Los resultados, reportados el pasado 10 de agosto en el diario Proceedings de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias, puso en duda la efectividad de remover la vegetación no comestible como una forma de reducir la contaminación de campos de cultivo de frutas y verduras producida por patógenos que causan enfermedades. Esta práctica llevó a una extensa pérdida de hábitats en una región que es globalmente importante para la producción de alimentos y recursos naturales.
La práctica fue implementada ampliamente en respuesta al brote de E. coli en el 2006 en espinacas empaquetadas que provocó la muerte de tres personas y enfermó a cientos más en Estados Unidos. El brote fue rastreado hasta una granja en la Costa Central de California, una región que suministra más del 70 por ciento de las verduras para ensaladas. La cepa de la E. coli fue encontrada en todo el entorno de la granja, incluyendo la heces de ganado vacuno y jabalíes que se encontraban cerca, pero la causa del brote nunca ha sido oficialmente determinada.
"Mucha de la culpa de ese brote se le adjudicó a la vida silvestre, aun cuando las tasas del E. coli entre la misma son por lo general muy bajas", señaló Daniel Karp, estudiante de posgrado de NatureNet del Departamento de Ciencias del Medioambiente, Políticas, Manejo y Conservación de la Naturaleza de UC Berkeley, quien encabezó el citado estudio. "Ahora, los granjeros son presionados por los compradores para que implementen prácticas para ahuyentar a la fauna silvestre de los campos de cultivo. Esto incluye limpiar las áreas de arbustos, plantas y árboles que podrían servir como hábitat o fuente de alimentos para animales silvestres. Nuestro estudio encontró que esta práctica no ha logrado la reducción de E. coli y Salmonella que la gente esperaba".
En cambio, los autores del estudio notaron que la presencia de diversos hábitats en las inmediaciones de los cultivos de alimentos puede, realmente, aportar beneficios agrícolas.
"Existe una fuerte evidencia de que los hábitats naturales que rodean a los campos de cultivo fomentan el crecimiento de la población de abejas silvestres y ayudan a que los cultivos sean polinizados", indicó la también autora principal del estudio Claire Kremen, profesora de ciencias del medioambiente, políticas y administración de UC Berkeley. "También han habido otros estudios que sugieren que un paisaje con una vida vegetativa diferente puede ayudar a filtrar el escurrimiento agroquímico y hasta la bacteria. Este tipo de dinámica no debería tomarse a la ligera".
‘No hay razón para continuar la remoción de hábitats
Los investigadores analizaron alrededor de 250,000 muestras de frutas y verduras, aguas de riego y roedores, conducidas por industrias y académicos entre el 2007 y 2013. Las pruebas se hicieron en muestras de 295 granjas de los Estados Unidos, México y Chile en busca de la presencia de las bacterias patogénica E. coli, Salmonella y cepas genéricas de la E. coli. Los investigadores combinaron la información de las pruebas con un mapa de escala sobre el uso de tierras para identificar características de los parajes que rodean los campos agrícolas.
Los investigadores descubrieron que la remoción de vegetación ribereña o de otro tipo no resultó en una menor detección de patógenos en las frutas y verduras, agua o roedores. En general, la prevalencia de la bacteria patogénica E. coli en verduras de hoja verde se ha incrementado desde el brote, aun cuando los granjeros han removido la flora de los cultivos. De hecho, con el paso del tiempo, los granjeros que removieron más vegetación experimentaron el mayor incremento de la bacteria patogénica E. coli y Salmonella en sus verduras.
"Deshacerse de la vegetación de áreas circundantes es una práctica costosa, de mucho trabajo físico que amenaza el hábitat de la vida silvestre", dijo Karp. "Puesto que no mejora la seguridad alimentaria, no hay razón para continuar con esta práctica".
Sin embargo, el estudio sí encontró que las posibilidades de detectar la bacteria patogénica E. coli era mayor cuando los campos de cultivo se encontraban a una distancia de 1.5 kilómetros de tierras de pastizales que cuando se encontraban más alejadas.
