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Articles from 2013 In December

Methodology of clinical vitamin trials flawed

Most large, clinical trials of vitamin supplements, including some concluding that they are of no value or even are harmful, have a flawed methodology that renders them largely useless in determining the real value of these micronutrients, a new analysis suggests.

Many projects have tried to study nutrients that are naturally available in the human diet in the same way they would study a powerful prescription drug. This leads to conclusions that have little scientific meaning, even less accuracy and often defy a wealth of other evidence, Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, said in a new review published in the journal Nutrients.

These flawed findings will persist until the approach to studying micronutrients is changed, Frei said. Such changes are needed to provide better, more scientifically valid information to consumers around the world who often have poor diets, do not meet intake recommendations for many vitamins and minerals and might greatly benefit from something as simple as a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement.

What is needed are new methodologies that accurately measure baseline nutrient levels, provide supplements or dietary changes only to subjects who clearly are inadequate or deficient and then study the resulting changes in their health, Frei said. Tests must be done with blood plasma or other measurements to verify that the intervention improved the subjects' micronutrient status along with biomarkers of health.

Other approaches are also needed that better reflect the different ways nutrients behave in cell cultures, lab animals and the human body, he added.

The new analysis specifically looked at problems with the historic study of vitamin C, but scientists say many of the observations are more broadly relevant to a wide range of vitamins, micronutrients and studies.

Did Rolling Stone article slander American ag? (commentary)

Did Rolling Stone article slander American ag? (commentary)

IT has been a long time since I read anything this close to old-time yellow journalism.

"In the Belly of the Beast" by Paul Solotaroff is an artfully written piece of propaganda in Rolling Stone is an artfully written piece of propaganda using all the shrewdly worded emotional strike points favored by domestic terrorist groups like PETA and ALF.

It would delight Sinclair Lewis and thrill Leni Riefenstahl. It's written with the kind of foreboding horror usually reserved for movie trailer voice-overs for films like "Texas Chain Saw Massacre."


Solotaroff contributes articles to Men's Journal and Rolling Stone. He writes for Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue and the New York Times Magazine, and he's the author of two books: Group and The House of Purple Hearts.

It comes as no surprise that he lives in New York City and that he didn't interview anyone in animal agriculture. I suspect that he gave a review copy to Ingrid Newkirk, the crazy founder of PETA, a cat and dog slaughtering animal rights organization once described as having a media strategy that seems to be three parts B-list celebrities, one part fake blood and five parts boobies. If you have ever seen their ads, you'll understand.

"Belly of the Beast" is a veganistic tome painfully short on reality and scant on facts (www.rollingstone.com/feature/belly-beast-meat-factory-farms-animal-activists). Read it for yourself. I'm sure your non-ag friends will ask you about it. Or maybe just skip it if there is anyone in the room with any sensibility.

Your non-ag friends will ask questions of the "have you quit beating your wife?" sort.

Solotaroff speaks of heroic but plain-looking people bravely sneaking hidden cameras into "dark, filthy, pestilent barns" to "deliver knockdown blows to the Big Meat cabal" and talks of chicken dung piled 6 ft. high.

He mentions animal feed that is "an assortment of trash, including ground glass from light bulbs, used syringes and the crushed testicles of their young."

Wow! He forgot to accuse farmers of selling their children to roving bands of gypsies and the massive tasing of piglets for the amusement of everyone involved in agriculture.

He did quote Wayne Pacelle, big boss of The Humane Society of the United States, describing him in a most bromantic way as "the film-star-handsome president and CEO of the Humane Society, the largest and most powerful nonprofit guardian of animal rights in America."

Can we stop this animal rights crap right now? Please? I am all for animal welfare, but animal rights is a step too far.

The care and feeding of our cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens, turkeys, goats, cats and dogs are the most important thing for 99.9% of people involved in animal agriculture. Searching through thousands of barns and hundreds of slaughtering plants to find a mere 15 minutes of often carefully edited video and using it to slander an entire industry is just what I called it — slander — and it ought to be treated as such.

*Chuck Jolley is president of Jolley & Associates, a marketing and public relations firm that concentrates on the food industry.

