Tuesday Talks with Dr. Patterson

February 2015

February 24, 2015

Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Dorothy, Tin Man, and Scarecrow chanted “lions, tigers and bears” with a sense of trepidation as they entered Haunted Forest in the famous movie “The Wizard of Oz,” nervously anticipating an encounter with these fierce beasts. Today, we too face new threats to human health, the environment, and agricultural productivity in the form of invasive species. And, these threats are no cowardly lion. This week, beginning on February 23, marks the observance of National Invasive Species Awareness Week.

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February 17, 2015

An Arctic Apple A Day?

On February 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved for planting the Arctic apple, a genetically engineered (GE) apple that is resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised. The Arctic apple, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruit, will be available in the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties. The apples have been engineered to suppress an enzyme that causes browning. This apple joins a very short list of genetically engineered fresh produce, including sweet corn and papaya. Sweet corn plants were engineered to resist insect pests and papaya plants were engineered to resist a virus. A genetically engineered potato was also approved by USDA in November. The genetically engineered potato, named Innate and developed by J.R. Simplot, the world’s largest potato processor and supplier to McDonald’s, reduces the production of acrylamide and resists bruising, which can cause black spots. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen that is produced when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. Both of these newly developed apples and potatoes were engineered to produce traits beneficial to consumers. The critical question now is whether consumers will accept these products.

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February 10, 2015

More on Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

In this week’s Tuesday Talk, I return to an issue first discussed on September 30, 2014, antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That article is reprinted in full below. As an update, President Obama announced on January 27 that he is recommending doubling funding to address the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to $1.2 billion in his FY 2016 budget proposal.

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February 3, 2015

Avian Influenza

Much has been reported over the past couple of weeks about the spreading measles epidemic in California and Arizona, particularly as travelers made plans to attend this year’s Super Bowl in Phoenix. However, poultry producers, agriculture officials, and public health officials in Canada and the United States have been concerned for the past couple of months about another highly contagious viral infection affecting poultry and wild birds, avian influenza.

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