Friday, January 22, 2016

Join the Global Ag Innovation Network this February for a Discussion on Farmers + Tech

With entrepreneurs capitalizing on a boom in “ag tech” investing, and big data is considered a driver of value, what does adoption among end users, the farmers, look like? Going directly to the source, GAIN presents a panel of farmers to give us an inside look at the technologies they are using, what is working and what is not, and finally, what they consider important challenges to address.

Date: Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Time: 11:00AM - 1:30PM

Location: Sidley Austin Offices, 1001 Page Mill Rd., Building 1, Palo Alto, CA 94304

Register today!

See upcoming GAIN events here


Monday, January 18, 2016

Innovation has its roadblocks: Expert panel gets real about the challenges of developing the next big thing

An innovative food product with health benefits is a good start for success in the Canadian marketplace.

But to be truly successful, entrepreneurs and product developers need to allow plenty of time for regulation, red tape and consumer acceptance of technologies.

That was the message to industry representatives and academics gathered at the 25th Canadian Conference on Fats and Oilseeds held in Quebec City October 5-6.

The conference hosted a panel discussion of four agriculture and food industry representatives with expertise in regulation.

Mary Dimou, senior analyst for Bioenterprise, led the session, noting that while her company – a non-profit business accelerator for ag-bio based businesses – is innovation-driven, it maintains a neutral position on issues associated with technologies such as genetic modification (GM).

“GM is a viable, innovative, and existing solution that is highly regulated. It’s a sustainable option for entrepreneurs, but it produces two extremely polarized viewpoints,” said Dimou.

Dimou cited the Arctic Apple, which she says contains a ‘knock-down technology’ to reduce browning. The Arctic Apple has been met with significant opposition from anti-GM consumer groups fighting to keep it out of Canadian stores.

Ian Affleck, managing director in science and regulatory affairs for CropLife Canada, echoed Dimou’s sentiment about consumer understanding.

As the trade organization representing manufacturers, developers and distributors of plant science technologies, CropLife Canada traditionally considered farmers its number one audience, Affleck said. In recent years however, the organization has realized it has a larger role to play in talking directly with consumers too.

“Plant breeding techniques have evolved over 10,000 years,” Affleck said. “But if consumers don’t understand how breeding has evolved over the years, they are not likely to understand how we took the next step. Communication, transparency, and education are key to developing consumer acceptance and have become high priority.”

Affleck noted that in 2014, GM crops were grown, imported or used in field trials in over 70 countries around the world.

“Each of those countries has a separate safety review on that product – that’s 70 separate safety reviews on GM products,” Affleck said.

Croplife Canada supports an online resource, GMO Answers, which encourages consumers to ask anything about genetically modified organisms. Website administrators pair question-askers with credible scientists to provide science-based answers.

“Instead of handing them a fact sheet in our words, we’re enabling them to have a conversation in their words,” said Affleck.

Ryan Simon, senior scientific and regulatory consultant with consulting and technical food services firm Intertek, says what consumers say about GM foods is not reflective of their purchasing behaviours, as illustrated in various studies worldwide.

“Questionnaires and consumer surveys are poor predictors of consumer behaviour,” Simon said. “But there remains a significant unwillingness of any food company to market foods containing GM ingredients to consumers.”

Simon points to what he calls “second-generation” GM ingredients with health benefits – like high oleic acid soybean oil -- as the opportunity to turn consumer opinions on GM technology around.

He notes so-called “first generation” GM crops directed most of their benefits at the farmer. But bio-fortified foods – particularly products aimed at addressing health issues in the developing world – may be the ticket to turning opinions around.

“Will second-generation GM products be the products that change the public’s attitude on GM foods? Only time will tell. But I think there is tremendous opportunity for companies,” Simon said.

Despite a rapidly-evolving food landscape that provides new and improved foods with human health benefits, entrepreneurs and product developers have a long road to market health foods as such.

Rachel Rebry, associate director of nutrition and nutraceutical research at Nutrasource Diagnostics Inc. in Guelph said food health claims take time.

Rebry worked with industry to achieve the recent soy protein health claim spearheaded by Soy 20/20, which acknowledges that consumption of protein-rich soy foods has been proven to lower cholesterol levels.

Rebry outlined the four different types of health claims available to industry: general health claims, function claims (including nutrient function and probiotics claims), therapeutic claims, and disease risk reduction claims.

“The approval process for new claims with Health Canada is lengthy,” Rebry warned. “Industry should budget at least 12 months, and use government as a resource during the pre-submission phase.”

Despite the challenges associated with bringing new agricultural technologies to market, Dimou said the future is bright for ag-tech entrepreneurs.

“In some cases, angel and venture investment groups are opening new arms or funds specifically in agricultural technology,” Dimou said. “It’s a good time to be an agri-technology entrepreneur.”

The Canadian Conference on Fats and Oilseeds was jointly organized by the Canadian section of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (CAOCS) and the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Industrial Bioprocesses in Quebec (CRIBIQ).


Post Courtesy Lisa McLean for Soy 20/20

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Annual Meeting Registration is Open

Save up to $200 when you register by February 26.

This meeting is a premier international science and business forum on fats, oils, surfactants, lipids, and related materials. The 2016 program features invited and volunteer oral and poster presentations within 12 interest areas, and Hot Topics Symposia which will address important industry-wide issues.

Register Now to Save $200.

Interested in presenting? Space is still available.

