Power may be out for months: Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico will be a continuing story as food security and water safety issues come into focus in coming weeks. The U.S. territory may be without power for months after the island was hit with powerful winds that downed trees, ripped the roofs off homes and turned roads into rivers with flash flooding. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday night that it may take months to restore power to the entire island after the Category 4 hurricane demolished the power grid, which he described as “a little bit old, mishandled and weak.” Rebuilding after the strongest hurricane to hit the cash-strapped island in nearly a century is going to be a “titanic effort,” said the U.S. territory’s sole representative in Congress, Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon. Maria weakened as she passed over land, but she dumped incredible amounts of rain—so high that experts caution the totals must surely be mistaken. Now, there is a great deal of uncertainty over the hurricane’s path as Maria heads back out to sea and passes over warm water, which is expected to cause her to strengthen again. Read more HERE, HERE and HERE.

Complex food supply chain is vulnerable: The food we eat is a lot less secure than we would like to imagine. Food fraud is estimated to be a $40 billion a year problem, with instances of fraud becoming worryingly frequent—from wood shavings discovered in our parmesan to the 2013 horsemeat scandal in the UK. It is unsettling to realize our food supply chain has grown so complex that it has become almost impossible for food producers to guarantee the provenance of their products—meaning consumers can never entirely trust in the food they eat. This article details five issues challenging the global food supply chain. READ MORE

Monsanto’s dicamba causes controversy: Farmers planted a new kind of seed on 25 million acres of soybean and cotton fields this year. Developed by Monsanto, the seeds, genetically modified to be resistant to a weed killer called dicamba, are one of the biggest product releases in the company’s history. But the seeds and the weed killer have turned some farmers — often customers of Monsanto, which sells both — against the company and alarmed regulators. Farmers who have not bought the expensive new seeds, which started to appear last year, are joining lawsuits, claiming that their crops have been damaged by dicamba that drifted onto their farms. READ MORE

NSF, USDA team up to tackle sustainable food, energy, water nexus: Today, the number of humans alive on our planet is 7.5 billion. By 2087, projections show, 11 billion people will be living on Earth. How will we continue to have a sustainable supply of food, energy and water, and protect the ecosystems that provide essential “services” for humans? To help answer these questions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to award $46.6 million in new grants through the joint NSF-NIFA program on Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS). READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

How Listeria battles sanitizers: Despite generally high standards of cleanliness and hygiene in the food industry, bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes can still be found in the food processing environment, and the pathogen has been responsible for a great many recent food recalls. In a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now shown that certain Listeria strains – figuratively speaking – take refuge on an island. An “islet” of two genes located in one area of the genome increases the bacteria’s survival under alkaline and oxidative stress conditions. In other words, they are able to develop protection against many sanitizers. READ MORE

Parasite outbreak has experts puzzled: Almost 1,000 people in the United States have contracted infections from  Cyclospora parasites since May 1. Health officials are baffled, saying they haven’t been able to discover the source of the microscopic creatures, which infect humans via contaminated food and/or water. There were 988 laboratory-confirmed victims in the ongoing outbreak, spread across 40 states, as of Sept. 13. That’s a 380 percent increase in victims compared to the Aug. 2 outbreak announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC added that previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce, such as basil, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, raspberries and snow peas. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

Cyber spies target aerospace, energy: A cyber espionage group linked by security researchers to the Iranian government has been observed targeting aerospace and energy organizations in the United States, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The threat actor is believed to have been around since at least 2013. Since mid-2016, the security firm has spotted attacks aimed by this group at the aviation sector, including military and commercial aviation, and energy companies with connections to petrochemical production. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

Houston’s dirtiest Superfund site spills toxic waste: The U.S. government received reports of three spills at one of Houston’s dirtiest Superfund toxic waste sites in the days after the drenching rains from Hurricane Harvey finally stopped. Aerial photos reviewed by The Associated Press show dark-colored water surrounding the site as the floods receded, flowing through Vince Bayou and into the city’s ship channel. The reported spills, which have been not publicly detailed, occurred at U.S. Oil Recovery, a former petroleum industry waste processing plant contaminated with a dangerous brew of cancer-causing chemicals. READ MORE

ANIMAL FEED SAFETY

Is your pet missing out? Americans will spend close to $30 billion feeding their pets this year, according to the American Pet Products Assn. That’s up from $28.23 billion last year. Driving the growth: premium, human-grade food that is organic, minimally processed, slow-cooked and loaded with previously niche ingredients like coconut, turmeric and cardamom. People want to feed their dogs upscale, yuppie diets rather than buying dog chow, says one expert. READ MORE