It may seem contradictory, but dung beetles and soil bacteria may be better natural suppressants of harmful human pathogens than removing hedgerows, ponds, and other habitats to keep out wild animals on farms, new research found.
Dung beetles and soil bacteria at farms naturally suppress E. coli and other harmful pathogens before they spread to humans, acting as an early link in the food safety chain.
The research appeared in the March 18 issue of the Journal of Applied Ecology.
“We feel that dung beetles and beneficial soil bacteria are another tool in the food safety toolbox, and that they are another benefit of organic agriculture,” says Matthew Jones, PhD, an author of the study and a research faculty member at the Washington State University (WSU) Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Wash.
“Reduced use of broad-spectrum insecticides and wormicides have been found to encourage dung beetle populations,” says Dr. Jones, who led the research as part of his PhD project at WSU.
The study examined two novel pathways through which organic farm management may contribute to an environment that better suppresses pathogens.| | | Next → | Single Page
About Lori Valigra
Lori Valigra writes about science, technology, and business for general and specialty news outlets in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, including coverage of the "farm to fork" movement and food safety. She’s been involved in several media startups, and had articles published by The Boston Globe, Reuters, Science magazine, and others. She holds an MS in science journalism from Boston University and a BS in medical writing from University of Pittsburgh. She won numerous journalism fellowships and awards, including the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lori enjoys bicycling, snowshoeing, gardening, and traveling. She lives in the western mountains of Maine. Reach her at email@example.com.