How 50 rats turned into 100,000 after avoiding poison dump


A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds recently conducted a case study on the failed rat eradication project on an island in the South Pacific.

The island’s rat problem began approximately 800 years ago when Polynesian sailors introduced Pacific rats to Henderson Island, where they rapidly multiplied. Today, there are no people living on the islands but lots of rats, which are a problem, because they eat the chicks of endangered birds.

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Will genetically “edited” food be regulated? The case of the mushroom

mushroomsIf you snip a bit of DNA from a vegetable, but do not add any new genes, does that vegetable qualify as a genetically modified organism, or GMO?

It’s a hot question for government regulators, and it’s no longer theoretical, an article explains, as a researcher at Penn State University, has used a popular gene editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9 to snip out a tiny piece of DNA from one particular gene in a white button mushroom. This disables the gene, which in turn reduces the mushroom’s production of an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. As a result, the mushroom does not turn brown as quickly. [ More … ]

Monday links

horse portrait2_blogDon’t have time to scour the internet for the latest animal safety, food safety, and agriculture news? Relax, we’ve got it covered.

Animal Science        

Infographic: Sunburn and Horses – The Horse
Sun damage is a serious problem for some horses. It causes severe, painful blistering around sensitive areas, such as the eyes, muzzle, and flanks. Learn strategies for protecting your pink-skinned horse from the sun’s damaging rays. [ More … ]

Crowder resigns as Neogen director

Neogen Corporation announced today that Dr. Richard Crowder has resigned as a member of the company’s Board of Directors, effective April 30. Crowder, 77, resigned for personal reasons.

Crowder has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2009 and was elected to a new three-year term in October 2015. The company advises that the Board of Directors is expected to appoint an interim director to complete Crowder’s term. [ More … ]

Manure: How far away is far enough?

Over the past several years, high profile recalls of fruits and veggies have become the new norm in the American food landscape. These recalls follow outbreaks of foodborne illnesses caused by microbes like E. coli and can send unsuspecting consumers rushing to the nearest restroom or, worse yet, the hospital. In addition, outbreaks have major consequences for supermarkets and growers who must regain public trust or face possible financial ruin after being linked to an outbreak. [ More … ]

New science could help detect fraudulent coffee beans

Coffee_GreenCup_blogCounterfeit food has a long and storied history and has affected one of most important food groups of them all: coffee. New science, however, may be here to save the day and could show us what type of beans are actually used to make our daily cup(s) of joe.

A team of researchers at the Second University of Naples, in Naples, Italy, brings to light the presence of counterfeit coffee in our food system particularly relating to the Robusta species of coffee beans and the Arabica bean. [ More … ]

Poultry industry faces fowl problem

ProcessInspection_USDA_blogDuring its ongoing quest to grow larger chickens that fulfill the demand of white meat, the poultry industry has run into an unexpected problem: an emerging phenomenon known as “woody breast.”

While it’s not harmful to humans, the condition causes chicken breasts to be tougher because of hard or woody fibers that lace the meat. This causes the meat to be tough and chewy, and as one consumer described it, the meat “doesn’t feel right in the mouth.” [ More … ]

Surplus of commodities could mean dismal path ahead for many farmers

Dairy_Farm_665847_blogAs farmers gear up for spring planting, those who sell crops on the commodities markets are preparing to lose money from low prices that are beyond their control. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. net farm income is expected to drop to $54.8 billion this year, the lowest since 2002 and less than half the record of $123.3 billion in 2012.

Simply put, what many farmers are currently paid for milk, grain or livestock is not enough to cover their expenses, a recent article explains, and is causing some to take out loans or tap into their savings to remain in business. [ More … ]

Monday links

SemiTruck_creditMateuszStachowski_blogDon’t have time to scour the internet for the latest animal safety, food safety, and agriculture news? Relax, we’ve got it covered.

Food Safety

FDA Finalizes Food Safety Rule on Food Transport – Food Processing
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a new food safety rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent food contamination during transportation. The rule will require those transporting human and animal food by motor or rail vehicle to follow recognized best practices for sanitary shipments. [ More … ]

Conditions favorable for wheat scab again this year

Wheat_HeadScab_blog1Fusarium head blight, also known as FHB or scab, devastated Louisiana’s wheat crop last year and while many hoped the worst was over, recent reports are predicting it could happen all over again this year.

Scab is mainly caused by the fungus, Fusarium graminearum, which can develop rapidly during wheat’s flowering stage when accompanied by warm and wet weather, similar to the conditions Louisiana is currently experiencing statewide. [ More … ]