European Drought Threatens Harvests From Sweden to the Czech Republic
For farmers in central and northern Europe, this summer's unusually high temperatures aren't just uncomfortable, they are putting their harvests at risk, The Guardian reported Friday.
The drought, caused by high temperatures and low rainfall since May 2018, is the worst in recent memory for the region, according to The Guardian.
"Older families around me are comparing this to 1976," 25-year-old Dutch farmer Iris Bouwers told The Guardian. "My dad can't remember any drought like this."
Bouwers said her family stood to lose €100,000, as their potato crop is likely to fall by 30 percent, and their savings won't cover the loss because of an investment made in a pig stable.
They aren't the only ones. The German Association of the Fruit, Vegetable, and Potato Processing Industry announced Tuesday they expected to see a smaller, less quality potato crop that would lead to a 25 percent revenue loss in the agricultural and potato processing sectors, Earther reported.
EU grain growers are also expecting their smallest harvest in six years, Bloomberg reported. Many German farmers could go bankrupt if their crops fail again, and, for some German farmers, things are so bad that they are destroying crops instead of attempting to harvest them.
"It looks like a desert out there," German dairy and grain farmer Thomas Gaebert told Bloomberg of his land.
The Swedish Farmers Association estimated that if rain doesn't fall soon, its members could lose eight billion Swedish kronor and many could go bankrupt.
"This is really serious," Swedish Farmers Association co-chair Lennart Nilsson told The Guardian. "Most of south-west Sweden hasn't had rain since the first days of May. A very early harvest has started but yields seem to be the lowest for 25 years—50% lower, or more in some cases – and it is causing severe losses."
Overall, in its July Analytical Report, the European Drought Observatory (EDO) found there was a "high deficit in soil moisture" in Scandinavia, Latvia, The Netherlands, northern Germany, Scotland and most of Ireland and an "even stronger deficit" complete with "vegetation stress" in western Belarus, western Poland and parts of the Czech Republic.
But once this year passes, climate change predictions for the region suggest that farmers could see many more like it.
A spokesperson for the EU's Joint Research Center, which runs the EDO, told The Guardian that farmers should prepare by moving towards "diversification or change of crop types and varieties, but also a more efficient use of water."
But, for the time being, European Commission relief for farmers facing the current crisis included suspending environmental obligations intended to help halt climate change, The Guardian reported.
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An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
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Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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