Japan Places Tariff on U.S. Beef

by Grant Hodge

In case you did not see the news lately, the Japanese Ministry of Finance just announced a tariff increase on beef from multiple countries including the U.S. According to a Japan Today article the increase would raise the tariff by 11.5%. This is unfortunate for U.S. beef producers that are already battling low prices and a growing large supply of beef. There is potential that this tariff could have a large effect on U.S. beef prices since Japan is the largest buyer of U.S. chilled and frozen beef. I found it interesting that Australia and Mexico will not be affected by this tariff because of already established trade deals with Japan (Japan Today).  This should create a great opportunity for these countries to grow their beef businesses.

There is a lot of controversy and hurt feelings over the passage of this tariff, and rightfully so. However it is important to respect Japan’s decision to raise the tariff in order to protect their farmers. They have to look out for their own first and make sure they are taking care of their farmers because if we were in their shoes, we would probably do the exact same. However for the U.S. beef market’s sake I dearly hope that other countries do not follow suit with this action.

This issue is important and something that I do not think gets the attention it deserves sometimes. From an economic perspective, if prices were to fall this would lead to herd reduction and less demand for corn and soybeans for feed. If crop prices fall this can affect a number of things in the marketplace like fuel for example that we need and use every day. It is amazing how the whole market is connected and how a major change in one place can change everything else down the line. To me this emphasizes the importance of issues such as this, the unfortunate part about it is that there isn’t too much that we can do about it.

Works Cited

Japan beef tariff hike threatens trade relations: U.S.Japan Today. N.p., 28 July 2017. Web. 30 July 2017.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Genetically Modified Organisms

usda organiic and Non GMO labelsby Abigail Hill, Sustainable Plant Systems Agronomy major

In today’s world, there is budding curiosity and stigma around genetically modified organisms.  The labels above have crept their way into grocery stores shelves and into the minds of the concerned public. The nonGMO and Organic industries have presented genetically modified foods as dangerous to the public. The public is led to believe that genetically modified organisms are dangerous and unhealthy options. Mothers are concerned for the health and wellbeing of their children. But, are nonGMO and organic options truly better for you? In today’s world, there is budding curiosity and stigma around genetically modified organisms.  The labels above have crept their way into grocery stores shelves and into the minds of the concerned public. The nonGMO and Organic industries have presented genetically modified foods as dangerous to the public. The public is led to believe that genetically modified organisms are dangerous and unhealthy options. Mothers are concerned for the health and wellbeing of their children. But, are nonGMO and organic options truly better for you?

1. Genetically Modified Organisms have been around for centuries

The first forms of genetic modification started as “selective breeding” and “artificial selection” in animals as well as early plant varieties. For example, modern dog breeds were developed through the selective breeding of wolves and their offspring. Through trials of breeding and crossings, that took hundreds of years, the multitude of modern dog breed varieties were developed.

2. Genetically Modified Organisms are in foods that no one suspects

By selective breeding and genetically modifying plants in the early ages, we have manipulated these in-edible plants into the fruits and vegetables we know today. For example, the banana used to be full of seeds. It was bred to produce more fruit and no seeds. Another example would be seedless grapes, modern watermelon, and my previous example of corn. According to the Ohio State University Extension, about 80-95% of today’s cotton, corn, and soybeans are genetically engineered. These crops have been modified to increase insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The benefits from these modifications include less insect and herbicide damage, increasing potential yield. According to the Ohio State University Extension, about 80-95% of today’s cotton, corn, and soybeans are genetically engineered. These crops have been modified to increase insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The benefits from these modifications include less insect and herbicide damage, increasing potential yield.

3. Are nonGMO and organic foods healthier?

According to the Ohio State University Extension, about 80-95% of today’s cotton, corn, and soybeans are genetically engineered. These crops have been modified to increase insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. The benefits from these modifications include less insect and herbicide damage, increasing potential yield.

