Volume 24. Number 6. 2019

Gen Z is More Open to New Food Technology Than Previous Generations

The newest generation of food consumers with purchasing power, Gen Z, is more open to food technology than older generations, according to new research from global communications consultancy Ketchum.
According to the Food Tech Consumer Perception study, Gen Z respondents indicated they are more likely to try a food grown with technology (77%) and are more comfortable overall with the use of technology to grow food (71%) than are millennials (67% likely to try/56% comfortable), Gen X (58%/51%), and Baby Boomers (58%/58%). IFT Weekly Newsletter 7 November 2019

Growing Concern

Greenhouse gas emissions would go up if all farms in England and Wales went organic, an analysis has found. Emissions per unit of food are on average 20 per cent lower for organic crops and 4 per cent lower for organic animal products. However, yields per hectare are also lower on organic farms. That means much more food would have to be imported, so more farmland would be needed elsewhere in the world, which could double the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Read more New Scientist 24 October 2019

Newly Discovered Listeria Strain May Present New Food Safety Threat

International researchers led by the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) in Germany have discovered a highly virulent strain of Listeria monocytogenes that may present a new food safety threat. IFTNEXT 22 October 2019.

FDA Approves Texas A&M's Ultra-Low Gossypol Cotton for Human and Animal Consumption

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an ultra-low gossypol cottonseed, ULGCS, to be utilized as human food and animal feed. ULGCS is derived from a transgenic cotton variety TAM66274 developed by plant biotechnologist Keerti Rathore and his team at Texas A&M AgriLife Research. TAM66274 is a unique cotton plant with ultra-low gossypol levels in the seed, which makes the protein from the seeds safe for food use, but also maintains normal plant-protecting gossypol levels in the rest of the plant, making it ideal for the traditional cotton farmer.

Leading With Flavor Encourages Vegetable Consumption

Evocative labels such as "twisted citrus glazed carrots" and "ultimate chargrilled asparagus" can get people to choose and consume more vegetables than they otherwise would-as long as the food is prepared flavor-fully. How dining halls describe vegetables could make a big difference in whether people actually eat them, Stanford researchers report in a new study published in Psychological Science. IFT Weekly Newsletter. 17 October 2019.

Meat Workers' Union Sues Over Hog Rule

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) filed the lawsuit Oct. 7 in federal court in Minnesota. The suit is a reaction to new USDA rules lifting the limit of 1,106 hogs processed per hour, as long as a plant does adequate safety monitoring.
The lawsuit alleges that the rules endanger workers by increasing their chances of injuries through repetitive motion and accidents. It also charges that the rule "reduces the number of government-employed 'online' safety inspectors on the lines by forty percent, instead allowing the plants to use their own employees - with no required training - to monitor compliance with health and safety standards." Food Processing, 8 October 2019.

Cheers To Red Wine For Better Gut Health

Having a diverse gut microbiota is a sign of gut health, and new research from King's College London suggests that red wine can help provide it.
A team of researchers from the college's Department of Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology studied the effect of beer, cider, red wine, white wine, and spirits on the gut microbiome of a group of 916 female twins from the United Kingdom. Their study showed that the gut of red wine drinkers contained a greater number of different bacterial species compared with those who did not drink it. White wine, beer, or spirits did not produce the same effect.
The scientists aren't advocating going overboard with red wine drinking. "Although we observed an association between red wine consumption and the gut microbiota diversity, drinking red wine rarely, such as once every two weeks, seems to be enough to observe an effect," says Le Roy, first author of the study. IFT Weekly Newsletter, 9 October 2019

Red Meat Consumption May Not be Linked to Poor Health Outcomes

In recent years, multiple studies have been released suggesting a link between red and processed meat consumption and health risks, such as cardiovascular disease. Now, a panel of international scientists suggests that most people can continue to eat red and processed meat as they do now without cause for concern. IFT Weekly Newsletter. 3 October 2019.

