Rose-ringed parakeet perched in a palm tree.

Rose-ringed parakeet perched in a palm tree.

Former pets are costing farmers millions: Once a pampered pet and now a plague, the rose-ringed parakeet is threatening every crop on the Hawaiian island of Kauai—and multiplying fast. Rose-ringed parakeets haven’t always been Public Enemy No. 1. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the tropical species—native to sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia—gained traction as a house pet in the developed world. On Kauai, the birds initially went wild in 1968, after workers at a bed-and-breakfast accidentally released a pair. They were joined by escapees from homes destroyed by 1982’s Hurricane Iwa. Their numbers today hover around 5,000 and could reach 10,000 in the next five years. Agriculture generates almost $65 million in annual revenue for the island, with small farmers averaging losses of 10 percent—and Kauai is an island of small farms. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Can satellite surveillance end seafood slavery? In early 2015,  the Associated Press exposed appalling human rights abuses aboard Thai fishing boats, making Americans aware of the evils that might lurk behind their fried calamari and tilapia fillets (Thailand exports 20 percent of its seafood to the U.S.). Within six months of the AP’s initial report, the government of Indonesia, whose coast Thai vessels routinely trawled, had ordered the release of more than 2,000 enslaved fishermen and arrested at least nine culprits. The media frenzy soon died down, but unscrupulous practices in Southeast Asian waters did not. Now Greenpeace is tracking the ships that sailed away, continuing to exploit Burmese labor. READ MORE

Geneticists are working on male-only ‘terminator cattle’: A graduate student was waiting for Alison Van Eenennaam in the doorway of her lab at the University of California, Davis. An Australian geneticist, she spends days on the road arguing with critics of Monsanto’s GM soybeans, appearing in documentaries, and telling the public why genetic modification is safe. Her scientific work, though, involves cattle. Now, as the student whispers in her ear, she lets out a hearty “Yeaaaah!” After a year of trying, the lab had just used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to add a gene called SRY to some bovine skin cells. The presence of SRY can make a female turn out to be essentially male—with bigger muscles, a penis, and testicles (although unable to make sperm). READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

PCA execs will stay in jail: The three executives once associated with Peanut Corporation of America, already serving lengthy jail terms, lost all their appeals today. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta upheld the criminal convictions of former PCA chief executive Stewart Parnell, his peanut broker brother Michael Parnell, and one-time PCA quality manager Mary Wilkerson. The three defendants are serving a total of 53 years in federal prisons for their roles in the 2008-09 nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to PCA. The outbreak sickened thousands and caused at least nine deaths. READ MORE

TERRORISM

Another day, another terrorist attack: Gunmen set off explosives before opening fire on a provincial office of the aid group Save the Children in Afghanistan, killing at least two people and wounding more than a dozen others, local officials say. At least 14 people were hurt in the attack Wednesday in Jalalabad and had been evacuated to the Nangarhar regional hospital; however, the number of casualties could rise as the gun battle with assailants continued. Taliban has denied responsibility, but ISIS has been active in the area. READ MORE