Saturday, December 11, 2010

FLASHBACK: Florida Citrus Industry May Use Genetically Modified Oranges to Combat Greening Disease

I certainly hope this is not true, because it would mean that I will have to limit my orange consumption in the near future. I don't know if I want to be eating some Franken-Orange or drinking Franken-juice. Read on for the full press release


News from the National Academies

Read Full Report

Date: March 23, 2010
Contacts: Jennifer Walsh, Media Relations Officer
Alison Burnette, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail



WASHINGTON -- Urgency, cooperation, and persistent management are needed among producers, processors, government officials, and scientists while solutions are developed and implemented to combat the citrus greening disease threatening Florida citrus production, says a new report from the National Research Council. Requested by the Florida Department of Citrus, the report lays out a strategic plan to control citrus greening and develop a comprehensive solution to diseases that damage citrus crops.

First detected in Florida in 2005, citrus greening is a deadly bacterial disease that affects all citrus varieties and is spread by an insect, the Asian citrus psyllid. Trees infected with the disease have yellow shoots; blotchy leaf color; reduced amount of fruit; and fruits that are abnormally small, lopsided, or "off" in flavor. After infection, the first symptoms may appear in six to 18 months, with relatively fast progression of the disease throughout an orchard. As the severity of the disease increases, citrus yield drops and could make the orchard's production uneconomical in seven to 10 years after planting. The committee that wrote the report found that citrus greening and measures taken to control it reduced Florida orange juice production by several percent by 2008, and losses will likely increase.

Although there is no cure, three-pronged programs have demonstrated some effectiveness in areas not yet severely affected by the disease, but the number of infected citrus trees in Florida continues to rise. The programs rely on production of mandated propagation material in insect-proof facilities, reduction of the Asian citrus psyllid populations, and visual identification and prompt removal of infected trees. To be effective, this program must be continued vigorously, even if the number of infected trees increases in the first years of the program. However, if the disease advances rapidly and more than a few percent of the trees in a grove must be removed every year, production will not be sustainable in today's citrus industry, the committee concluded.

The most powerful long-term management tool likely will be the cultivation of citrus trees resistant to the bacteria that cause citrus greening and to the Asian citrus psyllid, the committee said. Genetic engineering holds the greatest hope for generating trees with these traits. If bacteria-infected trees can be found and removed sooner than through visual detection, the number of infected Asian citrus psyllids and spread of the disease should drop significantly. The committee recommended research to identify indicators that could more efficiently detect infected citrus trees, especially those that may not show symptoms. Orchard test plots consisting of infected trees that show no symptoms, as well as ones with symptoms, also should be established to evaluate new scouting and therapeutic methods.

Until these approaches can be implemented, the report lays out other high-priority actions that could sustain citrus production, including:

  • creating "citrus management areas" in Florida to facilitate mitigation of citrus greening and other threats to citrus production,
  • integrating efforts to improve insecticide control of the Asian citrus psyllid,
  • expanding extension efforts that emphasize removal of infected trees in groves, and
  • encouraging homeowners to remove backyard citrus trees, particularly trees infected with citrus greening.

The committee also found that greater use of insecticide sprays, as currently required for successful suppression of the Asian citrus psyllid population, runs the risk of the insect developing resistance to the insecticides, the number of beneficial insects decreasing, and the groundwater being contaminated. More information on Asian citrus psyllid behavior and citrus greening disease are needed to improve the insect's suppression, and research should aim to develop alternative Asian citrus psyllid management strategies.

The incursion of citrus greening disease has been more effective than any prior event in bringing industry, government, and universities together in the defense of citrus production in Florida, the committee stated. However, unifying research efforts on the national and international levels, with an emphasis on strategic planning, would probably produce usable results to help mitigate citrus greening disease more rapidly. Information transfer could be enhanced by establishing an annual international research meeting and increasing Internet-accessible data banks. Coordination of research funding and project monitoring could be improved by allowing an organization, preferably an existing one, to have oversight responsibility for research and development efforts. In addition, an analysis of the economic impacts of citrus greening disease, including a cost-benefit analysis and the potential of new technological developments, should also be completed.

