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Field tours to kick off 2014 PMA Foodservice Conference

PMA Foodservice Conference attendees will get a fresh look at leading crops on an exclusive visit to some of Salinas Valley’s fields and facilities on the Behind the Scenes: Field & Plant Tour. In addition to facility tours, registrants will get a field-to-fork perspective of these crops as they learn growing, picking, packing and culinary preparation tips.

“This will be our ninth year hosting the PMA Foodservice tour groups,” Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development at Ocean Mist Farms, said in a press release. “The event is right in our backyard, and we appreciate the opportunity to showcase our program and educate attendees about the commodities we grow.”

The Ocean Mist Farms stop of the tour will highlight its full line of premium fresh vegetables with a special focus on its heirloom artichokes and brussels sprouts.

Braga Fresh Family Farms will share insights about how it produces organic and conventional leafy greens, broccoli, beets and a growing line of herbs. “Everyone who visits Braga Ranch gains appreciation for the complexity of agriculture and the bond of a generational family farm,” Rod Braga, president and chief executive officer of Braga Fresh Family Farms, said in the release. “We’re excited about the opportunity to welcome PMA members and students to our home ranch and give them a unique education about what it takes to grow and distribute fresh, healthy vegetables around the world.”

At Naturipe Farms guests will tour strawberry, blackberry and raspberry fields, as well as a sustainability-driven packing facility. “The most valuable asset to us is showing rather than explaining how we do things,” Kyla Oberman, Naturipe’s marketing manager, said in the release. “To see the harvesting and experience the various processes that happen between the field and the cooler are things that all of our customers should see to truly understand everything involved in berry production.”

PMA’s Foodservice Conference & Expo, now in its 33rd year, is a networking opportunity for members of the global, fresh produce supply chain to come together and build business connections. The three-day event will bring more than 1,700 leaders in foodservice and the produce industry, looking to forge new relationships in order to add healthy, fresh and tasty choices to their menus. The conference will also feature educational sessions and forums to discuss ways to increase the role of fresh produce in foodservice, and will end with a five-hour expo.

For more information, registration and full program of the Foodservice Conference & Expo, visit the Foodservice website and the Field & Plant Tour website.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Field tours to kick off 2014 PMA Foodservice Conference

PMA Foodservice Conference attendees will get a fresh look at leading crops on an exclusive visit to some of Salinas Valley’s fields and facilities on the Behind the Scenes: Field & Plant Tour. In addition to facility tours, registrants will get a field-to-fork perspective of these crops as they learn growing, picking, packing and culinary preparation tips.

“This will be our ninth year hosting the PMA Foodservice tour groups,” Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development at Ocean Mist Farms, said in a press release. “The event is right in our backyard, and we appreciate the opportunity to showcase our program and educate attendees about the commodities we grow.”

The Ocean Mist Farms stop of the tour will highlight its full line of premium fresh vegetables with a special focus on its heirloom artichokes and brussels sprouts.

Braga Fresh Family Farms will share insights about how it produces organic and conventional leafy greens, broccoli, beets and a growing line of herbs. “Everyone who visits Braga Ranch gains appreciation for the complexity of agriculture and the bond of a generational family farm,” Rod Braga, president and chief executive officer of Braga Fresh Family Farms, said in the release. “We’re excited about the opportunity to welcome PMA members and students to our home ranch and give them a unique education about what it takes to grow and distribute fresh, healthy vegetables around the world.”

At Naturipe Farms guests will tour strawberry, blackberry and raspberry fields, as well as a sustainability-driven packing facility. “The most valuable asset to us is showing rather than explaining how we do things,” Kyla Oberman, Naturipe’s marketing manager, said in the release. “To see the harvesting and experience the various processes that happen between the field and the cooler are things that all of our customers should see to truly understand everything involved in berry production.”

PMA’s Foodservice Conference & Expo, now in its 33rd year, is a networking opportunity for members of the global, fresh produce supply chain to come together and build business connections. The three-day event will bring more than 1,700 leaders in foodservice and the produce industry, looking to forge new relationships in order to add healthy, fresh and tasty choices to their menus. The conference will also feature educational sessions and forums to discuss ways to increase the role of fresh produce in foodservice, and will end with a five-hour expo.

