Pesticide linked to slow metabolism, obesity, and diabetes

The study is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol.

The study is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol.

Researchers found that DDT exposure slowed birth metabolism, lowered cold tolerance.

July 30, 2014
By Kat Kerlin
University of California, Davis

Exposure of pregnant mice to the pesticide DDT is linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and related conditions in female offspring later in life, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis.

The study, published online July 30 in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to show that developmental exposure to DDT increases the risk of females later developing metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that include increased body fat, blood glucose and cholesterol.

DDT was banned in the United States in the 1970s but continues to be used for malaria control in countries Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Diseases - animals, Ecosystems & biodiversity, Pest management, Pollutants | Leave a comment

Decoding breast milk secret reveals clues to lasting health

By Matt Daigle - Mothering.com. Via Wikimedia Commons.

International breast-feeding logo” by Matt Daigle – Mothering.com. Via Wikimedia Commons.

What makes mother’s milk so good?

July 24, 2014
By Diane Nelson
University of California, Davis

Evidence shows that breast-feeding is good for babies, boosting immunity and protecting them from a wide range of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular disease.

How does it provide those benefits? What makes mother’s milk so good?

“Mother’s milk is the Rosetta Stone for all food,” said Professor Bruce German, director of the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute. “It’s a complete diet, shaped over 200 million years of evolution, to keep healthy babies healthy.” Continue reading

Posted in Dairy & milk, Families & children & youth, Health, Nutrition | Leave a comment

Global food safety agreement signed by China and UC Davis

Agreement extends over the next five years, calls for collaborative research projects.

July 23, 2014
University of California, Davis

UC Davis will be partnering with Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Yangling, Shaanxi. (Tom Watts/UC Davis graphics and China map from Wikimedia Commons)

UC Davis will be partnering with Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Yangling, Shaanxi. (Tom Watts/UC Davis graphics and China map from Wikimedia Commons)

Officials from China’s Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Shaanxi province, and the University of California, Davis, today signed a memorandum of agreement that lays the groundwork for establishing the Sino-U.S. Joint Research Center for Food Safety in China.

The signing ceremony was held in the city of Yingchuan, China, during a meeting between high-level officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Breeding & biotechnology & genomics, Demographics & population growth, Food & beverages, Food processing, Food safety, Food science, Food security, Food systems, International programs, Plant science, Policy, Sustainability, Vegetable crops | Leave a comment

UC Davis African plant breeding academy

AfPBA students, instructors, and guest speakers from CIMMYT and GCP.

AfPBA students, instructors, and guest speakers from CIMMYT and GCP.

University of California, Davis
July 21, 2014

The African Plant Breeding Academy (AfPBA) held the second two-week training session for its first class at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya, June 15–28, 2014. The AfPBA is a continuing education program organized by the University of California, Davis, and an initiative of the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC). Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Breeding & biotechnology & genomics, Endangered & invasive species, International programs, Plant science, Students & education | Leave a comment

UC Davis Alumna receives major award

Navina Khanna was one of five recipients of the 2014 JBF Leadership Award. (Image credit: jamesbeard.org)

Navina Khanna was one of five recipients of the 2014 JBF Leadership Award. (Image credit: jamesbeard.org)

Congratulations to UC Davis Alumna Navina Khanna for receiving a JBF Leadership Award from the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit culinary arts organization that celebrates America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire.

The JBF Leadership Award recognizes individuals who work toward solving the complex challenges related to food sustainability, access, and public health. The award celebrates the people helping to create a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food world. Continue reading

Posted in Awards & rankings, Cultural studies, Demographics & population growth, Food security, Health, Outreach, Policy | Leave a comment

Color-changing petunias on their way

Nikolai Braun, co-founder and chief scientific officer of a new biotech company, Revolution Bioengineering, is working on color-changing petunias. (photo: Revolution Bioengineering)

Nikolai Braun, co-founder and chief scientific officer of a new biotech company, Revolution Bioengineering, is working on color-changing petunias. (photo: Revolution Bioengineering)

University of California, Davis
July 17, 2014

Petunias come in so many vibrant varieties; it’s hard to decide which color to buy. One day soon, you might not have to choose. Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Breeding & biotechnology & genomics, Plant science, Technology | Leave a comment

California’s groundwater use during drought threatens future supply

A well in Kings County pumping groundwater into an irrigation system. (Photo credit: Thomas Harter)

A well in Kings County pumping groundwater into an irrigation system. (Photo credit: Thomas Harter)

 “A significant number of regions in California won’t have groundwater available in another generation or two if we continue business as usual.” — UC Davis scientists Thomas Harter and Helen Dahlke

By Pamela Kan-Rice – University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
July 16, 2014

Nearly two-thirds of the state’s water supply is currently being pumped from wells that are tapping into California aquifers.

