Newsletter Scientifique #22 - December 2013



Dear Readers,

First of all, we would like to thank all of you who accepted to participate to our satisfaction survey. The results are encouraging, and give us a bunch of ideas to go deeper with this newsletter. New topics, focuses and interactions. You will discover that soon, keep posted.

In the meantime, to finish this year 2013, two highlights this month, with a focus on grants for greentechnologies:
-  The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today announced $8 million in research grants to develop non-food feedstocks that can be used for bioenergy;
-  Iowa petroleum retailers interested in offering consumers higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel are encouraged to apply for the “Fueling our Future” pilot program to consider applying for cost share funding.

You will also be able to learn about trending research topics in agriculture, food and livestock occurred during the last month, such as listed in the table of content below.

The whole team of the Office for Science and Technology in the US wishes all of you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Enjoy your reading!

Marc Rousset, Scientific attaché
Simon Ritz, Deputy Scientific attaché

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Table of contents



USDA, DOE Fund $8M for Bioenergy Feedstocks - Dec. 13

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today announced $8 million in research grants to develop non-food feedstocks that can be used for bioenergy. USDA said the grants are part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and enhancing rural economies. Read more

Fueling the Future Grants Available - Dec. 9

Iowa petroleum retailers interested in offering consumers higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel are encouraged to apply for the “Fueling our Future” pilot program to consider applying for cost share funding. A total of $250,000 in federal funds are available through the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Board to support projects that will increase the usage of higher blends of both ethanol and biodiesel. Read more

Science & Technology in the US

National News


New rearing method may help control of the western bean cutworm - Dec. 8

The western bean cutworm is a destructive insect pest of dry beans and corn. Inadequate protocols for laboratory rearing of this insect have hindered controlled efficacy experimentation in the laboratory and field. However, in an article in the Journal of Economic Entomology called "Evaluation of Tolerance to Bacillus thuringiensis Toxins Among Laboratory-Reared Western Bean Cutworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)," the authors report a new rearing methodology used to maintain a laboratory colony for 12 continuous generations. Read more

International fruit pest targeted by genomic research - Dec. 3

The spotted wing drosophila, a major pest that targets berries and cherries and other fruits in the United States, Canada and Europe, is itself being targeted, thanks to groundbreaking genome sequencing at the University of California, Davis, and a public-access Web portal hosted at Oregon State University. The work is expected to accelerate basic and applied research, leading to better monitoring and control strategies for the pest. Read more

Another Weapon to Fight FMD - Dec. 3

Proteins called interferons are among the latest weapons U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists are using to combat foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). These proteins kill or stop viruses from growing and reproducing. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit, located at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center at Orient Point, N.Y., have demonstrated that interferons can be used to protect animals immediately against FMD infection. Read more

Ramping Up Pterostilbene in Crops - Nov. 25

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists has developed a way to boost production of a beneficial plant compound called pterostilbene. The discovery by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists enables crop species to produce or increase production of pterostilbene. Stilbenes are a subgroup of beneficial plant phytochemicals called "polyphenols." The approach could pave the way for ramping up levels of potentially healthful pterostilbene in crops that normally produce it, such as grapes and berries. Read more

Fungus May Offer Natural Weed Control - Nov. 18

A naturally occurring fungus may prove useful in the fight against Palmer amaranth, an aggressive southern weed that can grow at the rate of two inches a day and outcompete corn, cotton, soybean and other crops for resources, potentially reducing their yields. Read more


Eating healthy costs about $1.50 more per day - Dec. 10

The healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets, according to new research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The finding is based on the most comprehensive examination to date comparing prices of healthy foods and diet patterns vs. less healthy ones. The study is published in BMJ Open. Read more

New research shows obesity is an inflammatory disease - Dec. 2

Scientists have moved a step closer to an "obesity drug" that may block the effects of diets high in sugar and fats. In a new research report published in the December 2013 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists show that there is an abnormal amount of an inflammatory protein called PAR2 in the abdominal fat tissue of overweight and obese humans and rats. This protein is also increased on the surfaces of human immune cells by common fatty acids in the diet. When obese rats on a diet high in sugar and fat were given a new oral drug that binds to PAR2, the inflammation-causing properties of this protein were blocked, as were other effects of the high-fat and high-sugar diet—including obesity itself. Read more

