Field trials of biocontrol product are paving way for aflatoxins control in Pakistan

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Team involved in collection of pre and post application samples of AflaPak™.

By Dr Sabyan Faris Honey, CABI, and Deborah Hamilton, USDA

CABI as lead implementing partner along with its technical partner, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) is working on a public-private partnership program led by U.S. company, Ingredion and its Pakistani subsidiary, Rafhan Maize to protect health and nutrition of Pakistan’s citizens by keeping food supply aflatoxin free.

Aflatoxin, produced by a poisonous fungus, is a serious threat to food security by contaminating many of Pakistan’s agricultural products, including cereal grains, chilies, dry fruits and nuts, and milk. Indeed, the average contamination in wheat and maize in Pakistan, for example, is five and sixty times, respectively, the level permitted in the US.

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New podcast from SciDev.Net focuses on cholera in Cameroon and measles in Democratic Republic of Congo

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The second edition of health, science and development podcasts from SciDev.Net focuses on cholera epidemics in Cameroon and measles outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As part of a series of podcasts funded by the Wellcome Trust and hosted by SciDev.Net Sylvie Akoussan looks at the cholera epidemic in northern Cameroon before shifting her attention to measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her report, in French, asks important questions about the quality of tap water in Africa and whether this has an impact on the health of its citizens.

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Village-based film screenings prove a popular way to reach and inform farming families in Northern Ghana

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Farmers and their families sit down to watch one of the screenings on how to grow soybean – a priority crop for many in Ghana

Duncan Sones, from the CABI GALA communications team, reflects on the first two years of the soybean campaign in Northern Ghana.

In the last two years, there have been 346 village-based film screenings of films made by CABI to show farmers how to grow soybean. Take into account the use of Facebook for a music-based video campaign, and an estimated 128,000 members of farming families in the North of Ghana have received information on soybean farming from the campaign work we have been delivering, with our partners, in the region.

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Grasshoppers v Orange Juice: insects have nearly as much antioxidant benefit as popular breakfast drink

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Crickets have 75 percent the antioxidant power of fresh orange juice, according to new study

By Mia MacGregor, CABI

A recent study by Professor Mauro Serafini from University of Teramo, Italy, revealed antioxidant levels in multiple, commercially available insects, which proved grasshoppers, silkworms and crickets to be the highest.

Found on every continent except for Antarctica, grasshoppers are a staple in the diets of animals all over the world such as birds, spiders, snakes, rodents and even other insects. However, after this study it is coming to light that these insects could be even more advantageous to the human diet than we had previously thought.

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The Anthropocene is official – but what does this mean for the future health of planet Earth?

By Jennifer Cole, Royal Holloway, University of London

In recent months, there has been increasing academic and public discourse over the continued damage modern lifestyles are inflicting on our planet. The term ‘planetary health’ has emerged as a catch-all for addressing issues as diverse as climate change, plastic pollution, antibiotic resistance, increasing meat consumption and poorly-planned urban expansion as well as a call to action to address the challenges of the Anthropocene – the ‘Age of Man’ – which recognises that the challenges the Earth currently faces are, largely, inflicted by humans. There has never been a more pressing need to ensure the scientific community has a common platform from which to research, understand and influence action on the environmental damage inflicted by the modern lifestyles enjoyed in the developed countries of the Global North.

Urban smog in China.
Photo: Pixabay

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“The warnings of impending doom are real but the timeframe is very much up for debate”

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Bananas are eaten the world over but could they really become extinct if a strain of Panama disease takes hold?

Did you know that more than 100 billion bananas are eaten every year in the world, making them the fourth most popular agricultural product? You might also be surprised to learn that Uganda has the highest average per capita consumption in the world, where residents eat an average of 226kgs of bananas per person per year.

In short, bananas are big business – a $35billion global industry as a rough estimate. But all that could come to a crashing halt if the headline in the British Daily Mail newspaper, predicting the fruit’s extinction, is to be believed. The fears are that a strain of Panama disease could wipe out the humble banana putting the food security of millions in Developing World countries that depend upon it for nutrition at risk.

CABI’s very own ‘banana man’ Dr Rob Reeder sheds expert light on the debate and argues that while the diseases is a concern it won’t spell the end of our beloved fruit just yet! Rob explains more…

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In the frame: fighting the scourge of parthenium weed in Pakistan

Parthenium in Pakistan
CABI scientists get to grips with the ‘superior weed’ Parthenium which in India costs around USD 6.7 billion per annum to clear from pastoral land.

CABI has recently shared its expertise in a new parthenium evidence note which highlights a list of recommendations to fight the highly-invasive weed can cause severe allergic reactions in humans and livestock, may harbour malaria-carrying mosquitoes, displace native plant species and reduce pasture carrying capacities by as much as 80% to 90%.

In this picture special, we commissioned photographer Asim Hafeez to capture CABI scientists in the field as part of research which is investigating whether or not the parthenium leaf beetle (Zygogramma bicolorata) can act as an effective biological control for parthenium which is threatening food security and livelihoods in Pakistan.

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