Volume 21. Number 3. 2016

PG Economics Reports Global Impact Of Biotech Crops

Crop biotechnology has consistently provided important economic and production gains, improves incomes and reduced risk," according to PG Economics report titled GM Crops: Global Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts 1996- 2014 authored by Graham Brookes and Peter Barfoot. The highlights of the report include the following:

  • GM crops enabled the farmers to grow more without using additional land. Without biotechnology, farmers would have needed 20.7 million hectares or more to get the same yield.
  • Biotechnology helped farmers produce more yields. Because of crop biotechnology, 321.8M tons of corn, 24.7M tons of cotton and 158.4M tons of soybeans were added in the global production.
  • GM crops planting practices helped reduce tilling and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 10 million cars off the road in 2014.
For more details, download a copy of the report from PG Economics. Crop Biotech Update, June 1 2016.

Pulses are Praised for Health, Ecological and Economic Benefits

The UN has declared 2016 to be the "International Year of Pulses." According to FAO, "pulses are good for people, and are good for soils." Pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and pigeon peas offer excellent nutritional inputs to human diets, are economically affordable and use relatively little water compared to many other protein sources. In addition, pulses can also fix a large amount of nitrogen in the soil, boosting fertility and thereby reducing the need to apply added fertilizer. FAO News Article 19 April 2016.

Laser Tool May Help Identify Mutant Listeria Bacteria

A study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology shows that a Purdue University-developed laser tool (already effective in quickly detecting harmful bacteria) may be able to detect mutant varieties of Listeria. The BARDOT (bacterial rapid detection using optical scatter technology) laser scans bacteria colonies looking for unique patterns that each bacterium makes. When the light penetrates a bacteria colony, it produces a scatter pattern that can be matched against a library of known bacteria patterns to identify a match. The system can identify bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, Bacillus, Vibrio, and E. coli within 24 hr.

Now, Purdue researchers have shown that BARDOT can pinpoint small genetic mutations in Listeria just as quickly, reducing the time it would take scientists to identify those mutations in bacterial strains used for research. IFT Weekly 12 May 2016.

Encouraging More Marbling, Less Fat In Beef

Researchers at Texas Tech University and Texas A&M may have discovered a way to increase marbling in beef without increasing external fat. The researchers found that the key is isolating a receptor in marbling adipocytes, which are fat cells juxtaposed to muscle tissue. Activation of that receptor, called G-coupled Protein Receptor 43 (GPR 43), produces lipids, and lipids are the key ingredient in marbling.

"We feel if we can regulate this receptor in marbling, we can increase marbling without making the cattle fatter," said Brad Johnson, professor in the Dept. of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech. "As the cattle make fat, the feed efficiency goes down and for consumers we trim off all the excess fat. But if marbling is what consumers want, we can increase marbling at different times in the feeding cycle without making the cattle fatter, and that would be a huge benefit for the beef industry." IFT Weekly 12 May 2016.

Scientists Develop New Gene-Detecting Technology That Could Bring Super Wheat

Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) and The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) have pioneered a new gene-detecting technology which, if deployed correctly could help create a new elite variety of wheat with durable resistance to disease.

Dr. Brande Wulff from the JIC and colleagues from TSL developed the new technology called 'MutRenSeq' which accurately identifies the location of disease resistance genes in large plant genomes, and which has reduced the time it takes to clone these genes in wheat from 5 to 10 years down to just two. This technology will allow scientists to very quickly locate resistance genes from crops, clone them, and stack multiple resistance genes into one elite variety. Crop Biotech Update (May 4, 2016)

Interpol Seizes Largest Haul Of Fake Food, Beverages

A joint Interpol and Europol public health and safety operation resulted in the seizure of more than 10,000 tons and one million liters of hazardous fake food and drink across 57 countries. Dubbed "Operation Opson V," the operation resulted in seizures ranging from nearly nine tons of counterfeit sugar contaminated with fertilizer in Khartoum, Sudan, to Italian officers recovering more than 85 tons of olives which had been "painted" with copper sulfate solutions to enhance their color.

In Greece, officers discovered three illicit factories producing counterfeit alcohol.

Thailand carried out checks on an individual found to be transporting four tons of meat illegally imported from India. Officers recovered and destroyed more than 30 tons of illegal beef and buffalo meat unfit for human consumption.

