emerging technologies

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How DNA barcoding can prevent foodborne illness outbreaks

In 2012, when several hundred people fell ill in the U.S. amid a salmonella outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration was quickly able to isolate the exact strain of salmonella that had found its way into the contaminated sushi-grade tuna — and then trace it to the exact processing plant where the fish originated in India. (Not surprisingly, the FDA found 10 sanitation oversights, four of which were considered egregious.)
Then in 2014, the FDA managed to prevent a listeria outbreak from going beyond seven illnesses and one death when it traced the strain of the pathogen to soft cheeses manufactured by Ross Foods, which has since been shut down. Both findings are thanks to DNA sequencing, which is helping not only to identify which species of animals we might be eating, but even which strains of foodborne pathogens might be present in our food. The implications are broad. Knowing at a genetic level what we are eating isn’t just good for our health (think food allergies, high mercury levels, etc.) and for our wallets (how much are we really paying for tilapia?), but also for the animals (some of which are endangered or illegally hunted). Continue Reading →

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Next-generation genomics key to global food and nutritional security


More than 300 delegates representing private and public sectors from 30 countries worldwide convened at the International Crops Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) global headquarters to deliberate on future collaborations and ways to integrate next-generation genomics into the future of crop improvement  to contribute to global food and nutrition security. “Making a hunger- and malnutrition-free society is the ultimate goal of every agricultural scientist and stakeholder. Next-generation genomics backed by strong technological advancements will facilitate science-based agricultural innovations such as the development of nutrition-rich crops to eradicate hunger.”

This was according to Dr MS Swaminathan, renowned agricultural scientist and Father of India’s Green Revolution, at today’s successful conclusion of the three-day 5th International Conference on Next Generation Genomics and Integrated Breeding for Crop Improvement (NGGIBCI-V) held on 18-20 February 2015. Genomics – or deciphering the genomic content of crop species using high-throughput and next-generation approaches – allows the scientific community access to ‘good genes’ to speed up breeding for superior crop varieties with agronomically important traits. “It is not so much a question of more food. Continue Reading →

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