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NEWS RELEASE

October 2001


AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY

BIOSECURE FACILITIES, TRAINING NEEDED FOR AGROTERRORISM PROTECTION
Legislation introduced in the United States Senate calls for $1.1 billion in funding to strengthen America's agricultural biosecurity. Norman Cheville, dean of Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine, is optimistic that much of the funding will be directed to local agencies responsible for monitoring and protecting the country's food production, distribution and processing. "At the local level, our primary need is to make state diagnostic laboratories biosecure for highly infectious agents," Cheville says. "Safe facilities are essential for diagnosing plant and animal specimens and for conducting animal postmortems." First responders also need software that analyzes the risk of terrorist attacks on agriculture and predicts the outcome for different responses, he says. "There's also a need for an educational system to teach producers, veterinarians and law enforcement about bioterrroist agents. They need to know how to identify possible agents and how to deal with them," he says. If introduced into the U.S., diseases like foot and mouth or African swine fever -- which are endemic in some countries -- could shut down the nation's meat export industry, Cheville says. Contact Cheville, (515) 294-1250, or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

REASEARCHING THE LINK BETWEEN CHEMICALS AND PARKINSON'S DISEASE
Farmers are at high-risk for Parkinson's disease, said Anumantha Kanthasamy, ISU associate professor of biomedical sciences. "Environmental chemicals may be predominant risk factors in causing Parkinson's disease," Kanthasamy said. He said the degenerative disease is especially prevalent in people who are exposed to toxic chemicals, such as pesticides. Farmers and miners are two groups susceptible to Parkinson's disease. Kanthasamy received a $314,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to determine the role that certain environmental factors play in the cause and progression of the disease. He will study how some of these chemicals kill brain cells that control body movement. These are the cells that die in Parkinson's disease, a disorder of the brain that causes impairment in performing motor skills. At least one million Americans are affected, producing an annual societal cost of approximately $5.6 billion. Contact Kanthasamy, (515) 294-2516, or Bridget Bailey, News Service, (515) 294-6881.

INCENTIVES FOR CONSERVING RESOURCES IN AGRICULTURE
Why do some farmers adopt conservation tillage practices while others do not? In a recent study, economists at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) found that even though conservation practices can raise expected profits, some farmers are reluctant to adopt them, considering them riskier than conventional methods. The study estimates the financial incentives necessary to encourage the adoption of conservation tillage, finding that a premium can play a significant role in these decisions. The researchers used 1992 data and concluded that in that year, on average, a subsidy of $2.40 per acre for corn and $3.50 per acre per year for soybeans would have allowed Iowa farmers to overcome aversion to the risks they perceived in adopting conservation tillage practices. The research paper, "The Subsidy for Adopting Conservation Tillage," is available at http://www.card.iastate.edu. Contact Lyubov Kurkalova, CARD, (515) 294-7695, or Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, (515) 294-6257.

LOCAL FOODS SHOWING UP IN LOCAL RESTAURANTS AND FOOD SERVICES
Menus at nine food service operations in central Iowa have a local ring, thanks to a two-year research project funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State. Cathy Strohbehn, ISU hotel, restaurant and institution management program, is working with food service managers to help find local sources for food items and to demonstrate the benefits of serving local foods. The Nevada Community School District purchased 20 cases of apples -- more than 2,500 -- from The Berry Patch, a local fruit and vegetable farm owned by Judy and Dean Henry. The Iowa State University Tearoom regularly serves local items and recently served two "all-Iowa" meals. Strohbehn also is working with food service managers at a Story City nursing home, two school districts, and restaurants in Ames, Story City and Colo. All groups will meet in December at Iowa State to share results from the project, which also includes a food safety component. Contact Cathy Strohbehn, (515) 294-7549, or Laura Miller, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, (515) 294-5272.

POULTRY HISTORY REFLECTS A CHANGING AGRICULTURE
A new book documents the history of Iowa State's poultry programs. And in doing so, it shows how Iowa agriculture has changed. The book's author is Jerry Sell, an ISU poultry nutritionist from 1976 to 2000. For many years, nearly every farm in Iowa had a poultry flock to produce eggs and meat for the family, with excess production sold. Iowa State's poultry faculty and extension specialists provided management information to these farmers. "There were times when the poultry programs at Iowa State were among the best in the nation, mainly from the 1920s to the late 1960s," Sell says. Poultry courses appeared for the first time in the 1907 catalog, hitting a peak of 18 in 1928. A four-year option in poultry husbandry was offered in 1935. Student numbers declined in the mid-1960s and the poultry department was eliminated in 1971. Contact Sell, (515) 294-4002, or Susan Thompson, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0705.

RACHEL CARSON PLAY AT ISU ON NOVEMBER 8
The poetry, prose and beliefs of environmentalist Rachel Carson will come alive at Iowa State University in a presentation of "A Sense of Wonder," Thursday, Nov. 8. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU is sponsoring the performance of the one-woman play in the Maintenance Shop at the ISU Memorial Union. No admission will be charged but seating is limited. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the performance will begin at 8 p.m. A discussion led by Leopold Center director Fred Kirschenmann will follow the performance. Other sponsors include the ISU Women's Studies program, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Archives of Women in Science and Engineering, and Committee on Lectures (funded by the Governement of the Student Body). Contact Laura Miller, Leopold Center, (515) 294-5272.

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