The Tibetan plateau, Asia’s biggest freshwater reserve. 

Fuel-burning chambers would ‘seed’ clouds to make rain: China is testing cutting-edge defense technology to develop a powerful yet relatively low-cost weather modification system to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau, Asia’s biggest freshwater reserve. The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year – about 7 per cent of China’s total water consumption – according to researchers involved in the project. The chambers burn solid fuel to produce silver iodide, a cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice. READ MORE

China is also doing this: China is currently undertaking what it considers the largest project of the century — building a network of railroads and shipping lanes linking itself with 70 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. Countries including India, Pakistan, Russia, New Zealand and Poland have all joined in the project. Together they make up at least a third of the world’s GDP. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Will $50 million verdict change pork industry? After less than two days of deliberation, a North Carolina jury awarded $50 million to neighbors in a hog nuisance lawsuit against Murphy-Brown LLC., the hog production division of Smithfield Foods. The case marked the beginning of a series of landmark trials in lawsuits filed by more than 500  neighbors of hog farms against Murphy-Brown. The plaintiffs in this and the other lawsuits argue that the farms’ method of disposing of hog waste produces unbearable stenches that adversely affect their quality of life. That waste-management system, common in large hog farms in North Carolina, stores pig excrement in open-air lagoons and then liquefies and sprays the waste onto nearby fields. Read more HERE and HERE.

EU banning pesticides that hurt bees: The European Union is banning outdoor use of pesticides that harm bees, with the new restrictions going beyond those put in place in 2013.  Banned are three substances (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) known as neonicotinoids, which scientific studies have shown harm bees when used outdoors. Bee populations are currently falling worldwide, a source of concern, given that as The New York Times reports, plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of global crop production volume. Read more HERE and HERE.

FOOD SAFETY

Norovirus outbreak traced to raw oysters: A norovirus outbreak traced to raw oysters from British Columbia has crossed the Canadian border, and U.S. officials say an unusual strain of the virus is involved. About 100 people in California have reported becoming sick with symptoms of norovirus after eating raw oysters from British Columbia, according to the California Department of Public Health. The ill people said the oysters were sold by restaurants and retail stores. READ MORE

And it is in several states: U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating a norovirus outbreak in several states, including Illinois, that’s being linked to raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada. The FDA confirms in a report that potentially contaminated raw oysters harvested in the south and central parts of Baynes Sound, British Columbia, were distributed to retailers in California, Maine, Washington and Illinois. READ MORE

Meanwhile, E. coli on romaine is still a problem: The number of illness cases linked to the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak has jumped to 98. Fourteen more people from eight states were added since Wednesday, and three more states have reported sick people: Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The current number of states affected is 22, and hospitalizations have increased to 46. No deaths have been reported. READ MORE