Food and ag could be future targets: New drone-related technologies are emerging, including the potential for adversaries using “Swarms,” meaning large numbers of coordinated drones.  China and Russia are heavily investing research dollars into this potential military technology. For the time being, civilian populations are very vulnerable to these types of attacks. Food and agriculture will be targets, should actual war break out between the U.S. and any of the peer/near peer nations (China, Russia) or other less capable (but still very dangerous) adversarial nations such as Iran or North Korea. Defensive strategies are needed. Investment by food and agriculture in defensive technologies may also become necessary.  READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

UK food industry threatens to stop cooperation with government: The UK food industry has threatened to stop cooperating with government policy consultations, saying it is busy trying to stave off the “catastrophic impact” of a no-deal Brexit. The warning came in a letter from more than 30 business leaders to UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove. McDonald’s was among those who warned stockpiling fresh food was impossible, and that the UK was very reliant on the EU for produce. READ MORE

WEATHER EMERGENCIES

Unprecedented storms in Hawaii: The island state of Hawaii has been battered by an “unprecedented” weather event which has brought 191-mph gusts, snow storms, waves as high as 40 feet (12.19 meters), widespread power outages, and at least one fatality. READ MORE

SUSTAINABILITY

Flooding kills 300,000 cattle: Record rain fall in northern Queensland, Australia has left upwards of 300,000 cattle dead as farmers struggle to care for their livestock during a multiday rain storm. Queensland is home to approximately 11.1 million head of cattle, about 42.5% of Australia’s cattle, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Government Land and Coasts. READ MORE

Attorneys in ‘fake meat’ case reach agreement: Attorneys for the state of Missouri have settled a lawsuit with vegetarian meat producers over a 2018 law aimed at cracking down on how the companies label their fake burgers, mock hot dogs and soybean-based crumbles. Details are still being worked out and may not be released until early March. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Latest romaine investigation results: Results of an FDA traceback investigation into the latest foodborne illness caused by romaine lettuce are out, with the outbreak blamed on an on-farm reservoir at a farm in Santa Barbara County, Calif. The outbreak strain of E. coli was not found elsewhere, but other farms that did not use water from the reservoir may also have sold contaminated lettuce. READ MORE

ANIMAL HEALTH

Investigation into unusual strain of bovine TB: The longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history affected an investigation into an unusual strain of bovine tuberculosis in a North Dakota beef cattle herd, say state officials. The strain is similar to cases identified in Mexican cattle and not previously seen in the U.S. The herd has been quarantined. READ MORE

WATER

EPA, Army plan hearing on WOTUS: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army are holding a public hearing on the proposed new “Waters of the United States” definition, with sessions on Feb. 27 and 28 in Kansas City. Anyone wanting to speak is encouraged to register in advance. EPA and the Army are also holding an informational webcast today, with the webcast to be available later. READ MORE

EPA will regulate PFAS: The EPA announced Thursday plans to regulate a set of harmful chemicals found in drinking water systems that serve millions of Americans. They will  set a maximum contaminant level for Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which are found in many commercial household items such as food packaging, cleaners, water-repellent fabrics, Teflon-coated cookware, and cleaning products. READ MORE

THE FUTURE

Protein from microbes? MyPlate – the government’s visual aide for healthy eating – features fruits, vegetables, grains, and a fourth segment simply called “protein.” Today, this might come from plants or animals, but tomorrow, it could come from a suite of microscopic microbial protein factories, predicts the CEO of Sustainable BioProducts. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Amazon won’t build HQ in NYC: Amazon pulled out of its plan to build a second headquarters in New York City on Thursday following a flood of opposition from city and state officials, the company confirmed in a statement. READ MORE