Is it the Bananapocalypse? In a hot, dry field near a place called Humpty Doo in Australia’s Northern Territory, scientists are racing to begin an experiment that could determine the future of the world’s most popular fruit, the lowly banana. Dodging the occasional crocodile, researchers will soon place into the soil thousands of small plants that they hope will produce standard Cavendish bananas — the nicely curved, yellow variety representing 99 percent of all bananas sold in the United States. But in this case, the plants have been modified with genes from a different banana variety to fight an insidious fungus known as fusarium wilt. The fungus has spread to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and Latin America is next.  READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Smoke taint could ruin wines: Wildfires can ruin the flavor of wine grapes, a problem called smoke taint. “I’ve worked with smoke before,” says Nick Goldschmidt, who owns a vineyard in the Napa Valley. “It is not an easy thing to fix. But in my experience, it’s more about contact time. So the key thing is, if you have vineyards near the fire, you’ve got to get the grapes off.” Some 80 to 85 percent of the 2017 harvest is done in Napa, and in nearby Sonoma 90 percent of the grapes are in. But that still means that a few grapes could get exposed to smoke, and fire and heat could damage the vines. In a region key to California’s $34 billion wine industry, that’s a big deal. READ MORE

Fewer Florida veggies, and a poinsettia shortage: Florida’s famous oranges are still falling from trees and rotting on the ground weeks after Hurricane Irma, and the state’s agriculture commissioner said Thursday there will be fewer Florida vegetables on Thanksgiving tables and a shortage of poinsettias at Christmas. He said the storm damaged crops of all kinds, with losses topping $2.5 billion. Losses are reported to peanuts, avocadoes, sugar, strawberries, cotton and tomatoes. The storm also affected timber, milk production and lobster and stone crab fishing. READ MORE

Happy hens, fewer eggs: California’s controversial “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act” (also known as Proposition 2) sought to make the state’s egg-laying hens happier when voters banned battery cages in the state beginning in 2015. The law – which passed with 63% of the vote – required hens be given about twice as much space as was the industry standard. Results of Proposition 2 are mixed – hens may be happier, but consumers and farmers are not. READ MORE

Dicamba deal: The Trump administration has reached a deal with three major agribusiness companies for new voluntary labeling requirements for a controversial herbicide blamed for damaging crops. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced its agreement with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont regarding the application of dicamba, which is used to control weeds in fields of genetically modified cotton and soybeans. Farmers who don’t buy the special resistant seeds sold by the herbicide makers have complained that dicamba sprayed on neighboring properties drifts over and harms their crops, resulting in temporary bans issued last summer by state officials in Arkansas and Missouri. READ MORE

Nestle commits to broiler welfare standards: Nestle USA has pledged to commit to higher standards of welfare for broiler chickens by 2024. The company said it would strive to source all of the broiler chickens used as ingredients for its US food portfolio from sources meeting a higher standard of animal welfare, building on its global commitment on farm animal welfare. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

Wi-Fi vulnerabilities: Researchers this morning revealed details of a new exploit called KRACK that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi security to let attackers eavesdrop on traffic between computers and wireless access points. The exploit, as first reported by Ars Technica, takes advantage of several key management vulnerabilities in the WPA2 security protocol, the popular authentication scheme used to protect personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. “If your device supports Wi-Fi, it is most likely affected,” say researchers. So yeah, this is bad. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

How good are FDA inspections? A new report from the Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General found that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isn’t that great at inspections. The report takes a close look at the way the FDA handles inspections for food facilities in the United States, specifically in regards to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011. Enforcement was set to begin this year but is still delayed. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Hotel targeted in Mogadishu blast: More than 300 people were killed by twin bomb explosions in Mogadishu, an official said on Monday, as locals packed hospitals in search of friends and relatives caught by Somalia’s deadliest attack in a decade. The death toll has steadily risen since Saturday, when the blasts struck at two busy junctions in the heart of the capital city. Note that a truck bomb exploded outside a hotel in the K5 intersection that is lined with government offices and restaurants, destroying buildings and setting dozens of vehicles ablaze, Reuters reported. Another bomb detonated in the Medina area two hours later. Read more HERE and HERE.

WEIRD STUFF

What?? A British man’s heart stopped after he accidentally swallowed a 6-inch long Dover sole on a fishing trip in Boscombe, in southern England. The man, 28, who was not named, went into cardiac arrest Oct. 5 after the fish jumped in his mouth, blocking his throat. However, paramedics were able to clear his airway after drawing the sole free with forceps.  READ MORE