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Graef F.,Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research | Rombke J.,ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH | Binimelis R.,Center for Agro food economics and Development IRTA | Myhr A.I.,GenOk | And 36 more authors.
BioRisk | Year: 2012

The assessment of the impacts of growing genetically modified (GM) crops remains a major political and scientific challenge in Europe. Concerns have been raised by the evidence of adverse and unexpected environmental effects and differing opinions on the outcomes of environmental risk assessments (ERA). The current regulatory system is hampered by insufficiently developed methods for GM crop safety testing and introduction studies. Improvement to the regulatory system needs to address the lack of well designed GM crop monitoring frameworks, professional and financial conflicts of interest within the ERA research and testing community, weaknesses in consideration of stakeholder interests and specific regional conditions, and the lack of comprehensive assessments that address the environmental and socio-economic risk assessment interface. To address these challenges, we propose a European Network for systematic GMO impact assessment (ENSyGMO) with the aim directly to enhance ERA and post-market environmental monitoring (PMEM) of GM crops, to harmonize and ultimately secure the long-term socio-political impact of the ERA process and the PMEM in the EU. These goals would be achieved with a multi-dimensional and multi-sector approach to GM crop impact assessment, targeting the variability and complexity of the EU agro-environment and the relationship with relevant socio-economic factors. Specifically, we propose to develop and apply methodologies for both indicator and field site selection for GM crop ERA and PMEM, embedded in an EU-wide typology of agro-environments. These methodologies should be applied in a pan-European field testing network using GM crops. The design of the field experiments and the sampling methodology at these field sites should follow specific hypotheses on GM crop effects and use state-of-the art sampling, statistics and modelling approaches. To address public concerns and create confidence in the ENSyGMO results, actors with relevant specialist knowledge from various sectors should be involved. © Frieder Graef et al.


Stalder U.,University of Zurich | Stephan R.,University of Zurich | Corti S.,University of Zurich | Bludau M.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Dairy Science | Year: 2014

In heifers, intramammary infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus affect milk production and udder health in the first and subsequent lactations, and can lead to premature culling. Not much is known about Staph. aureus isolated from heifers and it is also unclear whether or not these strains are readily transmitted between heifers and lactating herd mates. In this study, we compared phenotypic characteristics, spa types, and DNA microarray virulence and resistance gene profiles of Staph. aureus isolates obtained from colostrum samples of dairy heifers with isolates obtained from lactating cows. Our objective was to (1) characterize Staph. aureus strains associated with mastitis in heifers and (2) determine relatedness of Staph. aureus strains from heifers and lactating cows to provide data on transmission. We analyzed colostrum samples of 501 heifers and milk samples of 68 lactating cows within the same herd, isolating 48 and 9 Staph. aureus isolates, respectively. Staphylococcus aureus strains from heifers, lactating herd mates, and an unrelated collection of 78 strains from bovine mastitis milk of mature cows were compared. With 1 exception each, characterization of all strains from heifers and lactating cows in the same herd yielded highly similar phenotypic and genotypic results. The strains were Staphaurex latex agglutination test negative (Oxoid AG, Basel, Switzerland) and belonged to agr type II, CC705, and spa types tbl 2645 and t12926. They were susceptible to all antimicrobial agents tested. In contrast, the strains from mature cows in other herds were spread across different clonal complexes, spa types, and SplitsTree clusters (http://www.splitstree.org/), thus displaying a far higher degree of heterogeneity. We conclude that strains isolated from colostrum of heifers and mastitis milk of lactating cows in the same herd feature highly similar phenotypic and genomic characteristics, suggesting persistence of the organism during the first and potentially subsequent lactations or transmission between heifers and mature herd mates. © 2014 American Dairy Science Association.


Sousa J.,Oxford Brookes University | Sousa J.,Center for Research in Anthropology | Sousa J.,Center for Environmental and Marine Studies | Luz A.L.,University of Lisbon | And 5 more authors.
Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems | Year: 2015

Outside of agroforestry disciplines, “orchards” and “forests” are usually studied through different fields of knowledge or are mired in conflicting views. Our study aimed to provide preliminary information on regeneration in cashew orchards by studying the effect of previous land cover, the surrounding landscape, and orchards’ age on the density of species and number of plants. We followed linear transects in orchards planted in areas previously covered by savannah and forest. We found typical forest species growing in the understory, even in orchards previously occupied by savannah or as old as 42 years. The density of species is higher in orchards planted in previously forested plots and in more forested environments. Species density in the understory decreases as orchards get older, but it seems that it increases again after a certain age threshold. This study shows that cashew orchards in Cantanhez retain their potential for succession to forest, and highlights the continuum that may exist between orchards and forests. More research is needed to assess a possible “forestization” of the savannahs through cashew plantations. © , Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Stolz H.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau | Stolze M.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau | Hamm U.,University of Kassel | Janssen M.,University of Kassel | Ruto E.,Northumbria University
NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences | Year: 2011

This paper describes the findings from a consumer survey conducted as part of the EU-funded research project QualityLowInputFood (QLIF). The objective was to segment occasional organic consumers with regard to their preferences for organic, conventional and conventional-plus products, i.e., conventional products with a specific attribute that also applies to organic products. In other words, these conventional-plus products are placed between organic and conventional food products. In addition, we aimed at analysing differences between consumer segments regarding their price sensitivity and attitudes towards food. The survey used choice experiments to investigate occasional organic consumer preferences for the different types of products. In subsequent standardized face-to-face interviews we collected data on consumer attitudes towards food that could explain the observed preferences. The attitudes were summarized in attitude factors, using factor analysis. The responses from the interviews and choice experiments were analysed by latent class models. These econometric models were used to identify segments within a group of individuals for their preference structure and to relate membership in each segment to consumer characteristics. Two segments of occasional organic consumers were identified. Consumers in segment 1 strongly preferred organic products and were less price sensitive. Furthermore, consumers in this segment showed a significantly higher level of agreement with most of the investigated attitude factors than consumers in segment 2. The latter consisted of consumers who were significantly more price sensitive and preferred conventional-plus and conventional products rather than organic products. Communicating quality attributes represents a promising marketing tool of product differentiation and information for both organic and conventional food marketers. The price sensitivity of parts of occasional organic consumers suggests that the perceived price-performance ratio of organic products needs to be increased by targeted pricing and communication strategies integrating product-relevant information. If not, conventional-plus products, representing a cheaper alternative, might be preferred by parts of the occasional organic consumers. © 2010 Royal Netherlands Society for Agricultural Sciences.


Chevillat V.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau | Balmer O.,Forschungsinstitut For Biologischen Landbau | Birrer S.,Schweizerische Vogelwarte | Doppler V.,Agrofutura | And 5 more authors.
Agrarforschung Schweiz | Year: 2012

The areas of ecological compensation (AEC) required for farms receiving subventions have so far delivered modest results against the loss of biodiversity in cultivated landscape of Switzerland. Insufficient ecological quality and inadequate locations of these areas are to blame. The results of our study show that whole-farm advisory can efficiently improve the situation even on intensive farms of the Swiss plateau. All participating farms were willing to sign contracts that will increase the mean AEC from 8,9 to 13,5% of their agricultural area in use (AAU). Crucially, the quality of the AEC according to the ordinance on ecological quality increases from 3,3 to 8,5% of the AAU. This substantial improvement of the ecological performances can be reached without negative impacts on production or farming income. On the contrary, the gains and profit contributions increase by CHF 3500.- and CHF 3491.- per farm, respectively.

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