In the special edition of California Agriculture released today (July 16), UC Cooperative Extension specialist and UC Davis professor Thomas Harter and UC Davis professor Helen Dahlke call attention to the stress being placed on California’s aquifers as well as the catastrophic consequences of not having this hidden resource available in future droughts. Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Drought, Environment & natural resources, Hydrology, Policy, Water use & quality & irrigation | Leave a comment

Planting power: Edible landscape gardens

Carli Hambley, a sustainable agriculture and food systems major, works in the edible gardens. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Carli Hambley, a sustainable agriculture and food systems major, works in the edible gardens. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

University of California, Davis
July 16, 2014

If you had a super power that allowed you to transform into any plant, what plant would you turn into?

Interns working for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden’s edible landscape project pondered this at one of their more recent weekly meetings. They used to answer more mundane questions about their internship, but over the course of their time together, they’ve become a really tight-knit group and the questions have had to get a little more creative in order to eke out some new information about each other.

I recently interviewed one of these interns, Carli Hambley, about her experiences working on the project, and here’s what she had to say.

Carli is a sustainable agriculture and food systems major, just finishing up her freshman year at Davis. Before she even got to campus, emails about opportunities to volunteer and intern were being sent her way. Most she ignored, but the subject line of one in particular caught her eye, an email advertising the brand-new, yearlong edible landscaping internship. She says it looked like a cool opportunity that would be an interesting way to get to know her future campus and community.

Interns on this project work to design and build gardens that fall under the category of “edible landscaping,” which is, as you might expect, the act of growing food in gardens.

6715ca30-c725-4b64-bc2d-b38eda4c684aHowever, the project itself involves a lot more than just horticulture. Carli says that a lot of the work has been “out of the ground.” She’s had to talk to and coordinate with a lot of people to get her garden up and running. As this was the first year the internship had been offered, everyone involved was still figuring out how to get things organized. Therefore, interns spoke and worked with food experts outside the community to create a training packet for future use. The interns knew that food was already being grown and used on campus, so they knew there was a way to make this project run smoothly.

Their hard work has definitely paid off. Just a few weeks ago, Carli and her co-gardener got to start putting plants in the ground. Their garden is located near the Robert Mondavi Institute buildings on campus, in the Good Life Garden. They are growing squash, marigolds, peppers, eggplants, and beans and have built trellises for some of the plants to climb up.

The food from their garden will hopefully be going to the UC Davis Pantry, which provides meals to students in need.

Monica Bruce, a history major, works in the intern garden plot of the Good Life Garden of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Monica Bruce, a history major, works in the intern garden plot of the Good Life Garden of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Carli says that, beyond the horticultural skills she’s gained, the most important thing she’s learned while interning has been how to take initiative. The autonomy she has had over her project and the creativity she has put into it have taught her how to trust herself, push her ideas forward, and make them work. However, Carli claims that her absolute favorite thing about the project has been having the chance to work with other hard-working and passionate people

Carli will be continuing on next year as an internship coordinator. The application process for the next school year has just finished up and a number of new interns will be joining them in the fall.

Stacey Parker, a horticulturist at the Arboretum, is in charge of the edible landscape interns.

(This article was written by Kelsey Walker, an anthropology student at UC Davis, June 20, 2014, on Aggie Voices.)

Media contacts:

Posted in Food systems, Land use, Landscapes, Nursery & floral, Plant science, Students & education, Sustainability, Vegetable crops | Leave a comment

Drought impact study: California agriculture faces greatest water loss ever seen

View of Folsom Lake and Mormon Island during a drought from Beal’s Point in Granite Bay, California in February 2014. Credit: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Groundwater key to state’s agricultural resilience and vulnerabilities.

By Kat Kerlin
University of California, Davis

July 15, 2014

A new report from the University of California, Davis shows that California agriculture is weathering its worst drought in decades due to groundwater reserves, but the nation’s produce basket may come up dry in the future if it continues to treat those reserves like an unlimited savings account.

The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences study, released today at a press briefing in Washington, D.C., updates estimates on the drought’s effects on Central Valley farm production, presents new data on the state’s coastal and southern farm areas, and forecasts the drought’s economic fallout through 2016.

The study found that the drought — the third most severe on record — is responsible for the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture, with river water for Central Valley farms reduced by roughly one-third.

Groundwater pumping is expected to replace most river water losses, with some areas more than doubling their pumping rate over the previous year, the study said. More than 80 percent of this replacement pumping occurs in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin.

