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Living close to livestock reduces allergy risk
Protection tied to living close to a farm was strongest for those who lived near cattle or pigs.
Protection close to those who lived near cattle or pigs

Living close to livestock appears to reduce the risk of allergies, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that people who lived within 327 meters (1,073 feet) of a farm were less likely to experience allergies compared to those living more than 500m (1,640 feet) away.

Researchers found similar results when they looked specifically at pig and cattle farms.

Speaking to news agency Reuters, senior author Lidwien Smit of Utrecht University said: "For 20 years, a large number of studies have shown that allergies are less prevalent in farmers and farmers' children.

“Farming is actually one of the few environmental exposures consistently linked to respiratory allergies. It's important because the number of people affected by respiratory allergies has sharply increased over the last few decades."

More than 2,400 participants submitted blood samples to the study, which were analysed for allergy antibodies to cats, dogs, dust mites and grass. The researchers also used weather and geographic data to ascertain the distance of each person’s home from neighbouring farms, the types of animals on those farms, and to estimate dust emissions.  

They report that around 30 per cent of participants had allergies, mostly to grass and house dust mites. About a third of the participants had lived on a farm during childhood.

The team notes that protection tied to living close to a farm was strongest for those who lived near cattle or pigs, as well as those who grew up on a farm. 

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.