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JimD

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Pathogens and their impacts
« on: December 03, 2013, 09:42:02 PM »
I have been reading about various pathogens and their current and potential impacts on us and our future for some time.  My prime interest in this subject is how they relate to agriculture production, but there are significant additional threats that pathogens present to human health, the economy and other species which can have major impacts beyond agriculture.  Feel free to add whatever you think is interesting.

Posts to follow.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2013, 09:47:12 PM »
MRSA - Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

This is the staphylococcus bug which has developed resistance to antibiotics.  It now occurs in a variety of forms and one of them is getting pretty interesting in terms of food production.  LA-MRSA which stands for Livestock Associated.  And you can guess where this is going.  CAFO operations.

LA-MRSA or MRSA ST398

Quote
..This is a strain of drug-resistant staph that is different from either the hospital or community variety. It was first found in pigs in the Netherlands in 2004 and has spread widely across Europe and into Canada and in the US. By molecular analysis, it is clearly linked to antibiotic use in livestock-raising, and it is frequently found on retail meat. And, of most importance for the UK reports, it does cause human infections: sometimes mild, but sometimes very serious...


Quote
...the UK’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency announced that livestock-associated MRSA, drug-resistant staph, has been found in UK poultry for the first time...

...Officials are under fire for keeping details of an outbreak of the MRSA bug in Christmas turkeys secret from consumers.
 The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra, the food and farming ministry, have refused to identify the East Anglia farm involved. They have also decided to allow the turkeys to be sold as normal. Officials claim any risk to  consumers is ‘very low’....

...First, because MRSA doesn’t cause classic “food poisoning.” (Other forms of staph do.) The risk with LA-MRSA is not that you’ll cook your food insufficiently, swallow the still-living organisms, and get a gastrointestinal illness; the risk, instead, is that the organism will spread to surfaces in your kitchen, and thence to your skin, and cause either a skin infection that is drug-resistant, or a much more serious illness. ..


I have this uncomfortable feeling that this situation will become a big issue eventually.  For instance the prevalence of a strain of MRSA being carried by the general population is about 5% but among CAFO operation farm workers it is over 20%.  Time is not on our side I think.  If you find this subject interesting there are links within the links that will take you to many articles on this subject.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/12/mrsa-turkey-uk/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/07/mrsa-st398-2/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2013, 09:50:50 PM »
Christmas tree root rot

A mold is causing root rot and killing large numbers of Fraser firs the primary tree used for Christmas trees.   This is having a big financial impact on farmers who grow Christmas trees as their primary business.

Quote
....The culprit: Phytophthora root rot, a water mold that, once in the soil, makes it unfit for production...

...said Phytophthora set in after Hurricane Fran in 1996 and got worse following 2004's Hurricane Ivan...

This family of pathogens, once in the soil cannot be eradicated and it is lethal to the Fraser fir.  Its range and spread is believed to be associated with changing climate in that it needs extra humidity and wet conditions to spread.  Of interesting note is that Fraser fir trees have also been under a long-term decline due to a non-native species killing off most of the mature trees.

Quote
....The species is severely damaged by a non-native insect, the Balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae). The insect's introduction and spread led to a rapid decline in Fraser fir across its range, with over 80 percent of mature trees having been killed....

Guess who's fault that is?

The fix for the farmers appears to be the importation of two species of fir from Eurasia.  One of which, the Turkish Fir, turns out to be extremely tasty food for our overpopulation of deer.  More imported problems on the way?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/02/christmas-tree-root-rot/3804141/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2013, 05:03:17 AM »
Cassava

Also known as manioc and yuca (not yucca that is a different plant) is a starchy root crop primarily grown in the tropics.  Cassava is very drought tolerant and heat resistant and has been promoted as a replacement for corn as the climate changes.

Quote
Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.[1][2] Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people.[3] It is one of the most drought tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporting country of dried cassava.

Quote
...The future of cassava, one of the most climate-resilient crops in Africa, may be under threat because rising temperatures have led to a dramatic increase in the number of whiteflies, tiny insects that spread the deadly cassava brown steak virus.

Previously seen as a major problem, but one confined to eastern and central Africa, the virus is spreading, alarming scientists who say new outbreaks suggest the disease is heading west towards the world’s largest cassava producer – Nigeria....


Quote
...Cassava is the second most important source of carbohydrates in sub-Saharan African, after maize, and is eaten by around 500 million people globally every day, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Every year 280 million tons are produced, with half the supply coming from Africa.
...

http://www.trust.org/item/20130515115344-6mlpb

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava

http://www.irinnews.org/report/96767/cameroon-new-cassava-species-could-boost-food-security

http://www.irinnews.org/report/96767/cameroon-new-cassava-species-could-boost-food-security
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2013, 05:41:09 AM »
Soybean Rust

This is a really bad one. And a big threat to food production.

Quote
Soybean rust caused by P. pachyrhizi has been a serious disease in Asia for many decades. It appeared in Africa in 1997, and in the Americas in 2001. Before it was first found in the continental USA in late 2004, probably brought in by a hurricane, it was considered such a threat that it was listed as a possible weapon of bioterrorism. Soybean rust cannot overwinter in areas with freezing temperatures, but it can spread by wind rapidly over such large distances, its development can be so explosive, and it can cause such rapid loss of leaves that it is now one of the most feared diseases in the world's soybean-growing areas.

Quote
It is important to detect infection in the field early because this disease progresses rapidly and decisions to apply fungicides must be made as early as possible. Soybean rust in the early days following infection can be found on the lower, first leaves of soybean plants.

Control of soybean rust will not be an easy task, and there is no straightforward approach that would seem applicable to every situation in every country where this disease occurs.

Note that the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (an invasive species brought to the States about 10 years ago) is also a big threat to soybeans.  Not to mention all the other crops it eats as well.  This bug was a real problem on my farm and even farmers who sprayed had trouble dealing with it.  It is devastating on any kind of fruit plant (tomatoes especially in addition to standard fruit like apples).

http://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/intropp/lessons/fungi/Basidiomycetes/Pages/SoybeanRust.aspx
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2013, 06:07:37 AM »
JimD, If you haven't met the Bagrada bug yet you soon will. Nasty on brassica crops during summer,they like heat . They will like Arizona . They build up a population on wild mustard
then they seem like they're everywhere. They crawl , pesticides are effective but for organic production summer Cole crops are out of the lineup. I've  had them two summers now.

http://www.trivalleycentral.com/trivalley_dispatch/farm_and_ranch/arizona-gardeners-bagrada-bug-is-a-new-potentially-serious-problem/article_448fd856-7adf-11e2-a16c-0019bb2963f4.html

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2013, 03:12:34 PM »
Bruce

That sounds like a pretty nasty bug.  It resembles a Harlequin bug and descriptions of its effect are similar.  In the east the harlequin causes lots of trouble for those following organic practices.  I lost a lot of brassica plants to those buggers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin_cabbage_bug
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2013, 03:46:20 PM »
Wheat Rust

This disease, without exaggeration, threatens civilization.  In fact if the current strain being fought by plant geneticists had originated in North America or Asia vice Uganda this would be an academic discussion in that the world would already be in mass famine mode.  The Ug99 strain of wheat rust effects over 90% of the wheat varieties grown worldwide.

