AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is ending use of the pesticide endosulfan in the United States. The chemical is used on some fruits and vegetables as well as cotton.

The E.P.A. says endosulfan can cause nerve damage in farm workers and is also a hazard to wildlife. The agency is working with the manufacturer to phase out production.

Endosulfan is not approved for home use and is not considered a threat to consumers.

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The State Farm Bureau reports farmers will produce about 10-percent fewer tons of prunes this year. Production is expected to be about 150,000 tons.

Cooler weather and a lighter fruit set in 2010 are reported as major factors in the smaller crop. Farmers are also having more pest pressure as a result of the increased rain and cooler temperatures.

California produces about 99 percent of the nation's prunes.

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Some Marines have been getting some training at Fresno State before they head to Afghanistan.

Patrol duty on the Fresno State Farm is helping these Marines prepare for deployment. For the 11th Marine Regiment Civil Affairs Detachment this week-long mission involves agricultural training.

"We're going to be out on patrol with all the infantry marines. We're going to be the primary interactors with these afghan farmers," said Lt. Karl Kadon with the 11th Marine Regiment.

They'll help Afghanis solve their most pressing problems so they need basic knowledge of farming and irrigation. "How to develop an understanding for how the Afghanis are really connected to the land," said Bill Erysian with Fresno State.

Bill Erysian of Fresno State's Jordan College of Ag Sciences and Technology helped develop this first-of-its kind program for the Marine Corps. The variety of crops produced at Fresno State gives the marines a good idea of what is grown in Afghanistan. The marines will soon deploy to Southern Afghanistan, a hot spot for insurgency.

Lt. Kadon says agricultural knowledge learned here at Fresno State will help them establish trust among local farmers. "Give them a better way of life and facilitate legitimate governance in Afghanistan."

They also hope to help Afghani farmers find alternatives to growing poppies which are used to produce opium.

"The farmers really don't want to rely on poppy, I can tell you that. They want to grow crops which they are proud of that they can support themselves," said Fresno State Ag Lab Director Ganesan Srinivasan.

Srvinivasan was most recently in Afghanistan three years ago.

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Scientists think cell phones may be causing honeybees to die off.

Many bee colonies in the U.S. and Canada have fallen victim to "colony collapse disorder."

Geek.com reports researchers in India think cell radiation is a key factor in colony collapse disorder. They found bees make less honey when cell phones are on just 15 minutes a day. Scientists say cell phones wreak havoc on bees' navigation senses.

But studies in the U.K. have shown that hives have been successful in London in areas with extremely high mobile phone use. Researchers there think the bees may be adapting.

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