4. Animals have been genetically modified

GMO’s to create breeds and target specific traits in animals. For example, race horses have been bred from the regular horse.  The genes selected to make the racehorse we know today are higher muscle content and speed. By choosing the traits that are desired, we are able to develop an animal with traits that will fit our needs and desires.  Another concern from the public, is not only the animals being modified, but also the animals consuming the modified foods. The majority of livestock consume a diet of corn, soybeans, and hay or grass. Corn and soybeans are two of the most widely genetically modified crops. The European Union published a separate study to examine the health of the animals consuming feeds containing genetically modified crops. The study examined one-hundred billion animals examined after eating genetically modified crops. This took place over twenty-five years of research. They found “no unfavorable trends in livestock health and productivity. In fact, during the period studied, animal health and growth efficiency actually improved.”

Conclusion

The thorough studies of the European Union concluded that there are no substantial differences between genetically modified and nonGMO crops in terms of food safety or environmental impacts. They also concluded that GMOs are no more risky than conventional plant breeding technologies. The process of engineering crops and animals is not a new idea, and has been put into practice for hundreds of years. It is one’s own personal opinion on what they decide to put into their bodies.

About the Author

Abigail Hill is a student at The Ohio State University, majoring in Sustainable Plant Systems: Agronomy, with a minor in Agricultural Systems Management. She is the Vice President of the Ducks Unlimited club on campus. She was born and raised on a family farm in central Ohio.  She was as an Ohio State Extension Intern in Pickaway and Madison Counties.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

True or False: Bananas Going Extinct

Cavendish banana

Cavendish banana

by Kori Goldberg, Master in Environment and Natural Resources

Introduction: The banana is one of the world’s most popular fruits but the cultivar we are familiar with does face an uncertain future. Interestingly, this would not be the first time society has had to adopt a new mass-produced banana cultivar.

Background: The Gros Michel cultivar, considered high quality because of its resilience, longer shelf-life, creaminess, and better taste, was the most popularly grown banana until the 1950s (Stergiopoulos et al., 2016; Prisco, 2016). By 1965 nearly every Gros Michel plantation in the world had succumbed to the fungal disease Fusarium wilt (Stergiopoulos et al., 2016). The soil-dwelling fungus targeted the roots and vascular system making it impossible for banana plants to uptake necessary water and nutrients. Producers found a reasonable substitute in the resilient Cavendish cultivar, the banana we recognize today as the standard supermarket banana.

Cavendish susceptibility: Banana species of diverse colors, shapes, and sizes exist but the Cavendish banana is a monocrop, meaning each banana of this species is genetically identical. While this helps with economies of scale for producers and reduces the chance of imperfections, low genetic diversity does make Cavendish bananas extremely susceptible to threats (Ordonez et al., 2015).

Main Concern: Although the Cavendish cultivar was initially chosen for its immunity to Panama Disease, a new strain called Tropical Race 4 has caused recent problems for growers in Australia, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia but has not yet reached Latin America, the largest producer and exporter of bananas (Ferdman, 2015). Cavendish bananas have also shown recent susceptibility to Black Sigatoka, a fungus that causes leaf deterioration resulting in poor photosynthesis and lower quality fruit (Cordoba and Jansen, 2014; Stergiopoulos et al., 2016).

Management: Both fungi do not respond well to fungicide application. Growers routinely apply fungicide more than 50 times per growing season to manage Black Sigatoka (Stergiopoulos et al., 2016).  Intense fungicide use can be expensive and may cause impacts to the environment, human and wildlife health, and make the fungus more resistant. Since Tropical Race 4 grows and remains in the soil it is difficult to eradicate once it has established on a plantation.

The best management option remains prevention. Soil transfer from banana plantations should be limited as much as possible and plants, materials, and equipment should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent contamination. The development of new, genetically diverse banana cultivars is also recommended by scientists to increase resilience (Ordonez et al., 2015).

Bottom Line: The Cavendish banana is at risk for eventual commercial extinction if management of these fungi is not successful.

 Kori Goldberg is a student at The Ohio State University pursuing her Master’s in Environment and Natural Resources. In her free time she loves to be outside, whether climbing, kayaking, or enjoying green spaces in Columbus.

For more information, see Worse Comes to Worst: Bananas and Panama Disease—When Plant and Pathogen Clones Meet, available at http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1005197.

