Scientists genetically modify cows to remove their horns in health and safety bid to cut the risk of injury to farmers and other animals: Program starts in the Midwest of America, within weeks.

  • Genetically  modified cow will be same as other livestock minus the horns
  • Scientists  to use sophisticated gene-editing technique to add extra DNA
  • Will mean  farmers no longer have to burn off horn buds in young  animals

By  James Rush

PUBLISHED: 19:58 EST, 27  April 2013 |  UPDATED: 20:06 EST, 27 April 2013

Scientists are genetically altering cows so  they have no horns in a bid to make them safer.

The genetically modified dairy cow will be  identical in every way to other livestock but without the horns, in order to cut  the risk of injury to farmers, walkers and other animals.

The scientists are using gene-editing  techniques to insert an extra DNA, which is known to halt horn growth in other  breeds of cattle, into the geneome of holsteins, the world’s highest-production  dairy animals.

The genetically modified dairy cow will be identical in every way to other livestock but without the horns (file picture)The genetically modified dairy cow will be identical in  every way to other livestock but without the horns (file picture)

Geoff Simm, professor of animal breeding who  chairs the government’s Farm Animal Genetic Resources Committee, has championed  the idea in a Defra report on livestock genetics, The Sunday Times has  reported.

The idea is based on research at Scotland’s  Rural College, near Edinburgh, which allows scientists to make precise changes  to DNA.

Scientists at Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute  are working with Scott Fahrenkrug, professor of genetics at the University of  Minnesota, who is looking to create cows without horns by using the  technique.

He has taken a strip of the DNA which  suppresses horn growth and inserted it into cells from a holstein bull called  Randy.

He told The Sunday Times: ‘We have already  made millions of modified cells. Next we will use cloning technology to turn  some of those cells into 40 embryos and implant them into a herd of surrogate  mothers, in the Midwest of America, within weeks.’

The animals will be clones of Randy, minus  the horns, while their offspring should also be hornless.

The scientists are using gene-editing techniques to insert an extra DNA, which is known to halt horn growth in other breeds of cattle, into the geneome of holsteins (file picture)The scientists are using gene-editing techniques to  insert an extra DNA, which is known to halt horn growth in other breeds of  cattle, into the geneome of holsteins (file picture)

Fahrenkrug said: ‘Creating hornless dairy  cows would decrease animal suffering, protect people and cut  costs.’

Farmers have managed to breed out the ability  to grow horns in beef cattle, such as Aberdeen Angus, but it has been found to  be impossible in dairy breeds without affecting milk yields.

It has left many farmers having to burn off  the horn buds when the animals are young, a painful procedure for the  cows

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2315960/Scientists-genetically-modify-cows-remove-horns-health-safety-bid-cut-risk-injury-farmers-animals.html#ixzz2RmxiZalv Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Harvard stripped of quiz championships for cheating

Harvard University has been stripped of a string of US quiz championship titles after a cheating scandal was uncovered by organisers.

Championships awarded to the Ivy League college, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2009 and 2010, and two separate titles from 2011, were revoked and handed to the original runners-up.

Championships awarded to the Ivy League college, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2009 and 2010, and two separate titles from 2011, were revoked and handed to the original runners-up.  Photo: ALAMY
Jon Swaine

By , New York

5:50PM GMT 24 Mar 2013

A competitor from America’s most prestigious university was found to have accessed a website that listed questions that were to be asked in the National Academic Quiz Tournament (NAQT).

For three successive years, Andy Watkins, a member of Harvard’s “A” team, viewed pages that displayed the first 40 characters of forthcoming questions, NAQT officials said.

Mr Watkins, who graduated in 2011, had basic access to the tournament database because he wrote questions for a schools quiz competition as well as competing in the national university-age contest.

Championships awarded to the Ivy League college, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2009 and 2010, and two separate titles from 2011, were revoked and handed to the original runners-up.

Organisers said in a statement that while they had “neither direct nor statistical evidence” that Harvard had directly benefited from the security breach, “it goes against competitors’ expectations of fair play.”

The tournament sees teams of four students competing to answer questions chosen from across the “entire spectrum of a college curriculum” as well “current events, sports, and popular culture” in a set time limit. Teams that win their regional championship qualify for the national Intercollegiate Championship Tournament.

During the 2011 contest, Mr Watkins impressed observers by buzzing in to correctly answer a question on the history of Thailand, securing the defeat of the University of Minnesota in the final round.

