First a virus came for our pork, infecting pigs with a deadly diarrhea and increasing supermarket prices for the meat nationwide. Now, another staple of the American carnivore is facing a biological threat of its own.
There’s a problem with chicken fertility.
Reuters reports that the Aviagen Group, the world’s largest chicken breeder, “has discovered that a key breed of rooster has a genetic issue that is reducing its fertility.” The report does not indicate the nature of the genetic problem. Rather, Aviagen “has acknowledged that an undisclosed change it made to the breed’s genetics made the birds ‘very sensitive’ to being overfed,” which presumably, in turn, decreases fertility.
Previously about 15 percent of eggs from Aviagen hens would fail to hatch chicks; now, that figure is 17 percent. That increase will translate to significant impacts on the market, as Aviagen sires as many as 25 percent of the nation’s chickens. In 2010, U.S. poultry farms produced 36.9 billion pounds of chicken, which is roughly on the same scale as the mass of concrete in China’s terrifyingly enormous Three Gorges Dam, and more massive than the great pyramid at Giza.
This comes at an inopportune time for the U.S. poultry industry. Due to recent hikes in the price of beef and pork, demand for chicken is expected to rise. Chicken companies would typically respond to such demands by increasing the number of chickens in the market, Reuters reports. With decreased fertility, that may not happen. Producers are scrambling to catch up.
“At this point the broiler industry has yet to make any consistent strong increases in production,” the Agriculture Department’s June poultry production report reads. “Although with good domestic prices, lower feed costs, and forecasts for price strength in the beef and pork industries, the broiler industry would normally be moving into an expansion mode.” Slow growth in chicken production led the USDA to decrease this year’s chicken outlook by 195 million pounds, which is equal to about the average yearly chicken consumption of 2.3 million Americans.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
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Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
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