Works Cited (MLA)

Cordoba, Diana, and Kees Jansen. “Same Disease-different research strategies: Bananas and Black Sigatoka in Brazil and Colombia.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 35.3 (2014): 345-61. Web.

Ferdman, Roberto A. “Bye, bye, bananas.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 04 Dec. 2015. Web. 24 July 2017.

Ordonez, Nadia, Michael F. Seidl, Cees Waalwijk, André Drenth, Andrzej Kilian, Bart P. H. J. Thomma, Randy C. Ploetz, and Gert H. J. Kema. “Worse Comes to Worst: Bananas and Panama Disease—When Plant and Pathogen Clones Meet.” PLOS Pathogens 11.11 (2015): n. pag. Web.

Prisco, Jacopo. “Why bananas as we know them might go extinct (again).” CNN. Cable News Network, 08 Jan. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Stergiopoulos, Ioannis, Andre Drenth, and Gert Kema. “Can science stop looming banana extinction?” CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Oct. 2016. Web. 23 July 2017.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Missing Fish

by Ethan Dolby, Economics

History

Since the dawn of time human civilizations have mostly turned to regions close to a large water source like oceans, lakes and rivers as a location to live. This is because large bodies of water provide many benefits. First and foremost they provide easy access to water which after all is one of the essential ingredients to human life. Bodies of water also provide ample amounts of food in the form of fish. In fact, in regions near a large body of water, harvesting fish is one of the biggest economic drivers. There needs to be captains for the ships, deckhands to catch the fish. Dock workers who maintain the ships and clean the fish. Factory workers who process and export the fish to other areas. Finally, restaurants, hotels, bars etc. that provide amenities to the thousands of workers and their families who sustain themselves through fishing.

The Aral Sea

Perhaps one of the biggest indicators of how important fishing can be is the curious case of the Aral Sea in the Middle East. Prior to 1960 the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world boasting an area of 26,000 square miles. Every year the fishing industry in the Aral Sea would pull out nearly 44,000 tons of fish. The fishing industry provided tens of thousands of jobs to workers in the area and food to millions of people.

Disaster

Sadly, various environmental and human actions led to the desiccation of the Aral Sea following the 1960’s. Today the Aral Sea has shrunk to just over 6,000 square miles making it a fraction of its former self. The shrinking of the Aral Sea led to numerous complication for the fish of the region. First, the fish lost thousands of miles of habitat including shallow breeding grounds that are essential to the reproductive process of the local fish. Next as the total volume of the Aral Sea began to decrease dramatically the salinity level of the water rose dramatically. The salinity level rose from 10 parts per million to nearly 100 parts per million. This ten times increase in salt levels cause many of the local fish species to die off. They simply were not built to handle their changing environment. In order to maintain the fishing industry the government introduced new species to the Aral Sea which began to outcompete local fish for resources.

Results

Prior to the shrinking there were 27 native fish species from seven different families leading to 44,000 tons of fish harvested in the Aral Sea each year. By the mid 1980’s 26 native fish species were absent in the Aral Sea. The fishing industry came to an abrupt halt producing 0 tons of fish each year. Having no fish to harvest led to tens of thousands of people losing their jobs and way of life. Even worse the poverty rate in some areas of the region rose up to 83% of the population. Truly staggering numbers that can help paint a picture of how important the sustainability and health of our aquatic ecosystems are. The Aral Sea should be a stern example of the care we humans need to have for other species that we share this world with.

Bio

Growing up spelunking, hiking and camping I developed a love for nature and science. Driving a hybrid car and conscientious resource management is how I make sure I am doing my part to help the environment.  I initially went to Ohio State to become either a chemical or environmental engineer. Through my classwork however I discovered a love for economics. I love getting the chance to combine two of my passions.