Quote
Rust diseases of wheat are among the oldest plant diseases known to man. Early literature on wheat cultivation mentions these devastating diseases and their ability to destroy entire wheat crops. Since rust discovery, numerous studies have been conducted on the life cycles of rust pathogens and their management. The information gained from these studies has enabled us to develop best management practices that reduce the impact of the diseases. Today, worldwide epidemic losses are rare, though the diseases can occur at significant levels in particular fields or throughout a particular growing region. The persistence of rust as a significant disease in wheat can be attributed to specific characteristics of the rust fungi. These characteristics include a capacity to produce a large number of spores—which can be wind-disseminated over long distances and infect wheat under favorable environmental conditions—and the ability to change genetically, thereby producing new races with increased aggressiveness on resistant wheat cultivars.

Millions of people have died in the past due to various strains of this disease.  Biologists are concerned that the spores under the right conditions could be carried on the wind clear across the Indian Ocean to south Asia and Australia.  It is only a matter of time until the current lethal strain reaches major growing areas and researchers are frantically working on identifying a disease resistant gene and are on the verge of solving this current outbreak they believe.  If they are wrong and it gets to the US or Asia we have a problem.

Quote
IT IS sometimes called the “polio of agriculture”: a terrifying but almost forgotten disease. Wheat rust is not just back after a 50-year absence, but spreading in new and scary forms. In some ways it is worse than child-crippling polio, still lingering in parts of Nigeria. Wheat rust has spread silently and speedily by 5,000 miles in a decade. It is now camped at the gates of one of the world's breadbaskets, Punjab. In June scientists announced the discovery of two new strains in South Africa, the most important food producer yet infected....

...It has plagued crops for centuries. The Romans deified it, and believed that sacrificing dogs warded it off. It was the worst wheat disease of the first half of the 20th century, killing about a fifth of America's harvest in periodic epidemics.

Wheat rust once spurred the Green Revolution, the huge increase in crop yields that started in the 1940s. Now it could threaten those great gains. Norman Borlaug, the great American agronomist who died last year, conducted his original research into wheat rust. After ten years of painstaking crossbreeding, he isolated a gene, Sr31 (Sr for stem rust) that resisted P. graminis. By wonderful good fortune, Sr31 also boosted yields (and not only because plants were impervious to rust). Farmers everywhere adopted his seeds enthusiastically, saving millions of lives.....

In a worst case event where wheat rust hit North America or Asia and a 20% crop loss occurred, as used to happen in the past, we would in one fell swoop wipeout the entire global stockpile of grain.  A daunting prospect.  The researchers better have it right that they have identified the correct gene for resistance and that they can quickly breed new strains of wheat for the global agriculture community.  We are also fortunate that bio-terrorists have not started spreading this disease deliberately around the world. 

http://www.economist.com/node/16481593

http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_a/A415/

http://blogs.usda.gov/2013/06/27/scientists-discover-gene-to-combat-devastating-wheat-rust/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2013, 04:24:31 PM »
JimD, Ergot, Rust,Saint Vitas dance, Saint Anthony's Fire, lost in myth.
 I know I am of off topic but I thought you would enjoy this letter I received yesterday.  I do enjoy the stuff you dredge up. There is such a strong connect between agriculture and some way out of this, if not for everyone at least for a few. Food storage, salted meats, drying, all are also part of low energy options. A complete farm, transport, food storage, food sales package, a working low energy working farm would be relief to a lot of anguish.
 
    I wanted to let know how impacting your talk was to me.  It was hands down the most moving and impressionable talk of the quarter, or maybe that I've had yet at Bren.  

I think I was impacted perhaps more so than some students just because I think I could relate on a very personal level to what you were describing towards the end, but I also think our whole class was very impressed.  I have definitely gone through periods of absolute bewilderment and confusion, and a sort of disconnectedness with others, as I hear about the impacts of Global Warming that we are causing, and then watching as everyone turns the other way and continues living life as usual.  I have felt depression, anxiety, and absolute confusion from this before in my life, and I think my coping mechanism when coming to Bren has been to ignore some of those feelings in order to keep moving forward.  It was so refreshing to hear from someone else who I felt actually understands these feelings, and yet is doing something about it on a personal as well as larger level, rather than freezing up and becoming stagnant like I think many people who understand the science are doing.

I think we miss out on passionate, genuine people like you at Bren, and sometimes get too caught up in the pragmatism of science from a removed perspective.  It's easy to talk about problems and analyze them, but so rarely do we hear from individuals who are inspiring on a personal level to walk the talk.  

I hope to come visit your farm sometime.  It sounds amazing.

Again, thanks for all that you do, and for your inspiration.
 

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2013, 05:24:05 PM »
Corn  -  Goss's Wilt

Quote
It has come on like a tidal wave, washing across the Corn Belt from Minnesota to the Texas panhandle, a disease that few farmers had seen until five years ago.

Known as Goss’s wilt, it has cut some farmers’ corn yields in half, and it is still spreading. This summer it reached Louisiana, farther south than it had ever been identified.
...

Quote
...When a plant is damaged by hail or other heavy weather, the microbe enters the wound and infects its vascular system, scarring the leaves with brownish-yellow lesions sprinkled with black freckles.

The infection may or may not kill the plant, depending on when it comes, but it almost always curtails yields.
....

...Until 2008, Goss’s wilt had been confined to western Nebraska and a handful of counties in eastern Colorado. But that year it was found in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

In 2011, a particularly virulent year, farms in much of Illinois lost as many as 60 bushels of corn per acre to the disease (the usual yield is 200 bushels per acre). So did many counties in Indiana.
...

Interestingly enough this disease is primarily confined to the GMO corn varieties (RoundUp ready) used almost exclusively by industrial farming in the US and many other countries.  Pointing out the great risk inherent in mono-cropping.  A fear often articulated is that some pathogen will mutate and turn out to be highly lethal to the GMO corn and difficult to breed around thus dramatically impacting the global food supply. 

