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Genetically Engineered Insects Next For Agriculture?

Want to crash an insect population? Slip in a self-limiting gene and topple the family tree in two to three generations. The promise of biotech mosquitoes to combat the pest that spreads Zika, dengue and yellow fever grabs the headlines, but just off center stage, the same technology utilizing genetically engineered (GE) insects is being tested on U.S. farmland.

EPA nixes bid to herd livestock under Clean Air Act

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it has denied a petition by environmental groups to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations like factories under the Clean Air Act. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in a letter to petitioners, acknowledged livestock are potential sources of air pollutants. The agency, however, doesn’t have a reliable method for estimating animal emissions. Until it does, new rules could be unjustified and ineffective, according to Pruitt.

Rural Puerto Rican communities continue to be underserved by U.S. agencies

As we write this column in the week before Christmas 2017, it has been nearly three months since category 5 Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. Unlike the Texas coast which was drenched with rainfall from Hurricane Harvey that just weeks earlier was measured in feet, some 40 percent of the island still is without electrical power and damage to major roads and bridges makes many communities on the island difficult to reach with most of those in rural areas. According to Refugee International, “the U.S.

California issues 1st licenses for legal pot market

California’s legal marijuana market is finally, fitfully, taking shape. The state on Thursday issued the first batch of business licenses to sell and transport recreational-use pot, just 18 days before legal sales will begin on Jan.

Cargill looking to mentor farm-to-fork tech startups

An initiative backed by agricultural giant Cargill aims to fund and mentor startup companies focused on technologies that support the growing farm-to-fork trend, according to a press release about the effort. The Minnesota-based Farm to Fork Accelerator, co-funded by Ecolab and Cargill in partnership with venture capital firm Techstars, will focus on agriculture, food-related digital technology, food processing and food safety.

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