Citations

Ermakhanov, Z. K., et al. Mar. 2012 “Changes in the Aral Sea Ichthyofauna and Fishery during the Period of Ecological Crisis.” Lakes & Reservoirs: Research & Management, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 3-9. EBSCOhost

Thompson. 2008.  “Impacts to Life in Region.” The Aral Sea Crisis. Web. 29 June 2017.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Killer Algae

by Lexi Dean, Animal Science major

Invasive Species: Killer Algae
Scientific Name: Caulerpa taxifolia

Killer Algae is native to the Indian Ocean range but is now established in the Mediterranean Sea and was found in Southern California in 2000. It was introduced to the environment by net fouling, ballast water and released from aquariums.

Killer Algae can form new fronds and stems from mere segments of itself. It can produce up to one centimeter of vegetative per day. It is invasive because it crowds out and replaces native algae and sea grasses. Other negative effects of  Caulerpa taxifolia are that is spreads rapidly and. is very toxic. The herbivores that feed on the native algae now have to feed on the toxic algae. Fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, and sea birds are adversely affected by this nonindigenous invasive species.

A certain strand of Mediterranean Caulerpa taxifolia was selectively bred for aquarium trade and therefore is extremely tough. It is tolerant of many temperatures and light conditions. It grows on many different substrates and can grow in waters as deep as one-hundred meters down.This seaweed can live up to ten days out of water and can spread with just one torn leaf.

Each stem can grow up to nine feet in length. Copper sulfate can be used to control the Killer Algae. In California, a small invasion was controlled by covering it with tarps that were weighted down by sandbags and then pumping chlorine bleach into the enclosure. While this method did prove successful it did in turn kill any marine life that was stuck to the algae or in the enclosure.

We can help prevent future introduction or spread by not using seaweed in aquariums, disposing of unused bait and seaweed, inspecting your boat, trailers, anchors and other water sport equipment and placing all organisms in a trash bag, not back into the water.

Sources

Caulerpa taxifolia (RIDNIS Project). N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2017. <http://www.ridnis.ucdavis.edu/caulerpataxifolia.html>.

Killer Algae :: Caulerpa Taxifolia. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2017. <http://www.rimeis.org/species/caulerpa.html>.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Avocados are more popular than our current politicians- this is the reason why

By Kaylyn Callahan, Animal Science and Public Health student

We all know that avocados are one of the most popular superfoods on the market right now. They have been reaching out of their boundaries as just a dip at football watch parties and now can be found in meals that aren’t normally considered healthy. Avocados can be found in ice cream, cookies, and other desserts to lessen the guilt of consuming these goodies.

In an article by Huffington post, journalist Julie Thompson took a look on Google Trends and found that avocados were searched more than some our current politicians. Here is a chart comparing the search for avocados compared to Paul Ryan, our current speaker for the House of Representatives:

I am not particularly surprised about this. No matter your opinion on our current political climate, researching every update on the US government is not a priority when you haven’t decided what you’re going to do with your avocados for dinner before they become overripe.

www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/avocados-more-popular_us_597a2537e4b0da64e8779264

But here is something else you may not know- avocados have been having an impact on politics right now. Due to the increased consumption of avocados, producers are having difficulties keeping up with high demand.

In Michoacan, the avocado capital of the world, suppliers have been using forest land to expand their orchards and production in an effort to increase their supply to the United States. The expansion of land means local citizens are closer to the action, including cross fire with the pesticides used. Local citizens have complained about their contact with the chemicals through aerosol inhalation or their water supply being affected. While we are reaping the health benefits of avocados, there are others who are gaining health problems. I would advise that when you are searching for last minute recipes, took a look for your local avocado producers- it may help out other communities.

Although avocados have been winning a popularity contest against most of political leaders, there is one person who has them beat- Donald Trump. Which is also not surprising.

Find the popularity contest here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/avocados-more-popular_us_597a2537e4b0da64e8779264

Kaylyn Callahan is a fourth year student at Ohio State studying Animal Science and Global Public Health. She is from Cleveland, Ohio but splits her time living in Columbus, Ohio. Currently she fosters service dogs in training and hopes to combine her interests in food safety and love for animals.

Works Cited

Thompson, Julie “In A Popularity Contest Between Avocado And Our Top Politicians, This Is Who Wins” Huffington Post. Web. 30 July 2017.