Quote
...“One of the best management techniques for controlling Goss’s wilt is crop rotation — corn, then soy or another crop,” Mr. Anderson said.

Another possible factor is the growth of no-till farming, which leaves cornstalks, on which the bacteria can linger, to decay in the field after harvesting, rather than being plowed under.

No hybrids have been developed that can fully withstand Goss’s wilt, but the companies have increased the number of seeds with higher resistance.
...

Note one of the negative aspects of the popular no-till farming technique favored by many environmentalists.  I know farmers who do not believe that the long-term result of no-till is going to work out and that tilling will always be required occasionally to keep pathogens down and to control weeds.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/science/earth/a-disease-cuts-corn-yields.html?_r=0

Another interesting corn pathogen.

http://www.nuruinternational.org/blog/agriculture/nuru-kenyas-response-to-maize-lethal-necrosis-disease-2013-long-rains-season-in-review/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2013, 06:29:26 PM »
JimD.....I believe I have learned more from you than  any single commenter here. Thank you.

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2013, 06:57:09 PM »
A bit of philosophical discussion seems warranted at this point.

Humanity is at war with the bugs and pathogens which impact our health and food supply.  This is war in its truest sense in that it is actually a conflict which directly impacts our security and survival.  This, in general, is not true about most all other human conflicts.

Unfortunately there is no probability of winning this war and our attempts over the last few decades to do just that will in the long-run prove to be counterproductive to our security.  Our opponents have all the advantages in this endless war.  They are too numerous to count in the number of species, the possibilities of genetic variation, and in the possible ways they can attack us.  Evolution is on their side in this conflict.  They cannot lose.  We cannot win.  We also cannot lose in a total war sense (or at least a loss on that scale is highly improbable) though our actions can indeed make catastrophic losses not only possible but probable.

Chief among those actions is choosing to allow our population to push right to the limits of the world's ability to provide sustenance.  The need to use almost all arable land by agriculture in order to feed that population is risky behavior to say the least.  To add in industrial agricultural methods and fully utilize the temporary advantages of fossil fuels pushes us well into an overshoot position (in military terms we have advanced beyond our supply lines and outpaced supporting troops - we are vulnerable to counterattack).

One of the greatest of human weaknesses is our tendency to assume our superiority in all matters.  As the Earth's apparent penultimate predator we have come to exhibit extreme arrogance in the face of opposition from nature.  We assume that the man-nature battle was won long ago and we hold the forces of nature in some contempt,.  We think that our only worthy opponents are those of our own species with whom we strive for resource domination.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our attempt to win the war against nature by resorting to a massive technology attack utilizing chemical warfare and genetic manipulation did indeed for a time suppress the enemy forces.  But evolution will win out in the long run as we cannot kill all of our opponents and the survivors will adapt to our attacks and come back invulnerable to them eventually.

This forces us to double down at each stage of the conflict.  We have to expend more effort and more resources to defeat each new evolutionary version of our opponents that nature throws at us.  Our inability to understand the exponential function comes into play once again.  Eventually we will run out of resources to fight and our opponents will put us into full retreat.  Dramatic population reductions are inevitable.  It is a matter of when it will happen, not if.  Winning in the context of conflicts within nature is to strive for balance not superiority.

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/monsanto%E2%80%99s-roundup-triggers-over-40-plant-diseases/

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2008/01/03/12-diseases-that-altered-history
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2013, 07:01:06 PM »
SH....Hey thanks.  I appreciate that.  I am sure my wife appreciates my bombarding all of you with my endless thoughts on what is going on and leaving her some peace for a change  :)
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Theta

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2013, 08:29:50 PM »
A bit of philosophical discussion seems warranted at this point.

Humanity is at war with the bugs and pathogens which impact our health and food supply.  This is war in its truest sense in that it is actually a conflict which directly impacts our security and survival.  This, in general, is not true about most all other human conflicts.

Unfortunately there is no probability of winning this war and our attempts over the last few decades to do just that will in the long-run prove to be counterproductive to our security.  Our opponents have all the advantages in this endless war.  They are too numerous to count in the number of species, the possibilities of genetic variation, and in the possible ways they can attack us.  Evolution is on their side in this conflict.  They cannot lose.  We cannot win.  We also cannot lose in a total war sense (or at least a loss on that scale is highly improbable) though our actions can indeed make catastrophic losses not only possible but probable.

Chief among those actions is choosing to allow our population to push right to the limits of the world's ability to provide sustenance.  The need to use almost all arable land by agriculture in order to feed that population is risky behavior to say the least.  To add in industrial agricultural methods and fully utilize the temporary advantages of fossil fuels pushes us well into an overshoot position (in military terms we have advanced beyond our supply lines and outpaced supporting troops - we are vulnerable to counterattack).

One of the greatest of human weaknesses is our tendency to assume our superiority in all matters.  As the Earth's apparent penultimate predator we have come to exhibit extreme arrogance in the face of opposition from nature.  We assume that the man-nature battle was won long ago and we hold the forces of nature in some contempt,.  We think that our only worthy opponents are those of our own species with whom we strive for resource domination.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our attempt to win the war against nature by resorting to a massive technology attack utilizing chemical warfare and genetic manipulation did indeed for a time suppress the enemy forces.  But evolution will win out in the long run as we cannot kill all of our opponents and the survivors will adapt to our attacks and come back invulnerable to them eventually.

This forces us to double down at each stage of the conflict.  We have to expend more effort and more resources to defeat each new evolutionary version of our opponents that nature throws at us.  Our inability to understand the exponential function comes into play once again.  Eventually we will run out of resources to fight and our opponents will put us into full retreat.  Dramatic population reductions are inevitable.  It is a matter of when it will happen, not if.  Winning in the context of conflicts within nature is to strive for balance not superiority.

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/monsanto%E2%80%99s-roundup-triggers-over-40-plant-diseases/

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2008/01/03/12-diseases-that-altered-history

Depending on how things progress, I wouldn't exactly say we are fighting a losing battle, just one that can't possibly be won, although some circumstances might allow for pathogens to overwhelm humanity's efforts to stave off the huge set of pathogens' destruction of the crops that allow us to produce food.

One thing that interests me though is how pathogens are likely to progress in the short term, particularly with regards the one threat to civilization, Wheat Rust. I am confident that within the next decade we will still be able to produce food, excluding any nasty surprising such as Methane Release, but beyond that, I think the picture becomes rather bleak.
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JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2013, 09:21:52 PM »
Theta,

I don't mean to imply we are fighting a losing battle.  As I meant to indicate here..

