Volume 24. Number 5. 2019

The Future of Coffee May be Beanless

A study published in Science magazine earlier this year concluded that 60% of the world’s coffee species are in danger of going extinct in the next 50 years due to climate change, population expansion, and disease. Combined with the large amount of water used to grow the crop and the deforestation that often accompanies its planting, coffee’s future is uncertain. Thanks to food scientist and IFT member Jarret Stopforth and entrepreneur Andy Kleitsch, future generations may still be able to enjoy a morning cup of joe. In February 2019, they founded Atomo Coffee, a line of “molecular coffee” that has the same taste, aroma, and caffeine as traditional coffee but without the bitterness or the bean.

With the initial goal of re-engineering coffee to eliminate the bitterness, Stopforth used gas and liquid chromatography to deconstruct the caffeinated beverage into the 1,000+ compounds that give coffee its colour, flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, and of course, caffeine.

“The coffee industry is ripe for innovation and change,” saidStopforth, who has worked with other food brands such as Chobani,Campbell Soup, and Soylent. "The acceptance of agriculture alternatives has been proven with meatless meats and dairy-freemilks, we want to continue that movement in a category we feel passionate about, coffee. "IFTNEXT 4 September 2019

Major GM Crops Hit Saturation Point in Biggest Markets, ISAAA Reports

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Adoption rates of the top five biotech crop-planting countries were close to 100% in 2018, according to the GlobalStatus of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops in 2018. The report was released by the International Service of Acquisitionon Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) on August 22, 2019 during a seminar in Tokyo, Japan, attended by 90 stakeholders. The U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and India, which have gained enormous benefits from planting GM crops over the years, continue to adopt GM crops to meet the challenges of increased population and climate change. CropBiotech Update 28 August 2019

USDA Devises Way to Increase Grain Yields

A few years ago, USDA–ARS scientists in Akron, Colo., noticed that wheat crops growing in low-lying areas produced a greater yield than wheat crops in higher elevations. They originally attributed the difference in yield to low-lying fields’ capturing run-off from higher spots, thereby exposing them tomore organic matter and water. The difference in yields between low-lying fields and high-elevation fields ranged from 17 bushels per acre to 110 bushels per acre.

Upon studying the phenomenon closer, the scientists determined that for every three-foot increase in elevation, crop yield decreased by 35%. In Colorado, the difference in elevations between crop fields could be as much as 15 feet. The scientists are using this information to set up several test fields at various elevations to determine whether different rates of fertilizer will affect crop yield. Farmers usually apply the same amount of fertilizer to all crops regardless of elevation level.

The results will help farmers in the Central Great Plains states to use fertilizer more effectively: This research may help farmers vary the amount of fertilizer they use in high-yield fields and low-yield fields, preventing them from wasting money on over-fertilizing fields that are prone to low yields. The goal isto help farmers strategically increase or reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer they use on wheat crops as too much fertiliser lowers the protein content of wheat — thereby reducing the price of wheat. IFT NEXT, 21 August 2019.

Evaluatingthe Use of Lactic Acid Bacteria as Natural Preservatives

In today’s mega-scale food and feed productions, which involve several processing steps and the use of a variety of ingredients, fungal contamination is regarded as unavoidable, even when good manufacturing practices are followed. Chemical preservatives, to some extent, are successful in retarding microbial growth and achieving considerably longer shelf life. However, the increasing demand for clean label products requires manufacturers to find natural alternatives to replace chemically derived ingredients to guarantee the clean label. A paper published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety(CRFSFS) examines the use of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as naturalpreservatives in food and animal feed to control fungal growt hand subsequent mycotoxin production.

LAB species are Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) and produce a vast spectrum of antifungal metabolites to inhibit fungal growth. They also have the capacity to adsorb, degrade, or detoxify fungal mycotoxins including ochratoxins, aflatoxins, and Fusarium toxins. The potential of many LAB species to circumvent spoilage associated with fungi has been exploited in a variety of human food and animal feed stuff. This review provides the most recent updates on the ability of LAB to serve as antifungal and anti-mycotoxigenic agents. In addition, the authors highlight some recent trends of the use of LAB as biopreservative agents against fungal growth and mycotoxin production. IFT Weekly News Letter 21 August 2019. CRFSFS paper

Parasitic Plants Get a Boost from Stolen Genes

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Researchers from Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Kennesaw University in the US, discovered that parasitic plants steal genes from their host plants and use it to efficiently absorb nutrients from their host. The study focused on the parasitic plant dodder, which has stolen a huge quantity of genetic material from its host plants, including over a hundred functional genes. These genes contribute to the dodder's ability to attach better to its host and siphon its nutrients. Crop Biotech Update (August 14, 2019)

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.