The report was sponsored by the Florida Department of Citrus. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter. Committee members, who serve pro bono as volunteers, are chosen by the Academies for each study based on their expertise and experience and must satisfy the Academies' conflict-of-interest standards. The resulting consensus reports undergo external peer review before completion. For more information, visit A committee roster follows.

Copies of STRATEGIC PLANNING FOR THE FLORIDA CITRUS INDUSTRY: ADDRESSING CITRUS GREENING DISEASE are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at HTTP://WWW.NAP.EDU. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

[ This news release and report are available at HTTP://NATIONAL-ACADEMIES.ORG ]

Division on Earth and Life Studies
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources


Professor Emeritus
Department of Plant Pathology
University of California

Professor Emeritus
Genomique Diversite Pourvoir Pathogene
Universite Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2

Vice President
Technology Policy and Academic Relations
Medtronic Inc. (retired)
New Brighton, Minn.

Vice President for U.S. Product Management
Monsanto Co.
St. Louis

Professor Emeritus
Department of Entomology
Ohio State University

Vice President of Operations
California Citrus Research Board

Global Director
Plant Science and External Research
Mars Inc.
Davis, Calif.

Professor and International Professor
Department of Entomology
Cornell University
Geneva, N.Y.

Professor Emeritus
Citrus Research and Education Center
University of Florida
Lake Alfred

Ralph O. Mumma Professor of Entomology, and
Department of Entomology
Center for Chemical Ecology
Pennsylvania State University
University Park

Research Plant Pathologist
Crop Diseases, Pests, and Genetics Research Unit
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
Parlier, Calif.


Study Director

1 Member, National Academy of Sciences

2 Member, National Academy of Engineering

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pennsylvania Food & Convenience Store Merchants Prepare Plans with State DOA to Control Food During Emergencies

"Control the food and you control the people."

I didn't say the previous statement. That statement was allegedly made by Henry Kissinger. I cannot say the below emergency food guidance program has a nefarious purpose. However, despite its private nature, the program's State-affiliation gives Pennsylvania the opportunity to control the food system through the State's private food merchants and retailers in cases of emergencies.

Also if Pennsylvania doesn't take control of the food during one of the aforementioned emergencies, the Feds will likely become involved due to Homeland Security's responsibility for food at the federal level.

See also: Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9: Defense of United States Agriculture and Food



Monday, December 6, 2010
Randy St. John;
(717) 760‐5912

Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and Pennsylvania Convenience Store Council Partner with Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture On Emergency Preparedness Guidance

Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidance Created for Emergency Managers, Wholesale Distributors and Retail Food Merchants

CAMP HILL – The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) and Pennsylvania Convenience Store Council (PCSC) have partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to create Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidance for wholesale distributors and retail food merchants that can be leveraged during times of emergency.

This guidance establishes a foundation upon which Pennsylvania’s food distribution network and PDA as well as the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) can build an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship. This state‐level initiativeassists with on‐going efforts between the private food sector and county and local emergency authorities.

In times of emergency, supplies such as rapidly distributable food, over‐the‐counter (OTC) drugs and pharmaceuticals, as well as other consumer products, are critical, and depending on the scope of the emergency, can also be in short supply. Keeping our critical distribution systems moving in an emergency maintains stability, public health and confidence for the state’s 12 million residents.

PFMA and PCSC members understand that the mission of PDA, and ultimately PEMA, is to ensure the safety of its citizens by working to develop and coordinate a unified, all‐hazards planning and response effort for any emergency event.

In April 2008, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture began the process of drafting the document. The Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidance for Pennsylvania’s food retailers and wholesale distributors was approved for dissemination in November.

“When disaster strikes, the food system is often impacted, therefore partnerships built before a disaster strikes are key to the state’s short and long‐term response and recovery and PDA’s work on this project was essential in creating the guidance,” said Randy St. John, senior vice president of Association Services at PFMA.

This Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidance details the appropriate processes, procedures and communication protocols that the state can use to integrate the private food distribution sector into a coordinated all‐hazards emergency response plan by:

  • Utilizing procedures and communication protocols to support real‐time, two‐way sharing of situational awareness and incident management between the private fooddistribution sector and state government during an incident of state or national significance. Situational awareness may include but is not limited to: power outage projections; major road closure information; critical weather service alerts; and general two‐way coordination;
  • Streamlining paperwork for calls for emergency assistance and Hours of Service (HoS) waivers;
  • Conducting coordinated response plan training with private food sector, emergency response and sector specific agencies at the state, county and local levels and more.