Volume:85 Issue:52

Norbrook relaunches Enroflox 100 (enrofloxacin)

Norbrook Laboratories Ltd. announced that following the Food & Drug Administration's denial of a citizen petition filed by Bayer Animal Health, FDA has re-instated in full its prior approval of the sale and use of Norbrook's new Enroflox 100 (enrofloxacin) in cattle and non-lactating dairy heifers less than 20 months of age. New Enroflox 100 is approved for the treatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) associated with Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, and Histophilus somnus in beef and non-lactating dairy cattle.

Norbrook, a global veterinary pharmaceutical company, said the new BRD treatment antibiotic has the same active ingredient and formulation as Baytril 100 (enrofloxacin) and is approved in cattle for multi-day use only.

Enroflox 100 will be available from veterinarians in 100 mL and 250 mL bottles to fit any size operation.

For use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. Enroflox 100 is not approved for a one-day, single dose of therapy in cattle. Federal law prohibits the extra-label use of this drug in food producing animals. Cattle intended for human consumption must not be slaughtered within 28 days from the last treatment. This product is not approved for female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older, including dry dairy cows. Use in these cattle may cause drug residues in milk and/or calves born to these cows. A withdrawal period has not been established in pre-ruminating calves. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. Use with caution in animals with known or suspected CNS disorders. Observe label directions and withdrawal times. See product labeling for full product information.

IN FOCUS: Examining the need for pork quality grading

IN FOCUS: Examining the need for pork quality grading

LATE last month the National Pork Board announced that it would convene an industry task force to consider a wide range of consumer issues, including animal care, sustainable pork production and other challenges to define a future vision for the industry and the Pork Checkoff.

Beginning this month, the 16-member panel will embark on a year-long process to review research, market data and opinions of industry leaders, and then set a strategic vision for the industry through 2020. The primary goal of the task force is to assess the Pork Checkoff's role in an ever-changing world and set the priorities that can help pork producers better meet customer needs.

The Board’s current five-year strategic plan was unveiled in 2009 and will be complete next year. Through that process, the Pork Checkoff defined three critical issues: protecting a producer's freedom to operate, enhancing U.S. and international consumer demand for pork and making U.S. pork producers more competitive in the global marketplace.

One of the issues that may arise during the planning process is a perceived need for a pork quality grading system in the U.S.

The Pork Board’s vice president of science and technology Paul Sundberg told Feedstuffs earlier this year that research on pork quality would be a larger focus of Checkoff investment in 2014 and 2015.

“The quality conversation is in its infancy,” Sundberg explained. “Our consumer preference study in 2011 led to the cooking temperature change. Now we’re trying to gauge consumer attitudes and the perception of pork quality, and then determine how we can drive that through the pork supply chain.”

That temperature change referred to a 2011 update to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food safety guidelines, which now call for a minimum internal cooked temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for pork muscle cuts, as opposed to the previous 160 degree standard that tended to leave consumers eating a porkchop that was too dry, or less tender than a beef steak cooked to an equivalent medium or medium rare doneness.

Sundberg described the early conversation on pork quality as an effort to “raise the tail end of the bell curve.” The Pork Board’s efforts to communicate proper cooking of pork continue, as well, but with a goal of helping consumers better understand how to best cook various cuts of pork.

Even so, there is no pork quality grading system in the U.S. akin to that utilized in the beef industry, differentiating on a quality basis the merits of one carcass from another. And because of that, there is no incentive, economically speaking, for producing a higher quality carcass.

A 2013 study conducted by Kansas State University economists Glynn Tonsor and Ted Schroeder concluded that the lack of a system has caused an “economically significant variability in pork quality present in retail meat counters,” and that the industry currently has a very limited understanding of consumer preferences related to pork. 

In addition, the study noted that the industry currently lacks the ability to accurately measure quality in “an acceptable way that is highly associated with end-user value and that could facilitate further exchange of quality and associated pricing information with in the industry’s supply chain.”

Listen in: Kansas State University economist Glynn Tonsor discusses the economic implications of the pork industry's lack of a quality grading system in this week’s edition of the Feedstuffs In Focus podcast.

Have crop yields peaked?

Feeding a world population of 9 billion people that is estimated by 2050 could be harder than first thought if the conclusions of a report released last week come true.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln note that yield gains are, in fact, decreasing, which will make meeting global food demands harder. The research team, which reported its findings in Nature Communications, believe about 30% of the major global cereal crops -- rice, wheat and corn -- may have hit their maximum possible yields in farmers' fields.

The team, which includes Kenneth Cassman and Patricio Grassini of the UNL Agronomy and Horticulture Department, and Kent Eskridge, statistics, studied past yield trends in the countries with the greatest cereal production, and they offer evidence against projected linear crop yield increases.

The researchers point to a popular idea that corn yields can rise to 300 bushels per acre, on average, by 2030, but point out that to achieve that goal, producers would have to push yields up 3.6% per year. "This rate is four times greater than the rate of increase in U.S. [corn] yield from 1965 to 2011," the researchers said.

Unlike other efforts to estimate yield potential, the team’s Global Yield Gap Atlas uses a bottom-up approach. Working with colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the team is recruiting agronomists worldwide to identify key agricultural areas and collect data about local conditions and farming methods. These data are then scaled to the national, regional and global levels.

They also are developing the necessary methodology, such as accurately converting short-term weather data into long-term patterns and scaling up local yield estimates. All information and methodologies are shared on the new public website, www.yieldgap.org .

“The beauty of this project is that it is a global project but with local relevance,” said Grassini. The atlas will estimate global yield trends and food security and also help individual countries identify production potential to better strategize resource allocations and trade opportunities.

Agricultural economist Justin van Wart brings a large-scale perspective to the project. His doctoral work for Cassman included developing methods to scale local data to regional and global levels. Now, as a postdoctoral fellow, the Nebraska native finds himself in a new country almost every month, presenting his methods and helping to build collaborations.

“It’s amazing to work with internationally renowned agronomists,” van Wart said. “It’s kind of surreal to be shaking hands and talking directly with the person whose paper I was highlighting for a report just a few months ago.”

With a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the team is working in India, Bangladesh and 10 Sub-Saharan African countries. Grassini also has developed collaborations in Argentina and Brazil with funds from the University of Nebraska’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute.

Securing food for the future requires accurate information and decades of planning, said Cassman, who also chairs the Independent Science and Partnership Council, which advises the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, or CGIAR, on the scientific merit of global research projects. “We need to do a better job than we have in the past, and that’s what the Global Yield Gap Atlas will do.”

Senate pressures Obama Administration on GMO labeling

As the fight over labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients continues, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says the issue is so pressing that President Barack Obama should skip the congressional process and direct the Food and Drug Administration to require such labels. Feinstein, who is a supporter of proposed labeling legislation in the Senate, says imposing a federal labeling system could be achieved through a simple directive from the president to his FDA.

"Your administration should re-evaluate the Food and Drug Administration's outdated policy that genetically engineered food does not need to disclose this fact on required labels," Feinstein wrote in a letter to the president last week. "It is my view that the FDA does have the authority to require labeling for genetically engineered food products," she added, explaining that the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) prohibits the misbranding of food articles, which includes if a label is "misleading."

Bins caught in OSHA's crosshairs

Bins caught in OSHA's crosshairs

DATING back to 1976, small farms — those with 10 or fewer employees — have been specifically exempted from Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, but OSHA is trying to expand its reach, saying any farm with a grain bin comes under its jurisdiction.

Now, a bipartisan group of Senators has called on the secretary of labor to demand that OSHA back down.

On the Senate floor Dec. 18, Sen. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.) spoke about the latest OSHA action as what he deemed an "anti-agriculture agenda with this Administration" and defying congressional intent.

One of the farms targeted is in Holt County, Neb.

OSHA is claiming that grain bins are not part of farm operations and, thus, are not exempt. The OSHA fines against this farm total approximately $132,000. No injuries have occurred.

Johanns told Feedstuffs that he also knows of farms in Ohio and Michigan where OSHA has made similar attempts to regulate their grain bins.

"I personally believe OSHA is setting up a test here," Johanns said, adding that the agency is trying to see if it could slip the action by Congress.

In a 2011 memo, OSHA asserted that on-farm grain storage and handling were not part of farming operations. The memo essentially expanded OSHA's regulatory scope to nearly every farm in the country without going through the established rule-making process that allows congressional review and public comment — in defiance of the law.

Under the agency's logic, nearly every farm in the country — roughly 300,000  — would be outside the scope of Congress' exemption because almost all farms use some sort of grain storage facility as part of their normal farm operations.

Congress has included language in appropriations bills since 1976 expressly prohibiting OSHA enforcement actions against farmers with 10 or fewer employees.

Johanns led the effort to drum up bipartisan support. After two days, he'd gathered 42 other signatures in a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who oversees OSHA, as well as to OSHA, asking that OSHA update guidance correcting its misinterpretation of the law.

The letter asks Perez to take three steps:

1. Cease all OSHA actions predicated on the skewed interpretation of the congressional exemption;

2. Require OSHA to correct its misinterpretation after seeking guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and agriculture-related organizations, and

3. Require OSHA to provide a list and description of the regulatory actions taken since 2011 against farms with incorrectly categorized non-farming activities and 10 or fewer employees.

"In viewing a farm's 'grain bin operation' as somehow distinct from its farming operation, OSHA is creating an artificial distinction in an apparent effort to circumvent the congressional prohibition on regulating farms," the senators wrote. "The use of grain bins is an integral part of farming operations. Without grain bins, farmers must sell corn and soybeans immediately after harvest, when prices are usually low. Storing grain in bins is, thus, a fundamental aspect of farming. Any farm that employs 10 or fewer employees and uses grain bins only for storage prior to marketing should be exempt, as required by law, from OSHA regulations."

The letter accuses OSHA of "bureaucratic mission creep" and says the agency should ask Congress for such regulatory authority.

"Worker safety is an important concern for all of us, including the many farmers who probably know better than OSHA regulators how to keep themselves and their employees safe on farms," the letter says. "If the Administration believes that OSHA should be able to enforce its regulations on farms, it should make that case to Congress rather than twisting the law in the service of bureaucratic mission creep. Until then, Congress has spoken clearly, and we sincerely hope that you will support America's farmers and respect the intent of Congress by reining in OSHA."

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) added, "The way the Administration is going about putting OSHA on family-owned farms is unconscionable. Congress specifically exempts small farming operations from the heavy hand of this bureaucracy. OSHA must stop this overreach and adhere to the law."

Johanns concluded, "My intent is to stop OSHA in their tracks. The simple reality is OSHA inspectors are the ones breaking the law, not hard-working ag producers in Nebraska and across the country. Congress has been clear for decades that costly OSHA regulations do not apply to small, family-run farms. Now, OSHA is making up its own rules, and that's unacceptable."

Volume:85 Issue:53

More arrests made in seed theft conspiracy

More arrests made in seed theft conspiracy

FEDERAL prosecutors have made additional arrests and charges in two different espionage cases that involve stealing intellectual property from U.S. seed companies and transporting it to China.

Five more Chinese nationals were indicted for conspiracy to steal trade secrets in the case in Iowa. Prosecutors charged Li Shaoming, Wang Lei, Wang Hongwei, Ye Jian and Lin Yong — all natives of China — in addition to Mo Hailong, who was previously charged on Dec. 10, for conspiring to steal inbred corn seed from DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and LG Seeds and attempting to transport the seed to China.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched a full-scale investigation after suspicious activity reported in an Iowa field growing inbred lines of seed led investigators to track the activities of Mo Hailong, also known as Robert Mo.

Mo was reported gathering samples in fields in Iowa and Illinois. The court documents said he shipped packages containing seed at different times to his home in Florida. In addition, Mo spent some time at a field near Monee, Ill., owned by Kings Nower Seed. The investigation found that he was not working alone (Feedstuffs, Dec. 23).

Mo is director of international business for the Beijing DABEI NONG Technology Group Co. Ltd., which, according to FBI records, is believed to be a Chinese conglomerate with a large seed company in China, Beijing Kings Nower Seed Science & Technology Co. Ltd.

Four of the individuals arrested are citizens of China and employees of Kings Nower Seed. Li Shaoming is chief executive officer, Wang Lei is vice chairman, Ye Jian is research manager and Lin Young also was an employee.

The remaining suspect, Wang Hongwei, is believed to be a resident of Canada and China. His direct relationship to Kings Nower Seed has not been disclosed.

In September 2012, all parties involved flew to different locations. Mo, Wang Lei and Wang Hongwei all flew domestically, while Li and Ye were traveling to China.

An outbound inspection of Ye's luggage turned up 30 individual seed kernels wrapped in napkins in the clothing within his bags. Upon further inspection, additional samples were found in his possession in his front pocket.

At the Canadian border, Wang Hongwei's rental car and luggage were inspected, in coordination with an FBI investigation, as he attempted to cross into Canada. A search revealed approximately 44 grocery sacks labeled with generic numbers. Inside each bag were about 20 manila envelopes with various amounts of seed. Wang Hongwei had stated that he purchased the seed in Chicago, Ill., from Mo.

At this point, it appears that no seeds actually reached the intended final destination of China.

As valuable intellectual property of seed companies, these "inbred" or "parent" lines of seed involved in the case took five to eight years of research and a minimum investment of $30-40 million.

Meanwhile, a federal grand jury charged two Chinese scientists, Weiqiang Zhang of Manhattan, Kan., and Wengui Yan of Stuttgart, Ark., with one count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and one count of theft of trade secrets. Originally, they were charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court on Dec. 12.

The two allegedly conspired to steal rice samples from Ventria Bioscience, a biopharmaceutical company with a research facility in Junction City, Kan. Court documents stated that Zhang and Yan allowed Chinese visitors from a research institute to obtain possession of the rice seed developed by Ventria at the Kansas research facility (Feedstuffs, Dec. 23).

If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

Volume:85 Issue:53

Food production pushing ahead

Food production pushing ahead

SINCE setting a record high in August 2012, global food prices have been on a declining trend, but prices of internationally traded foods still remain high.

World Bank's Food Price Index decreased 6% from June through October 2013, which is actually 16% below the all-time peak in August 2012 and 12% lower than year ago.

Overall, the price of grains has been the biggest driver in food prices during this period. While, in general, there was a decrease in traded prices for most grains like corn and rice, wheat prices showed an increase during the same time period.

A recent report by the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agriculture Development reveals that declining food prices did contribute to a significant improvement in extreme poverty; however, chronic hunger on a global scale remains fairly modest.

Currently, 842 million people are hungry, and the anticipated increase in food demand due to a growing world population will leave many countries heavily reliant on global trade. The fact remains that most countries will not be able produce enough food domestically to keep tempo with the world's increasing population.


Mapping food security

For the first time, researchers have mapped the food security of major cities.

Typically, more than half the human population lives in or near cities, and food consumption obviously differs in rural populations versus urban populations. Since it is rare for a city to have the capacity to supply all of its food needs, it is important to understand the internal and external flow of the food system.

The study took an in-depth look at historical and modern food production, along with the rate of population growth, in the capitals of Australia, Japan and Denmark. Using the collected data, the scientists were able to chart the ability for each capital to provide enough food locally to meet the demand of its growing population.

The research did not take into account whether changes to current land management practices could increase productivity or if citizens would limit their intake to local, seasonally available goods.

Since the populations in the capitals of Australia and Japan have increased immensely in the last 40 years, the self-provision declined from 150% to 90% for Canberra, Australia, and from 41% to 27% for Tokyo, Japan.

On the other hand, even with a decline in farmland, Copenhagen, Denmark, showed a slight increase in its self-provision, from 34% to 45%, because its population has remained flat.

Overall, each capital exhibited a different degree of food self-sustainment. The report explains that, as the population of the cities increased since 1965, so did the amount of imported food, while at the same time, the percentage of food provided by local agriculture declined correspondingly.

"The three major cities in our study achieve food security by different degrees of self-provision and national and global market trade. It is important to understand such food flows in order to relate it to the energy challenge and the risk of national political unrest caused by food shortages and its effect on the open food trade," said University of Copenhagen professor Dr. John R. Porter, who is the leading author on the study.

"When the local capacity to supply a city declines, it becomes more dependent on the global market. As an example, Japan imported wheat from 600,000 hectares of foreign farmland to meet the demand of its capital and surrounding region in 2005. This means that large cities should now start to invest in urban agriculture, especially if climate change has large effects on food production and other parts of the food chain in the future," Porter said.

The study demonstrated the need to determine the self-provisioning capacity of each city, regardless of economic status, before addressing the solution to its food security puzzle.

Furthermore, a future question raised by the study is to what extent government policy will support open food trade.

The study, "Feeding Capitals: Urban Food Security & Self-Provisioning in Canberra, Copenhagen & Tokyo," was published online recently in the journal Global Food Security.


Ag productivity

The bottom line is that food security is going to be a growing issue for many countries. As the world clock begins to tick at a faster pace, the global demand for food, in addition the demand for commodities to manufacture non-food products, will put a large strain on agricultural production.

It is still unclear from where the actual increases in agricultural productivity will come. While popular opinion is banking on the small-scale farming operation, large-scale operations are an attractive counterpart. Also, large-scale farming operations have the advantage with more access to credit, finance and technology.

It is reasonable to argue that both small- and large-scale farming practices are necessary to meet the growing global demand for food, as noted by World Bank Group in its November "Food Price Watch."


Food price outlook

The good news is that the outlook for global food prices is positive.

According to FAO, a more balanced food commodity market with less price volatility than in recent years is anticipated due to improved supplies, especially of U.S. corn.

"The prices for most basic food commodities have declined over the past few months. This relates to production increases and the expectation that in the current season, we will have more abundant supplies, more export availabilities and higher stocks," said David Hallam, director of FAO's Trade & Markets Division.

As demonstrated in recent months, the food price index has declined (Figure), and the trend is expected to continue into 2014. Most of the time, this translates into lower food prices, but a tight wheat market and weather concerns are keeping international traded food prices in close range to historical peaks.

Food production pushing ahead

Volume:85 Issue:53

Do anti-nutritional substances harm fish?

Do anti-nutritional substances harm fish?

SEEDS from soybeans, peas, lupins and other legumes are protein-rich feedstuffs that are fed to livestock during periods of rapid growth or high egg and milk production.

According to an announcement from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, salmon require overall less feed, but the protein content of the feed must be maintained at a high level throughout their entire life cycle.

Legumes are, therefore, appropriate ingredients for fish feed, too, and they are easily available on the world market and reasonably priced. However, they contain a number of so-called anti-nutritional substances that are alien to salmon and can have a negative effect on the growth and health of salmon.

Veterinary researcher Elvis Chikwati conducted doctoral research on how ingredients in feed influence salmon's intestinal function and health, which will make it easier to increase production of salmon while at the same time maintaining good intestinal health.

When Chikwati began work on his doctorate degree at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, it was well known that the most common and cheapest soybean meal products generally resulted in enteritis in salmon. Chikwati set out to find out more about the mechanisms causing the effects raw materials from legumes have on intestinal function and about what role some of the anti-nutritional agents play in causing enteritis.

His overall objective was to make it easier to use such ingredients in fish feed as he set out to find the answer to three questions:

1. What is the first thing that happens in the intestines of salmon when they are given feed containing soybean meal?

The answer is that after changing to a feed with soybean meal, the way the intestines function changes very quickly, Chikwati said. The first change that occurred during the first two days was that the fish ate less, probably because they did not "like" the new feed. However, after five days, enteritis could clearly be seen under the microscope.

At the same time, pancreatic enzyme activity in the rear intestine increased, perhaps because the distal intestine, where the inflammation arises, could not manage to digest and reabsorb these enzymes, he said. This assumption goes along with a much lower activity of enzymes on the surface of cells in the distal intestine — enzymes that facilitate the last stage in the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates.

2. How quickly is intestinal mucosa renewed in salmon, and is this process affected by temperature and by soybean meal in feed?

The answer is that the maturation of intestinal cells, which occurs while they wander from their "place of origin" down in the folds of the intestines and up to the top, is much slower in cold-blooded salmon than in warm-blooded animals, Chikwati said. The renewal of intestinal cells only takes a few days in mammals but takes several weeks in salmon. Furthermore, the process was slower when the water around the salmon was 8 degrees C rather than 12 degrees C.

The maturation of intestinal cells was delayed in fish that were given soybean meal in their feed. The cells never reached full maturity. They also found their way more rapidly to the top and appeared to divide not just down in the folds of the intestines but also along the whole length of the intestinal fold.

3. How do certain anti-nutritional substances from soybean meal affect development of inflammation and intestinal function?

The answer is that saponin from soybean meal, when given together with peas, resulted in the same inflammatory reaction as when soybean meal was given alone. This means that the saponin is the cause of the inflammation, either on its own or in combination with other components found in legumes, Chikwati said.

When saponins were given to the fish along with broad beans, sunflower meal, rapeseed and corn gluten meal, they did not cause inflammation but tended to reduce the fish's utilization of nutrients in the feed.

Chikwati's studies show that other anti-nutritional agents from soybean meal, e.g., lectin and trypsin inhibitor, also affect intestinal function and that the effects of these substances are different when given alone versus when mixed together.

Volume:85 Issue:53