Quote
...We cannot win.  We also cannot lose in a total war sense (or at least a loss on that scale is highly improbable) though our actions can indeed make catastrophic losses not only possible but probable.
...

I don't foresee extinction at all (very unlikely).  But I do expect that the pendulum is going to swing as they say.  We are heading for much lower population levels eventually.

As you say below I pretty much agree.

Quote
One thing that interests me though is how pathogens are likely to progress in the short term, particularly with regards the one threat to civilization, Wheat Rust. I am confident that within the next decade we will still be able to produce food, excluding any nasty surprising such as Methane Release, but beyond that, I think the picture becomes rather bleak.

Unfortunately for us humans there are other equivalents to wheat rust out there waiting to bite us.  Rice Blast being one of the greatest scourges of the past and potentially the future.  Every important crop to human food production has serious pathogens effecting it.  That is of course part of the evolutionary process.  We make the situation worse by inappropriately messing with how nature works and we can cause the pendulum to swing in a bigger arc.  Lots of us now, not so many down the road a ways.  As you say, as time goes on the odds of food shortfalls get higher and higher.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Csnavywx

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2013, 02:34:15 AM »
EMS Shrimp Pathogen, Black Gill

You may have noticed that shrimp prices at the local market have skyrocketed lately. My local supermarket is now selling jumbo shrimp at $9-11/lb.

Quote
That fried shrimp is going to hit you in the gut, and the wallet.

Prices for the tiny crustaceans are soaring because of a disease that’s crimping supplies in Thailand, Vietnam and China, the three largest producers of shrimp in the world.

“Production is down substantially,” said Paul Brown, president of Urner Barry, a food industry market research firm that tracks shrimp prices.

The popular shellfish is now approaching a record $6 per pound, up one-third from the beginning of the year. In 2010, a pound of shrimp set consumers back $3.

Producers are blaming a disorder called Early Mortality Syndrome, which thrives in the warm waters of Southeast Asia. The disease is not believed to be communicable to humans and has been gradually worsening in the last few years.

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-shrimp-20130816,0,6405299.story#ixzz2mYkS58sX


http://www.gaalliance.org/newsroom/news.php?Cause-Of-EMS-Shrimp-Disease-Identified-107



We're not getting much help from home either:

Black Gill

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/03/shrimp-parasite_n_4207881.html

Precipitation extremes seem to help drive these outbreaks.

Quote
The size of wild shrimp hauls off the southern Atlantic coast have plunged in recent months as a parasite has made it harder for the creatures to breathe, according to state wildlife officials in Georgia and South Carolina.

Experts said they believe black gill disease, caused by a tiny parasite, contributed to a die-off of white shrimp between August and October, typically the prime catch season.

The disease does not kill shrimp directly but hurts their endurance and makes them more vulnerable to predators.

"It's like the shrimp are smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and now they're having to go run a marathon," said Mel Bell, director of South Carolina's Office of Fisheries Management.

"Shrimpers are reporting to us that they dump the bag on the deck, and the shrimp are just dead."

South Carolina shrimpers hauled in 44,000 pounds of shrimp in September, less than 6 percent of the September, 2012 catch of more than 750,000 pounds, Bell said.

The August take was down nearly 75 percent from the same month the previous year, he said.

Georgia shrimpers have caught fewer than half the number they usually catch in August, September and October, said Patrick Geer, chief of marine fisheries for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.



http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/04/3021451/maine-shrimp-season-closed/


Not pathogen related, but it contributes to the problem.

Quote
The Gulf of Maine Northern shrimp fishery has never been big. But the season, usually between December and May, helps make ends meet for Maine fisherman during otherwise difficult winter months, before the lobsters and tourists arrive. In 2012, the value of the Gulf catch was about $5.1 million. Historically, as much as 25 million pounds of shrimp have been caught in the Gulf of Maine. The last time the fishery had to shut down, way back in 1977, just 1 million pounds of shrimp were landed. Regulators closed the fishery the following year, and since then, shrimp populations have rebounded to record highs.

The problem looks bleaker this time around. The annual shrimp survey in 2012 revealed the lowest abundance of adults ever recorded in the survey’s thirty-year history.

“I think everyone was startled by what we saw in 2012, and there was a lot of pressure to close down the fishery for the 2013 season,” said John Annala, Chief Scientific Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “The survey this summer found just 20 percent of the 2012 record low, so it has fallen off incredibly sharply.”

Perhaps most worrying is the fact that juvenile shrimp have not been picked up in a survey since 2010. Northern shrimp live about five years, so the lack of younger shrimp for three years straight may mean empty nets for years to come.

“During the last ten years the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running about 2.5 degrees Celsius or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous one hundred year average,” Annala said. “We don’t know what the thermal threshold of this species is, but the Gulf of Maine has always been the southernmost extreme of their range, so we probably don’t have much wiggle room.”

Even if Northern shrimp prove themselves to be more heat tolerant than scientists predict, the warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine are proving deadly to the shrimp’s food supply, tiny zooplankton. Last spring, the usual surge in plankton never happened. Many species of plankton are also at the southernmost end of their thermal tolerance. Warmer waters are also making the Gulf more hospitable to shrimp predators like dogfish and red hake.

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2013, 06:11:01 PM »
Quote
What are the biggest future dangers faced by the western world? If asked that question, most people might mumble “terrorism”, “climate change”, “debt crisis” or “cybercrime”. But if Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, is correct, there is another terrifying issue looming over all of us: the growth of antibiotic resistance.

Quote
...The drugs companies, meanwhile, are not creating new antimicrobial medicines that could beat the bugs.

As a result, we are moving towards a world where, within a generation, the drugs simply may not work any more. Modern medicine could lose the ability to combat many illnesses or infections.
...Davies calculates that about 25,000 people a year are already dying from drug-resistant bacteria in Europe – and the toll is similar in the US. “That is almost the same number as die in road traffic accidents,” she points out...

...“No new class of anti-bacterial has been developed since 1987 . . . partly because companies can no longer make enough money out of antimicrobials to justify investing in the research needed.” ....

Sharpen that scythe.

Capitalism and a functioning medical system seem incompatible.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/8be857b4-5d3d-11e3-81bd-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2mqaXhChK
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2013, 04:46:28 PM »
This was mentioned on one of the other threads but I thought I would repeat it here as it is very relevant.

Banana fungus

Darn.  Bananas are my favorite fruit after tomatoes.

Quote
...The fungus, which has been found on several plantations, causes the incurable Panama disease, or Fusarium wilt, that rots bananas. In the 1950s, another strain of the banana fungus nearly wiped out the Gros Michel cultivar, once as common as the Cavendish variety...

