Disease

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media file photo

Fears of a highly contagious and deadly pig disease have prompted officials to cancel the World Pork Expo in Iowa this June.

Brian Grimmett / Harvest Public Media

In the wake of Sept. 11, federal officials said the United States needed a new, state-of-the-art facility to defend against bioterrorism and stop diseases that could devastate the country’s farm economy and threaten human lives. They chose Manhattan, Kansas, as the site of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. 

Abigail Beckman / 91.5 KRCC

Starting in the late 1980s, rainbow trout in Colorado began dying off because of a parasite that causes whirling disease. By 1997, wild rainbows in the state had all but vanished.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In January 2018, a handful of farmers at a major Iowa pork industry gathering attended a session on the threat of foreign animal diseases. A year later, several dozen people showed up, spurred by the march of African swine fever across China.

“This risk of African swine fever is real,” veterinarian Craig Rowles told the crowd at the Iowa Pork Congress. “And as producers, we need to be very cognizant of that.”

A Nebraska researcher examines experimental wheat grown in a greenhouse.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media file photo

Scientific research could deliver transformative technologies to the food system over the next decade, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Advances in things like gene editing, data sharing and microbiology could make crops more resilient to climate change and livestock more environmentally sustainable.

New Kansas Initiative Looks To Track Cattle Diseases

Jul 10, 2018
Angie Haflich / High Plains Public Radio

Kansas is taking the lead on a project aimed at tracking cattle disease with the hopes of protecting the U.S. beef industry.

A sign at one of the gates of Sunset Farms in Harris, Iowa, which was infected with avian flu in 2015.
File: Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Though there have not been any U.S. cases of the strain of avian flu that has killed more than 140 people in China this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s head veterinarian says the agency is making preparations to combat the deadly virus in case it reaches North America. 

The USDA’s Dr. Jack Shere stresses that it's impossible to predict how far a particular bird flu strain may travel or mutate. In the meantime, however, scientists are on alert. 

In a hog barn in rural Iowa, veterinarian Paul Thomas’s approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig’s back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

“He’s just sleepy,” Thomas says, and by the time he’s spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

In the next room, Thomas hears something different.

Why Scientists Disagree On RoundUp’s Cancer Risk

Nov 15, 2016

After dueling reviews of research studies, scientific panels from the U.S. government and the World Health Organization are having a hard time agreeing whether glyphosate, the most common weed killer in the United States, can cause cancer. Known by the brand name RoundUp, glyphosate is sprayed on farm fields and lawns all across the country.

With the legal battle raging over the implementation of controversial Obama Administration clean water rules, the next president is likely to face the daunting task of formulating a comprehensive plan to cut-down on water pollution from Midwest farms.

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