AIC Notes Issue 2012-16 April 19, 2012
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|Canadian Journal of Plant Science |
The Canadian Journal of Plant Science, Volume 92, Number 3 is now available online.
This issue contains three review articles:
Invited review: Engineering aspects of physical treatments to increase fruit and vegetable phytochemical content
Clément Vigneault, Denyse I. Leblanc, Bernard Goyette, Sylvie Jenni
Review: Nitrogen assimilation in crop plants and its affecting factors
Bataung Mokhele, Xianjin Zhan, Guozheng Yang, Xianlong Zhang
Anti-atherosclerotic effects of fruit bioactive compounds: A review of current scientific evidence
Thilakarathna, S. H. and Rupasinghe, H. P. V.
Atherosclerosis is a condition which leads to a cascade of processes involved in thickening of arterial walls as a result of fatty deposition, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Among numerous remedies, the consumption of fruits is believed to have beneficial effects on atherosclerosis development. Various bioactive compounds are present in fruits and they have been found to be responsible for exerting these beneficial effects. Fruit flavonoids and certain terpenoids are among the most efficacious fruit bioactive compounds that have shown positive effects on different in vitro as well as in vivo research models of atherosclerosis. The mechanisms of actions of these compounds vary from exerting antioxidant activities to anti-atherogenic and lipid lowering activities, based on different experimental models. This review article briefly explains how some of the fruit bioactive compounds have affected atherosclerosis under experimental conditions.
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|Ministers Meeting to Focus on National Ag Policy|
Ontario Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin says it's unclear what effect the $252.9 million cut to the federal agriculture department and the government's plan to refocus national business risk management programs will have on farmers.
But he says it's important to him that Ontario farmers have a say in what's in the next national agricultural policy agreement and how national support programs might be adjusted. McMeekin, named agriculture minister by Premier Dalton McGuinty after last fall's provincial election, will attend his first federal, provincial, territorial agriculture ministers meeting. It's being held Friday in Aylmer, Quebec.
At the one-day meeting, the ministers will develop the next cohesive agricultural policy framework called Growing Forward 2. It's the successor to the current five-year Growing Forward agricultural policy framework that expires on March 31, 2013. The new one is supposed to be in place for April 1, 2013.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Mark Wales says there needs to be some proposals put forward at the meeting because "they're running out of time."
Wales says he expects the meeting will trigger additional consultations for later this spring. As part of the federal government's first step in the national and regional dialogue with stakeholders, consultations were held in the spring of 2010.
The Friday ministers' meeting will be the first one "where all of the provincial ministers and the federal minister will actually talk about what Growing Forward 2 is really going to look like," he says.
What the federation wants to see "is no fundamental change to the safety net programs." But there are some improvements to AgriStability the Ontario industry has been seeking for some time, Wales says, noting AgriInvest also needs some improvements.
Recently announced federal research station cuts concern the federation. "If we're going to be innovative in the future we need to have a long-term commitment to research for agriculture," Wales says.
McMeekin says he'll be looking for flexibility in how funds are spent and that Ontario receives its fair share. He also hopes the federal government approaches the talks in the spirit of partnership as it and provinces share jurisdiction for agriculture in Canada.
Since the federal government and provinces jointly fund many of the business risk management programs, "we want to make sure that we're working collaboratively," he says. He also wants to find out what impact the cuts to the federal agriculture department announced in last month's budget will have on research and innovation, farmers and on "what we want to do here in Ontario, which is to grow our agricultural products, enhance our capacity to export and continue to build on relationships between producers and processors."
It's important the federal government understands the critically important role the agricultural sector plays in the overall economic development of Ontario and Canada. "It's the one sector that through the recession seemed to do quite well," he explains.
McMeekin says on Tuesday he talked to 30 Ontario farm leaders by conference call to get their priorities. One thing farm leaders told him was supply management is important and he'll be looking for an unequivocal assurance at the meeting that the federal government continues to support the sector.
"We keep hearing rumblings that different trade agreements might have some impact and to their (the federal government's) credit they have given fairly solid assurances to date but that doesn't mean we shouldn't put it on the agenda," he notes.
Federal agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says in an email that similar to farmers who constantly adjust their businesses as market and weather conditions change "so too must government make sure that our policies and programs are hitting the target in a modern and competitive environment."
Ritz says ministers will be charting the way towards the launch of next year's agricultural policy framework focusing on initiatives that will return the best dividends to the farm gate, such as market development and innovation.
As for what decisions might come out of the meeting, McMeekin says any decisions will likely "be around directions" and the process of program development between now and early July.
Susan Mann, Better Farming, April 19, 2012
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|Federal Ag Research, Food Inspection Budgeting Jeered |
Emerging details about reorganizations planned for federal agriculture research and food inspection have Canada's ag minister responding on the defensive.