Mr Watkins, who had gone on to work for the quiz tournament after graduating, admitted accessing the web pages in a statement, yet insisted: “I did compete in good faith”. He has resigned from NAQT.

“I regret my breaches of question security,” he said. “It will surprise no one that my mental health as an undergraduate was always on the wrong side of ‘unstable’, but that does not excuse my actions, nor does it ameliorate the damage done.

“I hold my team-mates from all three years to be champions today exactly as they were yesterday,” he went on. “I hope that they will consider themselves in the same light, even if my indiscretions mean that the record books cannot.”

Michael Arnold, a member of the University of Chicago team that was retrospectively awarded the 2010 Division I championship due to Mr Watkins’s cheating, said he was glad justice had been done.

“It’s too bad that the other members of those Harvard teams have been hurt by Andy’s actions, since they’re good citizens within the quiz bowl community,” he told Insider Higher Education.

The quiz cheating scandal was uncovered when the performance of a student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suddenly improved dramatically, prompting curious organisers to inspect the server logs from its questions database.

They found that Mr Watkins and students from three other universities had accessed the question pages. One championship title was stripped from each of the other three colleges.

NAQT said in its statement that it had launched a review of security following the discovery of cheating in previous years. Organisers have found “no signs of similar behaviour” in the approach to this year’s tournament, it said.

The saga has caused fresh embarrassment for Harvard soon after what was described as the biggest academic cheating scandal in the university’s history. Some 125 politics students were investigated by university authorities after similarities were noted in their take-home final examination essays.

Last month Michael Smith, the Dean of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said that “more than half” of those investigated were forced to “withdraw from the college for a period of time”.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9951267/Harvard-stripped-of-quiz-championships-for-cheating.html

Antibacterial agent used in common soaps ” When exposed to sunlight, triclosan and its chlorinated derivatives form dioxins “

Antibacterial agent used in common soaps found in increasing amounts in freshwater lakes

University of Minnesota study raises new questions about use of triclosan

Contacts: Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering, rzurn@umn.edu, (612) 626-7959 Matt Hodson, University News Service, mjhodson@umn.edu, (612) 625-0552

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (01/22/2013) —When people wash their hands with antibacterial soap, most don’t think about where the chemicals contained in that soap end up. University of Minnesota engineering researchers do.

A new University of Minnesota study determined that the common antibacterial agent, called triclosan, used in soaps and many other products is found in increasing amounts in several Minnesota freshwater lakes. The findings are directly linked to increased triclosan use over the past few decades.

In addition, the researchers found an increasing amount of other chemical compounds, called chlorinated triclosan derivatives, that form when triclosan is exposed to chlorine during the wastewater disinfection process. When exposed to sunlight, triclosan and its chlorinated derivatives form dioxins that have potential toxic effects in the environment. These dioxins were also found in the lakes.

The study was just accepted by the journal Environmental Science and Technology and is published online.

The study’s results raise new questions about the use of triclosan. Triclosan was patented in 1964 and introduced into the market in the early 1970s. Since then it has been added to many consumer products including soaps and body washes, toothpastes, cosmetics, clothing, dishwashing liquid, and kitchenware. Beyond its use in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found no evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provide any benefit over washing with regular soap and water. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency continue to study the effects of triclosan on animal and environmental health.

“It’s important for people to know that what they use in their house every day can have an impact in the environment far beyond their home,” said the study’s lead author William Arnold, a civil engineering professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “Consumers need to know that they may be using products with triclosan. People should read product labels to understand what they are buying.”

Arnold said this research can also help chemical manufacturers understand some of the potential long-term impacts from triclosan on the environment.

The researchers studied the sediment of eight lakes of various size throughout Minnesota with varying amounts of treated wastewater input. They gathered sediment cores about one meter long from each of the lakes. After slicing the cores into several segments about two to four centimeters in thickness, they worked with researchers at the Science Museum of Minnesota’s St. Croix Watershed Research Station to date the sediment. Some sediment segments dated back more than 100 years. Professor Arnold’s group and researchers from Pace Analytical Services in Minneapolis used high tech methods to analyze the chemicals contained in the sediments over time.

