The War on Trans Fats
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in November that it is beginning a process to ultimately ban the use of artificial trans fat in processed foods, saying the fats are no longer “generally recognized as safe” for consumption. Trans fats have been linked to increased risks for heart attacks and strokes. Researchers at the University of Missouri have found a way to create soybean oil that has no trans fats. Currently, in order to preserve soybean oil for cooking, manufacturers use a process called hydrogenation, which is what creates the trans fats. However, oils with high levels of oleic acid, like olive oil, are able to be preserved for much longer without having to add trans fats. MU researchers have found a naturally occurring gene in soybeans that, when combined with another natural gene, increases the amount of oleic acid in the oil from 20 percent to 80 percent. “By raising the levels of oleic acid in soybean oil, we can effectively create a healthy alternative to foods with trans fats,” says Grover Shannon, professor in the plant sciences department. “We are working with researchers around the country to begin growing these healthier soybeans and get the soybean oil into the market as soon as we can.”
The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications has launched a new infographic on food and agricultural biotechnology to raise public understanding of challenges with feeding the world of tomorrow. The infographic is part of a new series of materials that will highlight the importance of advances in agricultural biotechnology and its role in ensuring food security of the growing global population.
No October Crop Report
The U.S. government canceled its monthly report on grain and cotton production in October for the first time since reporting began in 1866 and said it will not estimate U.S. or world crop production until early November. Cancellation of the October report meant the first harvest-time estimate of U.S. crops would be Nov. 8. The widely followed USDA reports were the biggest immediate casualties of the 17-day U.S. government shutdown. “It’s a great shame. We lose the continuity of the series, the course correction that it provides,” said Bill Nelson, analyst with Doane Advisory Services in St. Louis, Mo. “We have never missed a report in the past,” said a USDA spokesman, who said the cancellation of the crop report was “the first time ever.”
USDA began crop reports in 1866, covering cotton and tobacco, a year after the end of the American Civil War. The last time USDA delayed its premiere reports was September 2001, when they were held up for two days in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The last U.S. patent covering the original Roundup Ready soybean trait expires in 2015. As U.S. farmers begin thinking about purchasing their soybean seed for 2014 planting, they have a new resource to answer their questions about the expiration of Monsanto’s original RR soybean trait – soybeans.com. “Even though the original RR soybean trait is covered by a patent in the United States until the start of the 2015 planting season, we’re already getting questions from farmers about what they can and cannot do with RR soybeans. Soybeans.com can help answer questions growers may have about patents as they pertain to planting and saving original RR varieties, as well as the benefits of new seed. It’s a great resource for farmers as they plan for next year,” says Monsanto’s U.S. Oilseeds product management lead Norm Sissons.
Farm Bill Top 10
According to a recent post on the United States Department of Agriculture’s blog, 10 good reasons why Congress must take action as soon as possible to achieve passage of its Farm Bill this year are:
1. America’s farmers, ranchers and producers need certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, to continue the recent momentum of the U.S. agricultural economy and rising farm income.
2. Livestock producers need disaster assistance applied retroactively, in light of a long-term drought that has forced the liquidation of herds to the lowest level in decades.
3. Dairy producers need an effective support system that helps them to stem the decline in the number of U.S. dairy operations.
4. Farmers, landowners and forest owners need streamlined conservation programs that will make a more efficient and effective use of limited conservation funds, while building on record conservation efforts underway today.
5. Organic and specialty crop producers need renewed and expanded access to Farm Bill programs that have fueled the growth of a multibillion dollar industry in direct-to-consumer sales.
6. Researchers and students at Land Grant Universities need support to meet modern challenges in agriculture and carry out the innovation we need to sustainably increase agricultural production. A new nonprofit research foundation provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill could leverage millions of dollars of private sector funding to provide this assistance.
7. Job seekers in rural America need new and expanded investments in renewable energy, biofuel, and biobased product manufacturing, all of which can create jobs in rural areas.
8. Beginning producers—including a growing number of veterans returning to the land—need technical assistance, credit and affordable crop insurance to get started and keep growing. This is especially important as we seek to reverse the rising average age of America’s farm population.
9. Producers and small business owners need a resolution of the Brazil cotton dispute that, if left unsolved, threatens hundreds of millions of dollars annually in tariff penalties against U.S. agricultural products and other American-made goods.
10. And anyone who is concerned about the federal deficit needs a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides meaningful deficit reduction.
June Issue 2014
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