...But scientists have long feared that the Tropical Race 4 strain of the fungus -- previously confined to areas of Asia and Australia -- would eventually spread around the world and wipe out the Cavendish supply, just as a previous strain did to the Gros Michel banana.

"Given today's modes of travel, there's almost no doubt that it will hit the major Cavendish crops,"
...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/banana-fungus-threatens-plantations-fruit-supply_n_4453573.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2013, 05:28:05 PM »
Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops (from Jan 2013)

Quote
In the course of analysis to identify potential allergens in GMO crops, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has belatedly discovered that the most common genetic regulatory sequence in commercial GMOs also encodes a significant fragment of a viral gene (Podevin and du Jardin 2012). This finding has serious ramifications for crop biotechnology and its regulation, but possibly even greater ones for consumers and farmers. This is because there are clear indications that this viral gene (called Gene VI) might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance.

Quote
What Podevin and du Jardin discovered is that of the 86 different transgenic events (unique insertions of foreign DNA) commercialized to-date in the United States 54 contain portions of Gene VI within them. ....

The researchers themselves concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI “might result in unintended phenotypic changes”. They reached this conclusion because similar fragments of Gene VI have already been shown to be active on their own....

In general, viral genes expressed in plants raise both agronomic and human health concerns (reviewed in Latham and Wilson 2008). This is because many viral genes function to disable their host in order to facilitate pathogen invasion. Often, this is achieved by incapacitating specific anti-pathogen defenses. Incorporating such genes could clearly lead to undesirable and unexpected outcomes in agriculture. Furthermore, viruses that infect plants are often not that different from viruses that infect humans. For example, sometimes the genes of human and plant viruses are interchangeable, while on other occasions inserting plant viral fragments as transgenes has caused the genetically altered plant to become susceptible to an animal virus (Dasgupta et al. 2001). Thus, in various ways, inserting viral genes accidentally into crop plants and the food supply confers a significant potential for harm......

Quote
...Can the presence of a fragment of virus DNA really be that significant? Below is an independent analysis of Gene VI and its known properties and their safety implications. This analysis clearly illustrates the regulators’ dilemma.

The Many Functions of Gene VI
 Gene VI, like most plant viral genes, produces a protein that is multifunctional. It has four (so far) known roles in the viral infection cycle. The first is to participate in the assembly of virus particles. There is no current data to suggest this function has any implications for biosafety. The second known function is to suppress anti-pathogen defenses by inhibiting a general cellular system called RNA silencing (Haas et al. 2008). Thirdly, Gene VI has the highly unusual function of transactivating (described below) the long RNA (the 35S RNA) produced by CaMV (Park et al. 2001). Fourthly, unconnected to these other mechanisms, Gene VI has very recently been shown to make plants highly susceptible to a bacterial pathogen (Love et al. 2012). Gene VI does this by interfering with a common anti-pathogen defense mechanism possessed by plants.
....

Quote
1) Gene VI Is an Inhibitor of RNA Silencing
 RNA silencing is a mechanism for the control of gene expression at the level of RNA abundance (Bartel 2004). It is also an important antiviral defense mechanism in both plants and animals, and therefore most viruses have evolved genes (like Gene VI) that disable it (Dunoyer and Voinnet 2006).

....This attribute of Gene VI raises two obvious biosafety concerns: 1) Gene VI will lead to aberrant gene expression in GMO crop plants, with unknown consequences and, 2) Gene VI will interfere with the ability of plants to defend themselves against viral pathogens. There are numerous experiments showing that, in general, viral proteins that disable gene silencing enhance infection by a wide spectrum of viruses (Latham and Wilson 2008).

Quote
...Is There a Direct Human Toxicity Issue?
 When Gene VI is intentionally expressed in transgenic plants, it causes them to become chlorotic (yellow), to have growth deformities, and to have reduced fertility in a dose-dependent manner (Ziljstra et al 1996). Plants expressing Gene VI also show gene expression abnormalities. These results indicate that, not unexpectedly given its known functions, the protein produced by Gene VI is functioning as a toxin and is harmful to plants (Takahashi et al 1989). Since the known targets of Gene VI activity (ribosomes and gene silencing) are also found in human cells, a reasonable concern is that the protein produced by Gene VI might be a human toxin. This is a question that can only be answered by future experiments....

Quote
....Is Gene VI Protein Produced in GMO Crops?
 Given that expression of Gene VI is likely to cause harm, a crucial issue is whether the actual inserted transgene sequences found in commercial GMO crops will produce any functional protein from the fragment of Gene VI present within the CaMV sequence.

There are two aspects to this question. One is the length of Gene VI accidentally introduced by developers. This appears to vary but most of the 54 approved transgenes contain the same 528 base pairs of the CaMV 35S promoter sequence. This corresponds to approximately the final third of Gene VI. Deleted fragments of Gene VI are active when expressed in plant cells and functions of Gene VI are believed to reside in this final third. Therefore, there is clear potential for unintended effects if this fragment is expressed (e.g. De Tapia et al. 1993; Ryabova et al. 2002; Kobayashi and Hohn 2003).

The second aspect of this question is what quantity of Gene VI could be produced in GMO crops? Once again, this can ultimately only be resolved by direct quantitative experiments. Nevertheless, we can theorize that the amount of Gene VI produced will be specific to each independent insertion event. This is because significant Gene VI expression probably would require specific sequences (such as the presence of a gene promoter and an ATG [a protein start codon]) to precede it and so is likely to be heavily dependent on variables such as the details of the inserted transgenic DNA and where in the plant genome the transgene inserted.
....

I am no PhD biologist, but the risk factor in this type of activity seems very high and my understanding of what the probabilities of unintended effects are lead me to be very...very... uncomfortable with this technology.  What can go wrong will as they say..  I believe that we will suffer dire consequences from this type of activity eventually.

http://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/regulators-discover-a-hidden-viral-gene-in-commercial-gmo-crops/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2014, 03:50:24 PM »
A twist for a change.  Human pathogens.

Quote
LONDON, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Another five people in Saudi Arabia and one in the United Arab Emirates have become infected with the potentially deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

The new infections,..... bring the total confirmed cases of the respiratory disease to 176, of which 74 have died, the United Nations health agency said.

MERS emerged in the Middle East in 2012 and is from the same family as the SARS virus. It can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia.