"Farmers across Canada are divided on many issues in agriculture, but the one issue we all agree on being important is research," Stephen Vandervalk, president of the Grain Growers of Canada, said in a release Thursday criticizing planned cuts to federally-funded crops research.
"While we appreciate some of the (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) facilities were old and expensive to maintain, and had advised the government we would not oppose... closing some, we had firmly communicated to them that part of the savings should be used to maintain or strengthen the actual numbers of scientists doing research."
However, said Vandervalk, who farms near Fort Macleod, Alta., "it looks like the spring wheat program for the black and dark brown soils zones has been slashed by about one third at a time when the world needs more production."
The GGC specifically said AAFC plans to cut 41 research positions "in Winnipeg alone," at its Cereal Research Centre (CRC) with other jobs to be "re-distributed" to AAFC research facilities at Brandon and Morden, Man.
"Other research cuts are dispersed more thinly across Canada with more details to come," the GGC said Thursday.
Cuts so far are "a clear indication" AAFC is being moved away from research through to varietal development, GGC executive director Richard Phillips said in the same release.
The GGC, he said, has had "some assurances" that core agronomic work in areas such as the infamous wheat stem rust Ug99, now seen in Africa and the Middle East, will continue.
However, he said, "one has to speculate on how much more could have been accomplished with those extra bodies refocused, rather than released."
"Agriculture is a competitive modern industry, and changes will modernize Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, allowing it to concentrate on innovation, marketing and reducing barriers for business," federal Ag Minister Gerry Ritz said in a separate statement Wednesday responding to fresh reports of various ag budget moves.
"Our government was elected on a promise to balance the budget. The agriculture portfolio will realize 10 per cent in cost savings. Our savings are fair, balanced and moderate and will be implement(ed) over a number of years."
Specifically, the budget Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced March 29 will see the federal agriculture portfolio's overall annual budget reduced from current levels by $309.7 million by 2014-15.
The budget aims to cut AAFC funding by $17.1 million from current levels in 2012-13, and by $168.5 million from current levels in 2013-14.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), part of the AAFC portfolio, will see its budget cut from current levels by $56.1 million by 2015, starting with cuts of $2.1 million in 2012-13 and $10 million in 2013-14.
In its own release Tuesday, CFIA laid out plans for a shift in some of its inspection work, noting its inspectors "will continue to perform risk-based label verification activities," such as whether a product labelled "zero grams of trans fat per serving" meets its label claim, or whether a food product has any undeclared allergens.
Referring to some of its other responsibilities, however, CFIA added it now also plans to set up an "online self-assessment labelling tool" to help producers, manufacturers and retailers create "compliant labels."
"The intent of this tool is to create greater industry awareness, understanding and compliance with labelling requirements for a broad range of information such as net quantity, date markings, nutrition labelling, bilingual labelling, and legibility and location."
The new label assessment tool, expected to be launched in 2014-15, is meant to reduce the amount of time CFIA staff spend working directly with industry to explain and clarify labelling rules, the agency said.
CFIA said Tuesday it also plans to lift regulations that restrict sizes of containers for food. Such rules, it said, are "outdated and limit industry innovation and consumer choices."
Food container size rules "are not related to health and safety," the agency said, and dropping such duties will allow it "to place a greater focus on higher priority activities including health and safety aspects of the food production and regulatory systems."
Country Guide, April 13, 2012
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|Roundup of Articles Related to the AAFC Budget |
Editor's Note: a number of programs across Canada are being impacted by the federal budget. Links to stories and commentary are provided here.
Shelterbelt Trees Still Needed, Sask. Agriculture Minister Says
Saskatchewan's agriculture minister says there is still a need for the shelterbelt tree program. The Prairie Shelterbelt Program was started in 1901. According to Agriculture Canada's website, the main benefit of a shelterbelt on a field is wind reduction. The shelterbelt reduces soil erosion and soil moisture evaporation. It can also control blowing snow, protect livestock, and trap snow for dugouts on farms. The program, which provides free trees to farmers, is administered out of the Agroforestry Development Centre in Indian Head, east of Regina. It is being axed as the federal government tries to save money.
The Canadian Press
Community Pastures Program
The Community Pasture Program, a land-management service provided on 85 pastures in the Prairie provinces, was created in the 1930s to reclaim land that was badly eroded during the Prairie drought. It will be phased out. AAFC has begun discussions with the governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (who own 90 per cent of the pasture land) "to ensure that the divestiture of the land and the phasing out of the pasture program is undertaken in a manner that optimizes future economic and employment opportunities for the rural communities affected."
AAFC Press Release
Delhi Research Station to be Closed
A research station that was a centre of tobacco research in its heyday is another victim in a round of service cuts and layoffs at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Work done at the Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Centre's 60-hectare satellite station in Delhi "will be consolidated at other locations where there is a critical mass of expertise and administrative support," wrote Patrick Girard, an AAFC spokesperson, in an email Friday.