For more information, registration and full program of the Foodservice Conference & Expo, visit the Foodservice website and the Field & Plant Tour website.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Food quality will suffer with rising carbon dioxide, field study shows

For the first time, a field test has demonstrated that elevated levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants’ assimilation of nitrate into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.

Findings from this wheat field-test study, led by a UC Davis plant scientist, will be reported online April 6 in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Food quality is declining under the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide that we are experiencing,” said lead author Arnold Bloom, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences.

“Several explanations for this decline have been put forward, but this is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop,” he said.

The assimilation, or processing, of nitrogen plays a key role in the plant’s growth and productivity. In food crops, it is especially important because plants use nitrogen to produce the proteins that are vital for human nutrition. Wheat, in particular, provides nearly one-fourth of all protein in the global human diet.

Many previous laboratory studies had demonstrated that elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide inhibited nitrate assimilation in the leaves of grain and non-legume plants; however there had been no verification of this relationship in field-grown plants.

Wheat field study

To observe the response of wheat to different levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the researchers examined samples of wheat that had been grown in 1996 and 1997 in the Maricopa Agricultural Center near Phoenix, Ariz.

At that time, carbon dioxide-enriched air was released in the fields, creating an elevated level of atmospheric carbon at the test plots, similar to what is now expected to be present in the next few decades. Control plantings of wheat were also grown in the ambient, untreated level of carbon dioxide.

Leaf material harvested from the various wheat tests plots was immediately placed on ice, and then was oven dried and stored in vacuum-sealed containers to minimize changes over time in various nitrogen compounds.

A fast-forward through more than a decade found Bloom and the current research team able to conduct chemical analyses that were not available at the time the experimental wheat plants were harvested.

In the recent study, the researchers documented that three different measures of nitrate assimilation affirmed that the elevated level of atmospheric carbon dioxide had inhibited nitrate assimilation into protein in the field-grown wheat.

“These field results are consistent with findings from previous laboratory studies, which showed that there are several physiological mechanisms responsible for carbon dioxide’s inhibition of nitrate assimilation in leaves,” Bloom said.

3 percent protein decline expected

Bloom noted that other studies also have shown that protein concentrations in the grain of wheat, rice and barley — as well as in potato tubers — decline, on average, by approximately 8 percent under elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

“When this decline is factored into the respective portion of dietary protein that humans derive from these various crops, it becomes clear that the overall amount of protein available for human consumption may drop by about 3 percent as atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches the levels anticipated to occur during the next few decades,” Bloom said.

While heavy nitrogen fertilization could partially compensate for this decline in food quality, it would also have negative consequences including higher costs, more nitrate leaching into groundwater and increased emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, he said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California – Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Success of new bug-fighting approach may vary from field to field

A new technique to fight crop insect pests may affect different insect populations differently, researchers report. They analyzed RNA interference (RNAi), a method that uses genetic material to “silence” specific genes — in this case genes known to give insect pests an advantage. The researchers found that western corn rootworm beetles that are already resistant to crop rotation are in some cases also less vulnerable to RNAi.

The study is reported in the journal Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology.

“Our results indicate that the effectiveness of RNAi treatments could potentially vary among field populations depending on their genetic and physiological backgrounds,” the researchers wrote.

The western corn rootworm will likely be one of the first crop pests to be targeted with RNAi technology, said Manfredo Seufferheld, a former University of Illinois crop sciences professor who led the study with crop sciences graduate student Chia-Ching Chu, entomology research associate Weilin Sun, Illinois Natural History Survey insect behaviorist Joseph Spencer and U. of I. entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh.

Controlling the western corn rootworm costs growers more than $ 1 billion a year in the U.S. Current methods for keeping the bug in check — crop rotation and genetically modified corn — face challenges from populations of resistant western corn rootworms at various locations across the Corn Belt, Spencer said.

Seufferheld and his colleagues recently discovered an important factor that helps rootworms overcome crop rotation, the practice of alternately planting soybeans and corn in the same field year to year. They found that microbes in the guts of rotation-resistant rootworms help those beetles that stray into soybean fields survive on soybean leaves for a few days — just long enough for the females to lay their eggs in soil that will be planted in corn the following year.

Rather than studying a laboratory population of insects, in the new analysis the team tested RNAi on rootworm beetles collected from fields in three locations in the Midwest — two in Illinois with established rotation-resistant populations and the third from an area in Missouri with no evidence of rotation resistance.