Although the worldwide number of MERS infections is fairly small, the more than 40 percent death rate among confirmed cases and the spread of the virus beyond the Middle East is keeping scientists and public health officials on alert.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/31/mers-saudi-arabia-uae-cases_n_4523939.html

We have talked about disease being one of the primary ways that large population drops can occur.  Whether by accident or by design.  I was reading yesterday that some doctors believe that if HIV had mutated, or does mutate, to being transmittable via the virus being exhaled into the air where others could inhale it and then become infected it would have been, or would be, an extinction event.  How's that grab one's attention?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2014, 04:42:03 AM »
Quote
...The World Health Organization says that as of mid-December, there had been 648 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 flu, reported mostly in Asia. Of that total, 384 infections have been fatal.

Experts say the virus remains hard to catch with most human infections linked to contact with infected poultry.

59% fatality rate.  One mutation away.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/h5n1-bird-flu-death-north-america-canada_n_4563879.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2014, 05:12:01 PM »
Quote
...The World Health Organization says that as of mid-December, there had been 648 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H5N1 flu, reported mostly in Asia. Of that total, 384 infections have been fatal.

Experts say the virus remains hard to catch with most human infections linked to contact with infected poultry.

59% fatality rate.  One mutation away.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/h5n1-bird-flu-death-north-america-canada_n_4563879.html

Perhaps in a single decade the human population could drop to a sustainable level. There sure wouldn't be a homeless population in the U.S.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2014, 07:29:52 PM »
Perhaps in a single decade the human population could drop to a sustainable level. There sure wouldn't be a homeless population in the U.S.

History does not tend to support the view that pandemics can enforce a sustainable population. During episodes of the black death considerable mortality figures only put a short term delay in population growth and were not even sufficient to collapse the society of the day (while I grant it must have been pressured by it).

The most that mass mortality from pandemic would do would be to briefly alleviate pressures - and you'd need far more than 60% gone in the developed nations to get resource consumption near to anything theoretically sustainable.

If all else continued as normal homelessness would return just as soon as the old unused housing stock fell into decay or was worn down and market forces were allowed to price some people out of shelter.

I think the bottom line is our species needs to solve it's problems itself - not look to external agencies to do so?

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2014, 07:46:47 PM »
Perhaps in a single decade the human population could drop to a sustainable level. There sure wouldn't be a homeless population in the U.S.

History does not tend to support the view that pandemics can enforce a sustainable population. During episodes of the black death considerable mortality figures only put a short term delay in population growth and were not even sufficient to collapse the society of the day (while I grant it must have been pressured by it).

The most that mass mortality from pandemic would do would be to briefly alleviate pressures - and you'd need far more than 60% gone in the developed nations to get resource consumption near to anything theoretically sustainable.

If all else continued as normal homelessness would return just as soon as the old unused housing stock fell into decay or was worn down and market forces were allowed to price some people out of shelter.

I think the bottom line is our species needs to solve it's problems itself - not look to external agencies to do so?

Prior to effective antibiotics, there is some evidence they could do this regionally. As we develop more and more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria we may be able to duplicate the results of the black plague.

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2014, 08:15:11 PM »
History does not tend to support the view that pandemics can enforce a sustainable population. During episodes of the black death considerable mortality figures only put a short term delay in population growth and were not even sufficient to collapse the society of the day (while I grant it must have been pressured by it).

The most that mass mortality from pandemic would do would be to briefly alleviate pressures - and you'd need far more than 60% gone in the developed nations to get resource consumption near to anything theoretically sustainable.

If all else continued as normal homelessness would return just as soon as the old unused housing stock fell into decay or was worn down and market forces were allowed to price some people out of shelter.

I think the bottom line is our species needs to solve it's problems itself - not look to external agencies to do so?

Barring the bio-terrorist I don't think anyone is trying to make this happen as a solution.  But there is strong evidence that it easily could happen.  The effect of that event could actually be a large long-term blessing.  After all the Black Death resulted in the freeing up of tremendous resources and is considered to have directly led to the Enlightenment. 

It certainly would not solve the problems of human nature which do need to change.  But breathing room might give us enough slack to work out some solutions which having 9 billion people would foreclose.

And it is not like we get a choice in the matter if nature deals us the wrong mutation.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ritter

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2014, 11:34:19 PM »
I think rather than the black plague, I'd prefer something more along the lines of World War Z or I am Legend. At least there's a fighting chance!  ;D




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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2014, 06:15:12 PM »
Zambia has a strain of tuberculosis that passes between cattle and humans.

Do you think Al Quaeda is listening?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131210071944.htm
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2014, 08:37:16 PM »
More spread of the pig virus.

Quote
A piglet-killing virus that spread last year to hog herds in 23 U.S. states has been detected in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

A farm in Middlesex County, Ontario, tested positive for the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus after a hog producer reported increasing vomiting, diarrhea and death in piglets on Jan. 22, Greg Douglas, the province’s chief veterinarian, said in a telephone interview from Guelph, Ontario. There was also a positive test on Jan. 21 at Olymel S.E.C. LP’s processing facility in Saint-Esprit, Quebec, Richard Vigneault, a spokesman, said by telephone from Montreal.....

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-24/pig-virus-found-at-two-canadian-sites-posing-disastrous-loss.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2014, 05:50:50 PM »
This is a really bad idea.

Genetic Weapon Against Insects Raises Hope and Fear in Farming

Quote
...Monsanto has applied for regulatory approval of corn that is genetically engineered to use RNAi, as the approach is called for short, to kill the western corn rootworm, one of the costliest of agricultural pests. In another project it is trying to develop a spray that would restore the ability of its Roundup herbicide to kill weeds that have grown impervious to it.....

And for use with bees against varroa mites.

Quote
RNA interference is a natural phenomenon that is set off by double-stranded RNA.

DNA, which is what genes are made of, is usually double stranded, the famous double helix. But RNA, which is a messenger in cells, usually consists of a single strand of chemical units representing the letters of the genetic code.

So when a cell senses a double-stranded RNA, it acts as if it has encountered a virus. It activates a mechanism that silences any gene with a sequence corresponding to that in the double-stranded RNA.

Scientists quickly learned that they could deactivate virtually any gene by synthesizing a snippet of double-stranded RNA with a matching sequence.

Quote
Some scientists are calling for caution, however, In a paper published last year, two entomologists at the Department of Agriculture warned that because genes are common to various organisms, RNAi pesticides might hurt unintended insects.

One laboratory study by scientists at the University of Kentucky and the University of Nebraska, for instance, found that a double-stranded RNA intended to silence a rootworm gene also affected a gene in the ladybug, killing that beneficial insect.

Concerns about possible human health effects were ignited by a 2011 paper by researchers at Nanjing University in China. They reported that snippets of RNA produced naturally by rice could be detected in the blood of people and mice who consumed the rice and could even affect a gene that regulates cholesterol. Such a “cross kingdom” effect would be extraordinary and was met with skepticism. At least three studies subsequently challenged the findings.

