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The Agricultural Health Study: What We Need To Know

It’s been more than 20 years since the AHS or Agricultural Health Study was created. The main goal of this study is to collect agricultural information to have a greater understanding of the role of agricultural exposures in or health. Throughout the years, the study has collected a lot of information that links chemical substances used in agriculture to serious health illnesses like cancer.

Pesticides and Cancer

Women who reported using OP insecticides were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never used these insecticides. In addition, some specific OPs were associated with other cancers:

  • Malathion, the most commonly used OP insecticide, was associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.
  • Diazinon, another common OP insecticide, was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

This is the first comprehensive evaluation of the use of these insecticides among women; it will be important to confirm these findings in other studies.

Know more about the study here.

BioNovelus Invited to Speak at USAID event with Feed The Future and Fintrac in Guatemala

USAID has invited BioNovelus at their next event in Guatemala.

Jean Ekobo will speak about the danger of chemical overuse,  introduce eco-friendly disinfectant and biofungicide CR-10, and explain CR-10 unique mode of action.

The participants include biological producers and farmers, local distributors, Exporters, Investors, NGOs, and Faculty.
Feed The Future partnering for Innovation, and Fintrac are supporting the event.

 

Foodborne Diseases and How We Can Avoid Them

No matter how we choose the food we eat, it’s still possible to get foodborne diseases. It’s important to be keen in our food preparations, but what’s even more important is to be smarter and always keep ourselves informed.

What is a foodborne disease?

According to Wikipedia, a foodborne disease is any illness resulting from the food spoilage of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food,[2] as well as chemical or natural toxins such as poisonous mushrooms and various species of beans that have not been boiled for at least 10 minutes.

Symptoms vary depending on the cause or type of the disease but mostly, a person may experience nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and dizziness.

How can we avoid these diseases?

In order to avoid foodborne diseases, you need to make sure that you handle your food properly.

For Consumers:

  1. Wash your produce
  • Soak your fruits and vegetables for 5 minutes before preparation.
  • Add a little vinegar when soaking green leafies.
  • Wash the skin of the fruit. If possible, don’t eat the skin.
  1. Cut off at least an inch at the end of hard vegetables like carrots.
  2. For meat, fish, and other shellfish, wash them well with water. Clean it up when you’re done with the preparations.

For Farms and Agricultural Companies:

  1. High-quality post-harvest management
  • Clean up after harvesting.
  • Only use disinfectants that are only approved by the NOA (depending on the category)
  1. Provide a safe and hygienic workplace and ensure proper food handling.

 

 

Importance of Using Organic Disinfectant for Post-Harvest Agriculture

As crucial it is to achieve an economically rewarding enterprise via the marketing of organic produce before the harvest phase is, it’s also important to make sure that the post-harvest phase is done properly.

The National Organic Program or NOP Rule has been established by the USDA to enforce uniform standards for producing and handling agricultural and processed food labeled as organic. Therefore, it is important that the chemicals used in organic post-harvest operations must comply with the rules set by the NOP. Of course, each produce falls into a different category and each category has its own list of disinfectants.

Post-Harvest Management

In order to have the best post-harvest management quality, it’s important to ensure that you are using an organic disinfectant. A lot of farms and companies use chemicals like chlorine, acetic acid, alcohol, peroxyacetic acid, and other ammonium sanitizers.

Though these disinfectants have been approved, they are still chemicals. Using an organic disinfectant helps a lot in improving the quality of post-harvest management.

Why Is It Important To Use Organic Disinfectant?

You may or may not agree, but organic is always better. It’s all natural and can definitely spare you from the effects of harmful chemicals.  If we can use organic disinfectants instead of bleach, chlorine, or alcohol, it’s definitely worth it!

Interesting references on the topic:

Health effects of chemical exposure:
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/emes/public/docs/Health%20Effects%20of%20Chemical%20Exposure%20FS.pdf

Effects of chemicals and pesticides upon health:
http://www.chem-tox.com/

On Pesticides and Health:
https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/pesticides/index.cfm

Agricultural Health Study:
https://aghealth.nih.gov/

The Effects of Phytosanitary Regulations on U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

What are the regulations for the fruits and vegetable we import and consume? Foodborne illnesses and Food Biosecurity are essential matters. The United States Department of Agriculture, particularly its Economic Research Service, created an interesting report on the topic.

Get a summary of the report here.
Get the direct link to USDA website here.

By Peyton Ferrier 

Since 2006, Peyton Ferrier has been an economist in the Food and Specialty Crops Branch in the Market and Trade Division at ERS. His work considers the welfare effects of the evolving market structure of food industries, especially relating to import regulation and quality assurance.

 

Univesity of California Researchers Sequence Arabica Coffee Genome

Recently, an international team of University of California researchers has publicly released the first public genome sequence of Arabica coffee.