The Emergency Preparedness and Response Guidance is available to any food retailer or distributor in Pennsylvania. The guidance is not limited to the PFMA and PCSC membership. To request copies of the guidance and to get involved in the two‐way communication network, please contact Annette Knapp at

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association/Pennsylvania Convenience Store Council is a statewide trade association representing more than 1,100 retail food and convenience stores, wholesale distributors and other associated business members throughout Pennsylvania.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

If You Ate a Sandwich at Jerry's Deli in Westwood, CA in November, 2010, You May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis A

County of Los Angeles - Public Health
Public Health News
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 806 · Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 240-8144

For Immediate Release:

December 1, 2010
Employee at Westwood Jerry’s Deli Diagnosed with Hepatitis A

Public Health taking steps to reduce the risk of the illness spreading

LOS ANGELES – Today the Department of Public Health announced that an employee of Jerry’s Deli in Westwood, located at 10925 Weyburn Ave., has been diagnosed with acute hepatitis A. The hepatitis A virus is spread by close physical contact and through fecal contamination of food or drink, so Public Health recommends that patrons who ate sandwiches at the restaurant or who ate catered sandwiches from this location on November 18, 21, 23 or 24 should receive an immune globulin (IG) shot or a hepatitis A vaccination no later than 14 days after their exposure to prevent or reduce illness.

“So far, we have not received notice of any cases resulting from exposure at this establishment, and the risk of transmission from this patient is considered low,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “We are actively investigating the situation and working with the management of Jerry’s Deli to prevent any possible spread of the disease.” Health officials recommend that patrons who ate hot or cold sandwiches at the Westwood location of Jerry’s Deli or who ate catered sandwiches from this location on the dates specified above receive an IG shot or hepatitis A vaccination to prevent or reduce illness. No other food or drink is considered to be at risk. IG is a shot of concentrated antibodies made from donated blood, providing temporary protection; while the hepatitis A vaccine helps your body develop its own antibodies, providing longer-lasting protection.

Shots must be received within 14 days of exposure in order to reduce or prevent illness. Only those patrons ate sandwiches at the restaurant or who ate catered sandwiches from this location on November 18, 21, 23 or 24 need to take steps to protect their health.

Please note that only the Westwood branch of Jerry’s Deli is affected by this Health Alert.

Persons who have been vaccinated against hepatitis A or have received IG within the last three months or have ever had laboratory confirmed infection with the hepatitis A virus also do not need an injection of IG.

Affected residents are encouraged to seek IG or vaccine through their personal physicians. The Department of Public Health will make IG and vaccine available through certain clinics through December 8. A list of these Public Health clinics, dates and locations can be found on the DPH website at or by calling the LA County Info line at 211 from any landline or cell phone within the county.

Persons who had sandwiches from Jerry’s Deli in Westwood between November 12 and November 17 may have been exposed to hepatitis A but it is too late to receive IG or vaccine to prevent illness. If you experience any of the symptoms of hepatitis A, please contact your doctor. There is no risk to any person who ate food prepared after November 24.
Signs and symptoms of hepatitis A

Persons who had sandwiches from Jerry’s Deli in Westwood between November 12 and November 17, or those who had sandwiches between November 18 and November 24 and did not receive a protective shot, may develop hepatitis A. The incubation period for hepatitis A is two to seven weeks. If you may have been exposed, watch for the following symptoms:

  • jaundice (a yellow color to the eyes or skin)
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abdominal cramps
  • dark-colored urine
  • fatigue and light-colored bowel movements

If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician.

Close contacts, including household and sexual partners, are at risk for acquiring hepatitis A from an infected person. It is important to be diagnosed promptly to ensure that treatments with IG or vaccine are effective. Routine vaccination and thorough handwashing with soap and hot water after using the toilet and before handling food are the most effective factors in preventing the spread of the disease.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit, visit our YouTube channel at, or follow us on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.

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Video of X-37B Robotic Space Plane's Return to Earth at Vandenberg Air Force Base

The U.S. Air Force's mysterious X-37B robot space plane made a successful return to Earth today, landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Click the picture above to view the video or click here to view it.