In a paper prepared for Tuesday’s meeting, E.P.A. scientists said RNAi presented “unique challenges for ecological risk assessment that have not yet been encountered in assessments for traditional chemical pesticides.”

So we kill the corn rootworm AND the ladybugs!   

History has shown that we should not have ever used the GM Roundup ready crops.  What do you want to bet that the same will eventually be said of this idea.  The Law of Unintended Consequences is coming once again to a theater near you.
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/business/energy-environment/genetic-weapon-against-insects-raises-hope-and-fear-in-farming.html?ref=business
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2014, 04:47:13 PM »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2014, 05:54:04 PM »
New strain of 'deadly' bird flu

Quote
Pandemic risk
 
Scientists who have studied the new H10N8 virus say it has evolved some genetic characteristics that may allow it to replicate efficiently in humans.

The concern is that it could ultimately be able to spread from person to person, although experts stress that there is no evidence of this yet.

Quote
"This case reminds us to be aware of human infections from animal influenza viruses, like the H7N9 cases in China which increase daily. Previously we did not think that H7N9 infections might be so lethal. Now we also must consider H10N8 infections as well."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26020015
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2014, 04:55:41 PM »
Ok.  Now it is cat poop getting in the rivers and flowing into the Arc tic and infecting the whales with cat parasite that can cause blindness in humans.

Quote
Toxoplasma gondii is ubiquitous at lower latitudes, and many people carry it with no ill effects. But it is a danger to pregnant women and individuals with weak immune systems.

The fact that it is now prevalent in beluga is significant because Inuit will often eat the meat raw or undercooked - something they are now being strongly discouraged from doing.

A prime reason that they eat lots of raw and partly cooked meat of course is access to cooking fuel is limited.

Quote
"The transmissible stage of this parasite is an egg-like structure," said Dr Grigg.

"The only way to deactivate it is to boil it or freeze it, so the longer you have temperatures above zero degrees Celsius, the more risk you have in being exposed to this infectious stage of the parasite. And with climate change, you are increasing your risk."

In 2012, Dr Grigg's UBC team showed that a new strain of another parasite, Sarcocystis, was responsible for killing more than 400 grey seals in the North Atlantic. This pathogen had previously been seen only in the Arctic.



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26197742
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2014, 06:14:53 PM »
JimD, Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that needs a cat to complete it's reproductive cycle. It can infect other animals like  sea otters , seals , gophers,humans and whales but they will not expel new cysts into the environment. Although toxoplasma cysts start out on land they can remain infectious in salt water and bioaccumulate in shellfish.
 Sarcocystis Neurona is disease which also has a cyst form but it is carried by opossums. Sarcocystis wasn't here on the West Coast until settlers brought opossums as pets in the great migrations. These two diseases account for about 50% of all sea otter mortalities in California with population centers like Morro Bay and Monterey accounting for the largest concentrations of beach washed mortalities.
California also has very large cat rescue organizations with feeding stations in creeks all along our coast , they even have one on Cannery Row right across the street from the Monterey Aquarium where they try to patch up the encephalitic stranded otter pups.
 Global warming and growing human population centers should be very beneficial to the expansion of opossums along both the Atlantic as well as the Pacific seaboards. Coyotes are probably the best predator left to control feral cats and opossums but we still allow unlimited Coyote hunting, no seasons or bag limits and the Calif. Fish and Wildlife makes no attempt to document coyotes killed. For a bit of a cat fight you might expect otter lovers to speak up about cat feeding stations but alas both cats and otters share the same funding streams.  NGO's do not insult their funders and there are other scapegoats to pin the otter problems on anyhow. Money being more important than solutions.     

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2014, 08:21:34 PM »
Bruce.  Thanks.  Great additional info.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2014, 05:00:57 PM »
Climate change increases risk of fusarium ear blight on wheat in central China

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Abstract


To estimate potential impact of climate change on wheat fusarium ear blight (FEB), simulated weather for the A1B climate change scenario was input into a model for estimating FEB in central China. In this article, a logistic weather-based regression model for estimating incidence of wheat FEB in central China was developed, using up to 10 years (2001–2010) of disease, anthesis date and weather data available for 10 locations in Anhui and Hubei provinces. In the model, the weather variables were defined with respect to the anthesis date for each location in each year. The model suggested that incidence of FEB is related to number of days of rainfall in a 30-day period after anthesis and that high temperatures before anthesis increase the incidence of disease. Validation was done to test whether this relationship was satisfied for another five locations in Anhui province with FEB data for 4–5 years but no nearby weather data, using simulated weather data obtained employing the regional climate modelling system PRECIS. How climate change may affect wheat anthesis date and FEB in central China was investigated for period 2020–2050 using wheat growth model Sirius and climate data simulated using PRECIS. The projection suggested that wheat anthesis dates will generally be earlier and FEB incidence will increase substantially for most locations.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aab.12107/abstract;jsessionid=3351F2B772652F2DADD71FAEA1700645.f01t01

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Fusarium Head Blight emerged in the past decade as a widespread and powerful enemy of American agriculture. This disease, also known as ‘Scab’, inflicts yield and quality losses on farms in at least 18 states. Food industries throughout the U.S. incur losses from the cost of dealing with the toxin-contaminated grain that often accompanies scab infection. Combined losses to all steps in the food system are difficult to estimate, but the bill at the farm-gate alone is estimated to exceed 9.0 billion dollars since 1990.
Quote

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusarium_ear_blight

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #36 on: March 09, 2014, 08:32:11 PM »
As Temperatures Climb, So Does Malaria

The risk area for malaria expanded between 1990 and 2005

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Warming temperatures expand the risk area for malaria, pushing the disease farther uphill in afflicted regions, according to a new study.

Infecting more than 300 million people each year, malaria emerges from a tapestry of temperature, rainfall, vectors, parasites, human movement, public health and economics.

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But that doesn't account for where people reside relative to the disease. Much fewer people live in the regions where malaria is endemic compared to the metropolises at higher elevations, many that emerged in part to avoid the disease, according to Bouma. About 37 million people -- 43 percent of Ethiopia's population -- live at elevations between 1,600 and 2,400 meters.

People who live in these highland cities, whether in Africa or South America, have much lower rates of disease resistance and don't have a history of fighting malaria. If the disease encroaches on these regions, overall morbidity would increase and the results could be devastating to millions.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/as-temperatures-climb-so-does-malaria/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2014, 07:45:17 PM »
This is sort of funny and not at the same time.  We are definitely our own worst enemy.