“After generations in the laboratory, insects gradually lose their natural diversity,” Seufferheld said. This makes it easier to control them, and may not accurately reflect actual insect responses in the field, he said. Seufferheld now works for Monsanto and is based in Buenos Aires, where he is in charge of insect resistance management.

The team targeted two genes that are regulated differently in rotation-resistant and non-resistant rootworms. The first, DvRs5, codes for an enzyme that helps the rootworms digest plant proteins. The second, att 1, aids in the insects’ immune response. These genes have been found to play a role in rootworm resistance to crop rotation.

The team looked at how treatment with RNAi (which involves feeding it to the bugs) influenced enzyme activity in the rootworm gut. They also recorded how long the beetles survived on soybean leaves after ingesting RNAi.

As expected, the RNAi targeting DvRs5 reduced that enzyme’s activity in all three rootworm populations. But the treatment had less of an effect on rotation-resistant beetles (activity dropped to about 48 percent) than on their nonresistant counterparts (enzyme activity dropped to 24 percent).

The researchers were surprised to find that the RNAi targeting the gene att1 had no effect, or even may have aided rotation-resistant rootworms, which survived slightly longer than they would have without the treatment. The same RNAi treatment undermined survival in the nonresistant rootworms.

This does not represent an immediate concern for RNAi technology, the researchers said, as they tested genes that are unlikely to be used in commercial crops. But the study does offer important insights into the complexity of insect biology, Seufferheld said.

“Nature is not static, but interactive and dynamic,” he said. “As we better understand the relationships between broad-scale human changes to crop diversity and the insects that feed on those crops, this knowledge will help us develop better pest-management strategies that are more in tune with nature.”

The findings suggest that targeting a single gene to control a pest species is not the best strategy, Spencer said.

“We now know that disrupting a particular target gene may enhance undesirable pest characteristic, such as rotation resistance, while also undermining desirable traits,” he said. “With insecticides, our instruments of destruction were relatively crude and unfocused,” he said. “With RNAi, we are trying to subtly subvert important processes very precisely to bring about pest death.” Such precision requires “a deeper appreciation of how the system works,” he said. “This study shows how variation among crop pests may alter the outcome of a seemingly straightforward manipulation.”

“This is important evidence that insect populations vary in their response to RNAi and might be influenced by other selective events,” Pittendrigh said. The findings might be of interest to agricultural biotech firms that are hoping to add RNAi to their pest-killing arsenals, he said.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Primus lawsuits may redefine ‘field to fork’ philosophy

Lawsuits filed against Primus Group Inc. of Santa Maria, CA, in connection with the 2011 distribution of Listeria-tainted cantaloupe produced at Jensen Farms in Colorado may very well put a finer point on the concept of “field to fork” responsibility when it comes to food distribution.

Recently, Walmart Stores Inc. filed a lawsuit against Primus in federal court in Wyoming. Attorney William Marler, a nationally recognized food-safety advocate JensenUpdate5William Marlerand managing partner of the Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark, told The Produce News that he expects other major retailers named in lawsuits, among them The Kroger Co., may take similar action. Texas-based Frontera Produce Inc. previously filed cross suit against Primus.

A total of 66 lawsuits have been filed in the United States in connection with the case.

“Forty percent of the lawsuits are filed in Colorado,” said Marler told The Produce News. He represents 46 clients, and 25 of these lawsuits stem from a death that resulted after consumption of the tainted product.

“The cases in Colorado have been consolidated for discovery purposes,” Marler stated.

While there are no solid dates for trials connected with these lawsuits at the current time, Marler expects the cases will be set during 2014 and 2015.

“This is the first time I have sued an auditor,” he went on to say. “Primus was auditing [Jensen Farms] when the outbreak began.”

Primus has taken the position that it has no duty to end consumers and that there was no breach of contract. And finally, Primus is arguing that it has no control over sale or distribution of product.

The lawsuits are drawing intense scrutiny.

“It’s like the perfect storm,” Marler said. “Consumers rely on middle men to produce safe food.”

The body of law relating to food inspection is 50 to 100 years old, Marler said. “The law doesn’t catch up to the intelligence as we’d like it to.”

He added that the law looks for clarity when it comes to an alleged mistake and harm done. Marler also said that part of this body of law provides government regulators with immunity from liability.