The research found that sediment collected from large lakes with many wastewater sources had increased concentrations of triclosan, chlorinated triclosan derivatives, and triclosan-derived dioxins since the patent of triclosan in 1964. In small-scale lakes with a single wastewater source, the trends were directly attributed to increased triclosan use, local improvements in treatment, and changes in wastewater disinfection since the 1960s. When UV disinfection technology replaced chlorine in one of the wastewater treatment plants, the presence of chlorinated triclosan derivatives in the sediments decreased.

In the lake with no wastewater input, no triclosan or chlorinated triclosan derivatives were detected. Overall, concentrations of triclosan, chlorinated triclosan derivatives, and their dioxins were higher in small lakes, reflecting a greater degree of wastewater impact.

“The results were similar to other recent studies worldwide, but this was the first broad study that looked at several different lakes with various wastewater treatment inputs,” Arnold said. “While wastewater treatment removes the vast majority of triclosan, these systems were not designed with this in mind. We need to continue to explore all aspects of this issue.”

The lakes studied were Lake Pepin, Lake St. Croix, Lake Winona, East Lake Gemini, Lake Shagawa, Duluth Harbor, Lake Superior, and Little Wilson Lake. The research was funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The National Science Foundation provided additional funds.

In addition to Arnold, the research team included University of Minnesota civil engineering graduate student Cale Anger; Charles Sueper, HRMS technical director at Pace Analytical Services Inc.; earth sciences graduate student Dylan Blumentritt; Kristopher McNeill, a professor from the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics at ETH-Zurich, Switzerland and former University of Minnesota chemistry professor; and Daniel Engstrom, director of the St. Croix Watershed Research Station, Science Museum of Minnesota and adjunct professor of earth sciences at the University of Minnesota.

To read the full research paper, visit the Environmental Science and Technology website.

At the University of Minnesota, researchers are exploring lasting solutions to environmental challenges. These game-changing efforts are the impetus behind MnDRIVE, the university’s proposal for a new, ongoing partnership with the state to enhance Discovery, Research, InnoVation and Economic development. For more information, visit www.govrelations.umn.edu/biennial-budget.html.

Scientists urge ministers: tell truth on ‘over-hyped’ flu vaccine

 

Jeremy Laurance

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The flu vaccine given to millions of people each year in Britain is “over-promoted” and “over-hyped” and the protection it offers against the seasonal illness has been exaggerated, scientists claim.

Flu causes thousands of deaths, mainly among the elderly, in the UK each year but the vaccine is of limited effectiveness, especially for older people. One expert told The Independent the Government should be held accountable for “wasting taxpayer’s money” on the annual £120m national vaccination campaign.

But scientists stressed it was still worth getting the jab as it is currently “the best we have”.

A report published by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, US, says the misperception that existing flu vaccines are highly effective has become a barrier to developing new and better vaccines.

It also risks undermining public trust in mass immunisation campaigns if Governments fail to tell the truth about the vaccine.

Michael Osterholm, director of CIDRAP and professor of Environmental Health Sciences, said: “I have been a strong proponent of vaccination in general and flu vaccine in particular for many years. I still recommend its use as the best we have. But we have over-promoted this vaccine. For certain age groups in some years its effectiveness has been severely limited relative to what has been previously reported.”

The vaccine is offered free on the NHS to everyone in the UK over 65, to patients of all ages with chronic illnesses such as asthma, to pregnant women and front-line healthcare workers in what is an annual bonanza for drug companies.

Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show 60.8 per cent of over-65s have had their flu shot this winter and 37.5 per cent of those with chronic illnesses. Among pregnant women uptake is running at 29.8 per cent with healthcare workers at 28.4 per cent.

Flu vaccine has to be re-formulated every year on the basis of an educated guess by experts who attempt to match it with the strains of the rapidly mutating flu virus likely to be circulating that season.

A 2010 review by the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of experts, concluded that the vaccine had little impact in years, like the winter of 2011-12, when the vaccine and the viruses were mismatched.

On average, flu vaccine shortened the illness by about half a day but did not reduce the number of people hospitalised, it said.

Tom Jefferson, an author of the Cochrane reviews, said: “We have conducted four reviews since the late 1990s. We calculated that you need to vaccinate between 33 and 99 people to prevent one case of flu, depending on the match between the vaccine and the circulating strains of the virus. I want people held accountable for wasting taxpayer’s money on these vaccines. The reviews have been available for years and nothing has been done.”