AFP Jujucato, Mexico. Mexico’s avocado boom causing deforestation and illnesses in local population, experts say. The Independent. 2016 Nov 4.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Introducing Science to Kids in the most exciting way possible: why this is so important

By Megan Baisden, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology (EEOB) graduate

As a kid, I had many different science teachers. Some were amazing, but many lacked creativity and passion. I found my love for science when my 10th grade science teacher got a bunch of class pets and let us observe and record data about them while also teaching us their biology. We had a corn snake, actual young crocodiles, fish, spiders, and crabs. It was my favorite class to go to everyday. Something about having hands on experience with animals while learning all about them really sparked my passion for science.

I think we could be doing more to encourage younger generations to love science. This could be helped by having classes specifically aimed towards hands on activities and technology for upcoming teachers. This way, they can all see the possibilities of getting kids engaged in what they’re learning and enlightening them to how exciting test tubes and experiments can be.

By utilizing technology more in teaching the sciences, we can be more visual and exciting. iPad and computers are all the rage in education right now and we should be making our own apps and finding more things to teach kids with visuals and games. By making it exciting, you can make them want to learn more.

In conclusion, if we want to see amazing things from our future generations we need to give them the best scientific upbringing as possible. We have the means to do it and at this point it’s about implementing all our opportunities in the most interesting ways possible. By letting it be interesting, we open doors for creativity and science to merge together even more. Think of all the kids who found their way to science even though they had boring teachers… and imagine the possibilities if science is made into the fun class in school.

About the author

My name is Megan and I am a continuing education student who recently graduated with a B.S. in Evolutionary Biology and Ecology. I have two cats, a job at OSU hospitals, and a passion for getting people engaged in the sciences.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Edible Gold

by Ethan Dolby, Economics

Sadly, there is much negativity surrounding genetically engineered crops in this day and age. Misleading news articles and a general lack of education regarding the subject casts a cloud that looms over potential genetic engineering breakthroughs. Golden Rice is one marvel of genetic engineering that has been able to break through the cloud of negativity in route to improving the lives of millions of people.

Golden rice is a genetically modified strain of rice that has been altered to promote the synthesis of vitamin A within the seeds of the plant. Although vitamin A can be found in the leaves of traditional rice plants, there are no naturally occurring strains that contain vitamin A inside the seeds.

Why is vitamin A important?

  • Promotes healthy vision
  • Aids cell division
  • Essential for reproduction
  • Supports bone, skin and immune health

Vitamin A is one of the most important micro nutrients that humans intake through their diet. Vitamin A deficiencies cause blindness and even death. The problem is especially prevalent in populations of malnourished children who are more susceptible to the problems associated with vitamin deficiencies. Children’s immune systems are already weaker and thus lack of vitamin A causes them to contract many harmful diseases.

Each year nearly twelve million children die of vitamin A deficiencies worldwide. Many of those children come from the four hundred million rice consuming poor. Golden rice provides an unparalleled opportunity to save the lives of millions.

Economic Sustainability

What makes golden rice the best solution for rice consuming countries is the sustainability. Many of the countries facing these vitamin A problems are either too poor or too large to incorporate large scale government programs to provide relief to their populations. It would cost small countries like Nepal two million dollars annually to provide vitamin A supplementation.

Golden rice doesn’t require any complicated or reoccurring logistical problems once they have been implemented into the countries crop production. While many countries have adopted the crop, other are still holding back due to cultural or personal reservations.

What people need to understand is that there has been no documents illnesses derived from genetically engineered crops. Not only are they safe to eat but they clearly can provide some wonderful health benefits. Genetically engineered crops have the potential to solve many of the world’s problems. Golden rice is a great example.

Bio:

Growing up spelunking, hiking and camping I developed a love for nature and science. Driving a hybrid car and conscientious resource management is how I make sure I am doing my part to help the environment. I initially went to Ohio State to become either a chemical or environmental engineer. Through my classwork however I discovered a love for economics. I love getting the chance to combine two of my passions.

Citation:

Courtesy Www.openwebdesign.org / Modified: Jorge Mayer.

Golden Rice Project.” Vitamin A Deficiency. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2017.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.