Reducing the salt in bread without losing saltiness, thanks to a texture trick - Nov. 20

Want to make bread taste pleasantly salty without adding more salt? Change the bread’s texture so it is less dense, say scientists. They report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that simply making the pores, or holes, larger can make people perceive bread as having saltier taste. The process could become a new strategy for reducing salt intake, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease. Read more


USDA and DOE Fund 7 Research Projects to Develop Plant Feedstocks for Bioenergy - Dec. 12

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2013 - The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy (DOE) today announced $8 million in research grants to develop non-food feedstocks that can be used for bioenergy. The grants are part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to develop domestic renewable energy and advanced biofuels, providing a more secure future for America’s energy needs and enhancing rural economies. Read more

Midwest news


Scientists offer recommendations for delaying resistance to Bt corn in western corn rootworm - Nov. 26

Corn that contains proteins that protect it from insect damage has been grown in the U.S. since the mid-1990s. Known as Bt corn, because the proteins are derived from a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, these plants have been widely grown by farmers. While Bt corn has been highly effective against the European corn borer, it has been less so against the western corn rootworm, which has been documented to show resistance to the Bt proteins. In a new article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management — an open-access, peer-reviewed, extension journal — the authors explain why this has occurred, and they recommend an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to address it. Read more

Mutant corn could yield new ways to curb ’billion-dollar bug’ - Nov. 25

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue and University of Illinois researchers have discovered a novel corn mutant whose leaves are highly susceptible to attack by Western corn rootworm beetles, a pest that feeds primarily on corn silks and pollen. While Western corn rootworm beetles were previously thought to avoid corn leaves based on food-source preference, study of the mutant suggests that normal corn plants have an active defense mechanism that deters the beetles from feeding on their foliage. Read more


Statewide Effort to Target Food And Ag Innovation - Dec. 3

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Indiana’s food and agricultural sector is a $16 billion industry, and is poised to be a center of innovation generating business growth and investment but also solutions to the challenges of a growing world population and a limited amount of natural resources. To bolster and help harness the ingenuity of the industry, BioCrossroads is announcing the organization of a Food and Agriculture Innovation Initiative; a need identified in the 2012 report "Food and Agricultural Innovation – 21st Century Opportunities for Indiana." Read more

Other states’ news


Researchers develop system for assessing how effective species are at pollinating crops - Dec.9

From tomatoes to pumpkins, most fruit and vegetable crops rely on pollination by bees and other insect species – and the future of many of those species is uncertain. Now researchers from North Carolina State University are proposing a set of guidelines for assessing the performance of pollinator species in order to determine which species are most important and should be prioritized for protection. Read more


UF/IFAS: ‘Perfect storm’ needed for salmonella to spread in post-harvest tomatoes - Dec. 9

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have gained new insight into produce-associated salmonella that they hope will eventually reduce the number and severity of the illness-causing outbreaks. Tomato variety and weather can combine to make what the researchers call a “perfect storm” for salmonella to proliferate in harvested tomatoes, a new study shows. Read more

Sequencing study lifts veil on wine’s microbial terroir - Nov. 25

It’s widely accepted that terroir — the unique blend of a vineyard’s soils, water and climate — sculpts the flavor and quality of wine. Now a new study led by UC Davis researchers offers evidence that grapes and the wines they produce are also the product of an unseen but fairly predictable microbial terroir, itself shaped by the climate and geography of the region, vineyard and even individual vine. Read more


Could mushrooms save the WORLD? - Dec. 10

‘Fungal technology’ could provide better drugs, building materials and even fuel: a microbiologist at Montana University has developed a biofuel using a fungus that has volatile compounds comparable to the type found in diesel; U.S. mycologist Paul Stamets thinks Laricifomes officinalis can be used to make ‘universal insecticide and mushrooms could combat climate change; Eben Bower, CEO of Ecovative, believes fungi fuel could one day power an electric car, composed of parts made of mushrooms. Read more

