Irma threatens $1.2 billion fresh produce production

Orange juice futures and sugar prices higher: Hurricane Irma is threatening to wreak havoc on Florida farmlands, threatening $1.2 billion worth of production in the top U.S. grower of fresh tomatoes, oranges, green beans, cucumbers, squash and sugarcane. The storm threat has pushed orange-juice futures and domestic-sugar prices higher this week. Damage to croplands could affect U.S. food prices and farmer finances in the months and years to come. (Contributed by Dr. Stephanie Ostrowski)  READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Thousands of cattle may have drowned: Texas agricultural officials fear thousands of cattle may have died in the aftermath of Harvey, resulting in losses to ranchers of tens of millions of dollars. The counties that sustained damage when Harvey first came ashore Aug. 25 were home to 1.2 million head of cattle, representing one in four of all beef cows in Texas, the nation’s largest producer. Most ranchers don’t insure their herds because of the cost, so a rancher could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars if an entire herd drowned, the Houston Chronicle reportedREAD MORE

Yuck or yum? The Swiss supermarket chain Coop, to a bit of domestic hoopla, has begun selling burgers and balls made from insects. It’s being billed as a legal first in Europe, a continent more accustomed to steak, sausage, poultry and fish as a source of protein. About one-third of the burger is mealworm larvae. A burger weighing 100 grams (3.5 ounces) has about 10 grams of protein in it — about the same amount found in a child’s-size beef burger. READ MORE

Preparing a plant for hurricanes: When preparing your food manufacturing plant for a hurricane threat, it’s critical to establish an emergency plan to protect against potential losses from flooding caused by a tidal surge, freshwater flooding from torrential rainfall, and wind damage. READ MORE

TERRORISM

ISIS calls on American jihadis to attack relief centers: As Texas comes to terms with the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, supporters of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) are calling on American jihadis to target relief centers for those displaced.The call for attacks on those left homeless or injured by the natural disaster came from a channel called ‘Lone Mujahid’ on the encrypted app Telegram, a platform popular with jihadists for its privacy and lack of takedowns compared to more public social media platforms such as Twitter. READ MORE

ISIS calls on ‘lone wolves’ to use poison in malls: ISIS is now campaigning and providing instructions to its “lone wolf” supporters for carrying out terrorist attacks with poisons in crowded malls, deputy director of Israel’s International Institute for Counter Terrorism Eitan Azani told a press briefing on Wednesday. The deputy director described the new tactic as part of a more general trend in which ISIS is upping its push on social media for followers “to carry out jihad on enemy land, which is the opposite” of “when ISIS called for recruits to come” to Syria and Iraq. The shift represents ISIS’s acknowledgment that it is near defeat in terms of holding territory and that its best chance to maintain influence is with foreign ISIS-inspired attacks, Azani said. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Banned pesticides showing up in California water: Toxic chemicals from illegal marijuana farms hidden deep in California’s forests are showing up in rivers and streams that feed the state’s water supply, prompting fears that humans and animals may be at risk, data reviewed by Reuters show. The presence of potentially deadly pollutants in eight Northern and Central California watersheds is the latest sign of damage to the environment from thousands of illegal cannabis plantations, many of them run by drug cartels serving customers in other states, according to law enforcement. California accounts for more than 90 percent of illegal U.S. marijuana farming. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Do grocery stores have a future? As the immediate shock of the Amazon Whole Foods deal wears off, and spooked retailers are reassured that just 1 percent of U.S. food and beverage retail sales are generated online, they would be wise to remember that not all growth curves are linear, says Hartman Group, which says steady food ecommerce growth in the next 10 years could be followed by 10 years of truly explosive growth. READ MORE