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German startup offers alternative to conventional animal feed

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In one week of fattening in a climate chamber, the young larvae grow to more than 1.5 cm and increase their weight by a factor of 1,000.

The startup company FarmInsect in Germany has developed a technology to breed insect larvae as protein feed for farm animals. Founded by graduates of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the company plans to start a pilot plant at one of the largest fish farms in Bavaria, Germany, within a few weeks.

The founders of FarmInsect — Wolfgang Westermeier, Thomas Kühn and Andre Klöckner — developed their company based on the principle of using agricultural biomass in a circular economy, TUM said in an announcement. Accordingly, residues that accumulate in the region, such as harvest or peeling residues from an agricultural operation or residues from the regional food industry, such as spent grain or bread, can be used to fatten and feed insect larvae, which can, in turn, be used as feed for livestock animals.

The use of insect meal in aquaculture has been legally permitted in the European Union since the end of 2017, and approval for use in poultry and finishing pigs is expected in 2021, especially since feeding live insects to chickens, pigs and fish is already permitted, TUM explained.

“Our decentralized method of insect production offers the ability to feed the larvae live, because there are no long transport routes. This stimulates the animals to beck and burrow (their natural instincts) more effectively and, thus, promotes animal welfare,” said Westermeier, an agricultural scientist.

Producing feed locally

According to TUM, FarmInsect supplies insect breeding systems that can be integrated modularly into the infrastructure of any animal breeding farm.

“The most difficult thing is to turn eggs into juvenile larvae,” said Kühn, FarmInsect managing director and co-founder. Therefore, FarmInsect breeds the young larvae of the black soldier fly -- a particularly undemanding and robust insect species -- in its own facility and delivers them to farms on a regular basis and in accordance with the respective regulations.

In one week of fattening, the young larvae can grow to as large as 1.5 cm in a climate chamber and increase their weight by a factor of 1,000, TUM said. To produce their insect feed, operators only have to fill a mixing pot with biomass and load the climate chamber with young larvae and then unload it with the adult larvae. The larvae can then be fed directly to farm animals — mainly fish as of now, but probably also chickens or pigs in the future.

When using regional residues as feed, the strict regulations of feed legislation must be observed. A special challenge is the complete traceability of their origins. “We have developed an [information technology] platform to document this,” said Klöckner, who is responsible for technical development and programming.

TUM food technology center

The founders are an interdisciplinary team from the fields of agricultural sciences, electrical and computer engineering and economics who got to know each other through projects at TUM.

“The decisive factor for us was that we were able to use rooms in the TUM’s food technology center at Weihenstephan that were suitable for our first larval breeding,” Westermeier said.

“The TUM startup advising team also provided us with contacts in agriculture, the World Agricultural Systems Center--Hans Eisenmann-Forum and EIT-Food,” Kühn said. In addition, Wilhelm Windisch, TUM professor of animal nutrition, has been providing support to the startup. UnternehmerTUM, the center for innovation and startups, has also put FarmInsect in touch with investors and cooperation partners.

Pilot plant

FarmInset has been supported by the Bavarian Ministry of Agriculture and the EU since April 2020 as part of the European Innovation Partnerships program, TUM said.

In the summer of 2020, FarmInsect was accepted into the EIT Food Accelerator Network of the EU as one of the "most promising food and agritech startups in Europe," and in a few weeks, a pilot plant will be commissioned at one of the largest aquaculture enterprises in Bavaria, the announcement said.

TUM is one of Europe’s leading research universities, with around 600 professors, 43,000 students and 10,000 academic and non-academic staff. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, combined with economic and social sciences. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society.

Texas Tech achieves milestone on veterinary school

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Construction on the two components of the School of Veterinary Medicine, the Amarillo Campus and the Mariposa Station, is on time and on budget.

After carefully considering the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine’s detailed plan to meet the standards of accreditation, the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) Council on Education (COE) has issued the school a "Letter of Reasonable Assurance," according to an announcement from Texas Tech.

This "historic milestone" allows the school to begin the application process to admit its inaugural class. With this achievement, the school remains on track, on time and on budget, the university said.

The Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine has developed and will now implement its strategic plan to address the veterinary service and educational needs of rural and regional communities across Texas, the announcement said. This multipronged strategy begins with targeted recruitment and a mission-focused admissions process. The school will begin with an inaugural class of approximately 60 students in the fall of 2021.