Science & Technology in France

At the National level


Targeting jobs - Dec. 13

France has tremendous advantages to play. Its agriculture is the first in Europe. Its agribusiness sector arrives right just after Germany’s, and employs more workers than the auto industry ... just like the forest. His expertise, diversity of terroirs and innovation make France a country able to face the challenge of employment on its territory. Read more (in French)

Unprecedented decline in pesticide use in France - Dec. 9

France recorded a decline in the use of pesticides. Monday, December 9, at the end of the annual meeting of the National Steering and Monitoring Committee (CNOS) of the Ecophyto plan, aimed at reducing the use of pesticides (fungicides, insecticides, herbicides), Stéphane Le Foll, Minister agriculture, stated that the use of pesticides indicator (NODU) recorded a decrease of 5.7% in 2012. This is an unprecedented reversal of trend. One year ago, this indicator gained 2,7%. An increase that followed a previous increase of 2.6% between 2008 and 2010. The use of insecticides and herbicides fell 11% in 2012 but the use of fungicides increased by 6%. Read more (in French)

How scavenging fungi became a plant’s best friend - Nov. 25

Glomeromycota is an ancient lineage of fungi that has a symbiotic relationship with roots that goes back nearly 420 million years to the earliest plants. More than two thirds of the world’s plants depend on this soil-dwelling symbiotic fungus to survive, including critical agricultural crops such as wheat, cassava, and rice. The analysis of the Rhizophagus irregularis genome has revealed that this asexual fungus doesn’t shuffle its genes the way researchers expected. Moreover, rather than having lost much of its metabolic genes, as observed in many mutualistic organisms, it has expanded its range of cell-to-cell communication genes and phosphorus-capturing genes. Read more


Will food be green in the twenty-first century? - Dec.12

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - On Monday 9 December was held a debate about sustainable development at the initiative of the newspaper Le Monde. Program: Food in the twenty-first century and ecological transition. Stéphane Le Foll, Minister of agriculture, food and forestry introduced the debate. Read more (in French)

Review questions vitamin D for reducing chronic disease risk - Dec. 6

Low vitamin D levels may be a consequence of ill health and not the cause of chronic disease, says a new review, but industry groups have responded that supplementation is vital for bone health and should not be dismissed. Read more

Get in touch with science

Website to see this month

Many organizations give you the opportunity to learn and improve your mind about agriculture and food science. Please find below some of website about these:

For the United States information

Federal agencies

JPEG : discover the answer from USDA to fight against Citrus Disease.

JPEG learn how daily use of antibacterial soap might lead to risks.


JPEG : find how exerising affects protein needs.

News articles

JPEG : News from the United States and France covering advancements in science and technology (French articles).

For France information

Research centers

JPEG : discover the new bacteria responsible for bird Chlamydia evidenced by the ANSES lab.

JPEG : read about intestinal bacteria reinforcing chemotherapy.

Information centers

JPEG : discover about the situation of agricultural income in 2013 (in French).

European informations

JPEG : learn about the conclusions of EFSA’s full risk assessment on aspartame.

Coming events

Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference (ISCAOC) Crowne Plaza Hotel and Convention Center Springfield, Illinois 8-10 Janv. 2014
100th Annual NW Food Processors Expo & Conference OREGON CONVENTION CENTER Portland, OR 12-15 Jan. 2014
Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference Mobile Convention Center Mobile, Alabama 15-18 Jan. 2014
17th Annual Kansas Agriculture Technologies Conference Ramada Conference Center Salina, Kansas 23-24 Jan. 2014
Colloque : "Alimentation, vers de nouveaux modes de consommation ?" Montpellier SupAgro Montpellier, France 31 janvier 2014


French Office for Science and Technology at the Embassy of France in Washington, DC - website:
Consulate General of France in Chicago - website:


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Last modified on 17/12/2013

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