Marler said the heart of the current lawsuits stems from the issue of causation. “We’re arguing the consumer becomes the third-party beneficiary [of third-party audits],” he explained. “Ultimately, the consumer gets harmed.”

Primus has filed motions to dismiss in a number of jurisdictions. “They’ve won three, and we’ve won four,” Marler said. “The courts are now seeing this for what it is.”

Jensen Farms previously assigned its lawsuit against Primus to the victims represented by Marler. “[Primus] will never get a wiggle out of the Jensen lawsuit,” Marler said.

He expects the cases to have an impact on the law when it comes to food inspection.

“Primus has taken the position they have no end duty,” he explained. “Federal court is deciding that Primus does have a duty.”

The other interesting aspect of the case affects retailers. Marler said retailers in some states have taken the position that they, too, have no responsibility to the consumer.

“It’s going to be interesting to me to see how courts handle, with a straight face, how retailers handle food,” he said.

Marler said unpaid medical bills are still piling up for people during the three years since the Listeria outbreak.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said. “We’re going to push this to the very end.”

Looking to the future, Marler expects this case will send ripples throughout the produce industry when it comes to the third-party audit process.

“It’s the grease that skids a product from Point A to Point B,” he noted.

While he does not see the third-party audit process going away, he does envision a need for additional certification to ensure that food is safe to consume.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Lots of innovation during Rijk Zwaan Open Field Days

Lots of innovation during Rijk Zwaan Open Field Days

From the 10-14th of February, 2014, Rijk Zwaan Iberica organised the International Open Field Days in Cartagena, Spain. More than 700 visitors made the most of this opportunity to see the winter crops on display at the ‘La Marina’ research station.

In total, 360 different varieties of (amongst others); spinach, lettuce, endive, brassica, corn salad and fennel, were presented in the trial field. Agronomists, producers and dealers, mainly coming from Spain and other European countries, were able to discuss the various novelties. The large number of innovations in spinach and lettuce drew the most attention. Thanks to QR-code technology, visitors were able to receive  real-time information about the varieties out in the field.

Retail inspiration
Rijk Zwaan demonstrated an outdoor hydroponic system in combination with specific Rijk Zwaan varieties suitable for this way of cultivation.To inspire the visitors, also several retail packages were presented.  Pre-packed salads and other fresh-cut products were on display to show visitors examples of the latest concepts for fresh and prepared produce.

For more information:
Ton van Leeuwen
Rijk Zwaan
Tel: +31 (0) 174 532 487

Publication date: 2/18/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Success in banana disease field trial

Success in banana disease field trial

Plant genome company Evogene Ltd. and banana biotechnology company Rahan Meristem (1998) Ltd. have successfully field tested banana varieties that are resistant tolerance to Black Sigatoka (also known as Black Leaf Streak Disease), the most damaging disease threatening commercial banana plantations.

The joint project seeks to discover and validate genes with the potential to resist Black Sigatoka. As part of Rahan field trials, bananas with genes discovered by Evogene, through its ATHLETETM computational technology, demonstrated a lower infection rate than banana crops which did not contain the selected genes.

Current methods to control Black Sigatoka include the use of fungicides, which can account for 30% of a grower’s production cost and adds 15-20% to bananas’ retail price. In addition to this substantial cost, frequent use of fungicides has significant adverse environmental and health effects.

“With banana constituting the world’s fourth most valuable food staple, Black Sigatoka is particularly devastating, affecting over 50% of this $ 2.5 billion crop,” said Rahan CEO Ron Dinar. “The disease has the capacity to reduce yields by 35-50%, causing tremendous impact to growers in major producing countries of Central America, the Caribbean Islands, Africa and the Far East.” He added that the initial field trial results have the potential to combat one of the world’s most devastating crop diseases.

Evogene president and CEO Ofer Haviv said, “Our joint work with Rahan is one of our first collaborations in the biotic field. We are very pleased with these results which reinforce our confidence in the applicability of our unique discovery capabilities with respect to plant diseases and other biotic threats.” He added that he hoped to expand the collaboration with Rahan to provide a more effective, healthier, and economically viable alternative to the use of fungicides in banana cultivation.

Source: www.globes-online.com

Publication date: 8/7/2013


FreshPlaza.com