Influenza vaccine was first introduced in the 1940s and protection rates of between 70 to 90 per cent were frequently cited. The CIDRAP report found that the flu shots given in the UK, using trivalent inactivated flu vaccine, provided 59 per cent protection in healthy adults aged 18 to 64 but there were no good studies demonstrating its effectiveness in adults of 65 and over.

Professor Osterholm, an US public health adviser whose report “The Compelling need for game changing influenza vaccines” was published last month, said: “Our report is very comprehensive. It took three years, we reviewed 12,000 peer reviewed papers and interviewed 88 experts from around the world. We took no money from the private sector or governments – we had no conflicts of interest.

“The most striking outcome is that we have over-stated the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. That has had a very dampening effect on the development of new vaccines.”

“It is important to state: we support using flu vaccine in all age groups. Even among the over 65s although it is of limited benefit it is still a benefit. We surely have overstated the level of protection but it still offers some protection.”

Douglas Fleming, of the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Influenza Monitoring Unit in Birmingham, said: “No vaccines are perfect. Last year’s flu vaccine was a bad match with the circulating strains. Its effectiveness varies from year to year and with different age groups. Amongst the elderly it is widely recognised that its effectiveness decreases. Better vaccines are needed for this reason particularly. It has been over-hyped by many people.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccine had been reviewed within the last year. “There is no doubt that the flu programme saves lives. We strongly encourage scientists and the vaccine industry in their efforts to develop new and more effective flu vaccines and do not agree that these efforts are being discouraged. Each year thousands of people die after catching flu and we urge everyone that is in an at risk group to get the vaccine.”

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/scientists-urge-ministers-tell-truth-on-overhyped-flu-vaccine-8336184.html#

Health food supplement may curb compulsive hair pulling

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Nick Hanson hans2853@umn.edu 651-235-2265 University of Minnesota

Patients with the disorder, known as trichotillomania, reported feeling much improved after taking the supplement

MINNEAPOLIS/ ST. PAUL (July 6, 2009) – University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have discovered that a common anti-oxidant, widely available as a health food supplement, may help stop the urges of those with trichotillomania, a  disorder characterized by compulsive hair-pulling.

Fifty people enrolled in a double-blind 12 week study; half were given N-Acetylcysteine, an amino acid commonly found in health food supplements. The average age of patients who enrolled was about 34, and most started pulling hair compulsively by the age of 12. Patients were given 1,200 mg of N-Acetylcysteine every day for six weeks. For the following six weeks, the dosage was increased to 2,400 mg per day. After nine weeks, those on supplement had significantly reduced hair-pulling. By the end of the 12 week study, 56 percent reported feeling much or very much improved, while only 16 percent on the placebo reported less pulling.

The study is published in the July, 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

“Trichotillomania is compulsive in the sense that people can’t control it. People feel unable to stop the behavior even though they know it is causing negative consequences,” said Jon Grant, M.D., J.D., a University of Minnesota associate professor of psychiatry and principal investigator of the study. “Some people don’t even know they are doing it.”

Those who have trichotillomania compulsively or habitually pull their hair to the point of noticeable loss. It is most commonly associated with women, but men can also be affected, and pulling can occur anywhere on the body. Grant believes 2 to 4 percent of the general population is impacted by trichotillomania on some level.

“These are people who have tried all kinds of things that have never worked,” Grant said. “The reality is that if you pull hair and it is on a noticeable part of the body, people are really disabled by this. It’s not easy to go out in public if people are noticing your bald spots. Self esteem is a huge problem. This supplement may offer hope.”

The study is significant on another level because it’s one of the first studies of compulsive behaviors to look at lowering levels of glutamate – a chemical that triggers excitement – in the brain to curb harmful behavior rather than serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical most commonly linked to compulsive behavior. This supplement affects levels of glutamate in a specific area of the brain, making it easier for patients to put the breaks on their harmful behavior.

For that reason, Grant believes glutamate modulators such as N-Acetylcysteine may be applicable to other disorders, addictions, and compulsive behaviors.

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The study is funded by The University of Minnesota Medical School.