The genome was sequenced from a remarkable variety called Geisha.

“The variety Geisha originates from the mountains of the western Ethiopian provinces of Maji and Goldija, near the town of Geisha, and is a selection known for its unique aromatic qualities,” the researchers explained.

“The new genome sequence for Coffea arabica contains information crucial for developing high-quality, disease-resistant coffee varieties that can adapt to the climate changes that are expected to threaten global coffee production in the next three decades,” explained co-author Dr. Juan Medrano, from the University of California, Davis.

“We hope that the Coffea arabica sequence will eventually benefit everyone involved with coffee — from coffee farmers, whose livelihoods are threatened by devastating diseases like coffee leaf rust, to coffee processors and consumers around the world.”

Know more about it here.

Coffee Rust Puts Thousands Out of Work

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The coffee rust epidemic problem has reached a lot of countries in Africa, Asia, and in Southern and Central America. Coffee plantations failed to produce as much crops as they need for commercial growth. Thus, thousands of workers were laid off because of this epidemic disease.

The effects of the 2002 – 2003 Coffee Rust Outbreak are:

El Salvador

  • 13,444 jobs lost
  • 132 lb coffee losses with $74.2 M value

Guatamela

  • 75,000 jobs lost
  • 132 lb coffee losses with $101 M value

Costa Rica

  • 14,000 jobs lost
  • 132 lb coffee losses with $14 M value

Nicaragua

  • 32,000 jobs lost
  • 132 lb coffee losses with $60 M value

Honduras

  • 100,000 jobs lost
  • 132 lb coffee losses with $230 M value

 

 

 

Guatemalan Coffee Growers Still Suffer from La Roya

Guatemala is one of the countries in Central America affected by the coffee rust disease. In fact, the country declared coffee rust a national emergency in 2013. The coffee production was massively decreased from 2,500,000 lbs of coffee in 2012 to 1,000,000 lbs by the end of 2013.

The coffee rust epidemic has been a major issue not only in Guatemala but in all affected countries. Millions of farmers already lost their jobs and spent a lot of money in pesticides hoping to minimize the effects of the disease.

Guatemalan based organizations like the Coffee Trust are working with small-scale farmers to improve their livelihood. They also need help in establishing food sovereignty in the region that has been solely dependent upon coffee, their cash crop.

Recently, $onov CEO Jean Ekobo visited Guatemala to have a meeting with the chemical distributors in the country and to let them know about CR-10 and what it can do to help eliminating coffee rust.

He shared his experience in Guatemala in our Twitter account. See his images below:

How Coffee Rust Affects The Coffee Industry Worldwide

The coffee rust epidemic has reached a lot of countries all over the world and has been a major problem and threat to coffee plantations all over the world. The rust organism mainly attacks the leaves (though in some rare instances the rust was found on fruits and young stems.). The coffee rust is usually manifested by chlorotic young lessions or pale yellow spots before the sporulation is evident. The sports vary in shapes and sizes.

This epidemic was first recorded in 1861. A British explorer discovered the development of coffee leaf rust in the Lake Victoria region in Kenya. In 1869, the cultivated coffee industry in Sri Lanka was attacked by this virus and their coffee industry suffered for 10 long years.

In 1920, the spread of the coffee leaf rust has reached most African and Asian countries during the sprout of their commercial grown coffee.

The epidemic in Brazil started in 1972. Soon, it affected the countries in Southern and Central America.

The Effects of Coffee Rust to Coffee Plantations

  • The amount of rust in the current year highly affects the reduced size of vegetative growth and berry growth.
  • Coffee rust is associated with defoliation. The strong sink of the berries’ carbohydrate can cause shoots and roots to starve and die. With that being said, the number of nodes on which coffee will be produced next year will be reduced.
  • The production of coffee for the following year is produced this season. Thus, the top and shoot dieback caused by the coffee rust will seriously reduce the following season’s crop.
  • A research conducted by Kushalappa and Eskes in 1989 estimates the total losses caused by leaf rust is between 30 to 80%.
  • The total average losses per year is believed to be about 15%.

 

Report shows that climate change could cut coffee production by 50 percent in 2050

With more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee being consumed on a daily basis, there’s no doubt that the coffee industry is at its finest. In fact, the industry is worth 19 Billion dollars worldwide.

However, a recent study called A Brewing Storm showed that the coffee production could drop by 50 percent in a few decades if we don’t take the necessary actions. The study shows that climate change would result to supply shortage and thus, price increase.

“We’re fearful that by 2050, we might see as much as a 50 per cent decline in productivity and production of coffee around the world, which is not so good,” said Molly Harriss Olson, the chief executive of Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, which commissioned the report.

Read more about it here.

The coffee industry has to be prepared for the possibilities of losing half of its potential in the coming years. Though we can’t really control the climate change, they need to figure out a way to continue meeting the demand.