“A talented, committed and focused team made this amazing accomplishment possible,” Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, said. “This team extended well beyond the school and well beyond our wonderful university. It included whole communities, veterinarians from across Texas, our legislative delegation and so many more. Today, we celebrate a shared success."

He added, “The school now has a lot of work to do, but it is exciting work, and it is work that everyone is itching to sink their teeth into, simply because it means that, after all these years of planning, we now finally get to meet and start teaching the very first class of students of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Texas Tech. That is indeed something that is incredibly special.”

According to the university, "reasonable assurance" means that if the school follows its detailed plan, AVMA's COE has a reasonable assurance that it will meet the standards and future accreditation. When the school sends out letters of acceptance to its first class, the AVMA COE will grant the school the status of "provisional accreditation," which means the students who matriculate into the program do so into an accredited School of Veterinary Medicine. Once the inaugural class takes the national licensing exam in its final year, the status of "accredited" will be awarded to the school, as long as it effectively demonstrates that it is meeting the Standards of Accreditation, Texas Tech explained.

The school now can begin the admission process. Orientation for the inaugural class of veterinary students will begin on Aug. 9, 2021, Texas Tech said.

Texas Tech originally initiated plans to develop a veterinary medical educational program in 1971. After decades of false starts, a concerted and community-based approach began in earnest in 2014 and was publicly announced in 2015, the university said.

This effort raised $90 million from more than 30 individuals, foundations and the Amarillo Economic Development Corp. for the school’s infrastructure. Then, in 2019, the Texas legislature appropriated $17.4 million to begin the steps necessary to start the program.

“Today, future veterinarians throughout Texas officially have another opportunity to pursue their dreams within the borders of our state,” Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec said. “When we announced our pursuit of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015, we knew the model we were presenting would be a great benefit to the state of Texas.”

Since ground was broken on the facility in Amarillo, Texas, more than a year ago, construction of the Amarillo Campus and Mariposa Station facilities has progressed on schedule, the university said. The state-of-the-art facilities have been designed hand in hand with development of the curriculum. Texas Tech has developed a team of approximately 30 faculty and staff members and is in the process of adding additional faculty and staff to its growing team, it added.

Lawmakers agree to replenish USDA’s CCC funds

House lawmakers decided late Tuesday to include a reimbursement for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) in the continuing resolution bill. The first version proposed on Monday drew criticism from farm state members of Congress. The measure passed overwhelmingly out of the House on Tuesday and will now go to the Senate.

Funds from the CCC support farm programs ranging from conservation to risk management. Farm groups had argued that the CCC was dangerously close to running out of funds, which would have effectively shut down the farm safety net.

This agreement includes important nutrition provisions, including an expansion of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program for families for the next year and an expansion of this critical assistance to children in childcare. The P-EBT Program provides families with an EBT card to purchase food to replace the school meals their children have missed while learning remotely. It also protects important flexibilities that allow states and schools to provide nutrition assistance to pregnant women, children and families in need.

USDA’s authority to issue child nutrition waivers also has been extended through fiscal 2021 to help mitigate the impact of millions of children losing access to free and reduced-price school meals as schools remain shuttered due to the pandemic.

The agreement will improve accountability in the CCC by banning agricultural funding from being used to bail out oil companies, according to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), who has been vocal about the desire to attach more accountability to USDA’s purse strings regarding the CCC.

“We secured greater accountability for farmers and taxpayers by stopping the Trump Administration’s misguided plan to give hundreds of millions of dollars of agriculture funds to oil companies,” Stabenow said of the reported $300 million oil payout to refiners that did not receive gap waivers to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard. “I remain concerned about persistent unfairness in ad hoc USDA payments, and I will continue to provide strong oversight to ensure that every dollar is distributed to the farmers who need it the most during these challenging times.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) welcomed the agreement, which included the restrictions on using the CCC funds for an oil industry bailout. “It’s pretty clear that it would be unlawful for USDA to use this money to bail out oil refineries, but just in case, we’ve also made sure Big Oil can’t skirt the law on this one. The CCC is meant to support our farmers, and it will stay this way,” Ernst said.

“While we were disappointed it recently became a political flashpoint, we are pleased lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that these funds help to sustain conservation programs and stock America’s pantry,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall, who also thanked House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) and ranking member Michael Conaway (R., Texas).