Federal Food Inspection Jobs To Be Eliminated In Guelph
The Guelph offices of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will receive 30 to 35 job losses as the federal government enacts measures to eliminate its deficit. The union representing the employees revealed this week that veterinarians, biologists and agricultural scientists will be impacted.
A local food expert and adviser to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Canada's food safety system is in need of reconfiguration, and that there has been significant job creation in the field over the past decade. But Guelph's MP calls the job cuts irresponsible.
Federal Agriculture Budget Cuts Worrisome, But BC Lab Move Welcomed
The chair of the British Columbia Wine Grape Council said that while he is worried about the federal government's cuts to the agriculture budget, he welcomes the plan to close the Centre for Plant Health on Vancouver Island and move its activities to a research station in the Okanagan. Canadian Food Inspection Agency spokesperson Guy Gravelle said in an April 13 email to The Tyee that activities done at the laboratory in Sidney will be moved to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research station in Summerland.
Feds Wipe Out Cooperative Development Support
About $100,000, or 10 per cent of the Ontario Co-Operative Association's annual budget, will disappear because of the federal government's cancellation of the Co-operatives Development Initiative. Mark Ventry, the association's executive director, says he's been told that contracts signed between the provincial associations and the Canadian Co-operative Association will be honoured and some funding will be in place until the end of this year.
Feds to End Regional Ag Councils' Funding Role
Regional agriculture adaptation councils across Canada have been told their services won't be required by the federal government come 2014. Several of 14 provincial and regional councils -- bodies now tasked with approving and distributing funding from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) -- have reported receiving notice that the programs they managed will be centralized through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in the future.
Commentary: Harper Gov't Not Learning Its Lessons
A famous philosopher once said those who ignore the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them. It seems the Harper government is doomed to repeat the mistakes of history, even those of their own creation. Take Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's explanation for the job cuts at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the impending closure of the Agroforestry Development Centre in Indian Head at the end of 2013.
Bruce Johnstone, The Leader-Post
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University of Guelph Food Institute to Promote Innovation, Action
Already recognized as Canada's "food university," the University of Guelph has established a new institute to tackle the world's most important food issues through research, innovation, commercialization and action. A search will begin this week for an interim executive director.
"We've built an international reputation as the place for solving food-related problems," said U of G president Alastair Summerlee.
"Few places in the world can match our depth of research, training and teaching expertise. We need to apply that knowledge and experience to do more, both nationally and internationally."
The Food Institute is believed to be the first such group covering global issues in all aspects of food - production, safety, security, and the impact of food on culture, economies and the environment.
The institute connects the University's strengths in food education and research with industry, food producers and processors, consumers, partners (international, national, local) and non-governmental organizations.
Guelph experts will work with other research institutes around the world, and include faculty and researchers from all seven U of G colleges and graduate and undergraduate students.
"Most people now recognize that food is not just about feeding people," Summerlee said. "While world hunger is a huge issue, it's only part of the global food challenge."
Besides being a powerful economic force and cultural symbol, food raises issues in environmental sustainability and consumer health, he said.
"The Food Institute is a place where all of those issues can be addressed in tandem, with people exchanging ideas, innovations and information."
The interim executive director will help determine how the institute will be governed, including establishing an international advisory panel to be led by Rob Gordon, dean of Guelph's Ontario Agricultural College.
"Few institutions are as prepared as Guelph to address the food challenges facing the world," Gordon said.
"For nearly 150 years, we have excelled in research related to food production, processing and delivery. It is a natural evolution for us to take a broader and more inclusive approach by engaging people across the University, across Canada and beyond to create and extend new knowledge and to make a difference."
University of Guelph Press Release, April 17, 2012
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Government of Canada Strengthens Agroforestry Co-operation with the United States
Canadian producers and agricultural researchers now have new opportunities for co-operation in agroforestry in the United States after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
"Our government's top priority remains the economy, and by strengthening our relationship with the United States, we are helping create new opportunities for our agriculture industry and more prosperity for all Canadians," said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Today's agreement demonstrates a strong and growing relationship between Canada and the U.S. for the benefit of producers and consumers in both countries."
The MOU solidifies the beneficial working relationship that already exists between AAFC's Agroforestry Development Centre, located in Indian Head, Saskatchewan, and the USDA's National Agroforestry Center, located in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"We support agroforestry as a land management approach because it helps landowners achieve certain natural resource goals, such as clean water and productive soils," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "But it does much more. Clean water is a precious natural resource, and America's economic success is directly related to a continuous and abundant supply of clean water."
Signed by AAFC's Deputy Minister John Knubley and USDA's Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan during a ceremony in Washington today, this MOU increases co-operation in research and development of agroforestry science and tools, and it reinforces collaboration within the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, of which Canada and the United States are members.
