Study documents ubiquity of bee-killing pesticides

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Can bees survive the age of pesticides? @bberwyn photo.

Findings suggest human health risks from inhaling pollen laced with neonicotinoids

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists with Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health say their new study examining pollen and honey shows there’s a need to develop public policies that aims to reduce neonicotinoid exposure.

After working 62 Massachusetts beekeepers who volunteered to collect monthly samples of pollen and honey from foraging bees, the researchers found more that 70 percent of the samples contained at least one neonicotinoid, a class of pesticide that has been implicated the steep decline of honeybee populations, specifically colony collapse disorder, when adult bees abandon their hives during winter.

The study will be published online July 23, 2015 in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry. Not only do these pesticides pose a significant risk for the survival of honey bees, but they also may pose health risks for people inhaling neonicotinoid-contaminated pollen, Lu said. Continue reading

Showdown over GM foods looms in Congress

What's on your plate? @bberwyn photo.

What’s on your plate? @bberwyn photo.

GOP-sponsoroed House bill would preempt state and local restrictions on genetically modified products

Staff Report

FRISCO — Food activists say a possible House vote on HR 1599 — called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 by its sponsors — could mark a huge turning point in the battle of genetically modified food. Some of the best coverage of the GMO debate is at civileats.com. Continue reading

Will global warming increase salmonella outbreaks?

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Global warming may increase risk of salmonella outbreaks.

Coastal areas at highest risk

Staff Report

FRISCO — Public health researchers at the University of Maryland say a 10-year study shows a clear link between salmonella outbreaks and episodes of extreme heat and precipitation events.

With those conditions expected to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change, the researchers say their findings can help guide public health strategies.

The study is the first to provide empirical evidence that Salmonella infections related to extreme weather events are disproportionately impacting those living in the coastal areas of Maryland. Continue reading

Climate: CO2 hinders plants’ nitrogen uptake

Wheat field in Upper Austria

Wheat ripens under a summer sun. @bberwyn photo.

Study suggests that greenhouse gas pollution will have a fundamental impact on plant-nutrient cycles and food production

Staff Report

FRISCO — Increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide is hindering some plants from absorbing nitrogen, the nutrient governing crop growth in most terrestrial ecosystems.

Concentrations of nitrogen in plant tissue is lower in air with high levels of carbon dioxide, regardless of whether or not the plants’ growth is stimulated, University of Gothenburg (Sweden) researchers found in a new study, published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The study examined various types of ecosystems, including crops, grasslands and forests, and involves large-scale field experiments conducted in eight countries on four continents. Continue reading

Eco groups push for sustainable diet guidelines

A classic Greek salad in Corfu.

Less meat, more vegetables!

Feds eye update to key food guidelines

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation activists say that a recent round of comments and petitioning by the public show growing support for a more sustainable federal dietary guidelines, with a shift toward more plant-based food.

At issue is a proposal by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to update those guidelines based on the recommendations of a science committee that recommended the changes. Continue reading

Advisory panel eyes shift to more sustainable diet in U.S.

‘Sustainability has to be core to dietary guidelines’

Spicy cashew-nut salad. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Can federal guidelines help Americans choose a healthier diet?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Guided by an advisory panel, federal health experts last week set the stage to nudge American consumers toward a more sustainable diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lighter on animal-based foods.

In the long-term, the changes would improve individual health and result in a smaller environmental footprint, according to panel, which submitted its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new scientific report spelled out the fundamental realities of diet and health. About half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese, patterns that have persisted for more than 20 years. Continue reading

Study: There’s huge potential for increased food production on existing land

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

The recent wheat crisis in Russia is a warning sign for potential large-scale global warming impacts. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEIDA COMMONS.

Tweaking farm practices could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture

FRISCO — A systematic University of Minnesota study of global agricultural resources suggest that improving food systems in a few specific regions could make it possible to both meet the basic needs of 3 billion more people and decrease agriculture’s environmental footprint.

The report, published in Science, focuses on 17 key crops that produce 86 percent of the world’s crop calories and account for most irrigation and fertilizer consumption on a global scale. It proposes a set of key actions in three broad areas that that have the greatest potential for reducing the adverse environmental impacts of agriculture and boosting our ability meet global food needs. Continue reading

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