The results highlight California agriculture’s economic resilience and vulnerabilities to drought and underscore the state’s reliance on groundwater to cope with droughts.

The “California’s agricultural economy overall is doing remarkably well, thanks mostly to groundwater reserves,” said Jay Lund, a co-author of the study and director of the university’s Center for Watershed Sciences. “But we expect substantial local and regional economic and employment impacts. We need to treat that groundwater well so it will be there for future droughts.”

Other key findings of the drought’s effects in 2014:

  • Direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion (revenue losses of $1 billion and $0.5 billion in additional pumping costs).  This net revenue loss is about 3 percent of the state’s total agricultural value.
  • The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion.
  • The loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs related to agriculture represents 3.8 percent of farm unemployment.
  • 428,000 acres, or 5 percent, of irrigated cropland is going out of production in the Central Valley, Central Coast and Southern California due to the drought.
  • The Central Valley is hardest hit, particularly the Tulare Basin, with projected losses of $810 million, or 2.3 percent in crop revenue; $203 million in dairy and livestock value; and $453 million in additional well-pumping costs.
  • Agriculture on the Central Coast and in Southern California will be less affected by this year’s drought, with about 19,150 acres fallowed, $10 million in lost crop revenue and $6.3 million in additional pumping costs.
  • Overdraft of groundwater is expected to cause additional wells in Tulare Basin to run dry if the drought continues.
  • The drought is likely to continue through 2015, regardless of El Nino conditions.
  • Consumer food prices will be largely unaffected. Higher prices at the grocery store of high-value California crops like nuts, wine grapes and dairy foods are driven more by market demand than by the drought.

Groundwater a “slow-moving train wreck”

If the drought continues for two more years, groundwater reserves will continue to be used to replace surface water losses, the study said. Pumping ability will slowly decrease while costs and losses will slowly increase due to groundwater depletion.

California is the only state without a framework for groundwater management.

“We have to do a better job of managing groundwater basins to secure the future of agriculture in California,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which largely funded the UC Davis study. “That’s why we’ve developed the California Water Action Plan and a proposal for local, sustainable groundwater management.”

Failure to replenish groundwater in wet years continues to reduce groundwater availability to sustain agriculture during drought — particularly more profitable permanent crops, like almonds and grapes — a situation lead author Richard Howitt, a UC Davis professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics, called a “slow-moving train wreck.”

“A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account,” Howitt said. “We’re acting like the super rich who have so much money they don’t need to balance their checkbook.”

vis researchers used computer models, remote satellite sensing data from NASA, and the latest estimates of State Water Project, federal Central Valley Project and local water deliveries and groundwater pumping capacities to forecast the economic effects of the drought.

The analysis was done at the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which co-funded the research along with the University of California.

The report’s other co-authors include UC Davis agricultural economists Josué Medellín-Azuara and Dan Sumner, and Duncan MacEwan of the ERA Economic consulting firm in Davis.

California produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables and nearly a quarter of the nation’s milk and cream. Across the nation, consumers regularly buy several crops grown almost entirely in California, including tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, almonds, walnuts, grapes, olives and figs.

More information:

 

Media Contacts:

  • Richard Howitt, Agricultural and Resource Economics, (530) 752-1521, howitt@primal.ucdavis.edu (cell: (530) 304-4123)
  • Jay Lund, Center for Watershed Sciences, (530) 752-5671, jrlund@ucdavis.edu (cell: (530) 304-9543)
  • Josué Medellín-Azuara, Center for Watershed Sciences, (530) 574-8019, jmedellin@ucdavis.edu. (Josué is available for in-person interviews in Davis, Calif., the week of July 15, and Spanish interviews.)
  • Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, kekerlin@ucdavis.eduView of Folsom Lake and Mormon Island during a drought from Beal’s Point in Granite Bay, California in February 2014.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UC Global Food Initiative initiated by UC President Napolitano

Helene Dillard (left), dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, addresses the media at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, after announcement of the new UC Global Food Initiative. Also pictured: Craig McNamara, state

Dean Helene Dillard (left) addresses the media at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, after announcement of the UC Global Food Initiative. Also pictured: Craig McNamara (CDFA), Janet Napolitano (UC), and Karen Ross (CDFA).

University of California, Davis
July 14, 2014

The University of California, Davis, is front and center as the UC system musters its collective strength to help bolster the world’s food supply — making it healthier, larger and sustainable for a population headed toward 8 billion by 2025.