In a statement, Conaway said there was a bipartisan agreement on Friday to fund all of the U.S. government, including USDA so the agency could help rural America and farmers, ranchers and dairy producers through difficult times. Then, the deal was rescinded by Democrat leaders in Congress.

“Thanks to President [Donald] Trump and Republican leaders in Congress who also strongly opposed this reckless stunt, the Democrats finally modified their funding bill to include the Department of Agriculture,” Conaway said. "Had congressional Republican leadership not stepped in, USDA would have been forced to shut down critical farm bill programs supported by wide, bipartisan margins in both the House and the Senate. This would have hurt millions and helped nobody.”

Conaway said he is pleased that cooler heads prevailed and that USDA will now have the funds it needs to help farmers.

U.S. pork exports gain in China after trade deal

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U.S. pork exports are benefitting from the Phase One trade deal made with China, according to an analysis by Christopher Rogers, senior researcher at Panjiva -- a business line of S&P Global Market Intelligence, which is a division of S&P Global Inc. As of Sept. 10, total sales of pork to China from the U.S. reached 510,400 tons, compared to 55,791 tons in the whole of 2020.

Increased sales were expected through the remainder of the year, but now, sales of pork exports will likely see an even greater boost given the fact that China has blocked imports of pork products from Germany due to African swine fever. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, German pork shipped to non-European Union markets had accounted for about 9% of global pork exports in 2020, with much of this total – nearly 50,000 metric tons per month – going to China.

Rogers said export sales from the U.S. to China signed the week of Sept. 10 were equivalent to 72.1% of all shipments in 2017 alone.

Much of the growth in exports versus 2017 has been dominated by JBS SA, Rogers relayed. Panjiva's U.S. seaborne export data show that the company's shipments year to date in 2020 through Aug. 31 may have increased 370% compared to the same period in 2017. Shipments linked to WH Group Ltd. also rose sharply, up 90.1% versus 2017. While Tyson Foods Inc. has experienced a marked pickup compared to a year earlier, Rogers said the company has shipped 7.3% less year to date than the same period of 2017.

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House Democrats leave out USDA's CCC replenishment in CR

House Democrats leave out USDA's CCC replenishment in CR

Updated: House passes CR Tuesday night after Lawmakers agree to replenish USDA's CCC funds 

On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a short-term spending bill that would avert a government shutdown on Sept. 30 and keep federal agencies funded through Dec. 11. However, Republicans in both chambers criticized the bill for not including replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC), which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has utilized to make Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments as well as trade aid and farm bill safety net payments.

Both sides appear to agree on an end date for the continuing resolution (CR), which would extend current government funding levels and buy more time for negotiations on a slate of fiscal 2021 spending bills. The proposed bill does not refill the $30 billion CCC account.

Senate Agriculture Committee chair Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) admonished the House Democrats’ CR, which denies funding for USDA’s implementation of farm bill and COVID-19 relief programs.

Roberts said the “pandemic of politics” was made worse Monday with the rollout of the CR. “This ill-advised plan would delay critical farm programs and limit risk management tools that are a lifeline for producers right now,” he said.

Roberts was one of many Republicans who took to the Senate floor last week calling for replenishment of the CCC fund. Participating in the colloquy were Sens. John Hoeven (R., N.D.), John Thune (R., S.D.), Deb Fischer (R., Neb.), Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R., Miss.) and John Boozman (R., Ark.). House Democrats have also called for the replenishment, including Reps. Cindy Axne (D., Iowa), Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa) and Abby Finkenauer (D., Iowa). In addition, 42 agricultural groups have asked for the funds.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall stated, “We’re disappointed that Congress has not reached an agreement on replenishing the Commodity Credit Corp. For years, both parties have come together to ensure the CCC provides a safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. A fully funded CCC is as important as ever as farmers are suffering through a pandemic, trade imbalances and severe weather."

In her remarks, Hyde-Smith warned that agriculture and conservation programs would “come to a screeching halt” without including specific language in the CR. More than 1.7 million farmers and ranchers are enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, which the 2018 farm bill authorized to help the American agriculture sector weather financial and market disruptions.

Absent any provision in the CR allowing the CCC to continue financing authorized activities, significant disruptions will occur across a host of programs, including ARC, PLC, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs and many others, she said.

However, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) said the regular process for the yearly CCC replenishment of $30 billion comes after USDA files financial reports for the fiscal year in mid-November, as required by law.

