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Next Steps on Arsenic and Rice

This blog was originally posted on FDAVoice on September 12, 2013.

On Sept. 6, FDA announced the results of testing 1,300 samples of arsenic in rice and rice products and found that the arsenic levels in rice do not present an immediate or short-term health risk. As we said last week, the next step is to assess the potential health risk from long-term exposure to the arsenic in rice and foods made with this grain.

And that is where my job starts. I am a scientist at FDA and I’d like to explain the scientific legwork that will be done over the next few months by some of the most preeminent arsenic experts in the country. Keep Reading

Collaborating to Develop New Oil Alternatives to Palm Oil

Palm fruitPalm oil is a major industrial commodity today. It is economical, versatile, immensely popular, and it is being produced in an increasingly sustainable way. An industrial feedstock in food and confectionery goods, cosmetics, detergents, and biofuels, it is also an important food source in large parts of the developing world.

But a number of factors suggest that the future lies in new oils. Rapid expansion of palm oil production has destroyed areas of the rain forest, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and eroding biodiversity. The planet cannot sustain ever-expanding production levels, which some project could nearly triple by 2050. And while in some food uses palm oil doesn’t require hydrogenation, its ubiquity in packaged foods still makes it a health concern in the developed world, where diets are high in saturated fats. Alternatives are required. Although sustainable palm oil and other vegetable oils are necessary elements in today’s oil portfolio, they are insufficient. Buyers, governments, and nongovernmental organizations need to accelerate initiatives to develop new oil sources. Keep Reading

Implications of the Farm Bill Expiration

The U.S. Senate and U.S. House Committee on Agriculture have passed their respective versions of the 2012 Farm Bill, but the legislation is stranded, and the 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2012. Here is a summary report on the current state of play and practical implications of the 2008 Farm Bill expiration. Keep Reading

Impact of GMOs on the Future of Agriculture

On August 10, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture revised its estimated for this year’s corn crop, cutting it by nearly 17% due to the severe drought the United States experienced this spring and summer. And yet, this year’s corn harvest is expected to be perhaps the fifth largest on record. Recently, Kelly Hensel, IFT Digital Media Editor, spoke with Colin Carter, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis, to get his insight on how techniques, including genetic modification, have helped U.S. farmers meet increasing demands under extreme weather variation. In addition, Carter addresses the concerns surrounding GM crops. Listen to the interview on IFT’s ePerspective blog and don’t forget to add your opinion to the dialog by commenting.


Keep Reading

The Farm Bill: Where Are We Now

FarmingThe House and Senate Agricultural Committee Leadership—Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Colin Petersen (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabinow (D-Mich.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)—are frustrated. Most House agricultural committee members want to keep farm subsidies as large as possible, but many other representatives are concerned about wasteful spending and unusually willing to interfere in the Committee’s business. So the current state of Farm Bill 2012 play is straightforward: everything up in the air. Keep Reading

Farm Policy Should Be Food Policy

FarmingAmerica’s history includes a rich tradition of agricultural productivity, and we have all benefited from it. Agricultural laws and policies have supported that productivity, recognizing the special attributes of agricultural production and the public interest involved in promoting food security.

Along the way, however, public interest has often taken a back seat to special interest. Farm policy has driven food policy, and farmers have been encouraged to farm in ways that are not sustainable, sometimes producing crops that do not contribute to our health, preserve our environment, or strengthen our regional economies. Keep Reading

Food Science, Technology Contribute to Feeding A Growing Population: Audio Interview Part 2

Part 2 of the audio interview between Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, and John Floros, Head of the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State. In this segment John explains the challenges we face to feed a population which is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. In addition, he addresses consumers’ negative perceptions of processed foods, and finally, he shares some tools that he believes are currently being underutilized that may help improve our efforts to feed a growing population. John has worked in the food processing industry, was on the faculty at Purdue University, and since 2000 he has been leading the . He is widely published, is currently a Member of the Science Board for the Food & Drug Administration, and a Fellow and Past President of IFT.

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