UC President Janet Napolitano announced the UC Global Food Initiative on July 1, first in Berkeley, then in Sacramento and finally Los Angeles. Helene Dillard, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, joined Napolitano for the second announcement, which came during the monthly meeting of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

“At UC Davis, we have the additional benefit of the newly founded World Food Center, which will work with the UC Global Food Initiative to inventory the expansive expertise we have in agriculture across the UC system and help turn that knowledge into actions that address the global food challenges we face,” Dillard said outside the meeting.

The systemwide initiative is based on the existing strengths of the 10 UC campuses, the systemwide division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The different segments will work in subcommittees, with the Davis campus designated as a co-leader in these areas:

  • Agricultural sustainability
  • California’s response to climate change
  • Leveraging research for policy change
  • Student experiential learning
  • Food and agriculture literacy

The initiative encompasses UC’s tradition of innovative agricultural, health and environmental research, and expands on these efforts by incorporating other disciplines such as law and the humanities, education and social science to better shape, impact and drive food policy discussions.

UC will practice what it preaches, as the campuses strive to be models for the state, nation and world. UC Davis is already a showcase for these systemwide goals:

UC Davis student Alice Del Simone and other students address the Global Food Initiative in this video: http://dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=14874

UC Davis student Alice Del Simone and other students address the Global Food Initiative in this video: http://dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=14874

UC Davis is also a model for student farming: at the 37-year-old Student Farm (which sells to Dining Services and the Coffee House); and a garden plot in the Segundo housing area.

Under the UC Global Food Initiative, Napolitano also wants to see the campuses exercise their collective purchasing power and explore purchasing partnerships with kindergarten-through-12th-grade school districts. Further, the initiative aims to bring about new policies whereby small growers can become campus suppliers.

Best practices and toolkits

The initiative’s first phase calls for identifying best practices and developing toolkits to implement those practices — toolkits that, once successfully deployed around UC, can be made available everywhere.

Dillard said UC Davis will work to develop and disseminate management guidelines for food production, distribution and safety, plus school and youth nutrition programs.

UC is funding three $2,500 President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowships at each campus, to be awarded to undergraduate or graduate students for research projects or internships.

“The $7,500 allocated to each campus is ‘seed money’ for additional student support, and it provides us with an additional way to grow the future agriculture leaders of California, our country and throughout the world,” Dillard said.

“We are pleased that President Napolitano is eager to help us support great young minds to help solve these global food challenges.”

1 billion go to bed hungry

Segundo students have a garden to call their own, right outside their front door. In this 2012 photo, Jeff Mailes, an environmental science and management major, offers tomato planting tips to Katherine Park, left, and Rebecca Cheng, both food science majors. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Segundo students have a garden to call their own, right outside their front door. In this 2012 photo, Jeff Mailes, an environmental science and management major, offers tomato planting tips to Katherine Park, left, and Rebecca Cheng, both food science majors. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Napolitano said the initiative grew out of a commitment made by all 10 chancellors and herself.  “It is a commitment to work collectively to put a greater emphasis on what UC can do as a public research university, in one of the most robust agricultural regions in the world, to take on one of the world’s most pressing issues.”

She noted that by the year 2025, the world’s population would grow by 1 billion people. Already, she said, 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night, while a half-billion others suffer from obesity.

The initiative is not limited to seeking any single solution or set of solutions to the myriad food issues confronting the world, Napolitano said.

“The idea,” she said, “is to provide the intellectual and technical firepower, as well as the operational examples needed for communities in California and around the world to find pathways to a sustainable food future.”

Napolitano noted UC’s extraordinary capability for outreach on food and health, already exemplified by agricultural and public service programs in every California county and in more than 100 nations.

The initiative’s goal is similarly far-reaching: “It is to do all we can to help the world learn to feed itself in ways that are healthy and sustainable in the use of resources,” she said.

(This article was written by UC Davis Dateline staff, July 2, 2014.)

About the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis, is the leading college of its kind in the world. Its researchers address critical issues related to agriculture, food, the environment, communities, and human and social sciences through cutting-edge research, top-ranked undergraduate and graduate education, and internationally recognized outreach programs. An overarching goal is to develop solutions for a better world, healthier lives, and an improved standard of living for everyone. www.caes.ucdavis.edu

Additional information:

Media contacts:

  • Helene Dillard, Dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, hrdillard@ucdavis.edu
  • Ann Filmer, Senior Director of Communications, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, afilmer@ucdavis.edu
Posted in Climate change, Communities, Demographics & population growth, Families & children & youth, Food safety, Food science, Food security, Food systems, Health, Income & poverty, International programs, Nutrition, Outreach, Philanthropy, Policy, Population growth, Students & education, Sustainability | Tagged , | Leave a comment