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Agriculture News

Breakthrough method means CRISPR just got a lot more relevant to human health

The verge | Posted on April 25, 2016

The gene-editing tool CRISPR may one day change the way humans approach medicine — or at least that’s how it’s been portrayed so far. But for all the talk of using CRISPR to eliminate disease, the method was never very good at doing one important thing: altering single letters of DNA. (DNA is made of four chemical units, represented by the letters A, T, G, and C.) Now, scientists at Harvard University say they've modified the CRISPR method so it can be used to effectively reverse mutations involving changes in one letter of the genetic code. That’s important because two-thirds of genetic illness in humans involve mutations where there’s a change in a single letter.


South Dakota's surging dairy

Mitchell Republic | Posted on April 25, 2016

South Dakota has peaked the charts with a 13 percent increase in milk production from the previous year, according to the USDA, which is the single largest jump in any state. former-Gov. Bill Janklow's pushed the dairy industry during his term in office. Even as statewide dairy farm numbers took a dip, Janklow saw an opportunity to boost the South Dakota economy. He began actively recruiting milk processing plants to the state to encourage growth in the dairy industry.


Will removing neonics save the bees?

Farm and Dairy | Posted on April 25, 2016

Scotts Miracle Gro will phase out neonicotinoids in its garden care lineup by 2021.  Study results on the chemical are varied, as far as the severity of its contribution to the decline of the bee population. In fact, many have concluded there is no clear link between neonicotinoids and the honey bee syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

However, Ortho brand General Manager Tim Martin said, Ortho’s decision to ban the chemical is in response to a growing consumer concern over the chemicals. “This decision comes after careful consideration regarding the range of possible threats to honey bees and other pollinators,” said Martin. “While agencies in the United States are still evaluating the overall impact of neonics on pollinator populations, it’s time for Ortho to move on.”


Banking Woes Easing for Legal Pot Businesses

AP | Posted on April 25, 2016

Federal data show that the number of banks and credit unions across the country willing to handle pot money under Treasury Department guidelines issued two years ago has jumped from 51 in March 2014 to 301 last month.

More than three years into Washington's legal pot experiment, a large majority of businesses are paying taxes electronically, a sign of better access to bank accounts. The state is even poised to require electronic payments unless the shops can show a good reason to pay in cash.


Inside the Country's Most Controversial Company

Mother Earth News | Posted on April 23, 2016

The company doesn't seem too keen on old-school GMOs anymore. Fraley accompanied us to the biotechnology wing of the research center, the first stop on our tour. Strikingly, we didn't hear a peep about the GM wonder crops that the industry used to claim were just around the corner: corn that grows well in drought conditions, say, or thrives with minimal amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. Instead, we heard vigorous defenses of a trait that Monsanto has been selling since genetically altered crops first hit farm fields in the mid 90s: the insect-killing gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt.


Companies get serious about water use

BBC.com | Posted on April 22, 2016

There has been a "sea change in the last five years, led by forward looking companies",particularly in the clothing, food and drink industries.


US team tracks antibiotic resistant gene clusters in swine

Feed Navigator | Posted on April 22, 2016

Use of antibiotics in animal production is leading to clustering of antibiotic-resistant genes says a US research team.


Greening affects 90% of Florida’s citrus acreage

The Packer | Posted on April 22, 2016

As much as 90% of Florida’s citrus acres are infected with the citrus greening disease. According to a report from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,  citrus greening, also known as HLB and huanglongbing, has also infected 80% of Florida’s citrus trees.The survey, conducted in March 2015, represents the first grower-based estimates of the level of infection in Florida and the effect it is having on the state’s citrus operations.


U.S. looking to expert panel to predict future GM products

Science | Posted on April 22, 2016

The U.S. government is hoping an expert panel will be the next best thing to a crystal ball in helping predict what the future of biotechnology holds. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) in Washington, D.C., yesterday held the first public meeting of a new committee of academic and industry researchers, tasked with forecasting what biotechnologies will emerge in the next 5 to 10 years, and what new types of risk they might pose to the environment or human health.

The effort comes as U.S. regulatory agencies prepare to update the legal framework for evaluating biotechnology products.


Phosphorus losses in surface runoff

Michigan State University Extension | Posted on April 22, 2016

Merrin Macrae, Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada opened a conference sponsored by the Michigan Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society and Michigan State University Extension in East Lansing on March 4, A Matter of Balance: Systems Approaches to Managing the Great Lakes Landscapes. Her presentation, “Phosphorus Losses in Surface Runoff and Tile Drainage from Agricultural Fields Using Multiple Conservation Strategies for Phosphorus Management”, summarized the results of work with farmers in southern Ontario in tracking nutrient cycling and water quality impacts from surface runoff and tile drained lands to Lake Erie tributaries.

Compared to tile drainage, surface runoff was a much ‘hotter’ source of P. At one site, surface runoff was only a minor contributor to the total runoff volume, but it was a major contributor to dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) loss. Tile drainage contributed most of the total runoff but overland flow carried most of the nutrients. Most of the total annual P loss was particulate P carried by sediment in runoff during snowmelt. The timing of nutrient application and soil test P was important. When commercial P or poultry litter was applied in the fall autumn rains led to spikes in tile drainage P. Late fall and all applications on the frozen ground should be avoided. Very early fall or spring applications carry less risk, particularly subsurface or banded applications. 


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