Volume 23. Number 4. 2018

Labelling May Decrease Opposition to Genetically Engineered Food

On July 1, 2016, a Vermont law went into effect requiring labels on all foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A study published in Science Advances suggests that mandatory labelling may improve consumers’ support of GE foods. IFT Weekly Newsletter 12 July 2018.

New Study Pinpoints Ways to Improve Quality of Food & Nutrition Research

WASHINGTON DC (July 5, 2018) - In a study published on 5 July in PLOS ONE, experts analyzed reams of past food and nutrition research to help identify and spur action in areas where meaningful improvements can be made in the design and execution of future food and nutrition studies. This is one of the first studies to use "Risk of Bias (ROB) domains," as defined by Cochrane, in this way. Researchers typically use ROB domains to evaluate the relative strengths of individual studies when conducting systematic reviews.

Protein Potential: Grasshopper Meal Can be Used in Extruded Maize Snacks

Blending grasshopper meal into extruded maize snacks can create an acceptable and nutritious snack rich in protein, say researchers... Bakery and 19/5/2018

Meeting the Demand for Milk Sustainability

Got milk? For some consumers, having a daily dose of milk may become a challenge as the demand for milk is outpacing the supply. And finding a way to meet the demand sustainably only adds to the challenge. The consumption of milk around the world is expected to increase more than 60% over the next 40 years, and the exporters in the EU, New Zealand, and the United States are having a difficult time meeting the demand in a sustainable manner.
Read more... IFTNEXT Newsletter 20/6/2018

European and French Studies Disprove Seralini's GM Maize Claims

Three studies including GRACE and G-TwYST at European level and GMO90+ in France launched by European and French authorities disprove the controversial study on genetically modified (GM) maize by Gilles-Éric Séralini.

In September 2012, Gilles-Eric Séralini, a professor at the University of Caen, published a sensational article in Food and Chemical Toxicology, which later retracted the study, claiming that GM maize NK603 induces tumors in rats. The results of the European Union funded G-TwYST were reported on April 29, 2018 at a conference in Bratislava, Slovakia which confirms the lack of health effects of maize MON810 and NK603 in the 90-day rat feeding studies.

The AFBV asserts that "European consumers must be informed of the results of these studies, and should reassure them on the quality for their health of genetically modified plants authorized for commercialization and on the European evaluation procedure, already the most rigorous in the world. Crop Biotech Update (June 6, 2018) Read the results from G-TwYST.

Drinking Kefir May Lower Blood Pressure by Improving Gut-brain Signalling

Human trials have shown that consuming probiotics can help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and prehypertension, but the mechanisms by which they do so aren’t fully understood. A study from Auburn University researchers working in collaboration with the University of Vila Velha in Brazil sheds new light on the subject, suggesting that drinking the fermented probiotic milk beverage kefir can lower blood pressure by promoting communication along the gut-brain axis.

“Our study has shown that there is a science-based reason by which probiotics, particularly kefir, may be beneficial to lower blood pressure during hypertension in a rat experimental model,” Biancardi, an Auburn University assistant professor and principal investigator of the study, summarises and points out that although the kefir treatment significantly improved blood pressure, gut function, and the brain alterations that occur during hypertension, it did not completely normalise them. Future research that establishes the optimal dose of kefir for use in treating hypertension might be beneficial, Biancardi adds. IFTNEXT. June 5, 2018.

Golden Rice Gets Approval from US FDA

On May 24, 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) released a statement on GR2E Golden Rice, a rice genetically engineered to produce provitamin A carotenoids. The US FDA statement concurs with the assessment of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) regarding the safety and nutrition of Golden Rice.

The US FDA approval is the third positive food safety evaluation of Golden Rice, after the approvals granted by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and Health Canada in February and March 2018, respectively. Crop Biotec Update. 30 May 2018.

Egg a Day Tied to Lower Risk of Heart Disease

A study published in the journal Heart suggests that consuming almost an egg a day might help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. The IFT Weekly. 22 May 2018.

Transgenic Pigs that Digest Grains Better can Reduce Pork Industry's Carbon Footprint

A new research published in eLife presents transgenic pigs with the ability to digest more nutrients, which could possibly help reduce the pork industry's environmental impact.

A large amount of feed for pigs is wasted as they are unable to digest two of its key nutrients that cause environmental damage: nitrogen and phosphorus. Excessive amounts of these nutrients are subsequently released through the animals' manure into the environment, where they can pollute both air and water. Pigs release harmful amounts of these nutrients as they lack the microbial enzymes that break down phytate - the main source of nitrogen and phosphorus - and types of fiber called non-starch polysaccharides. The enzymes are ?-glucanase, xylanase, and phytase.

