Editor’s note: As a service to our readers, we provide news about the work of others in the ag utilization arena. Often, research done elsewhere complements AURI’s work. Please note that ARS is the USDA’s research arm.

Chip off the new spud

A new and improved spud may soon be the stuff of your favorite chip. The “Ivory Crisp” potato has been bred by scientists from several universities and ARS to have an optimal starch-sugar balance. Verses higher-starch potatoes, Ivory Crisp is less susceptible to dark spots and burnt flavors that can result from high-temp frying. And the new breed can be stored in a cooler temperature, which helps inhibit rot and other diseases and reduces unwanted sprouting. Ivory Crisp’s compact, round shape is also ideal for slicing into chips.

Source: USDA ARS, December 17, 2003

Gimme a soy on the rocks

A fledgling Chicago-based liquor company has hit the market with a distinctive soy-based vodka. Sovereign Brands LLC blends soy and select grains to produce 3 Vodka, the latest entry in the “super premium” vodka marketplace. Unlike traditional vodka, which is easy to distill, 3 Vodka uses a painstaking and secretive process. The soybean is fractionated, with key ingredients stripped out, to form a unique liquid concentrate that is blended with fermented grains to make the finished product. A patent has been filed on the high-tech process. 3 Vodka has a suggested retail price of nearly $25 per bottle.

Source: Soyatech.com, December 1, 2003

Vegetables take on cancer

Mom knew best when she told you to eat your vegetables. A vegetable derivative that has been used as a natural weapon to prevent cancer, now will be used to treat cancer. DIM, or diindolylmethane, can be extracted from such veggies as cabbage, broccoli, turnips and mustard greens. Research on mice at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station shows DIM may inhibit the growth of breast, pancreatic, colon, bladder and ovarian cancer cells with few or no side effects. DIM is already commercially available

as a natural supplement to help prevent cancer and treat estrogen-related health issues.

Source: Texas A&M University, December 24, 2003

Stuck on sweets

Sugar is not just for sweet tooths. It’s the sticky main ingredient of new, edible adhesives developed by ARS scientists in Peoria, Illinois. The flavorless, food-grade adhesive was developed for a beverage company to use in an assembly line operation that inserts drinking straws into beverage cans, cartons and bottles. The fast-curing adhesive is strong, but dissolves in an even-controlled manner, so straws pop up once the beverage container is opened.

Researchers experimented with 10 different sugars, including sucrose and lactose, and organic acids such as citric acid. Exposed to liquids, the adhesives dissolve and lose their grip in 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the sugar/acid combination used to make them. The patented adhesives can be used in food binding, packaging and drug capsules. They bond to wood, metal, cloth, leather, glass, plastic, paper and other materials.

Source: USDA ARS, December 19, 2003

Feeding frenzy

Aquaculture is one of the world’s fastest-growing food production industries. Farm-raised salmon diets contain a 50-percent fish meal and oil blend, which helps produce a flesh quality similar to wild salmon. Since fishmeal supplies are inconsistent and prices variable, University of Saskatchewan experts say processed proteins from soybeans, peas, canola and flax are a viable substitute. Studies show that salmon fed the vegetable protein diet grew at the same rate as those fed fishmeal.

Source: The Western Producer, January 19, 2004

Weed provides “red alert”

A Danish biotech company has modified a mustard weed to change color, from green to red, if its roots detect a landmine gas. The plant may help speed landmine and unexploded-ordinance removal to reclaim areas for farming. Aresa Biodetection used Copenhagen University research to alter the mustard plant so it reacts within weeks when stressed by nitrogen dioxide, which evaporates from landmines. The Red Cross

estimates that 26,000 people worldwide are killed or injured every year from explosives left over from conflicts. An estimated 100 million unexploded landmines remain buried in nearly 50 countries. Aresa is also using the technology to detect the presence of pollution from heavy metals in soils.

Source: Agriculture Online, January 28, 2004

Diet may aid food safety

Adding vitamin E to turkey diets may reduce the likelihood of consumers contracting a serious food-borne illness. ARS scientists found that the vitamin stimulates a turkey’s immune responses, helping clear the gut of the microorganism that causes listeria. This could reduce carcasses contamination at slaughter and during processing. The research, done in conjunction with Iowa State University and the University of Arkansas, found that vitamin E boosts turkeys’ white blood cells, which go into action when disease-causing organisms are detected.

Source: USDA ARS, January 16, 2004

Magic carpet

A Japanese company is spinning corn fibers into carpet. Toray Industries designed

a processing technology to manufacture carpet from Cargill Dow’s Ingeo polylactic acid fibers. The biodegradable carpet doesn’t slip, resists wear and is sufficiently heat resistant to hold dye. The carpet should be available in the United States this fall and will cost about 30 percent more than traditional carpet.

Source: Soyatech.com, February 12, 2004

Heart-friendly oil

Move over olive oil. The new star of heart-healthy oils could be soybean oil – made from beans that ARS researchers developed from a new germplasm line.

Oil from the designer beans are high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat stable enough to use in salad dressings or frying oils without hydrogenation. The hydrogenation or hardening process stabilizes oils so they can be used as solids in margarines, breakfast bars and baked goods. But hydrogenation also creates unhealthy trans-fatty acids.

Oil from the germplasm line has less than half the highly unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids of today’s commercial soy oils. PFAs are liquid fats that cause undesirable odors and break down when oxidized by aging or frying at high temperatures. With low PFAs, the oils are as stable as most hydrogenated oils, but do not oxidize as quickly as other soybean oils.

Source: USDA ARS, February 13, 2004