Congress has provided with USDA a total of $44 billion in CCC funds this year — and an additional $9.5 billion in direct producer assistance. Stabenow said this will give USDA enough money to spend on farm bill programs through October, if managed appropriately, including additional COVID-19-related disaster programs authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act. Stabenow contends that if there are additional needs, the agriculture secretary has tremendous flexibility to transfer unspent funds to fully fund farm bill programs but has, in recent days, been critical of USDA’s lack of transparency and inequity in how it helps farmers with the CCC funds.

Stabenow said the CCC should be the way to aid agricultural producers, not a “slush fund” used for political purposes to hand out ahead of an election. Stabenow said USDA could have better managed the recently announced CFAP 2.0 payments after the scheduled October farm bill payments, such as for ARC and PLC. Because the money isn't sent out immediately after signup, it could be managed over the next six to eight weeks -- or even 10 weeks maximum -- so that all of the payments could be made when the CCC is refilled after USDA does its end-of-the-fiscal-year reports.

USDA could have staggered the CFAP payments into different tranches, such as how the last tranche of Market Facilitation Program (MFP) came in January 2020 after the first and second rounds came in 2019 under that fiscal year.

“Whether it’s using USDA dollars to bail out Big Oil or favoring certain farmers over others, the Trump Administration has proven they cannot be trusted to distribute payments fairly without additional congressional oversight. Unfortunately, Republicans have refused to add more accountability into the Commodity Credit Corp. funds,” Stabenow said.

Dietary nutrient density influences pelleting benefits

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The advantages of feeding poultry pelleted diets has been known for some time, but new research from Massey University in New Zealand suggests that nutrient density must be taken into account in order to maximize those pelleting benefits.

Researchers O. Hamungalu, F. Zaefarian, M.R. Abdollahi and V. Ravindran with the Massey University Monogastric Research Centre conducted a 35-day trial in which the influence of nutrient density and feed form was examined on the performance, coefficient of apparent ileal digestibility (CAID) of nitrogen, starch, fat, calcium, phosphorus, gross energy and nitrogen-corrected apparent metabolizable energy (AMEn) in broilers fed wheat-based diets.

Hamungalu et al. used a completely randomized design, with a 5 x 2 factorial arrangement of 10 treatments (six replicates per treatment, with eight birds per replicate) involving five dietary nutrient densities of very low, low, medium, high and very high and two feed forms of mash and pellet.

The researchers reported significant (P < 0.01) interactions between nutrient density and feed form for weight gain and feed intake during the full growout period. Birds fed pelleted diets outperformed mash-fed birds at each nutrient density level, but the pellet-induced benefits were of higher magnitude at the lowest nutrient densities, Hamungalu et al. noted.

Furthermore, increasing the nutrient density level lowered (P < 0.001) the feed conversion ratio from 1.540 in the very-low-density diets to 1.381 in the very-high-density diets, they explained.

Increasing dietary nutrient density progressively increased (P < 0.001) the CAID of nitrogen, fat and phosphorus, the researchers reported, while feeding pelleted diets lowered (P < 0.05) the CAID of nitrogen, starch, fat and AMEn.

Hamungalu et al. concluded that the performance benefits associated with feeding pelleted diets to broilers are diluted at higher dietary nutrient densities. They suggested that this highlights the importance of determining optimum dietary nutrient density in broiler diets in order to maximize expected beneficial outcomes of feeding pelleted diets.

The results were published in Animal Feed Science & Technology.

USDA crop progress: Corn harvest slower than expected

USDA crop progress: Corn harvest slower than expected

Pair generally dry weather last week with a quickly maturing corn crop, and analysts expected harvest to reach 11% completion this past week. But USDA reports that just 8% of the crop nationwide has been harvested through September 20 in its latest weekly crop progress report, out Monday afternoon.

The heart of the Corn Belt has yet to make major headway, including states such as Illinois (4%), Indiana (5%) and Iowa (4%). Further south, other states have made significant progress, with Texas (69%) and North Carolina (63%) over the halfway mark.

USDA reports 59% of the crop is fully mature, up from 41% last week and moderately ahead of the prior five-year average of 49%. Nearly all (95%) of the crop is now dented at this time – also ahead of the prior five-year average of 90%.

Quality-wise, analysts expected USDA to knock an additional point off ratings this past week. In contrast, USDA says 61% of the crop is now rated in good-to-excellent condition, up a point from last week. Another 25% is rated fair (unchanged from a week ago), with the remaining 14% rated poor or very poor (down a point from a week ago).

