Volume 18. Number 6. 2013

The Year's Major Concerns?

Meat Contamination - Horse and other species found by PCR.
Salt in the diet
Food waste
Effluent contamination of irrigation water
GMO's (and unworkable legislation)
Chicken brining
The NZ - Fonterra - Clostridium contamination of dairy products
(From your editor)

Analysts: Drought Tolerant Maize Has Measurable Impact on African Agriculture

The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project, which was launched in 2006 and seeks to mitigate drought and other barriers to production in the region, was reported to have brought positive results on African agriculture. Economic analyses further suggest that if widely adopted, drought tolerant maize seed can help African farmers cope with such impediments.

Among the targets that the project has achieved so far in terms of measurable impact are the following:

  • 140 new DTMA varieties were released in Africa;
  • An impact efficiency study which indicated that several countries were able to reach their objectives in terms of seed production; Zimbabwe and Kenya were able to double their previous expected figures;
  • 110 African seed companies (72 small-national, 18 regional, 12 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and 8 international enterprises) have adopted, produced and spread the new DTM varieties to local farmers;
  • These new varieties were planted in 1,230,000 farmlands; and
  • Three million households and 20 million people in total were benefited and reached by the technology. Crop Biotech Update 23 October 2013

For more information, visit

Genetic Discovery Offers Bio-solution to Severe Canola Crop Losses

An international team led by researchers from the University of Calgary (UC) has made a genetic discovery that offers solution to canola's "green seed problem." The researchers have uncovered a plant gene regulatory network that could be genetically enhanced to prevent green seeds from occurring in mature canola.

According to team leader Marcus Samuel, every year, light frost damages crop quality and causes severe canola losses. Although frost does not kill the plants, it fixes the green color in the seeds, affecting oil quality and producing unpleasant flavor and odor, and reducing the oil's shelf life. The research team investigated the de-greening process using a mutant strain of Arabidopsis that produces mature green seeds, and performed genetic analyses that uncovered a pathway required for seed development and removal of unwanted chlorophyll during seed maturation. They found that a protein called ABI3 regulated expression of a gene controlling chlorophyll degradation and showed that a higher expression of ABI3 in Arabidopsis led to seeds that were able to de-green normally to produce mature brown-black seeds, despite harsh cold treatments. Crop Biotech Update. Oct. 2, 2013

For more about this research, read the news release at

FONA launches website to bring food science to classrooms

FONA International (a flavour company) has launched a new website for its educational program-Discover FONA-to help teachers bring food and flavor science to life for their students. The website ( is a growing resource for teachers with engaging lesson plans, demonstrations, tools, and resources for hands-on learning and exploration into the food and flavor industries. IFT The Weekly Sep 18, 2013

Cilantro may help purify drinking water

A study presented at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society shows that cilantro may be an inexpensive new way of purifying drinking water. The researchers say that cilantro-also known as coriander and Thai parsley-shows promise as a much-needed new "biosorbent" for removing lead and other potentially toxic heavy metals from contaminated water.

"Cilantro may seem too pricey for use in decontaminating large amounts of water for drinking and cooking," said Douglas Schauer, Program Chair and Associate Professor of Chemical Technology at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. "However, cilantro grows wild in vast amounts in countries that have problems with heavy-metal water pollution. It is readily available, inexpensive, and shows promise in removing certain metals, such as lead, copper, and mercury, that can be harmful to human health."

Conventional methods for removing heavy metals from water such as treatment with activated carbon (used in the filters in home water purification pitchers) or more advanced technology like ion-exchange resins are very effective. However, they can be too expensive for use in developing countries, especially in rural areas. The need for lower-cost, sustainable alternatives has fostered research on biosorbents. These natural materials, which range from microbes to plants, latch on to heavy metals in ways that include both absorption and adsorption. IFT The Weekly Sep 18, 2013

Food expiration date confusion may be leading to more food waste

U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America's array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified, according to a new report co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic. One key finding from an industry-conducted survey: More than 90% of Americans may be prematurely tossing food because they misinterpret food labels as indicators of food safety.

"Expiration dates are in need of some serious myth-busting because they're leading us to waste money and throw out perfectly good food, along with all of the resources that went into growing it," said Dana Gunders, NRDC Staff Scientist with the food and agriculture program. "Phrases like 'sell by', 'use by', and 'best before' are poorly regulated, misinterpreted, and lead to a false confidence in food safety. It is time for a well-intended but wildly ineffective food date labeling system to get a makeover." IFT The Weekly 18 Sep 2013. (This applies equally in SA! Ed.)

Coffee may help prevent prostate cancer recurrence, progression

A study published in Cancer Causes & Control (Aug 2013) shows that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer recurrence and progression. Janet L. Stanford, Co-director of the Program in Prostate Cancer Research in the Fred Hutchinson Public Health Sciences Division, conducted the study to determine whether the bioactive compounds in coffee and tea may prevent prostate cancer recurrence and delay progression of the disease.

The researchers found that men who drank four or more cups of coffee per day experienced a 59% reduced risk of prostate cancer recurrence and/or progression as compared to those who drank only one or fewer cups per week. They did not, however, find an association between coffee drinking and reduced mortality from prostate cancer, although the study included too few men who died of prostate cancer to address that issue separately.

Regarding tea consumption, the researchers did not find an associated reduction of prostate cancer recurrence and/or progression.

The researchers emphasize that coffee or specific coffee components cannot be recommended for secondary prevention of prostate cancer before the preventive effect has been demonstrated in a randomized clinical trial. Further, there's ongoing debate about which components in coffee are anti-carcinogenic, and additional large, prospective studies are needed to confirm whether coffee intake is beneficial for secondary prevention.

The investigators also noted limits to their study, which included a lack of data on how coffee consumption might have changed following diagnosis, whether the coffee that participants consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated, and how the coffee was prepared (espresso, boiled, or filtered), a factor that may affect the bioactive properties of the brew. IFT Weekly August 28, 2013.

Broccoli may help defend against DNA damage from smoking

A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that consuming broccoli may be able to boost the body's defense against DNA damage caused by smoking.

Besides causing cancer and other health issues, cigarette smoke contains a large amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other substances that may cause oxidative damage to DNA. Past studies have shown that broccoli and other brassica vegetables may reduce cancer risks and reduce levels of free radicals. In this study, the researchers analyzed the intake of broccoli in 10 healthy smokers. The subjects consumed a single portion of steamed broccoli (250 g) with cooked pasta. Blood was drawn at baseline and at 3, 6, and 24 hrs from consumption.

The researchers found that a single portion (250 g) of broccoli was found to improve cell protection against oxidative DNA damage in smokers. Levels of vitamin C in blood plasma were found to increase by 35% while folate increased by 70%.

"These results document the importance of regular consumption of broccoli, and fruits and vegetables in general, to improve our defense system against oxidative stress," said lead researcher Patrizia Riso. FDA Weekly 22 Aug 13

Snippets - contributions are welcome. Edited and produced by Dr. B Cole. - / Fx 011 660 6444 with the help of the Northern Branch Committee.