"No está claro si fue el ganado o el pastoreo silvestre lo que elevó los niveles de patógenos en esas tierras, pero hay varias maneras en las que las granjas y ranchos pueden coexistir en un sistema diversificado”, mencionó Karp.
Entre las sugerencias se incluyen:
- Dejar franjas de vegetación entre pastizales y áreas de cultivo de frutas y verduras.
- Colocar bardas para prevenir que los escurrimientos de desecho de ganado en áreas altas fluyan hacia las partes bajas
- Plantar cultivos que por lo general se deben cocinar antes de comerse, como elotes, alcachofas y trigo, entre los campos de frutas y verduras frescas y los pastizales
Reformar prácticas agrícolas
Después del brote de E. coli del 2006 en las espinacas, la industria agrícola de California implementó un programa de certificación voluntaria llamado Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement. A nivel federal, el presidente Obama firmó en el 2011 la Ley de Modernización de la Seguridad Alimentaria (Food Safety Modernization Act), considerada una de las reformas más extensas sobre prácticas agrícolas. Ambos esfuerzos se enfocaron en la prevención de brotes, en lugar de como reaccionar en caso de un brote.
En particular, ni las leyes federales ni el programa estatal establecen la remoción de hábitats de vida silvestre en torno a los campos de cultivo, pero la insistencia de los compradores particulares que quieren mantener la confianza del consumidor en sus productos, podría requerir a los granjeros que tomen medidas que van más allá de las regulaciones gubernamentales.
"Mi verdadera preocupación es que las leyes federales puedan ser interpretadas como el suelo y no el cielo de lo que los granjeros deben hacer. Existe esta idea equivocada que los campos agrícolas deben ser ambientes desinfectados y esterilizados, como un hospital, pero la naturaleza no funciona de esa manera".
El Centro para la Diversidad de los Sistema Agrícolas de la UC Berkeley, el Instituto de Alimentos de Berkeley, The Nature Conservancy NatureNet Fellowship y el Nature Conservancy of California ayudaron a financiar esta investigación.
The Hispanic population reached a new high of 55.4 million in 2014 (or 17.4% of the total U.S. population), an increase of 1.2 million (2.1%) from the year before. However, that 2.1% rate continues a trend of slower growth that began in 2010.
Hispanic population growth had peaked earlier, in the 1990s. From 1995 to 2000, annual average growth was 4.8%, and growth has declined since then. From 2010 to 2014, the annual average growth had dropped to 2.2%. Part of the reason for this decline in population growth is the slowdown in immigration from Latin America, and in particular, from Mexico.
The Census Bureau's annual population estimates detail the nation's demographics in a variety of categories, including race and ethnicity, geography, and age. For example, the county with the highest Hispanic population by far is Los Angeles County in California (4.9 million), followed by Harris County in Texas (1.9 million) and Miami-Dade County in Florida (1.8 million).
Hispanic populations are not necessarily growing everywhere. From 2010 to 2014, the Hispanic population declined in 11 counties that have Hispanic populations of 10,000 or more, located in Alabama (Jefferson), Arizona (Santa Cruz), Florida (Hardee), Georgia (Clayton and DeKalb), New Mexico (Rio Arriba, San Juan, and San Miguel) and Texas (Duval, Hale and Willacy). The biggest decline came in DeKalb County in suburban Atlanta, where the Hispanic population was 64,279 in 2014, down 4% from 2010.
The data showed no change in ranking among the states with the highest Hispanic populations. California still leads the list (15.0 million), followed by Texas (10.4 million) and Florida (4.8 million). Together, these three states account for more than half (55%) the Hispanic population. But their share is down from 58% in 2000, reflecting a wider dispersion of the nation's Hispanic population over the past decade and a half.
In addition, the new Census Bureau estimates show that Hispanics, with a median age of 29 years, are younger than most other racial or ethnic groups. By comparison, the median age for non-Hispanic blacks is 34; it's 43 for non-Hispanic whites and 36 for Asians. But Hispanics are growing older: In 2010, the group's median age was 27, up from 26 in 2000.
