). By using a stable isotope of nitrogen (N), researchers assessed the absorption efficiency of various nitrogen sources for both species. They observed that the best absorbed source was urea, followed by ammonia, glycine, and finally, the nitrate. These differences among the four sources can be explained due to their physicochemical properties as polarity, hygroscopicity, and solubility of compounds.

Likewise, the holm oak absorbs via foliar better than the pine, and this is associated to different anatomical properties at leaves scale, such as stomatal density. Researchers have found within every species a close relationship between cuticle permeability and foliar absorption although this relationship can vary depending on the fertilizer used. Besides, the usage of organic sources such as glycine is something new in these types of research.

Throughout this study, researchers confirmed that the two species studied can absorb intact glycine via foliar. The foliar feeding caused an increase of the plant nitrogen content in the oak and the pine studied and all the products used.

The results confirm that foliar feeding is a suitable tool to complement the traditional methods of nursery fertilization based on the radical absorption (pointing out the urea as the most efficient fertilizer). Besides, foliar feeding could be a tool potentially useful in forest plantations and in situations in which absorption via radical is not possible. Likewise, the differences observed at the absorption rates between both species will allow researchers to predict the effects of atmospheric deposition on forest systems depending on the dominant species.

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Clove oil tested for weed control in organic Vidalia sweet onion

Weed control is one of the most challenging aspects of organic crop production. Most growers of certified organic crops rely heavily on proven cultural and mechanical weed control methods while limiting the use of approved herbicides. A new study of herbicides derived from clove oil tested the natural products’ effectiveness in controlling weeds in Vidalia® sweet onion crops.

“Cultivation with a tine weeder and hand weeding are the primary tools currently used for weed control in organic sweet onion (Allium ceps),” explained scientist W. Carroll Johnson, III. “However, conditions frequently arise that delay the initial cultivation; weeds that emerge during the delay are not effectively controlled by cultivation.” Johnson tested herbicides derived from natural products as a way to control these emerged weeds in organic Vidalia® sweet onion production. Johnson said that, although these types of herbicide have been studied previously, the majority of the studies were performed on warm-season crops and weeds. Vidalia® sweet onion is a dry bulb onion grown in Georgia as a cool-season (winter) crop.

To test the efficacy of the clove oil-derived herbicide, the researcher conducted irrigated field trials at the Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center near Lyons, Georgia. One treatment factor was sprayer output volume, with the sprayer calibrated at 25 and 50 gallons/acre. Herbicide treatments were applied with a carbon dioxide-pressurized tractor-mounted plot sprayer using spray tips of differing sizes.

The other treatment factor in the trials was adjuvants used with clove oil. An OMRI-listed clove oil herbicide was evaluated and applied at 10% by volume spray solution. The adjuvants for clove oil evaluated were a petroleum oil adjuvant at 1.25% by volume, a commercial product containing 20% citric acid at a rate of 0.375% by volume, a commercial adjuvant containing 20% saponins extracted from Yucca schidigera at 0.03% by volume, an emulsified petroleum insecticide at a rate of 1% by volume, clove oil alone (no adjuvant), and a nontreated control.

“The field experiments showed that weed control was not consistently improved by applying clove oil (10% by volume) with a sprayer calibrated at 50 gallons/acre compared with sprayer calibrated at 25 gallons/acre,” Johnson said, adding that occasional improvements in weed control did not affect onion yield, and that adjuvants provided minimal improvement in weed control from clove oil and did not consistently improve onion yield. “All clove oil herbicide treatments, regardless of adjuvant, had difficulty in maintaining an emulsion in the spray tank and needed near-constant agitation. This tendency proved to be very problematic and suggests another disadvantage to using clove oil for weed control in certified organic crop production,” Johnson noted.

“Given the lack of weed response and onion yields to clove oil applied in higher sprayer output volumes and the corresponding increase in clove oil cost when increasing sprayer output volume, we cannot recommend clove oil in organic Vidalia® sweet onion production systems,” Johnson said. The full report of the experiments was published in HortTechnology.

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Whole Foods to Use Transcritical Refrigeration System

Coffin referred to the store last week in a webinar hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill program that addressed the Green Globes building certification program.

The transcritical system to be used by Whole Foods is the Advansor system made by Hill Phoenix, Conyers, Ga., said Keilly Witman, manager of the GreenChill program. She noted that “at least two other” supermarkets will have transcritical systems before the Whole Foods Brooklyn store, one using a system from Carnot Refrigeration, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and the other using a Hill Phoenix system.

By incorporating only carbon dioxide as their refrigerant, transcritical refrigeration systems dramatically reduce the global warming impact of refrigerant leaks, compared to leaks from conventional systems that use synthetic refrigerants. In North America, Sobeys, Stellarton, Nova Scotia, has installed numerous transcritical systems in its Quebec stores, taking advantage of the better performance of the systems in colder climates. Transcritical systems are also implemented in European supermarkets.

Supermarket News

Plants prepackage beneficial microbes in their seeds

Plants have a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria. These ‘commensal’ bacteria help the pants extract nutrients and defend against invaders — an important step in preventing pathogens from contaminating fruits and vegetables. Now, scientists have discovered that plants may package their commensal bacteria inside of seeds; thus ensuring that sprouting plants are colonized from the beginning. The researchers, from the University of Notre Dame, presented their findings at the 5th ASM Conference on Beneficial Microbes.

Plants play host to a wide variety of bacteria; the plant microbiome. Just as in humans, the plant microbiome is shaped by the types of bacteria that successfully colonize the plant’s ecosystem. Most of these bacteria are symbiotic, drawing from and providing for the plant in ways such as nitrogen-fixing and leaf-protection. Pathogenic bacteria may also colonize a plant. Pathogens can include viruses and bacteria that damage the plant itself or bacteria like the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O104:H4. In 2011, Germany, France and the Netherlands experienced an outbreak of E. coli that was ultimately traced to the consumption of contaminated sprouts, which was thought to be caused by feral pigs in the growing area. Such opportunistic contamination is hard to guard against as most growing takes place in open, outdoor spaces with little opportunity for control.

The hypothesis behind this research is that the best way to defend against pathogenic contamination is with a healthy microbiome colonized by bacteria provide protection from invasive pathogens. Just as with babies, early colonization is crucial to establishing a beneficial microbiome. The researchers, led by Dr. Shaun Lee, looked inside sterilized mung beans and were able to isolate a unique strain of Bacillus pumilus that provides the bean with enhanced microbial protection.

“This was a genuine curiosity that my colleague and I had about whether commensal bacteria could be found in various plant sources, including seed supplies” said Dr. Lee. “The fact that we could isolate and grow a bacterium that was packaged inside a seed was quite surprising.”

The researchers first sterilized and tested the outer portion of a sealed, whole seed. When that was determined to be sterile, they sampled and plated the interior of the seeds and placed them in bacterial agar, which they incubated. What they found was the new strain of Bacillus pumilus, a unique, highly motile Gram-positive bacterium capable of colonizing the mung bean plant without causing any harm. Genome sequencing revealed that the isolated B. pumilus contained three unique gene clusters for the production of antimicrobial peptide compounds known as bacteriocins.

Dr. Lee and his colleagues theorize that their findings could have a wide impact, both on our understanding of plants and in creating food-safe antimicrobials. The finding that plant seeds can be pre-colonized may be an important mechanism by which a beneficial plant microbiome is established and sustained. Moreover, the team is now isolating and studying the bacteriocins, which Dr. Lee says “have tremendous potential.”

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily