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Grant to help develop avian flu antibodies

Grant to help develop avian flu antibodies

OUTBREAKS of avian influenza virus in poultry usually result in the destruction of affected flocks within a five-mile radius.

However, research conducted by Dr. David Bradley, an immunologist at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences, has shown that antibodies developed in goose eggs could be very effective in combatting avian flu, according to an announcement from the university.

Bradley recently received a Centers of Research Excellence grant of $700,000 from the North Dakota Department of Commerce to continue research on avian influenza antibodies that could help poultry farmers effectively combat outbreaks of the disease.

According to the university, Bradley's laboratory is working collaboratively on the project with Avianax LLC, a local company that develops antibodies for human and animal diseases such as West Nile virus and avian flu. Avianax is providing a two-to-one cash match for this research to develop the therapeutic avian flu antibody.

Avianax, a joint venture between Intraglobal Biologics and the University of North Dakota Research Foundation, was created to investigate the properties of goose antibodies and how they can be utilized as a platform for therapeutic and prophylactic treatment of various viral diseases.

With the help of this North Dakota grant, Bradley and Avianax hope to develop commercially viable therapeutic treatments within 12-18 months.


Volume:85 Issue:01

Animal ag supports families in developing countries

Animal ag supports families in developing countries

IN a new paper written for Animal Frontiers, researchers looked beyond nutrition to see if raising livestock really does pay off in developing countries and found that animal agriculture has direct and indirect effects on income, education and even gender equality.

"Livestock are often the most important asset in poor, rural countries," wrote a team of researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya.

In some areas, animals are a better investment than land. The ILRI researchers explained that because livestock can be moved, they provide an economic buffer when harvests fail or disaster strikes.

"Refugees on the move frequently take their cattle, small ruminants and even poultry with them," they noted.

Raising livestock does not necessarily mean that the owners eat the meat, milk or eggs, however. Data from researchers in Zimbabwe show that livestock and animal products are more likely to be sold for income than consumed by poor families, which means poor families often do not receive adequate nutrition; however, the next generation can benefit.

"Many poor livestock keepers report that a key motivation for keeping livestock is to earn income so their children can attend school and, perhaps, go on to benefit from further education," the ILRI researchers wrote.

In many countries, women who raise livestock also gain economic independence. In 2009, ILRI researchers estimated that almost two-thirds of poor livestock keepers were rural women.

"In many societies, poultry and small ruminants are often owned by women, who may also control any income obtained from their sale," the researchers wrote. "This is more likely to be spent on their children or family's nutrition than if this income is controlled by men."

The researchers cited data from the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization showing that improving women's "access to inputs and services" could reduce the number of malnourished people by 100 million to 150 million.

Animal Frontiers is a quarterly magazine that explores animal science and production issues. It is joint publication of the American Society of Animal Science, European Federation of Animal Science, Canadian Society of the Animal Science and American Meat Science Assn.


Volume:85 Issue:02

Alliance Grain taps Cargill for U.S. marketing

Alliance Grain taps Cargill for U.S. marketing

CANADIAN pulse crop and ingredient processor Alliance Grain Traders announced Jan. 9 that it has selected Cargill as its exclusive sales and marketing agent for marketing pulse protein ingredients in the U.S.

Through its U.S. subsidiary United Pulse Trading (UPT), Alliance produces protein ingredients from lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and canary seed for the livestock and companion animal feed sectors.

The five-year agreement appoints Cargill as UPT's exclusive sales and marketing agent in the country and also designates UPT as Cargill's exclusive supplier of pulse protein ingredients for the duration of the deal.

"We are excited about the profile of pulses as ingredients for protein, fiber and starch," Alliance chief executive officer Murad Al-Katib said. "Whether for human consumption or for animal feed, pulses are nutrient-dense, (non-genetically modified organism), gluten-free, high-protein and -fiber products with a desirable combination and untapped potential for the global food market."

Al-Katib said the agreement with Cargill was the first step in providing added value to company's pulse and staple foods products, and the partnership could provide opportunities for UPT to become a preferred ingredient supplier to branded food and feed companies around the globe.

UPT operates a pulse ingredient processing facility in Minot, N.D., which is set for commissioning late in the first quarter of 2013. The plant will process protein, fiber, starch and flour ingredients from lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans for human food, food ingredients and animal feed.


Volume:85 Issue:02

Louisiana bioproduct pilot plant completed

Louisiana bioproduct pilot plant completed

THE Louisiana State University AgCenter Audubon Sugar Institute will hold a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Jan. 25 to mark the completion of a pilot plant dedicated to producing biofuels and biochemicals from agricultural crops and byproducts, according to a news release.

As the centerpiece of the AgCenter's Sustainable Bioproducts Initiative, the pilot plant focuses on processing sweet sorghum, energy cane and other grassy feedstocks into convertible sugars, fiber and bioproducts for further refining into butanol, gasoline, isoprene and biochemicals, project director Vadim Kochergin said.

"The facility can be scaled up to any capacity," Kochergin said. "The focus is on primary processing of sweet sorghum, energy cane and other grassy feedstocks. We can facilitate projects targeting evaluation and validation of technologies as well as training of research and operating personnel."

Located at the Audubon Sugar Institute in St. Gabriel, La., the pilot plant is part of a larger project funded by a five-year, $17.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food & Agriculture.

Volume:85 Issue:02

U.N.: Hunger affects 870m people

U.N.: Hunger affects 870m people

ALMOST 870 million people around the world -- one in eight -- suffered from chronic undernourishment in the 2010-12 period, according to a new report from the U.N.

The vast majority of these hungry people, 852 million people, or 15% of the world's population, live in developing countries, according to the report.

"In today's world of unprecedented economic and technical opportunities, we find it entirely unacceptable that more than 100 million children under five years old are undernourished and, therefore, unable to realize their full human and socioeconomic potential and that more than 2.5 million of these children die from malnutrition every year," the report says.

The U.N. does note that the increase in hunger during 2007-10 was less severe than feared after coming through the global recession.

The report says the transmission of higher food prices to local markets was blunted by steps governments took to cushion food shocks and protect vulnerable people from higher prices.

The report was compiled by the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization, Fund for Agricultural Development and World Food Program.

Volume:85 Issue:02

Online science news needs careful study

Online science news needs careful study

A SCIENCE-inclined audience and wide array of communication tools make the internet an excellent opportunity for scientists hoping to share their research with the world.

However, that opportunity is fraught with unintended consequences, according to a pair of University of Wisconsin-Madison life science communication professors.

Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele, writing in a "Perspectives" piece for the journal Science, encouraged scientists to join an effort to make sure the public receives full, accurate and unbiased information on science and technology.

"This is an opportunity to promote interest in science -- especially basic research, fundamental science -- but, on the other hand, we could be missing the boat," Brossard said. "Even our most well-intended effort could backfire because we don't understand the ways these same tools can work against us."

Recent research by Brossard and Scheufele described the way the internet may be narrowing public discourse, and new work shows that a staple of online news -- the comments section -- and other ubiquitous means to provide endorsement or feedback can color the opinions of readers of even the most neutral scientific stories.

"Today, I can use my mobile phone, tablet or laptop to almost instantly look up more information than ever before," Scheufele said. However, "the way most people look up information in online settings may significantly restrict what types of information they encounter."

Online news sources pare down discussion or limit visibility of some information in several ways, according to Brossard and Scheufele.

Many news sites use the popularity of stories or subjects (measured by the numbers of clicks they receive, the rate at which users share that content with others or other metrics) to guide the presentation of material.

The search engine Google offers users suggested search terms as they make requests, offering up "nanotechnology in medicine," for example, to those who begin typing "nanotechnology" in a search box. Users often avail themselves of the list of suggestions, which makes certain searches more popular and, in turn, makes those search terms even more likely to appear as suggestions, the announcement said.

"Our analyses showed a self-reinforcing spiral, which means more people see a shrinking, more similar set of news and opinions on science and technology subjects when they do online searches," Brossard said.

The consequences became more daunting as Brossard and Scheufele uncovered more surprising effects of Web 2.0 -- which includes more interactive, collaborative websites such as social media.

In their newest study, they show that, independent of the content of an article about a new technological development, the tone of comments posted by other readers can make a significant difference in the way new readers feel about the article's subject. The less civil the accompanying comments, the more risk readers attributed to the research described in the news story.

"The day of reading a story and then turning the page to read another is over," Scheufele said. "Now, each story is surrounded by numbers of Facebook likes and tweets and comments that color the way readers interpret even truly unbiased information. This will produce more and more unintended effects on readers, and unless we understand what those are and even capitalize on them, they will just cause more and more problems."

If even some of the for-profit media world and advocacy organizations are approaching the digital landscape from a marketing perspective, Brossard and Scheufele argued, scientists need to turn to more empirical communications research and engage in active discussions across disciplines of how to most effectively reach large audiences.

"It's not because there is not decent science writing out there. We know all kinds of excellent writers and sources," Brossard said. "Can people be certain that those are the sites they will find when they search for information? That is not clear."

Scheufele said, "What we really do need is a systematic effort between sciences and social sciences to use this new environment to get the science across and public reactions across without biases that the process itself may incorporate."


Volume:85 Issue:02

PCC plant starts processing canola

PCC plant starts processing canola

- PCC facility can process 1,100 mt of canola per day.

- CEO says production timeline "ahead of schedule."

- Full commercial-scale operations planned for first quarter.

CANADIAN pulse and oilseed processor Legumex Walker announced Jan. 8 that it had successfully commissioned the crushing equipment at its Pacific Coast Canola (PCC) processing facility in Warden, Wash., and commenced production of canola oil and meal during the final week of 2012.

In announcing its first sale and shipment of canola oil and meal, Legumex chief executive officer Joel Horn said the PCC facility, which is capable of processing 1,100 metric tons of canola per day, is now processing canola seed.

"We are thrilled to have the PCC facility in service producing super-degummed, expeller-pressed canola oil and canola meal so quickly and ahead of schedule," he said.

The plant, 85% of which is owned by Legumex and 15% by Glencore Grain Investment, is scheduled for full commercial-scale operations in the first quarter of 2013.

"We were able to move from commissioning of the core processing equipment to production and shipping faster than anticipated," Horn said. "We are achieving continuous throughput levels well in excess of our initial targets for the start-up period, and the quality of the initial oil is better than expected at this stage."

Horn said the plant's operations are now focused on ramping up production to commercial-scale capacity, which will yield roughly 400 mt of high-grade canola oil per day.

Legumex said the PCC facility in Warden is the first commercial-scale canola processing operation west of the Rocky Mountains.

According to Crown Iron Works, the developer and provider of PCC's preparation, pressing and extraction processes, the PCC operation set a new record for the time needed to transition from commissioning to production; it produced salable oil and meal within 36 hours from the time canola started running through the expellers.

Legumex is betting on continued growth in canola oil demand as the company expects food processors to respond to consumer preferences for healthier oils.

Canola oil currently comprises only 10% of the U.S. edible oil market, compared to 70% in Canada, but canola's share is growing. From 2005 to 2011, canola oil consumption in the U.S. increased by more than 80%.

Volume:85 Issue:02

Government intervention to target obesity urged

Government intervention to target obesity urged

TWO health specialists recently appeared on ABC's "Lateline" program on Australian television and called for government regulations, especially on "junk food," to help prevent or reduce excess weight and obesity in Australians.

Professor Rob Moore at the University of Melbourne, who chaired a government health taskforce intended to recommend policy to prevent health problems, said the food industry's voluntary measures have failed to curb diabetes and obesity and urged the government to become involved with mandatory policies to deal with "the junk food industry the same way it confronted the tobacco industry."

Professor Boyd Swinburn at Deakin University said such policies are necessary because of the "obesigenic food environment" food producers have created.

He suggested that the government should limit food marketing to children and pass policies and subsidies that would make healthful foods less expensive.

However, a spokesperson for the Australian Food & Grocery Council countered that childhood obesity rates in Australia already are declining due, in part, to the food industry's voluntary efforts.

