May 19

Coffee Fungus Raising Prices for High-End Blends (ABC News/AP, May 18, 2014):

The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to help Central American farmers fight a devastating coffee disease — and hold down the price of your morning cup.

At issue is a fungus called coffee rust that has caused more than $1 billion in damage across Latin American region. The fungus is especially deadly to Arabica coffee, the bean that makes up most high-end, specialty coffees.

Already, it is affecting the price of some of those coffees in the United States. Continue reading »

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Mar 21

Possible GM outbreak at Lincoln University investigated (New Zealand Herald, March 19, 2013):

The Government is investigating a potential outbreak of genetically modified fungus at Lincoln University.

Two secured laboratories and a greenhouse have been locked down as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) checks the biological scare.

Lincoln University researchers informed MPI and the Environmental Protection Agency on March 7 that it had evidence to suggest a fungus (Beauveria bassiana) supplied for research was potentially a strain modified genetically to include a marker so it could be traced in plants.

The fungus had been believed to have been a “wild strain” that is already present in the environment and so was being researched outside approved genetically modified (GM) containment facilities.

Work undertaken by the researchers indicated that the fungus had already been genetically modified.

Continue reading »

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Apr 23

Killer fungus seen in Pacific Northwest (CNN)


Infections from a new strain are unpreventable-and the strain is spreading.

new-killer-airborne-fungus-cryptococcus-gattii
The new
Cryptococcus gattii fungus strain, magnified.

A new strain of hypervirulent, deadly fungus has been discovered in the United States, a new study says.

The outbreak has already killed six people in Oregon, and it will likely creep into northern California and possibly farther, experts say.

The new strain is of the species Cryptococcus gattii, an airborne fungus native to tropical and subtropical regions, including Papua New Guinea, Australia, and parts of South America. An older strain of the fungus was frst detected in North America in British Columbia, Canada, in 1999.

No one knows how the species got to North America or how the fungus can thrive in a temperate region, experts say. Continue reading »

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Jun 10

(NaturalNews) Prepare to say goodbye to bananas. Do you remember back in the sixties when there was a change in bananas? It wasn’t announced, but those of us who love the fruit did. They became less sweet and creamy — just not as good. There was no information about it. The change seemed to slip under the radar and most of us forgot about it.

That change foretold what’s now coming — the complete death of bananas. No, this is not hyperbole. Bananas are dying, and their death is a precursor of what’s to come if we continue to accept corporate farming. But first, back to the impending loss of bananas.

We tend to think of bananas as a single species with no more than one or two variations on the theme –something like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits that are all variations of a single species. That, though, is far from the truth. Until the mid-eighteen hundreds, most bananas grew wild and local people ate them, though some local cultivation existed. There was a huge variety. Some were sweet and some sour. Some were creamy, while others had a bit of crunch. Some were yellow, but others were red or purple. Today, most of that variety is lost.

Chiquita’s History

During the 1870’s, Minor Keith was a young man from a wealthy railroad company who went to Costa Rica to help build a national railroad. He and other relatives accomplished the task at the cost of 5,000 workers’ lives. He also started planting bananas, a crop that was gaining popularity in the U.S., on the easements along the railway. The Costa Rican government could not make payments on its railroad loans from British banks. Because of his wealth and connections, Keith was able to raise the money to finish the job, largely by negotiating a significant decrease in the interest rate, from 7% down to 2.5%. This put him in the debt of the dictator, whose daughter he had married, so he was granted 800,000 acres of tax-free land along the railroad, where he’d been planting bananas, along with a 99-year lease on the railroad’s operation along that route. Continue reading »

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May 14
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned in March that Iran had detected a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust called Ug99.

The fungal disease could spread to other wheat producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-quarter of the world’s wheat.

The FAO warned stated east of Iran — Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to be on high alert.

Scientists and international organizations focused on controlling wheat stem rust have said 90 percent of world wheat lines are susceptible to Ug99. The situation is particularly critical in light of the existing worldwide wheat shortage.

The fungus causes dark orange pustules on stems and leaves of infected plants. The pustules can completely girdle stems, damaging their conducting tissue and preventing grain fill. Yield losses may reach 70 percent, while some fields are totally destroyed. If stem rust arrives early in the growing cycle, losses are higher. Spores released by the fungal pustules are spread by the wind and may travel great distances in storms.

Word of the new wheat disease comes amid global shortages of rice and wheat resulting from typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam. Last year Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure, heavy rains reduced production in Europe, Argentina suffered heavy frost, and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields.

Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal in recent months.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Source: World Tribune

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Mar 31

 Global Research reports:

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Up to 80 per cent of all Asian and African wheat varieties are susceptible to the fungus, and major wheat-producing nations to Iran’s east – such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – should be on high alert, FAO warned.

“The fungus is spreading rapidly and could seriously lower wheat production in countries at direct risk,” said Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division.

He urged the control of the rust’s spread to lower the risk to countries already impacted by high food prices.

Iran has said that it will bolster its research capacity to tackle the new fungus and develop wheat varieties that are rust-resistant.

Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.

Sure, maybe it was carried by the wind — and maybe the fungus was introduced by man. Not so much a conspiracy theory when history is taken into account. For instance, back in 1977, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the CIA dispatched “anti-Castro terrorists” to introduce “African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971…. Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.” It was so scary that the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization labeled the outbreak the “most alarming event” of 1971. Continue reading »

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