The group led by Xianwei Zhang, postdoctoral researcher at the South China Agricultural University delivered the three enzymes into the genome of pigs. The enzymes were optimized to adapt to the pigs' digestive system. They were expressed specifically in the pigs' salivary gland, allowing the digestion of phytate and non-starch polysaccharides to begin in the mouth. The feeding trials showed that the pigs were able to digest these and other key nutrients, lowering their emissions as a result. The team also found that the animals' increased nutrient uptake led to a faster growth rate, and that no negative side effected were reported. Crop Biotech Update. 30 May 2018.

For more details, read the paper in eLife.

Study Says GM Potato Can Help Cut Pesticide Use by up to 90%

A new study conducted by a team of scientists from Wageningen University & Research and Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority reveals that a potato variety genetically engineered to resist potato blight can help reduce the use of chemical fungicides by up to 90 percent. The approach uses two tools: a genetically modified (GM) potato along with a new pest management strategy.

Potato blight, caused by the water mold Phytophthora infestans, causes significant losses to potato farmers worldwide. Farmers resort to spraying their crops with fungicides on a weekly basis to control the disease.

The international team of scientists developed the IPM2.0 approach which involves growing blight-resistant potato crops and monitoring an active pathogen population and a "do not spray unless" fungicide use strategy. This strategy means farmers will not apply fungicides unless a potato variety is at risk by a pathogen. The team tested their strategy over several years in potato-growing countries Ireland and the Netherlands using three potato varieties: a susceptible variety called Désirée, resistant variety Sarpo Mira, and a resistant version of the Désirée which received a resistance gene from a wild relative through cisgenesis.

The susceptible potato variety and the two resistant ones were cultivated comparing common practice, with fungicides applied on a weekly basis, and the IPM2.0 method. The IPM2.0 strategy on the susceptible variety Désirée, resulted in an average reduction of 15% on the fungicide input. Both resistant varieties, however, remained healthy with an average 80 to 90% reduction of the fungicide input. Crop Biotech Update. 23 May, 2018.

For more details, read the Wageningen University & Research News.

Corn Breaks Genetics Law

Some heirloom varieties of corn contain a cheater chromosome, called Abnormal chromosome 10 (Ab10). It cheats in the female part of the flower during meiosis, where it is regularly transmitted about 75 percent of the time instead of the normal 50 percent.

A team of researchers from multiple universities led by University of Georgia Professor of Genetics, Kelly Dawe, discovered that Ab10 encodes a cluster of genes coding for specialised motor proteins. These motor proteins bind to chromosomes and actively pull them to the reproductive egg cell. The molecular motors are only found on Ab10, and they enable the Ab10 chromosome to be transmitted to more than 50 percent of the offspring.

These so-called meiotic drive systems were thought to have evolved and gone extinct many times. The presence of cheaters has favored the evolution of new biological rules that thwart the cheaters and ensure overall fairness. It is rare to visualize a cheater in action, and rarer still to solve its molecular mechanism. "The mystery had been known for many years before I began studying it, and we have been trying to solve the problem in our laboratory for over 20 years," Dawe said. "It was very satisfying to finally find the genes, and even more satisfying to learn that molecular motors are powering the process."

Read more from UGA Today.

First Wave of Stakeholders Weighs in on ‘Bioengineered’ Labels.

If the first wave of comments to its proposed rule on GMO labelling is anything to go by, USDA’s agricultural marketing service faces a daunting task as it seeks to nail down its national bioengineered food disclosure standard, with early feedback revealing significant disagreement over every issue from the interpretation of ‘bioengineered,’ to the merits of the term itself... Bakery and Snacks 15/5/2018

WHO Updates Saturated, trans Fats Intake Guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released updated draft recommendations stating that adults and children should consume a maximum of 10% of their daily calories in the form of saturated fat such as meat and butter and 1% from trans fats to reduce the risk of heart disease. Total fat consumption should not exceed 30% of total energy intake to avoid unhealthy weight gain.

Red Meat and Colon Cancer: A Review of Mechanistic Evidence for Heme in the Context of Risk

Assessment Methodology Kruger C, Zhou Y. Food Chem Toxicol. 2018 Apr 21. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2018.04.048.

The Article Links Significance: This review examines the weight of the mechanistic evidence associating exposure to red meat with colorectal cancer.

In conclusion, the methodologies employed in current mechanistic studies of heme and colorectal cancer have not provided sufficient documentation that the mechanisms studied would contribute to an increased risk of promotion of preneoplasia or colon cancer at usual dietary intakes of red meat in the context of a normal diet. ILSI Food Safety Briefs. April 2018.

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.