USDA’s soybean quality ratings also defied analyst expectations, holding steady at 63% rated in good-to-excellent condition. Analysts generally thought the agency would shave another point off that top tier. Another 27% of the crop is rated fair (up a point from last week), with the remaining 10% rated poor or very poor (down a point from last week).

More than half (59%) of the crop is now dropping leaves, up from 37% last week and ahead of the prior five-year average of 50%. Measurable harvest has begun in 17 of the top 18 production states, with a nationwide average of 6%, mirroring the prior five-year average.

The spring wheat harvest is nearly complete, moving from 92% a week ago up to 96%, which is right in line with the prior five-year average and moderately ahead of 2019’s pace of 84%.

Winter wheat planting progress doubled, going from 10% a week ago up to 20% through September 20. That’s slightly ahead of the prior five-year average of 19%. And 3% of the crop is emerged, also slightly ahead of the prior five-year average of 2%.

Click here for updates on additional crops, including sorghum, cotton, sugarbeets, pasture and range conditions, and more.

Stakeholders launch million-acre grazing initiative

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The Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald’s are investing more than $6 million in an initiative led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that aims to make lasting improvements to the grasslands of the northern Great Plains (NGP).

The new program, known as the Ranch Systems & Viability Planning (RSVP) network, will support ranchers across the eco-region — focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota — with technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of 1 million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, this effort will result in increased carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration and better outcomes for biodiversity.

“Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart and president of the Walmart Foundation. “Sustainable grazing practices that improve soil health, absorb carbon and reduce water consumption can help to protect the land and people who depend on it.”

The program supports the Walmart Foundation’s focus to bring more sustainable, regenerative practices to the beef industry. The foundation aims to build connections that can accelerate systems change and form communities of practice with grantees and leaders to share learnings, advance best practices, foster collaboration and scale collective impact. Investing in conservation activities in the NGP supports the stewards of those lands and contributes to climate resilience efforts.

As ranchers continue to adapt their plans to improve conservation and economic outcomes and share peer-to-peer learning, through the RSVP network, WWF will work with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide extension services in one-on-one and group workshops, offer ongoing technical expertise and provide cost sharing and monitoring to help ranchers design, document and implement ranch plans.

“Ranchers are the most important stewards of the grasslands of the northern Great Plains. As managers of over 70% of the remaining intact grasslands within this region, they hold the keys to its future,” Martha Kauffman, managing director of the WWF NGP program, said. “The RSVP network will support ranching partners in planning and improving the resiliency of their operations so they continue to provide habitat for wildlife, store carbon, filter clean water, produce nutritious food and support communities for generations to come.”

The partnership also supports McDonald’s ambition to use its scale and many relationships from the farm to the restaurant to help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and evolve the food system for a resilient and sustainable future. As the first restaurant company in the world to set an approved science-based target on climate action, McDonald’s is partnering across the supply chain to employ diverse strategies that scale up action across the industry.

“I’m proud of McDonald’s investment in programs like the Ranch Systems & Viability Planning network. These partnerships bring producers, suppliers, [non-government organizations] and brands to the table to drive the widespread adoption of more sustainable and regenerative practices that reduce emissions, mitigate climate change and support livelihoods,” said Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s executive vice president and chief supply chain and sustainability officer. “This innovative work is an important step toward scaling climate solutions across the supply chain, building resiliency and achieving McDonald’s science-based climate target to significantly reduce emissions across our offices, restaurants and supply chain by 2030.”

The project is now part of Cargill’s BeefUp Sustainability initiative, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the company’s beef supply chain 30% by 2030, measured on a per pound of beef basis against a 2017 baseline. Earlier this year, Cargill launched two other programs to support this goal, including a grassland restoration effort and an initiative to implement proven soil health practices in cattle feed.

“We believe beef cattle can be a force for good and one of the ways we can address some of our shared challenges by preserving wildlife and drawing down carbon," said Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill’s protein and animal nutrition and health businesses. “This initiative is a testament to that. I’m inspired by the efforts of ranchers who live this belief each day and grateful for our partners who join us lending scale, resources and experience to advance realistic solutions that address climate change.”

