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GM wheat for increased yield

Scientists from Rothamsted Research, the University of Essex and Lancaster University provided an update on a new research project with GM wheat plants that have been engineered to carry out photosynthesis more efficiently. This trait has the potential for increased yields. read more

expert reaction to MRSA in pork

The Guardian newspaper has reported that their investigations have shown a number of supermarket pork products to be contaminated with a strain of MRSA bacteria. read more

impacts of neonicotinoid use on long-term population changes in wild bees in England

Neonicotinoid insecticides have been implicated in the decline of bees, yet the evidence is derived from short-term laboratory studies on honeybees and bumblebees. Scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have investigated the long term, large scale impact of neonicotinoids on 62 wild bee species across England and are publishing in Nature Communications on August 16th. read more

new findings on badgers and cattle

As the government prepares to announce the widespread rollout of badger culling, intended to protect cattle from bovine tuberculosis (TB), new research, carried out by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Imperial College London and published in Ecology Letters, has looked into how often badgers and cattle meet. Badgers clearly contribute to the cattle TB problem, but how the disease transmits between the two species has remained a mystery. Using cutting-edge technology to track large numbers of badgers and cattle simultaneously, the team looked into whether and how often badgers came close enough to cattle to transmit TB directly, and whether there may be other means of transmission through contamination of the environment. read more

expert reaction to antibiotics and methane from cows

Agriculture contributes a large amount to greenhouse gase emissions and climate change from a range of sources and a research group publishing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal has reported that antibiotics (used to improve livestock health and growth) can increase methane emissions. read more

expert reaction to the effects of different neonicotinoids on bumblebees

There is growing concern over the impact of the neonicotinoids to insect pollinators and how their loss may limit the ecosystem services that are vital to our food production (globally worth US$215 billion) and the stability of our natural environment. In a new study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers directly relate the effects of three neonicotinoids, at the level of individual brain cells to their impact on whole colonies of bumblebees placed at 5 different sites across Scotland. read more

expert reaction to research on climate change and food/health

The effect that climate change could have on future food production and wider health is the subject of a paper published in The Lancet journal, with the authors reporting their use of a model which suggests reductions in global food availability and an increase in related deaths by 2050. read more

genetically modified insects – what is their potential?

The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee publishes its report on GM insects on Thursday 17 December. The Committee has been investigating the use of GM insect technologies to fight infectious disease and to control agricultural pests. It’s estimated that nearly half the world’s population live in areas that put them at risk from malaria and dengue fever, while in the UK and across the globe, insect damage causes billions of pounds of agricultural losses. But the technology now exists to render insects unable to transmit diseases, and to reduce insect populations to minimise their threat to animals and crops. read more

publication of the results of the 5 year project to develop for the first time wheat that is genetically engineered to repel aphids

The full results of the controversial GM wheat field trial held by Rothamsted Research in 2012-2013 are published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports. The first year of the trial, labelled by journalists as ‘the whiffy wheat’ trial, caused significant public attention when Take the Flour Back was formed to campaign against the field trial and held a protest at the site. The campaign became a something of a cause célèbre when the Rothamsted Researchers fought back with a YouTube video and petition appealing to activists not to destroy the trial site. In the event the campaigners did not disrupt the research and had no bearing on the performance of the trial or the gathering of results. read more

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