Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Our ancestor’s bones are contaminating animal feeds!

16.08.2005


Bone splinters from land animals (left) and from molasses shreds (right) in polarised light in the microscope (200x magnif.). Clearly visible the characteristic "lacunes"
Fotos: R. Modi, University of Hohenheim


Soil adhering tuber crops
Fotos: E. Schnug, FAL Braunschweig


Results of an experts round table "decomposition behaviour of animal residues in soil" at the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL), Braunschweig, Germany.

As a result of the BSE-crisis, any feed for livestock must be "free" of anything of animal origin. This EU-decree lasts until 2006 and should prevent "MBM" (Meat Bone Meal) from reaching the feed trough. MBM means the heated, dried and ground remains of animal slaughter waste. In themselves these amount to about a third of total animal slaughter waste, which has to be disposed of, and also includes blood, feathers and other components of animal bodies which are not usually included in feedstuffs. But which, for hygiene reasons, still need to be disposed of. MBM can still be used as a fertiliser, but only MBM of category III, which has to be produced out of non-commercialised or non-marketable material that is classed as "fit for human consumption".

Checks are made for bone fragments and other animal components, like muscle fibres, hair or feathers in feedstuff samples. These microscopic tests check to identify bones by their characteristic surface patterns, so called "lacuna" (picture 1). If only one tiny identifiable bone splinter is found in a feedstuff, an unauthorised admixture of animal components will be assumed and the whole part will have to be destroyed ("zero tolerance"). This happened on 23rd November 2004 in Ireland, where the authorities blocked the import of 1.645 tons of German feedstuff derived from sugar beet pulp after finding bone fragments. In the immediate aftermath caused by the RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) similar samples were scrutinised in Germany and bone fragments were found "not always but more and more often".



Against this background, experts met and discussed the origin and detection of bone fragments in field crops at a meeting in the Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL), Braunschweig, Germany.

The remains of animal bodies contain organic (soft tissue, cartilage, horn, hair) and mineral (bones) components. When in the soil, the organic components are almost completely decomposed in 1-2 years (soft tissue), and slightly longer - to 5-8 years for horn and hair, bones remain for far longer periods. Essentially this duration is dependent on the acidity (pH-value) and on the moisture content of the soil. Bones and bone fragments are a normal component of soils, they descend from perished or killed creatures, for example during tilling and harvesting, remains of the predators "meals" and excrements of these predators (for example foxes and birds of prey).

In soils with a pH-value ? 6, there is no appreciable decomposition of bone material in the soil for several hundred years. In lime containing soils bones survive for unlimited periods: Scientists at Goettingen University estimated the total inventory of bones at 9-98 tons per ha in a 0-30cm depth in three quarters of the soils investigated by them. The amounts of MBM accumulating because of the present feeding prohibition represent a considerable waste problem throughout Europe. This makes the use of fertilisers containing his material attractive, because the price of disposal is approx. 200 EUR for burning. The amounts of bones from MBM-fertilising at a typical application of 2 tons of MBM per ha spreads the equivalent amount of bones per square meter of soil as 10 mice carcasses (approx. 15 g).

Bone material can reach the food chain out of the agricultural soils by taking in animals with the crop material or by the external sticking or by soil material grown into tubers (picture 2). The German experts agreed that neither using the microscopic method prescribed by the EU as a standard measure, nor with the latest molecular biological measures (PCR, Polymerase Chain Reaction) is it possible to clearly determine the identity, origin and age of bone fragments in soils and field crops.

As a result the scientists concluded that because of the ubiquitous occurrence of bones in the soils and independent of the use of bones containing fertilisers (for example MBM) with a high probability, bone material can be detected in all field and forage crops resulting from soil adhesion. They further conclude that the Official testing method and especially the zero tolerance of bones in feedstuffs, and the conditions on the use of MBM for fertilising purposes need urgently re-examining.

For further details: Prof. Dr. Dr. Ewald Schnug, Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL), Institute for Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Bundesallee 50, 38116 Braunschweig, E-Mail: pb@fal.de

Margit Fink | idw
Further information:
http://www.idw-online.de/pages/de/news99437
http://www.fal.de

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>