Health and agriculture

To follow the last post, here’s a photo-essay from the BBC on another useful insect, the “desert shrimp,” better known as the locust. Useful? Well, that may be overstating the case, but they are widely eaten in the Sahara, deep fried in vegetable oil. I have tried them. Not as bad as one might think.

Anyway, what I really wanted to alert you all to is that the latest Spore and New Agriculturalist are out. There are lots of interesting pieces, both brief and longer, but is it a coincidence that both issues focus on aspects of agriculture and health? Spore has a feature on “functional foods” here, things that provide disease prevention as well as nutrition. New Agriculturalist has number of articles on various different aspects of the topic here, plus other sources of information.

Nutrition info

According to its website, ProNUTRITION “is an information resource that supports health care providers, community health workers, policy makers, and program managers with current, relevant, and practical knowledge and tools for decision-making.” There’s a discussion group on nutrition and HIV/AIDS and lots of documents.

DNA database of fungal biodiversity

Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley are working with samples from the Venice Museum of Natural History to create a DNA database of some 6000 different species. A press release from UC Berkeley gives more details of the project, which will zero in on a small portion of non-coding ribosomal DNA that is known to be unique to each species. The database will allow researchers to identify fungi conclusively without having to wait for them to fruit, an erratic process that can be subject to delays. This could help scientists to respond more rapidly to the global spread of some fungal pathogens. It will also be useful for taxonomic studies.

A Philippines point of view

A long piece on Philippine agricultural biodiversity and agroforestry in a blog called MagSakaUnlad, written by Virgilio Villancio, who is with the Agricultural Systems Cluster of the College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines at Los Banos.