Modern Farming Trends Are a Threat to Food Security

Consumers in developed countries have greater access to a variety of foods because of modern plant breeding techniques and agricultural practices. However, some of those modern agricultural practices threaten the future availability of food, according to European scientists.
A team of European researchers recently concluded a study in which they analysed data on the cultivation of field crops between 1961 and 2016. Provided by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, the data showed diminishing diversity among crops grown globally as well as heavy reliance on crops that are dependent on insects or other animals for pollination.
The researchers conclude that these agricultural trends must be reversed in order to have sustainable agriculture. They recommend diversifying crops and developing nesting habitats for pollinators near crops. IFTNEWS 30 September 2019.

Biologists Identify Six Genes in Maize Responsible for Production of Plant Antibiotics

Yezhang Ding, Alisa Huffaker, and Eric Schmelz of the University of California San Diego and their colleagues have developed a systematic and combined approach to identify genes in maize that will produce surprisingly diverse antibiotic cocktails that can be produced as defensive blends against numerous disease agents. (Maize Fungal Pathogens. Ed). Crop Boitech Update. 25 September 2019

Orange Peels "Re-purposed" Into Packaging

Food waste and plastic pollution are two sustainability issues at the top of the minds of many in the food industry. Denny Handley, recent design graduate from Brunel University London, has developed biodegradable packaging that may help with both issues.
Firstly, BioPeel is a material composed of dehydrated waste orange peels (from juice production) mixed with a bio-polymer made from waste vegetable glycerine (recovered from bio-diesel production), corn starch, potato starch, and water. The liquid bio-polymer is partly absorbed by the peels creating strong bonds and drastically increasing the material's compressive and tensile strength after a process of moulding, baking, and drying.
After use the packaging is biodegradable and suitable for composting or animal feed.
So, while the material needs further development, it serves as a reminder that innovative solutions to the food industry's most pressing problems can be found everywhere-even in the trash. IFTNEXT, 25/09/2019

Scientists Use 118-Year-old Experiment to Generate New Breeding Material

Modern plant-breeding techniques enable scientists to improve crops with genetic materials from a variety of sources. University of Illinois researchers have found useful genetic material in a corn experiment conducted in 1896.
Originally performed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the 1896 experiment was designed to analyse whether corn grain composition could be altered via artificial selection. At that time, artificial selection was a fairly new concept that had been in existence for less than 40 years. The experiment involved recurring selection of low-protein and high-protein varieties of corn. Besides changing the composition of grain, the selection yielded other traits, one of which was the ability to stay green longer into the season. Corn that stays green longer produces greater yield, but at that time, the trait could not be traced to a specific gene.
In the 1930s, a University of Illinois research team concluded that the trait for staying green was present only in the low-protein corn. Through a collaboration with Corteva Agriscience, present-day researchers in the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences were able to find the gene for that trait; the gene, NAC7, is present in both low-protein and high-protein corn. In low-protein corn, the NAC7 gene is turned off; in high-protein corn, the gene is turned on.
The discovery of the gene means that breeders could develop commercialised corn seed with little or no expression of the gene NAC7, thereby increasing corn yields without the need for additional fertilisers. IFTNEXT 18 September 2019.

Study Links Dietary Choline to Reduced Dementia Risk

Intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine was linked to a reduced risk of dementia in a new study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland. Eggs and meat were the main sources of dietary choline, which was also associated with improved cognitive performance in the study, the results of which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nqz244,
An essential nutrient, choline is needed for the formation of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. Earlier studies have linked choline intake with cognitive processing. In the recent study, men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine had a 28% lower risk of dementia than men with the lowest intake. High-intake study subjects also performed well in tests designed to measure memory and linguistic abilities. IFTNEXT 18 September 2019.

Utrecht Biologists Discover A Way to Make Plants Flood Tolerant

Global warming has resulted not only in increased incidences of drought and heatwaves but also increased rainfall which brings higher flood risk. Flooding is a major problem for crops as too much water deprives them of oxygen and suffocates them. Scientists at Utrecht University have discovered how some plants quickly detect being underwater when flooded, and how these plants initiate processes that prevent them from drowning. Biotech Update. 11 September 2019.