Fast-Acting Cyanide Antidote Discovered: thiocyanate

Posted for filing 2008 study

A tailings pond containing cyanide-laden wastes covers acres at a gold mine near Elko, Nevada. Cyanide poisoning is a risk for anyone who is exposed to the chemical. A new antidote that can be taken orally and works in less than three minutes is particularly important for industrial workers, firefighters and victims of terrorism, who might receive large doses of the chemical. (Credit: Gary Mowad, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

ScienceDaily (Jan. 1, 2008) — University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design and Minneapolis VA Medical Center researchers have discovered a new fast-acting antidote to cyanide poisoning. The antidote has potential to save lives of those who are exposed to the chemical — namely firefighters, industrial workers, and victims of terrorist attacks.

Current cyanide antidotes work slowly and are ineffective when administered after a certain point, said Steven Patterson, Ph.D., principal investigator and associate director of the University of the Minnesota Center for Drug Design.

Patterson is developing an antidote that was discovered by retired University of Minnesota Professor Herbert Nagasawa. This antidote works in less than three minutes — meeting the United States Department of Defense “three minute solution” standard.

“It’s much, much faster than current antidotes,” Patterson said. “The antidote is also effective over a wider time window. Giving emergency responders more time is important because it’s not likely that someone will be exposed to cyanide near a paramedic.”

The antidote was tested on animals and has been exceptionally effective, Patterson said. Researchers hope to begin human clinical trials during the next three years.

The antidote is also unique because it can be taken orally (current antidotes must be given intravenously) and may be administered up to an hour prior to cyanide exposure.

Cyanide is a rapid acting toxin that inhibits cellular respiration — it prevents the body from using oxygen. This means it rapidly shuts down many of the fundamental biochemical processes the body needs to survive. Symptoms of acute cyanide poisoning include headache, vertigo, lack of motor coordination, weak pulse, abnormal heartbeat, vomiting, stupor, convulsions, coma, and even death.

When released in an enclosed area, cyanide can be particularly deadly and impact a victim very quickly. Survivors of cyanide poisoning are also at risk of short-term memory loss and development of a Parkinson’s-like syndrome.

Because cyanide occurs naturally in pitted fruits, some grasses and other foods, and the body has mechanisms to detoxify small amounts in the diet. The new antidote takes advantage of this natural detoxification pathway by providing the substance the body naturally uses to convert cyanide to non-toxic thiocyanate.

The research will be featured in the Dec. 27, 2007 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

The theory and proof of concept for the research originated from Nagasawa, who has since retired from the University of Minnesota, but Patterson continues this work at the Center for Drug Design.

The study is being funded by a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The epigenetics of increasing weight through the generations ” resulting in amplification of obesity across generations “

Re-Post from 2008

Contact: Dipali Pathak
pathak@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine

Overweight mothers give birth to offspring who become even heavier, resulting in amplification of obesity across generations, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in Houston who found that chemical changes in the ways genes are expressed – a phenomenon called epigenetics — could affect successive generations of mice.

“There is an obesity epidemic in the United States and it’s increasingly recognized as a worldwide phenomenon,” said Dr. Robert A. Waterland, assistant professor of pediatrics – nutrition at BCM and lead author of the study that appears in the International Journal of Obesity. “Why is everyone getting heavier and heavier? One hypothesis is that maternal obesity before and during pregnancy affects the establishment of body weight regulatory mechanisms in her baby. Maternal obesity could promote obesity in the next generation.”

Waterland and his colleagues studied the effect of maternal obesity in three generations of genetically identical mice, all with the same genetic tendency to overeat. One group of mice received a standard diet; the other a diet supplemented with the nutrients folic acid, vitamin B12, betaine and choline. The special ‘methyl supplemented’ diet enhances DNA methylation, a chemical reaction that silences genes.

“We wanted to know if, even among genetically identical mice, maternal obesity would promote obesity in her offspring, and if the methyl supplemented diet would affect this process,” said Waterland. “Indeed, those on the regular diet got fatter and fatter with each generation. Those in the supplemented group, however, did not.”

“We think DNA methylation may play an important role in the development of the hypothalamus (the region of the brain that regulates appetite),” said Waterland.

“Twenty years ago, it was proposed that just as genetic mutations can cause cancer, so too might aberrant epigenetic marks – so called ‘epimutations.’ That idea is now largely accepted and the field of cancer epigenetics is very active. I would make the same statement for obesity. We are on the cusp of understanding that,” he said.

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Waterland is also a researcher at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at BCM and Texas Children’s Hospital. Others who contributed to this research include Kajal Tahiliani, Marie-Therese Rached and Sherin Mirza of Baylor College of Medicine and the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston and Michael Travisano of the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.

