UPI Farming Today

By GREGORY TEJEDA, United Press International  |  March 4, 2003 at 1:15 AM
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Co. wants patent for anthrax antidote

A Nevada-based chemical research company said Monday it has come up with a spray-on solution that can kill various types of bacteria, including anthrax.

Sierra Pacific Research Co. has applied for a patent for its spray called Bio-DECON, which they say can kill both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, including the vegetative and spore types of Bacillus anthracis.

Officials with the company said tests showed their spray would disable Anthrax within two minutes of exposure, and would kill off more than 99 percent within one hour of exposure.

Sierra Pacific CEO Terry Holmes said he thinks the product could be used to help protect agricultural fields and other crops from threat of contamination, as well as providing an anecdote for other areas exposed to Anthrax.

"We hope Bio-DECON will provide emergency response teams and government agencies with a way to address serious bio-defense issues like Ames Anthrax, particularly with neutralization and decontamination of the biological agent," Holmes said.

Ames Anthrax is a weapons grade form of Anthrax that can be contracted through airborne transmission, which is uncharacteristic of most strains of Anthrax.

This form of Ames Anthrax has been mutated to the point that it can carry or "saddle" potentially epidemic diseases with it. Diseases normally transmitted through touch, including black plague and small pox, gain airborne transmission capability when "saddled" with the Ames strain.

"Ames Anthrax has a globally destructive potential and has raised biological and weaponized germ warfare threats to frightening new levels," Holmes said.

"Its nano-silicate crystals kill or neutralize the vegetative and spore types of Anthrax and other gram-negative and gram-positive types of the bacteria by shredding the cellular wall of the microorganism," Holmes said.

Slug totals could rise this spring

No-till farmers in Ohio may have to deal with more slugs that usual infesting their crops.

Ohio State University entomologist Ron Hammond said that fall field sampling showed higher-than-usual slug populations, and they could carry over into the spring under ideal conditions.

"Even though we had a drought this past summer, the slugs seemed to have survived that very well," Hammond said. "And although we've had some extremely cold weather the past few weeks, we've had a lot of snow cover too. And snow is a very good insulator. We think that going into the spring, the potential is there for a lot of slugs."

Corn and soybean fields will be sampled during the spring to find out for sure whether slugs are still present. Officials note a slug causes the most damage to crops in its juvenile stage. Its appetite and large densities can wipe out farm fields.

Farmer-owned ethanol plant being built

Construction has begun on a new farmer-owned cooperative ethanol production facility in rural Illinois.

Groundbreaking took place last week on the Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC, to be located in Palestine, Ill. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board provided some early funding to determine the facility's feasibility.

The $57 million plant is expected to create 38 jobs, while boosting the demand for Illinois corn by 15 million bushels per year. The plant is partially supported by more than 450 farmers who have invested $13.4 million in the project.

Farmer union honors pols

Two former senators were honored by the National Farmers Union for their political service.

The union, gathering in Anaheim, Calif., gave its meritorious service award to George McGovern of South Dakota, who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972, and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who died last year in an airplane crash while campaigning for re-election.

Officials say both men were supportive of the needs of farmers during their political careers.

College students protest Taco Bell

College students are staging hunger strikes to show support for farm workers in Florida who are upset about working conditions in the farm fields where tomatoes used by the Taco Bell fast food chain are grown.

Those workers from Immokalee, Fla., began a hunger strike last week at Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, Calif., saying they want the company to pressure farmers into improving working conditions.

University of Chicago students staged a 24-hour hunger strike to support the workers, who are paid 45 cents per bucket of tomatoes. They say that translates into needing to haul two tons of tomatoes in order to earn $50 per day.

Grains higher on CBOT

Grain futures were mostly higher at the close Monday on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Soybeans benefited from a pending strike by Argentine growers and due to supportive export inspection figures.

Corn rose on beliefs Friday's price declines were overdone.

Wheat rose on influence from soybeans.

Oats were mostly lower.

The prices:

Soybeans: Mar 5.76 1/2 off 1/2, May 5.76 3/4 up 1 3/4, Jul 5.76 up 1 3/4, Aug 5.64 3/4 up 2 1/4.

Corn: Mar 2.33 1/2 up 1 3/4, May 2.34 1/2 up 1 1/4, Jul 2.36 3/4 up 1 1/4, Sep 2.37 1/2 up 1/2.

Wheat: Mar 3.18 1/4 up 5 3/4, May 3.16 up 5 3/4, Jul 3.10 1/2 up 5 3/4, Sep 3.14 1/2 up 5 1/4.

Oats: Mar 2.23 up 2, May 2.03 1/4 off 1/2, Jul 1.86 3/4 off 1 1/4, Sep 1.62 off 2.

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