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Turkey

The Looming Threat of Avian Flu

April 13, 2016

An article in this week's New York Times Magazine outlines the challenges of protecting the U.S. agricultural system from devastating diseases. Last year's avian flu outbreak was particularly destructive, with more than 21 states reporting cases of the H5 virus and more than 50 million birds killed. The article outlines some reasons for the growing seriousness of these outbreaks, despite a post-9/11 presidential directive to better protect "the agriculture and food system against terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies." Prevailing wisdom at that time "was that farms, deep in thinly populated rural areas, would not be a danger to one another." University of Minnesota professor of avian health Carol Cardona, DVM, explains: "The food system responded to 9/11 with changes further up the food chain.” she notes, leading to the establishment of organizations like Consortium member the Food Protection and Defense InstituteNow, the USDA is working directly with farmers and trade organizations to better protect farms from the flu and one another. The most thorough, up-to-date resource for information on avian flu and other epidemics can be found at the website of Consortium member the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). 

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Yarger Lake

More than Five Years In, Mixed Progress on Clean Water

December 8, 2015

In 2008, Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to increase the state's sales tax; a good portion (33%) of the resulting funds is meant to "protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams." A post on the Minnesota Public Radio website evaluates whether these new resources have had a positive impact. Jeffrey Peterson, director of Consortium member the Water Resources Center (WRC), notes: "The available data. . . are mixed and difficult to summarize." He refers to water quality variations and fluctuations around the state; the time lag between implementation of new practices and measurable results; and the need to expand the number of watersheds being monitored. Peterson took over the top spot at the WRC in August, 2015 after 15 years in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. 

Consortium Faculty

Consortium Faculty

Philip Pardey
Philip G. Pardey, PhD
Director, International Science & Technology Practice & Policy
Professor, Department of Applied Economics
Director of Global Research Strategy for the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station

Consortium Faculty

Mindy Kurzer
Mindy S. Kurzer, PhD
Director, Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute
Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition
Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology & Transplantation
Director of Graduate Studies, Nutrition Graduate Program

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Volunteer helping little girl into protective bee suit

Busy Summer for U of MN Bee Squad

August 5, 2015

The University of Minnesota Bee Squad is taking advantage of the warm weather to advance their mission of fostering healthy bee populations through community outreach. An article in the Star Tribune describes how members of the Squad are partnering with Urban Ventures to involve low-income Latinas – the self-described Reinas de Miel or Honey Queens – in beekeeping. Another program, “Healthy Honey Bees and Communities,” is supported by Consortium student research funds. Its goal is to explore the practicalities of establishing community apiaries in urban areas. (Left) Children participate in an event run by grantee Ana Heck (kneeling) and others to promote better understand of the importance of bee pollination to our food system. In another important development, the University has broken ground on a new Bee and Pollinator Research Lab on the St. Paul campus, to be led by entomologist Marla Spivak. You can view Dr. Spivak's TED talk on honeybee colony collapse here; there are more photos and updates of the Bee Squad's activities on Facebook

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Bee on flower

Consortium Grant Supports Research on Urban Beehives

June 16, 2015

Bees have been in the news lately, between President Obama's announcement of a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators and ongoing news coverage on the effects of -- and possible solutions for -- the decline of bee colonies. The Consortium is making its own contribution through our intramural grants program, which supports selected graduate and professional students in research and writing on the societal implications of problems in health, environment, and the life sciences. Last week, the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab & Squad unveiled hives in St. Paul that were partially funded by a successful 2014-15 Consortium grant application from Ana Heck, titled "Healthy Honey Bees and Communities: Implementation Recommendations for Community Apiaries in Urban Neighborhoods." The project, which is also supported by the City of St. Paul, will help develop best practices and guidelines for community groups wishing to establish sustainable hives in economically and culturally diverse neighborhoods. 

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Drop of water

BioTechnology Institute Research Sparks New Water Purification Company

May 13, 2015

A startup based on research by researchers at the University of Minnesota's BioTechnology Institute, a Consortium member center, has landed its first research and development contract from a multibillion-dollar global company headquartered in Europe. Scientific discoveries by researchers Alptekin Aksan, PhD and Larry Wackett, PhD led to the development of a process that uses small, sponge-like silica beads to purify water contaminated by chemicals from industrial processes and agricultural runoff, naturally breaking these compounds down into environmentally harmless byproducts. The R&D funds will allow the company, Minnepura, to develop and launch its first product based on the U of M-patented silica bead technology.

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Domestic turkey

CIDRAP Study Targets Source of H5N2 Influenza

April 27, 2015

More than 5.3 million birds have been destroyed in an effort to control the virulent H5N2 avian flu, more than 2.6 million in Minnesota alone. The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) is working with researchers at the state and federal level to determine how the virus is entering poultry barns. An article in Business Insider describes those efforts, as well as the focus on improving protections for farm workers. 

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Hand holding oil palm seeds

Improving Tropical Land Use

March 18, 2015

A profile in the Union of Concerned Scientists Science Network  features Institute on the Environment (IonE) postdoctoral scholar Kimberly Carlson. While studying oil palm plantation expansion in Indonesian Borneo as part of her Ph.D. work at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesCarlson helped uncover the impacts of oil palm development on forest loss, carbon emissions and stream water quality. She now plans to continue documenting the dynamics and effects of agricultural land use change and to design studies that inform tropical land use policy.

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