Source: Pew Research Center, Hispanic population reaches record 55 million, but growth has cooled by Jens Manuel Krogstad and Mark Hugo Lopez, June 25, 2015.
Economic factors remain an obstacle for enrollment, however. In a 2014 National Journal poll, 66% of Hispanics who got a job or entered the military directly after high school cited the need to help support their family as a reason for not enrolling in college, compared with 39% of whites.
Here are five facts about Latinos and education:
- Over the past decade, the Hispanic high school dropout rate has dropped dramatically. The rate has reached a record low, dropping from 32% in 2000 to 14% in 2013 among those ages 18 to 24 years old. Over the same time period, this has helped lower the U.S. national dropout rate from 12% to 7% – also a record low. However, the Hispanic dropout rate remains higher than it is among blacks (8%), whites (5%) and Asians (4%).
- Hispanics are making big inroads in college enrollment. The number of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 enrolled in a two- or four-year college has more than tripled since 1993. In 2013, 2.2 million Hispanics were enrolled in college, up from 728,000 in 1993 – a 201% increase. By comparison, college enrollment increased by 78% among blacks and 14% among whites over the same time period. Today, Hispanics are the largest minority group on U.S. college campuses.
- Even though more Hispanics are getting a postsecondary education than ever before, Hispanics still lag other groups in obtaining a four-year degree. In 2013, among Hispanics ages 25 to 29, just 15% of Hispanics have a bachelor's degree or higher. By comparison, among the same age group, about 40% of whites have a bachelor's degree or higher (as do 20% of blacks and 60% of Asians). This gap is due in part to the fact that Hispanics are less likely than some other groups to enroll in a four-year college, attend an academically selective college and enroll full-time.
- Another reason Hispanics lag in bachelor's degrees is that nearly half who go to college attend a public two-year school, the highest share of any race or ethnicity. By comparison, among college-goers, 30% of whites, 32% of Asians and 34% of blacks go to a community college.
- Hispanics are significantly less likely than other groups to have student debt. About 22% of young Hispanic households (those headed by someone younger than 40) have education loans. The share is nearly twice as high among young white households (42%) and young black households (40%). This is because, despite growing college enrollment, young Hispanics are not as likely to go to college as some other groups. And among those who do, Hispanics are more likely than others to attend community colleges, which generally have lower tuition than four-year schools.
Source: Pew Research Center, 5 facts about Latinos and education, by Jens Manuel Krogstad, May 26, 2015.
With the growth in the number of bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics in the United States, search marketing cannot simply be a matter of translation. Even someone who is very comfortable in English may switch to Spanish for some searches, according to Gonzalo del Fa, president of GroupM Multicultural.
"Even though digital overall has been growing extremely fast against Hispanics, I still feel search is not there yet and … the biggest barrier is language," he says.
More evidence for the importance of getting the language question right: A recent survey by One Hour Translation found that more than 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a website written in their native language.
The most common mistake marketers make, according to Lior Libman, president of One Hour Translation, is assuming that a simple translation is enough. He says marketers often think, "If a campaign is working in English, I'll hire a translator, and it's good to go." Especially in search, where a tiny difference in wording can result in huge changes in clicks, copy should be fine-tuned and tested by local, native speakers.
The translators need to understand the objective of each keyword, as well, according to del Fa. He points out that there can be many more keywords in Spanish that can express a single product or idea. "Think about 'furniture,'" he says. "In Spanish, we have five ways of saying it. Often, with search campaigns, the client comes in with 50 keywords, and when we put it into Spanish, it becomes 120."
Localization involves more than translation, as Doug Platts, iCrossing's head of SEO, points out. He says that translators should not only be local to the campaign, they should also "be on top of what the trends in that culture are."
Nuance becomes even more important when marketing products that have more emotion attached to them, such as insurance, finance or healthcare. "I don't want to make a mistake in those cases," del Fa says.