Funding for this work came from the National Institutes of Health, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

When the embargo lifts, this report is available at the website of the http://www.nature.com/ijo/index.html.

For more information on basic science research at Baylor College of Medicine, please go to http://www.bcm.edu/fromthelab/.

Plants uptake antibiotics

Contact: Sara Uttech suttech@soils.org 608-268-4948 Soil Science Society of America

Routine feeding of antibiotics to livestock may be contaminating the environment

MADISON, WI, JULY 09, 2007- Scientists at the University of Minnesota have been evaluating the impact of antibiotic feeding in livestock production on the environment.  This particular study, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), evaluated whether food crops accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with manure that contains antibiotics.  Results from the study are published in the July-August 2007 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.  The research was also presented in Indianapolis, IN at the Annual Soil Science Society of America Meeting in November 2006.

Plant uptake was evaluated in a greenhouse study involving three food crops: corn, lettuce, and potato.  Plants were grown on soil modified with liquid hog manure containing Sulfamethazine, a commonly used veterinary antibiotic.  This antibiotic was taken up by all three crops.  Concentrations of antibiotics were found in the plant leaves.  Concentrations in plant tissue also increased as the amount of antibiotics present in the manure increased.  It also diffused into potato tubers, which suggests that root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, and radishes, that directly come in contact with soil may be particularly vulnerable to antibiotic contamination.

The ability of plants to absorb antibiotics raises the potential for contamination of human food supply.  However, Satish Gupta, group leader notes “The adverse impacts of consuming plants that contain small quantities of antibiotics are largely unknown”.  Consumption of antibiotics in plants may cause allergic reactions in sensitive populations, such as young children.  There is also concern that consuming antibiotics may lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which can render antibiotics ineffective.

Holly Dolliver, the lead scientist in this study, notes that antibiotics consumed by plants may be of particular concern to the organic farming industry.  Manure is often the main source of crop nutrients for organic food production, since regulations prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers.  According to the USDA, producers must manage animal materials in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops by residues of prohibited substances, which includes antibiotics.  However, manures containing antibiotics are not formally banned or prohibited.

Further research is needed to investigate the presence of antibiotics in edible parts of plants, especially vegetables that are consumed raw, and how different plants absorb different antibiotic compounds.  Research is ongoing at the University of Minnesota to further investigate the potential fate and transport of antibiotics introduced to the environment from livestock operations.

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To learn more, view the Journal of Environmental Quality article abstract at:http://jeq.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/36/4/1224

The Journal of Environmental Quality, http://jeq.scijournals.org is a peer-reviewed, international journal of environmental quality in natural and agricultural ecosystems published six times a year by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). The Journal of Environmental Quality covers various aspects of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, including terrestrial, atmospheric, and aquatic systems.

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) www.agronomy.org, the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) www.crops.org and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) www.soils.org are educational organizations helping their 11,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop and soil sciences by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services

*Reposted for Filing

Butter flavoring in microwave popcorn, thought safe for food industry workers, is respiratory hazard

Contact: David Sampson ajpmedia@elsevier.com 215-239-3171 Elsevier Health Sciences

New findings reported in the American Journal of Pathology

Philadelphia, PA, August 13, 2012 – The ingredient 2,3-pentanedione (PD), used to impart the flavor and aroma of butter in microwave popcorn, is a respiratory hazard that can also alter gene expression in the brain of rats.  Manufacturers started using PD when another butter flavoring, diacetyl, was found to cause bronchiolitis obliterans, a life-threatening and nonreversible lung disease in workers who inhaled the substance.  New research on PD with implications for “popcorn workers’ lung” is published in The American Journal of Pathology and indicates that acute PD exposure has respiratory toxicity which is comparable to diacetyl in laboratory animals.

“Our study demonstrates that PD, like diacetyl, damages airway epithelium in laboratory studies. This finding is important because the damage is believed to be the underlying cause of bronchiolitis obliterans,” says lead investigator Ann F. Hubbs, DVM, PhD, DACVP, Health Effects Laboratory Division of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV.  “Our study also supports established recommendations that flavorings should be substituted only when there is evidence that the substitute is less toxic than the agent it replaces.”

