Community Welfare

Community Welfare, Environmental Integrity

Islanders unaware of alien plant invasion risk

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Low public concern about alien plants and animals is hampering conservation efforts on island nations as scientists battle the rapid decline of pristine habitats, a conference has heard.  As the impact of alien species on fragile island ecosystems is becoming increasingly clear, public awareness of the issue is sorely lacking, a panel of experts told the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii last week. They said that locals do not mind invasive species, especially plants, which makes it difficult to get community support for conservation efforts. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Towards Zero-Discharge Seawater Desalination

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Chinese researchers have developed a novel process that can produce pure drinking water without the highly concentrated waste products. AsianScientist (Nov. 18, 2016) - Researchers in China have developed a method of salt water desalination that generates very little waste and is less susceptible to scaling. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Weathering El Niño with better preparations

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With the worst of El Niño now over, there is a general sense of relief that one of the strongest weather events on record didn’t lead to food shortages and spikes in food prices, particularly for rice. During the 2007-2008 food crisis when there was also an El Niño, albeit a milder one, rice prices on the world market more than doubled. This time, prices went up by a more manageable 10-15 per cent despite rice stocks dipping at their lowest in three years. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Growing reliance on foreign crops threatens diversity

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Countries increasingly rely on introduced plants for food and need to cooperate to protect crop diversity, a study has found. The study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that awareness of the geographic origin of major food crops is shrinking, threatening conservation and breeding efforts. Governments should spend more money and effort on joint research andconservation to protect both original crop species and their wild relatives, says lead author Colin Khoury, a researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia. Continue reading..

Community Welfare, Environmental Integrity

Soil Erosion May Threaten Global Food Security

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Global soil erosion has reached levels that will endanger humanity’s ability to feed itself if nothing is done to lower it, a study warns. The review, published in Science last week (7 May), says soils are being lost faster than they are being naturally produced in many parts of the world. In addition, there is increased pressure on farmland from non-food uses, such as crops being grown for biofuels, and there may be future shortages of rock phosphate, which is used to make fertiliser, it says. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Climate Warming Increases Aflatoxin Levels in Crops

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[NEW DELHI] Farmers in South Asia are largely unaware that aflatoxin, a liver cancer-causing agent produced by fungi, accumulates on crops like maize, sorghum, coffee and groundnut as a result of stress from prolonged droughts. About 4.5 billion people in developing countries are already exposed to uncontrolled and unmonitored amounts of this fungal toxin in their diet, according to a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Frontiers report, released this year. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Honeybees and the pesticide sting

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[NEW DELHI] Scientists have established a significant link between indiscriminate pesticide use and a reported decline in honeybee populations. Exposure to intensive use of pesticides impairs both memory and the sense of smell in honeybees according to the scientists who published their study in Nature Scientific Reports on 27 July. Specifically, the scientists found a significant decrease in the proboscis extension reflex in honeybees collected from agricultural fields that are exposed to high levels of pesticides. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Varied diet repels poisoned fungus

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Food contamination with fungal toxins is best prevented by improving post-harvest processing and diversifying crops, according to a World Health Organization agency report. Aflatoxins, produced by Aspergillus fungi that grow on grains, cause deadly liver cancer and stunting in children. They have been known since the 1960s, but still regularly contaminate food in Africa, Asia and Latin America, says the report, launched by the International Agency for Research on Cancer last month (17 February). Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Edible insects inch one step closer

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Farming insects on a large scale is no more of a biological or chemical hazard than other livestock farming, says a report by a European food safety body.   The report, which looks at the potential of insects as food or animal feed, says the microbiological, chemical and environmental risks of insect farming are similar to those of other animal husbandry.   But it warns that insect farming has not been tried on an industrial scale, and that there is a lack of systematically collected data on insect farming and consumption worldwide. Continue reading..

Community Welfare

Investments Can Propel Cassava Biotech

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[BEIJING] Genomics, an emergent technology dealing with genes, is getting cassava scientists excited about the potential of growing more cassava in a much shorter time and much more efficient way. Scientists believe this root crop — dubbed the “poor man’s crop” — can be the solution to feeding the booming populations of developing nations. But finding investments to fund research and development for the plant has been difficult. Continue reading..