Government intervention in food advertising and marketing in other countries simply has not worked, and recommendations for government mandates and policies are "overly simplistic," the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of trial attorneys in the U.S. who were involved in lawsuits that forced tobacco companies into a $200 billion settlement are indicating that they believe food manufacturers could be dealt with in the same way, according to a note in a "Food & Beverage Litigation Update" published by Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Mo.

Volume:85 Issue:02

CCA joins sustainable beef roundtable

CCA joins sustainable beef roundtable

THE Canadian Cattlemen's Assn. (CCA), in its ongoing commitment to sustainable beef production, has joined the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB).

Like the roundtable, CCA said it is focused on developing the necessary tools to ensure that beef production is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

CCA joins a diverse GRSB member base that includes producer groups, processers, retailers and environmental/sustainability organizations.

CCA president Martin Unrau said working with and contributing Canadian research and expertise to the roundtable's efforts to improve the sustainability of global beef production is an opportunity not to be missed.

CCA recognizes the numerous value propositions for becoming a GRSB member, like engaging with leaders from across the value chain and participating in shaping the global dialogue on beef sustainability, Unrau said.

"CCA does excellent work in the area of sustainable beef production and has been looking for the right opportunity to share our expertise in this area," Unrau said. "In our view, sustainable beef production is crucial to the long-term competitiveness of Canada's beef cattle industry. We have found a good fit in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and look forward to continued collaboration with them."

Sustainable beef production is a key pillar of the Beef Cattle Research Council, a division of CCA. Research funded by the council has led to improvements in productivity and feed efficiency, which have clear implications for environmental sustainability. Improvements in feed efficiency and shortening the number of days required to finish fed cattle reduces the amount of methane and manure produced and resources used per pound of beef.

GRSB developed out of the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef held in Denver, Colo., in December 2010. Today, the roundtable is organized as an independent, nonprofit organization based in Switzerland.

Current GRSB members include the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., Cargill Inc., JBS S.A., Marfrig S.A., McDonald's, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Elanco, Merck, GTPS (the Brazilian roundtable for sustainable livestock), the Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Australia, Dow Agro Chemicals, Darden, the World Wildlife Fund, Solidaridad, The Nature Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation.

Volume:84 Issue:53

Consider dairy workforce during winter

Consider dairy workforce during winter

WHILE udder health, minimizing calf stress and tips for protecting the herd are often popular dairy health topics during the winter, there is little discussion about the workers who perform these jobs in extreme weather conditions.

Jorge Delgado, on-farm support program manager for Alltech, offered the following five tips for dairy owners to share with the employees who milk, bed and feed the cows:

1. All employees should wear leggings or thermal underwear under their pants. Wool and fabrics such as silk and propylene will keep them warmer than other fabrics.

2. Shirts and blouses should have sleeves that hug the wrists and should be worn to keep in body heat.

3. Employees should wear heavy socks (two or three pairs) to keep their feet warm. Wool socks are best; cotton socks should be avoided. Employees should wear boots that are insulated and waterproof. If possible, dairy owners should provide shoe/boot dryers in locker rooms.

4. Dairy owners should provide milking employees with gloves they can use underneath milking gloves to keep their hands warmer.

5. A lot of the companies with which dairies do business provide stocking hats that cover the head and ears. Owners can ask for these for their workers.

Delgado also suggested that dairy owners make sure that their operations include:

* Heat blowers in the parlor. Make sure they are working. In many dairies, parlor heaters may not work properly or do not work at all. Fix the heaters and doors on skid-steer loaders.

* Rock salt. Rock salt helps melt the ice on slippery surfaces and, when mixed with sand, can provide temporary traction on holding areas and stairs in the parlor.

* Plenty of drinking water in the parlor to keep employees from getting dehydrated.

"Tell your workers doing chores outdoors that it is okay to take adequate breaks from the cold," Delgado suggested. "These are the people taking care of your animals."

Alltech is a global animal health and nutrition company that develops natural products to enhance animal health and performance.

Volume:85 Issue:02