In Australia, testing of 450 kg of honey revealed it had been blended or adulterated, and a consignment of peanuts had been repackaged and relabeled as pine nuts, posing a significant threat to allergy sufferers.

First launched in 2011, the Opson operations have grown from involving just 10 countries across Europe to involving nearly 60 countries in every region of the world and resulting in the seizure of tens of thousands of tons of fake and substandard food and drink. IFT Weekly 21 April 2016.
Press release

Aflatoxin Update

18 April 2016 - The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) today released its latest Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB), which provides a summary of the most recent information on Aflatoxins for the global food science and technology community. SIBs are prepared for the more than 300,000 members of IUFoST Adhering Bodies worldwide and may be of interest to those serving in academia, industry, government, and development organizations.

Aflatoxin Update and the other titles in the series of IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletins are available online at This SIB was preparedon behalf of, and approved by, the IUFoST Scientific Council by Dr Gerald G. Moy, IUFoST International Academy Fellow and Dr J. David Miller, Professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. Both are members of the IUFoST Aflatoxin Working Group.

How We Feed The World Is Unsustainable, Reports IFPRI

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released its "2016 Global Food Policy Report," which provides an in-depth look at major food policy developments and events in the past year, and examines key challenges and opportunities for the coming year.

The report states that today's global food system has major weaknesses: nearly 800 million people are left hungry, one-third of the human race is malnourished, more than half of some crops never make it to the table, and we use environmentally-unfriendly agricultural practices. It also states that as the global population is expected to soar exponentially in the coming years, various ways must be examined to feed more people efficiently and sustainably, while combatting climate change.

Finally, the report examines how shifting diets-the type, combination, and quantity of foods consumed-can help close the food gap sustainably. While the focus here is on calories and protein, diet shifts must also be implemented with an eye toward providing the full range of nutrients essential to a healthy diet. Three current global diet trends increase the challenge of sustainably closing the food gap: 1) overconsumption of calories, 2) overconsumption of protein and a shift toward animal-based sources, and 3) growing demand for beef, in particular. The report concludes with recommendations to shift those diet trends in order to help close the food gap and reduce agriculture's pressure on land, water, and climate.

Report (pdf) IFT Weekly 14 April 2016

Organogels May Be Used To Replace Margarine In Cookies

A study published in the Journal of Food Science shows that organogels can be used in the place of conventional margarine in cookie formulations. Structuring liquid oils with organogelators has become an active research area to replace trans fats without increasing the amount of saturated fats in food products. Among the many types of organogelators are natural waxes such as candelilla wax, rice bran wax, sunflower wax, carnauba wax, and beeswax. In this study, the researchers wanted to examine the feasibility of replacing conventional margarine in cookies with an organogel of vegetable oil (VO) and natural wax.

To understand the effects of different kinds of waxes, the researchers prepared organogels from four different waxes including sunflower wax, rice bran wax, beeswax, and candelilla wax. They then evaluated the properties of the cookie dough and the final, baked cookie. To investigate the effects of different VOs on the properties of cookies, the researchers used three VOs including olive oil, soybean oil, and flaxseed oil.

Using differential scanning calorimetry, the researchers found that both the wax and VO significantly affected properties of the organogel such as firmness and melting behavior. The highest firmness of organogel was observed with sunflower wax and flaxseed oil. Properties of dough such as hardness and melting behavior were also significantly affected by wax and VO while trends were somewhat different from those for organogels. Sunflower wax and rice bran wax provided the greatest hardness to cookie dough.

However, hardness, spread factor, and fracturability of the cookie containing the wax-VO organogel were not significantly affected by different waxes and VOs. Several cookies made with wax-VO organogels showed similar properties to cookies made with a commercial margarine. The researchers concluded that there is a high feasibility of using organogel technology in real foods such as cookies that are rich in unsaturated fats. IFT Weekly 31 March 2016


Neastlé South Africa's Expansion

Nestlé South Africa has officially opened its expanded instant coffee manufacturing plant in Estcourt after a R1.2 billion (approximately $83 million) investment into the expansion of the factory. The investment into the expansion of the factory forms part of the company's R2.9 billion (approximately $203 million) foreign direct investment in the last five years. The expansion includes the construction of a waste water treatment plant, a new coffee processing plant, upgrading the existing coffee processing, and a coffee drying plant. IFT Weekly 21 April 2016.
South African plant press release

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