Eco-friendly Plastic Crystals May Make Solid-state Refrigeration Possible.

Scientists from the United Kingdom and Spain have developed a way to replace the organic gases-hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrocarbons (HCs)-used in most conventional refrigerators.
Scientists around the world have sought alternative solid refrigerants. In the study, Moya and collaborators from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the Universitat de Barcelona describe the enormous thermal changes achieved with plastic crystals. When put under pressure, plastic crystals of neopentylglycol (NPG) yield huge cooling effects-enough that they are competitive with conventional coolants. In addition, the material is inexpensive, widely available, and functions at close to room temperature. Details are published in the journal Nature Communications.
With solids, cooling is achieved by changing the material's microscopic structure. This change can be achieved by applying a magnetic field, an electric field, or through mechanical force. NPG's molecules, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, are nearly spherical and interact with each other only weakly.
In the future, solid-state refrigeration could lead to more compact and flexible devices compared to traditional ones. Moya is now working with Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, to bring this technology to market. IFTNEXT Newsletter, 11September 2019.

Plant-based Diet Risks Worsening of Brain Health Nutrient Deficiency, Warns Nutritionist.

According to nutritionists, consumer trends towards plant-based and vegan diets, risks lowering peoples intake of choline. Choline is an 'essential' nutrient for humans; and similar to omega-3 fatty acids, as the amount produced endogenously (in the liver) is not sufficient to meet human requirements, it therefore needs to be obtained from dietary and supplement sources. Physiologically, choline is critical for a number of functions across the life cycle which include wide-ranging roles in human metabolism from neurotransmitter synthesis to cell structure and methylation, with choline deficiency being linked to liver disease, offspring cognitive function and potential neurological disorders.
The United States (US) Institute of Medicine (IOM)1 and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)2 recognise that choline plays an important role in the human body and have established dietary reference values. The American Medical Association in 2017 published new advice stating that prenatal vitamin supplements should contain "evidenced-based" amounts of choline.
Similarly the American Academy of Paediatrics from 2018 called on paediatricians to move beyond simply recommending a "good diet" and to make sure that pregnant women and young children have access to food that provides adequate amounts of "brain-building" nutrients with choline being listed as one of these. Unfortunately, in the UK choline is not yet included in food composition databases, main nutrition surveys nor official recommendations. The present article discusses the current choline situation and explains why more needs to be done to include and monitor this essential nutrient in the UK. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

New Cloning System Allows Development of Transgene-free Edited Crops

Researchers from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain and Durham University in the UK developed a tried and tested cloning system for genome editing with a monitoring module that lights up when a transgene is detected. This new technique provides an option for researchers to have an efficient elimination of editing system after genome editing, minimizing the chance of off-target mutations, and also allows development of edited plants free of foreign DNA.
The new modular cloning system called Golden Braid has been tested in tomatoes, rice, and Arabidopsis. It was found that the fluorescence visualization worked well in dry seeds, indicating the presence of transgenes in tomato, rice, and Arabidopsis, which allows an efficient way to select transgene-free T2 dry seeds. The researchers detected gene editing of selected traits in T2 plants and identified homozygous gene-edited plants with different mutations.
Results of the study published in Frontiers in Plant Science show that the developed strategy allows fast collection of transgene-free edited crop plants after just one generation after transformation. Crop Biotech Update (4 September 2019)


  • USA approved canola event LBFLFK for cultivation.
  • USA approved soybean event HB4 for cultivation.
  • The Philippines approved soybean event DAS68416-4 for food, feed, and processing.
  • The Philippines approved soybean event DAS44406-6 for food, feed, and processing.
  • United States approved NF872 for food, feed, and cultivation
  • Japan approved MON88702 for food and feed. Crop Biotech Updates 11 September 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.