The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases is an international network of more than 30 member-countries that coordinates and increases agricultural research on greenhouse gas mitigation and makes new mitigation technologies and beneficial management practices available to farmers worldwide.
For more information on AAFC's Agroforestry Development Centre, visit www.agr.gc.ca/agroforestry.
AAFC Press Release, April 17, 2012
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|How to Curb Discharge of the Most Potent GHG |
Meat consumption in the developed world needs to be cut by 50 per cent per person by 2050, and emissions in all sectors - industrial and agricultural - need to be reduced by 50 per cent if the most aggressive strategy is to be met, set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to reduce the most potent of greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide (N2O).
The findings are results of a study by Dr Eric Davidson and are published in IOP Publishing's Environmental Research Letters. Dr Davidson, who is President and a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hold Research Center in Massachusetts, demonstrates the magnitude of changes needed to stabilize N2O concentrations in the atmosphere.
N2O is the third highest contributor to climate change behind carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4); however, it poses a greater challenge for mitigation since nitrogen is an essential element for food production. It is also the most potent of these three greenhouse gases, as it is a much better absorber of infrared radiation. But total anthropogenic emissions are about 6 million metric tons of nitrogen as N2O, compared to 10 billion metric tons of carbon as CO2.
The main sources of N2O in the atmosphere are due to the spreading of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers onto agricultural soils and the use and storage of livestock manure. The nitrogen contained in fertilizers and manure is broken down by microbes that live in the soil and released into the atmosphere as N2O. In order to reduce emissions, it will be necessary to apply certain changes to the food production process.
Dr Davidson believes that this can be achieved through improved management of fertilizer and manure sources, as well as through reduction of the developed world's per capita meat consumption that will relieve pressure on fertilizer demand and reduce growth in the amount of manure being produced. "We have the technical know-how and the tools to greatly improve efficiencies of fertilizer use in agriculture," states Dr Davidson, "although several economic and political impediments often stand in the way of their adoption."
In a draft of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, four scenarios, known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs), have been adopted, and these represent possible means of reductions for a number of greenhouse gases. Dr Davidson evaluated the scale of changes needed to meet the predicted N2O pathways.
Three of the IPCC's less aggressive scenarios could be met by reducing meat consumption, improving agricultural practices, or reducing emissions from industry. The most aggressive scenario, where atmospheric N2O concentrations stabilize by 2050, can only be met if a 50 per cent reduction, or improvement, is achieved for each of the above.
To make these calculations, Dr Davidson relied on data provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization, which assume that the global population will increase to 8.9 billion by 2050 and the daily calorific intake per capita will increase to 3130 kcal. They also assume that the average meat consumption of each person in the developed world will rise from 78 kg per year in 2002 to 89 kg per year in 2030 and from 28 kg per year in 2002 to 37 kg per year for each person in the developing world.
Assessing the likelihood of reducing meat consumption in the developed world by 50 per cent, Dr Davidson said, "If you had asked me 30 years ago if smoking would be banned in bars, I would have laughed and said that would be impossible in my lifetime, and yet it has come true. Similarly, there would be beneficial health benefits for most Americans and western Europeans to stop 'supersizing' and rather to reduce portion sizes of red meat."
Are such changes possible for diet? "That will depend," says Dr Davidson, "not only on education about diet, but also on prices of meat. Some agricultural economists think that the price of meat is going to go way up, so that per capita consumption will go down, but those are highly uncertain projections."
You can view the full report by clicking here.
ThePigSite.com, April 17, 2012
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|AIC Member Announcement |
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With an eye to the future, this dynamic team believes it is an exciting time to be involved in such an endeavour and look forward to providing solutions for your life sciences business.
More information, including brief bios of the associates as well as services available to existing and potential clients, is available at www.beelerconsulting.com.
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|Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food|
The Committee does not meet again until April 23rd, when it will continue discussions on Growing Forward 2.
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International Fascination of Plants Day, May 18, 2012
Canadian Society of Soil Science and Association Québécoise de Spécialistes en Sciences du Sol Joint Conference, Lac Beauport, Quebec, June 3-7, 2012
3rd International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare, Saskatoon, June 5-7, 2012
Canadian Society for BioEngineering (CSBE-SCGAB) Annual Technical Conference, Orillia, Ontario, July 15-18, 2012
Joint Annual Meeting of ADSA - AMPA - ASAS - Canadian Society of Animal Science - WSASAS, Phoenix, Arizona, July 15-19, 2012
Joint Annual Meeting of AIC, the Canadian Society of Agronomy, Certified Crop Advisors and Canadian Society for Horticultural Science, Saskatoon, July 16-19, 2012
5th World Congress of Agronomists and Agrologists, Quebec City, September 17-21, 2012
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Frances Rodenburg, Editor