Presentations are still being accepted. Submit today; abstract reviews are in progress! Limited space available. LEARN More

Put your research on display in the bustling expo hall! Submit your abstract for immediate consideration! LEARN More

Interested in organizing a session on a current, hot topic? The schedule is filling quickly; submit your proposal now! LEARN More

Find out more about the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo here: 


Industrial Oil Products (IOP) Division 2016 Junior Researcher Travel Grant

The program was established to encourage junior level faculty to become active in the IOP Division and the Society.

The funds allocated to the individuals are intended to partially pay travel and meeting registration expenses to attend the 107th AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo. It is anticipated that the funds may not cover the total expenses incurred and this grant would supplement other travel funds.

  • maximum number of individual grants per year limited to two (2)
  • total of all grant disbursements for any given year may not exceed $1,500
    • individual grants limited to no more than $750
    • individual grant limits may vary based upon need, location, and funds available
  • the review committee will determine which expenses shall be reimbursed

  • junior researchers (less than five [5] years of employment) at any institution of higher learning or research laboratory
    • preference given to junior researchers who demonstrate an interest in becoming active in the IOP Division
  • full professors are not eligible
  • individual can only receive this grant one time
  • failure to receive a grant does not bar further consideration for subsequent years

The applicant should submit:
  • an application statement
    • limited to 300-1000 word summary describing the significance of the individual’s accomplishments in research
    • should clearly demonstrate how the applicant’s research interests are consistent with activities of the IOP Division, and the applicant’s potential for future participation in IOP activities
  • a two-page curriculum vitae including grant procurement, students supervised, published papers

Complete applications should be sent to Doug Root. The grant coordinator as well as the three members of the IOP Division Executive Steering Committee will serve as the review committee.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cleaning up nutritional labels: How high oleic oilseed crops helped food processors come clean

In 2004, new nutritional labeling laws created a sector-wide challenge in Canadian food processing: companies had to come clean on the trans fat content in finished goods.

Trans fats are created when vegetable oil is hydrogenated. This produces a highly stable fat used in frying oil applications, shortenings and margarines, providing for long frying life in deep fryers, and improving the taste, texture and shelf life of processed food products such as baked goods and spreads.

And because they raise a person’s LDL or bad cholesterol levels and decrease levels of HDL or good cholesterol, trans fats are known to increase heart disease risk.

To meet the new labeling requirements, food processors needed to move toward healthier alternatives – and they would need to reformulate their products to make that happen.

On October 5 and 6, industry representatives and academics gathered at the 25th Canadian Conference on Fats and Oilseeds held in Quebec City. High Oleic oilseed crops were top of mind, with sessions focusing on their use in food and bioproducts.

“Trans fat label laws put a skull and crossbones on hydrogenation and prompted food companies to reformulate to get it off of the label,” said Dave Dzisiak, commercial leader, grains and oils at Dow AgroSciences. “At the same time, agriculture was investing heavily in breeding high stability field crops. We were able to meet that demand.”

Dzisiak has worked with omega 9 (high oleic) canola varieties, which met the need for more functional oils for food processors. High oleic canola crops produce oil with natural stability, directly from the plant – no hydrogenation required. And because that oil does not require hydrogenation, food products are naturally free of trans fats.

Dzisiak says even with the widespread adoption of high oleic oil, the market continues to grow. There is a growing demand for quality fats in North America and internationally. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, one billion people moving into the middle class will create a higher demand for protein and fat.

“We need to get more intensive on acres,” Dzisiak said. “As an export country, this is an important opportunity.”

Susan Knowlton, senior research manager with DuPont Pioneer, said high oleic soybeans were developed to meet the trans-fat solution for the food industry – but that additional applications have also emerged. For starters, high oleic soybean oil turned out to be the most stable choice.

“When you compare high oleic soy to other high oleic oils, it has quite a bit more stability than other oils,” Knowlton said. “We were curious as to why that might be. Generally people think, ‘it’s just a fatty acid composition. What’s controlling this?’”

The difference, Knowlton said, lies in the amount of antioxidants called tocopherols. Soy has the highest amount of tocopherols of the major crop oils. Those tocopherols protect the oil from oxidation, preventing polymerization, or hardening.

“When we compare high oleic soy versus any of those other oils, no matter what test we do, high oleic soy is a really, really stable oil and comes out on top in manufacturing and food service,” Knowlton said, noting also that high oleic soy-based shortenings offer the same functionality, but with 20 per cent less saturated fats than palm oil shortenings.

“We also started to think about ‘are there other products that come from the bean and might they have some improved properties as well?’” Knowlton said.

Lecithin – normally removed as a by-product during soybean oil processing is commonly used as an emulsifier. Knowlton noted researchers saw improved antioxidant properties when they added lecithin derived from high oleic soy to high oleic oils.

And as more manufacturers move towards so-called “cleaner” ingredients labels, lecithin is a preferred replacement to another common additive, known as TBHQ, which is also used to create longer shelf life in food products.

Protein too, is among the unexpected advantages of high oleic soybeans. Knowlton says high oleic soybean meal is nutritionally equivalent to conventional soybean meal – but soy protein isolates from high oleic soybeans have lower viscosity and gelation properties.

“This would be a really nice way to increase the protein content in beverages without making the beverage taste thick,” Knowlton said.

She noted the colour of isolates made from high oleic soybeans is whiter, aftertaste and mouth-feel is reportedly improved over their conventional soybean counterparts.

 “There are a lot of different high stability oils out there competing in all the same spaces,” says Knowlton. “To us, it was a surprising result to have this one change in fatty acid composition affect so many parts of the bean, as well as improve so many different applications.”


Post Courtesy Lisa McLean for Soy 20/20