Volume 23. Number 3. 2018

USDA Proposes New National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invites public comments on the proposed rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016. The standard will provide a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels that could be confusing for consumers and would likely drive up food costs.

The proposed rule is open for comment for 60 days, and will end on July 3, 2018. Due to the Congressionally mandated timeline for this rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended. For more information, and for details on submitting comments, read the USDA press release. The proposed rule can be previewed in the May 3 Federal Register. Crop Biotech Update 9 May 2018

Growing conditions impact cocoa bean chemistry, chocolate flavor

Drought conditions and low moisture levels in soil affect the chemical composition of cocoa beans and may produce more flavorful chocolate, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The researchers analysed cocoa beans that were grown in an agroforestry system and full-sun monoculture under both organic and conventional farming as well as beans grown organically in a highly diverse successional agroforestry system. Read more...
IFTNEXT Newsletter 9 May 2018.

E. Coli’s Internal Bomb Offers Chink In Armour

Bacteria's internal bomb, the so-called toxin-antitoxin (TA) system that is part of the normal bacterial makeup, may be triggered to make bacteria turn on themselves, providing a valuable target for novel antimicrobial approaches in drug design, according to research presented at the 28th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).

Fostering Innovation Key for a Healthy, Wealthy and Food-Secure Commonwealth

Commonwealth countries must embrace innovations to address food, fuel, and health needs of her people. This was a clarion call by scientists and government representatives attending the Commonwealth Innovation Forum (TCIF), held in Queensland, Australia from April 5-6, 2018.

The forum unanimously acknowledged innovation's role in delivering diversified and stronger global economic productivity. Echoing the message, Prime Minister of Malta, Dr. Joseph Muscat stressed that ideas and collaboration among different scientists and leaders are key to fostering innovations that can upscale the Commonwealth economy. "Innovation is not the stuff of laboratories, it requires us to listen to the needs of the people," he remarked. On the need and passion behind feeding the people of the world, Prof. Sagadeevan Mundree, Director, Center for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at Queensland University of Technology decried the complexity of the issue, which he explained is very poorly understood. This was further emphasized by Professor James Dale through the long journey it has taken to deliver a GM banana variety through a collaboration with Ugandan scientists. "Agricultural biotechnology offers many benefits that can attract youth and make them part of the solution to food insecurity instead of being part of the problem," he observed. Crop Biotech Update (25 April 2018)

Masking the Bitterness of Green Vegetables May Improve Palatability

Scientists are reporting in the journal Appetite that adding very small amounts of sugar to green vegetables significantly masks their bitterness, and therefore increases palatability without altering other sensory properties. RSSL Food e-News. Edition 654 Mar-Apr 2018. For the full article.

Will Regenerative Agriculture be the Next ‘Organic’ for Consumers?

Many consumers see “organic” on a food/beverage product and know that it was produced without chemical fertilisers and pesticides. But even among organic enthusiasts, most are probably not familiar with the term “regenerative agriculture.” A group of non-profit associations and food manufacturers—including Danone, Ben & Jerry’s, and Annie’s—are working to change that. Read.
IFT NEXT Newsletter 25 April 2018.

Hops Compounds May Deliver a Brain Boost

New research suggests that a derivative of the same chemical compound found in beer has the potential to improve cognitive function in people with metabolic syndrome, a common health condition associated with cognitive dysfunction and dementia. The research, conducted at Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University, focused on a group of compounds found in hops, an essential ingredient in beer making. Read more...
IFT NEXT Newsletter 18 April 2018.

Hybridisation and the New Frontier Against The spread of Global Pests

It's the stuff of science fiction. Hybridisation of two caterpillars in Brazil confirmed through extensive genomic testing by CSIRO researchers.

But it’s real and will enable the international agricultural community to stay ahead in the race to combat the megapest.

Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa zea (commonly known as the cotton bollworm and corn earworm, respectively) are the world’s greatest caterpillar pests of broad-acre crops, causing in excess of US $5 billion in control costs and damage each year across Asia, Europe, Africa, America and Australia.

Researchers have used world-first genome mapping technology to confirm the bollworm has been spreading rapidly in Brazil and hybridising with the earworm.

The caterpillar is retaining the strongest characteristics of both species posing a real threat that the new and improved “superbug” could spread and cause widespread crop destruction. ECOS April 6, 2018.

Failsafe Profiling of Food Nutrients

Capturing food nutrient profiles is rife with challenges, including the common difficulty scientists face when trying to reproduce results using different methods. But W. Craig Byrdwell, an analytical chemist, has developed a groundbreaking method that resolves discrepancies and paves the way for better determining dietary recommendations. Read more...
IFT NEXT Newsletter 4 April 2018

Forty Years of Data Quantifies Benefits of Bt Corn Adoption Across Different Crops

Bt corn, a genetically modified crop adopted in the United States in 1996, makes up over 90% of the current corn production in the country. In the study, Dr. Galen Dively, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Consultant in the Department of Entomology, and Dr. Dilip Venugopal, UMD Research Associate, used data from 1976-2016 to look at trends 20 years before and 20 years after Bt corn adoption. "Safety of Bt corn and other GMOs has been tested and proven extensively, but this study is about effectiveness of Bt corn as a pest management strategy, particularly for offsite crops or different crops in different areas than the Bt corn itself," explains Dr.Venugopal, University of Maryland (UMD) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR).

By controlling the corn borer population, the study shows significant decreases in recommended spraying regimens, pest populations, and overall crop damage not just for corn, but also for peppers, green beans, and other important crops to North American agriculture. These benefits have never before been documented and showcase Bt corn as a powerful tool to combat pesticide resistance and advance the agricultural industry. Crop Biotech Update, March 14, 2018. Read more about this study in the AGNR News & Events.

Snippets - contributions are welcome. Edited and produced by Dr. B Cole. - / Fax +27 (0)86 625 2869 with the help of the Northern Branch Committee.