According to the initiative, the NGP eco-region, which comprises approximately 25% of the total area of the North American Great Plains, remains largely intact, thanks, in part, to its harsh climate, which has made agricultural expansion relatively difficult until recent decades. In fact, the NGP still supports 1,595 species of plants that provide habitat for 300 species of birds, 95 species of mammals and 28 species of reptiles. The Missouri and South Saskatchewan rivers, in addition to smaller prairie streams, riparian and wetlands habitats, provide habitat for 13 species of amphibians and 121 species of fish.

The remaining healthy ecosystems within the region are maintained largely by hardworking ranching communities.

“Grasslands have evolved to be grazed, and cattle grazing, when managed well, can deliver many conservation benefits, including healthy grasslands, improved soil and the preservation of key habitats,” the stakeholders noted.

Ascus Biosciences rebrands as Native Microbials

To align its groundbreaking technology approach with its product pipeline, science-based animal health and nutrition company Ascus Biosciences announced that it has rebranded as Native Microbials.

“Our new brand positioning as Native Microbials embodies and clearly communicates our unique approach to provide products that achieve optimal animal outcomes using naturally occurring microbes native to each animal species,” Native Microbials chief executive officer Michael Seely said. “As Native Microbials, our mission is to improve the health and well-being of all animals around the world. We deliver breakthrough microbial solutions through our unwavering commitment to deep science.”

The company’s new brand identity comes shortly after securing $46 million in Series B funding earlier this year. As a result, Native Microbials is building momentum to expand its products and services beyond current markets.

Native Microbials said it is well positioned ahead of the U.S. launch of the world’s first endomicrobial products: Galaxis for dairy cattle and Avius Protect for poultry. These products are underpinned by what Native Microbials says are the world’s largest microbial genomics data sets, which enable both a more coherent deciphering of the microbial communities in and on animals but also the ability to develop products that are highly effective, safe and operate in harmony with animal welfare and production, the company said in an announcement.

“Our products set a high bar for us and others to chase in the pursuit of helping customers,” Seely said. “We look forward to delivering our microbes and microbial insights in order to help our customers and their advisors continue to care for their animals in ways that are not only harmonious with their animals biology and end consumer needs but, at the same time, create value.”

In addition to Galaxis and Avius Protect, the company has multiple microbial solutions in development for poultry, swine, beef feedlot, equine, aquaculture and companion species.

With headquarters in San Diego, Cal., Native Microbials maintains multiple field and production operations worldwide.

Respiratory virus steals proteins to halt antiviral response

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Viruses have evolved many ways to avoid detection by the immune system. A recent study by scientists at The Pirbright Institute in the U.K. has revealed that both bovine and human respiratory syncytial viruses (BRSV and hRSV, respectively) capture a protein that is important for the antiviral response, preventing cells signaling for help from the immune system.

Unravelling this sneaky method of escape could help researchers better understand how these viruses cause disease, Pirbright said.

BRSV causes respiratory infections in cattle, which can result in severe illness associated with bronchiolitis and pneumonia in calves, the institute explained. HRSV causes similar infections in humans, particularly infants, the elderly and immunocompromised.

Research investigating how these viruses interact with the host immune response helps understand the diseases these viruses cause and can provide vital information for the development of treatment and vaccines, Pirbright said.

When viruses infect a cell, a cascade of signaling molecules stimulate various immune responses. One such molecule is called NFĸB, which travels from the cell cytoplasm into the nucleus, where it activates antiviral genes. The Pirbright study, published in the Journal of Virology, identifies that RSV viruses prevent NFĸB activation in a rather crafty way.

RSVs create small structures within infected cells known as inclusion bodies, which can capture and hide a vital subunit of NFĸB, called p65, Pirbright said. By squirrelling away the p65 in these inclusion bodies, the virus ensures that NFĸB cannot be activated and the antiviral genes remain switched off.

Dr. Dalan Bailey, head of the viral glycoproteins group at Pirbright, said, “This is the first time we have seen viruses use this tactic. Based on the data and images collected, we know that the inclusion bodies are formed by virus proteins. These inclusion bodies essentially take p65 hostage, which, from a virus perspective, is a very clever way of preventing NFĸB from triggering an innate immune response. This could also have consequences for the development of long-term immunity to RSV and might also be a mechanism employed by related viruses.”

The researchers also established that BRSV uses the inclusion bodies to replicate its own viral RNA. “Inclusion bodies appear to play an essential role in RSV infection, and it is likely the formation of these organelles is a common feature of all viruses in the Orthopneumovirus genus, which BRSV and hRSV are classified within,” Bailey added.