New 'Super Lice' Are Resistant To Traditional Treatments

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New research published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, a publication of the Entomological Society of America, shows that lice are becoming increasingly difficult to remove. That's thanks to a new strain of critter that is resistant to traditional treatments. In fact, this new strain — dubbed "super lice" — doesn't seem to respond to any of the over-the-counter lice treatments currently on the market. And these super lice are spreading more quickly than health experts had initially feared.

Maybe, like bedbugs, the time is coming once again when we will all just have to live with them again  ;D

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/super-lice-resistant-to-treatments_n_4942080.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl25%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D452949
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2014, 09:31:23 PM »
Looks like we may all have to develop our "nit picking" skills.  ;)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 05:06:30 PM by Shared Humanity »

JimD

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2014, 03:18:22 PM »
Nature fights back

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One of agricultural biotechnology’s great success stories may become a cautionary tale of how short-sighted mismanagement can squander the benefits of genetic modification.

After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to Bt corn.

Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop. The vulnerability of this corn could be disastrous for farmers and the environment...

Suppose some committed individual isolated these rootworms which are resistant and then drove around the mid-west at night spreading them here and there.   Who knows what could happen.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/03/rootworm-resistance-bt-corn/


We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2014, 04:44:07 PM »
Nature fights back

Quote
One of agricultural biotechnology’s great success stories may become a cautionary tale of how short-sighted mismanagement can squander the benefits of genetic modification.

After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to Bt corn.

Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop. The vulnerability of this corn could be disastrous for farmers and the environment...

Suppose some committed individual isolated these rootworms which are resistant and then drove around the mid-west at night spreading them here and there.   Who knows what could happen.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/03/rootworm-resistance-bt-corn/

You're beginning to sound like an environmental terrorist again.   ;D

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2014, 04:52:26 PM »
I don't like visiting this thread because it represents an area where science is so far behind the curve. It scares the hell out of me. Pathogens can lay hidden in specific ecosystems and then suddenly break out with devastating results, HIV for instance. We are almost always caught by  surprise. These pathogens can certainly attack us but they can be just as lethal for other life forms.

Rapid climate change is going to make things much worse. Recent sampling of Russian permafrost found a previously unknown pithovirus, the largest virus ever found.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25151-biggestever-virus-revived-from-stone-age-permafrost.html#.Uym8aaZOW00

As the permafrost thaws and other ecosystems go through gut wrenching change, who knows what kinds of pathogens we will release.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 06:54:50 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2014, 05:13:21 PM »
Quote
You're beginning to sound like an environmental terrorist again.   ;D

LOL I am in the process of reading Jensen's Deep Green Resistance again.  I get all excited.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Shared Humanity

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2014, 06:58:05 PM »
The last remaining stores of small pox virus are stored in a freeze dried state. Is there a possibility that nature stores them as well?

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2014, 08:20:32 PM »
The last remaining stores of small pox virus are stored in a freeze dried state. Is there a possibility that nature stores them as well?

I think that is highly possible.  It was not that many years ago scientists traveled to Nome Alaska to did up victims of the 1918 flu epidemic to obtain samples of the virus to determine its DNA and compare it to modern flus.  Since the bodies were still frozen and not decomposed they succeeded.

Is there are reason that someone could not find a similar situation for smallpox?  OH!  I found a link.

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Will climate change bring back SMALLPOX? Siberian corpses could ooze contagious virus if graveyards thaw out, claim scientists

The disease, which causes a painful blistering rash and sometimes blindness and death, was wiped out in 1979
Some experts fear defrosting bodies in Siberia could potentially begin a cycle of infection, if a person makes contact with remains
Defrosting bodies are coming to light as a result of global warming, although so far scientists have not found any remains with a virus in them

....

Pretty cool!   ;D

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2551664/Will-climate-change-bring-SMALLPOX-Siberian-corpses-ooze-contagious-virus-graveyards-thaw-claim-scientists.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ritter

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2014, 09:17:21 PM »
The thought of dying of small pox is horrifying. Poison oak is bad enough!

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #46 on: March 20, 2014, 05:10:01 AM »
The thought of dying of small pox is horrifying. Poison oak is bad enough!

I think I view small pox as a pretty fringe risk?

In general though as population rises and becomes increasingly crowded and malnourished, one expects there will be an orgy of pathogens sweeping through the human population. Antibiotic resistant bacteria, old diseases returning (I mean, look at those coming back just because people don't understand what vaccinations are for in the US and UK?), new diseases coming out...

Later one presumes the disease pool dwindles again - at least that portion of it that relies on human hosts? I guess things with natural reservoirs last as long as their natural reservoir does.

ritter

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #47 on: March 20, 2014, 10:31:29 PM »
The thought of dying of small pox is horrifying. Poison oak is bad enough!

I think I view small pox as a pretty fringe risk?

Agreed. But the photos make it look like hell!

You're correct that pathogens will eb and flow with their hosts. Imagine, the Native Americans never knew the common cold until colonization. Disease is thought to have wiped out as many as 90 percent of them. Otherwise, they probably would have sent us white boys packin!  :)

Theta

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #48 on: April 02, 2014, 01:24:58 AM »
I thought I would bump this thread with a disease that might be of interest to people, particularly in the context of peak population.

Recently an Ebola outbreak commenced in Guinea and has been dubbed the worst Epidemic, kiling 83 people so far, with an unprecedented spread

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The death toll from the worst Ebola outbreak in seven years climbed to 83 in Guinea as the aid organization Doctors Without Borders said the disease’s geographical spread marks the flare-up as unprecedented.
, (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-31/ebola-confirmed-in-liberia-as-guinea-death-toll-rises.html)

What is notable about this particular disease is the high mortality rate associated with it, reaching as high as 90%, and there is no Vaccine for this particular Virus (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/27/world/ebola-virus-explainer/?hpt=bosread). While it is isolated to Africa and can be considered ineffective in terms of becoming a worldwide pandemic, it kills those who are infected too quickly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_disease#Treatment) it is still interesting to think about the possibility of Ebola becoming an Airborne Virus which would definitely curb the population, maybe even back to sustainable levels?

References
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-31/ebola-confirmed-in-liberia-as-guinea-death-toll-rises.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/27/world/ebola-virus-explainer/?hpt=bosread

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_disease#Treatment
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DoomInTheUK

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Re: Pathogens and their impacts
« Reply #49 on: April 02, 2014, 04:20:44 PM »
I find it quite scary that it's reached the capital now. I hope they keep a lid on this beast.

I've never been so scared as when I was reading the book 'Hot Zone' about Ebola Reston. It's the book the the film Outbreak was based on. Something akin to airborne Ebola would make all our current problems fade to nothing.