But it's even more complicated! Many Hispanics switch between English and Spanish when searching. In a July, 2014, blog post, Lisa Gevelber, Google's vice president of Americas marketing, pointed to a Google consumer survey that found that the majority of U.S. Hispanic mobile users typically search in English or a mix of English and Spanish. At the same time, the number of Google searches that included common Spanish-language question words had nearly doubled since 2011.
Del Fa says that 65 percent of Hispanics know how to search for something in English; if they don't find what they're looking for, they switch to Spanish.
Landing the deal
Finessing the language doesn't stop with the search campaign: How marketers handle landing pages is equally important. According to research by GroupM, the majority of consumers who consider themselves bilingual can operate at work in English but are more comfortable speaking Spanish in their personal lives – including while using search.
In the best of all possible searches, someone who searched for a Spanish keyword would get results leading to pages that were in Spanish and appropriate for his or her region. In the real world, every site can't offer all its pages in English and Spanish. At iCrossing, the advice is to build some core landing pages at the product or service level.
Another good practice, according to del Fa, is to deliver search results in the language in which the landing page is written. "If results are in Spanish, but clicking on one takes them to a website that is not in-language, it will throw the person off," he says.
If it's not possible to create a landing page in Spanish, he advises that it's better to return English-language search results for an in-Spanish search. "If the results are in English, I know the page will be in English, so it's not an issue," he says.
In global campaigns, Spanish-language landing pages need to be localized, as well as the search campaigns themselves, Platts advises. Using hreflang tags to denote the correct regional URL in search results ensures that searchers find what they need. "We don't like to create a Spanish page and that will cover everybody," Platts says. He also notes that paid search paid is an excellent way to test whether a larger digital campaign should be launched in English or Spanish, before a brand invests larger assets.
Finally, search marketers need to remember that language is a tactic, not a strategy, del Fa says. "Let's put a strategy together. Then, when we are down the road planning the tactics, then language will kick in."
Source: Published originally on PortadaOnline.com as The Language of Search: Getting It Right, by Susan Kuchinskas, May 21, 2015.
Despite attaining higher education levels in recent decades, many Latinos find themselves in a "fragile financial state," according to the study released Monday by the TIAA-CREF Institute, the research arm of the New York investment giant.
The report draws on data from the vast 2012 National Financial Capability Study, a national survey of 25,000 American adults, and examines in detail the personal finances of 1,553 respondents who described themselves as Hispanic and reported at least some college education.
"[W]hile growing in economic importance, Hispanics are set apart from the general U.S. population by gaps in wealth and income, as well as less integration with traditional financial institutions, differences that were only exacerbated by the 2008-2009 recession," the report said. "Such disparities affect even college-educated Hispanics, a growing sub-group."
The study, done in collaboration with Global Financial Literacy Center at George Washington University, adds to a growing body of research on the troubled state of Latino finances, including among the college educated, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. Among all U.S. ethnic groups, Latinos were the hardest hit by the crisis and subsequent Great Recession, researchers have found.
Earlier research cited by the TIAA-CREF study shows that from 2005 to 2009, Latino household wealth fell 66%, compared with 53% for African American and 16% for white households.
Unemployment among Latinos doubled from 2007 to 2011, and the poverty rate rose six percentage points from 2006 to 2010, both increasing faster than any other ethnic group, the study said.
The TIAA-CREF survey found that 59% of respondents said they have trouble covering monthly expenses.
It also found that more than half of respondents said they were unable to save at all, and 20% said they spent more than their income over the past year. One third of respondents said they spent as much as their income.
Homeownership among Latino households trails the broader population, with only 53% reporting owning a home compared to 71% for whites, according to the survey.
Illustrating both a cause and symptom of Latino financial difficulties, half of the respondents reported engaging in expensive credit-card practices that can run up interest charges and fees, including paying the minimum monthly balance only, using a card for a cash advance or incurring a late fee.
Source: Originally published on The Los Angeles Times as 59% of college-educated Latinos have trouble meeting monthly expenses, report says, byDean Starkman, May 18, 2015.