The study included groups of rats exposed for six hours to different concentrations of PD, a comparable concentration of diacetyl, or filtered air. Since the investigators observed signs of delayed toxicity, they exposed additional rats to PD, and further microscopically examined the brains, lungs, and nasal tissues from these rats 0-2 hours, 12-14 hours, and 18-20 hours after exposure. investigators then evaluated changes in gene expression in discrete brain regions.

The investigators found respiratory epithelial injury in the upper nose, comparable to that caused by diacetyl that progressed through 12 to 14 hours post-exposure.  They also found that PD exposure caused necrosis and apoptosis in the olfactory neuroepithelium and activation of caspase 3, a protein that plays a role in cell death, in axons of olfactory nerve bundles. Signs consistent with neurotoxicity included increased expression of the inflammatory mediators, interleukin-6 and nitric oxide synthase-2, as well as decreased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A in the olfactory bulb, striatum, hippocampus, and cerebellum.

“Our study is a reminder that a chemical with a long history of being eaten without any evidence of toxicity can still be an agent with respiratory toxicity when appropriate studies are conducted,” says Dr. Hubbs. “It suggests several intriguing potential mechanisms for the toxicity of inhaled volatile α-diketones, reveals mRNA changes in the brain, documents olfactory neurotoxicity, and clearly demonstrates that the remarkable airway toxicity of diacetyl is shared with its close structural relative, PD.”

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Artificial butter flavoring ingredient linked to key Alzheimer’s disease process

Public release date: 1-Aug-2012

A new study raises concern about chronic exposure of workers in industry to a food flavoring ingredient used to produce the distinctive buttery flavor and aroma of microwave popcorn, margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products. It found evidence that the ingredient, diacetyl (DA), intensifies the damaging effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The study appears in ACS’ journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Robert Vince and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak explain that DA has been the focus of much research recently because it is linked to respiratory and other problems in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories. DA gives microwave popcorn its distinctive buttery taste and aroma. DA also forms naturally in fermented beverages such as beer, and gives some chardonnay wines a buttery taste. Vince’s team realized that DA has an architecture similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain — clumping being a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. So they tested whether DA also could clump those proteins.

DA did increase the level of beta-amyloid clumping. At real-world occupational exposure levels, DA also enhanced beta-amyloid’s toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory. Other lab experiments showed that DA easily penetrated the so-called “blood-brain barrier,” which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. DA also stopped a protective protein called glyoxalase I from safeguarding nerve cells. “In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to DA, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by DA,” say the researchers.

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The authors acknowledge funding from the Center for Drug Design (CDD) research endowment funds at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 164,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Hormone-mimicking chemicals cause inter-species mating

BPA in rivers leads to breakdown of fish species barriers

Hormone-mimicking chemicals released into rivers have been found to impact the mating choices of fish, a new study has revealed. The controversial chemical BPA, which emits oestrogen-like properties, was found to alter an individual’s appearance and behavior, leading to inter-species breeding. The study, published in Evolutionary Applications, reveals the threat to biodiversity when the boundaries between species are blurred.

The research, led by Dr Jessica Ward from the University of Minnesota, focused on the impact of Bisphenol A (BPA) on Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta) and Red Shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) fish which are found in rivers across the United States. BPA is an organic compound used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics. It is currently banned from baby bottles and childrens’ cups in 11 U.S. states.

“Chemicals from household products and pharmaceuticals frequently end up in rivers and BPA is known to be present in aquatic ecosystems across the United States,” said Ward. “Until now studies have primarily focused on the impact to individual fish, but our study demonstrates the impact of BPA on a population level.”

The team collected individuals of both species from two streams in the state of Georgia. The species were kept separated for 14 days in tanks, some of which contained BPA. On the 15th day behavioral trials were undertaken as individuals from different tanks were introduced to each other.

The scientists monitored any physiological or signalling differences the individuals displayed, such as colour, as well as any behavioral differences during courtship, such as mate choice.

BPA disrupts an individual’s endocrine system, which controls the release of hormones. This impacts behavior and appearance, which in turn can lead an individual to mistake a newly introduced species as a potential mate.

This process poses long-term ecological consequences, especially in areas threatened by the introduction of invasive species. BPA and other hormone-mimicking chemicals can escalate the loss of native biodiversity by breaking down species barriers and promoting the invader.

“Our research shows how the presence of these manmade chemicals leads to a greater likelihood of hybridization between species,” concluded Ward. “This can have severe ecological and evolutionary consequences, including the potential for the decline of our native species.”