Improving Safety and Quality

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veggiesGenetically ''edited'' fruit and vegetables could soon be appearing on supermarket shelves as experts have discovered how to stop apples going brown and give bananas more vitamin A. It is believed GE (genetic editing) may be more appetising to consumers than traditional GM (genetic modification) and cause less controversy. It involves subtly ''tweaking'' existing genes to increase or reduce amounts of natural ingredients a vegetable or fruit already has. The technique avoids the insertion of foreign genes that has sparked so much heated debate and criticism, especially in Europe. Bananas could, for instance, be genetically edited to produce more vitamin A, and apples to avoid browning when cut. ''The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more 'natural' than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes,'' said Dr Chidananda Kanchiswamy from the Agricultural Institute of San Michele in Italy. Dr Kanchiswamy and colleagues explore the potential of GE fruit in an article published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology. To date, most genetically altered fruit crops have been developed using a plant bacterium to carry foreign genes into their DNA. Of these, only GM papaya has been commercialised, partly because of strict regulations in the European Union, said the researchers. But it was possible that GE plants whose existing genes have been deleted or altered might even be considered non-genetically modified by regulators. Dr Kanchiswamy added: ''We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotechnology is not restricted only to GMO (genetically modified organisms). ''Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GEOs will surge as a 'natural' strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future.'' Genetic editing has become more of a practical solution due to new technologies such as CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) that make it easier to ''cut and paste'' sections of DNA. The researchers wrote: ''Combining the increased knowledge of the genomes (genetic codes) of a range of fruit crops with novel DNA-editing technologies will produce new fruit crop varieties with a range of novel traits. ''Such varieties could confer increased expression of desirable aromatics or sweetness, as well as contributing to a more sustainable mode of cultivation, such as pest and disease-resistant phenotypes.'' Source: telegraph.co.uk

labelAll country names must be written out in full, except for the United States which may be abbreviated to "USA" as it is recognized worldwide. The country of origin shall be shown on the principal display panel and in close proximity to the declaration of net quantity or the grade name. The letters in the country of origin declaration must be shown in bold face type in letters the height of which varies in proportion to the principal display surface. Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Grown in Canada Indicating the country of origin is voluntary on produce grown in Canada. A Canadian packer who wishes to declare its product as being of Canadian origin must avoid giving misleading information to consumers. The "Product of Canada" Guidelines were developed to reflect consumer and industry expectations about what constitutes a Canadian product. The use of these claims is voluntary, however, when applied they will be assessed against the "Product of Canada" guidelines. Fresh fruit and vegetables grown in a country other than Canada The country of origin declaration is mandatory on all containers of imported fresh produce, regardless of whether they are packaged whole produce, or packaged fresh-cut (minimally processed) produce. This requirement also applies to imported produce packaged and labelled or re-packaged and labelled in Canada. Every container of imported produce shall be labelled to show the words "Product of", "Grown in" or "Country of Origin", followed by the name of the country of origin of the produce, or other words which clearly indicate the country in which the produce was grown. On master containers, where the country of origin is easily and clearly discernible in or on the inner container without opening the outer container, the country of origin need not be shown on the outer container. Source: inspection.gc.ca

mango1The National Mango Board (NMB) will be hosting a free Mango Ripening Webinar on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 4 p.m. EDT for a deep dive into the Mango Handling & Ripening Protocol, as well as best practices for mango handling at the retail level. To enhance consumers’ mango eating experience, the NMB has invested in the Ripe Ready to Eat Mango program to help the mango industry deliver a ripened fruit for U.S. consumers to enjoy. The webinar will provide detailed information on the Mango Handling & Ripening Protocol and highlight best practices for mango merchandising at the retail level. Mango importers, wholesalers and brokers, retail distribution centre and quality assurance experts as well as buyers, category managers and merchandisers are encouraged to attend. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation.

This webinar will only be available in English.

To register for this webinar, please mango.org/webinar

potNew research from the University of Southampton is aiming to reduce the water footprint and increase shelf life of potted and cut herb production in the UK. Focusing on a range of potted and cut herbs, including flat-leaved parsley, basil and coriander, the aim is to reduce the use of irrigation water during crop production, while improving the flavour and quality of the herbs. It has already been shown in other growing systems that substantial water savings can be made without detrimental impacts on crop quality.

The project is led by Professor Gail Taylor from the University of Southampton and builds on research findings from a BBSRC IPA (Industrial Partnering Award) with Vitacress Ltd. The project was awarded from the Annual Sainsbury's Supermarket Agricultural R&D Grant - where growers, suppliers and researchers are asked to compete for a pot of £1 million provided by Sainsbury's. More than 18 million pots of herbs are produced in the UK each year and much of this production is undertaken by Vitacress under glass in Sussex. Cut herbs are grown widely in the UK summer and overseas in winter. Professor Taylor says: "It's hard to imagine a world without fresh herbs and yet this product has only been on our supermarket shelves for the past ten years or so and much remains to be learned to optimise the use of water in cultivation.

We will use the latest technologies in thermal and remote imaging to assess precisely when irrigation should be applied, targeting water to best effect and helping Sainsbury's to achieve their targets for the 20 x 20 Sustainability Plan, which includes a robust water stewardship commitment from suppliers and also a target to double the amount of British food sold. "This research, we hope, will contribute to both of these aspirations, while at the same time increasing our fundamental knowledge on the way in which plants use water." The research team includes Professor Gail Taylor, Mark Chapman, Hazel Smith and Libby Rowland from the University of Southampton, in partnership with Steve Rothwell from Vitacress Salads Ltd and Calum Kelly and Rob Honeysett from Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd.

Source: www.phys.org

tomate-3ccouleurSaudi authorities have decided to impose temporary ban on import of pepper from India with effect from May 30, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. According to reports, presence of high levels of pesticides in the Indian consignment was the reason to put the import restriction in place. “Saudi authorities have decided to impose a temporary ban on the import of all types of pepper from India with effect from May 30,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

According to the Indian Spices Board, chilli peppers are one of India’s largest foreign currency earners, and between April and November 2013 a quantity of 181,500 tonnes of chilli peppers worth $3 million were exported. She also said that due to incidence of pest infestation in some consignments of potatoes imported from India, the Russian authorities have warned imposition of restrictions. “The Russian authorities have warned imposition of emergency phytosanitary (related with plants) measures - introduction of temporary restriction on imports of all spectrums of products of high phytosanitary risk from India to Russia,” she said. India has exported 9,826 MT potatoes in 2013-14 to Russia. It was 916 MT in 2012-13. She said that Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has issued separate advisories to exporters of vegetables to Saudi Arabia and to exporters of potatoes to Russia asking them to follow quality norms specified by importing nations.

Source: www.omantribune.com

gmoProducers, traders, and consumers of organic food in Makati City yesterday held a protest rally against the field testing of genetically modified (GM) eggplants and other vegetables in the country, saying that GM vegetables can harm human health. Mara Pardo de Tavera of Consumer Rights for Sale Food (CRSF) said their opposition is against the field testing of GM eggplant and other vegetables which, she said, has “dire effects on human health and possible effects on the ecological balance of the country.” “We are worried that the introduction of GM eggplants in the country could severely affect the health of humans, especially infants and small children,” said Tavera. She was joined by traders of organic food in Legaspi Park Organic Market, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Citing the Bacillus thuringenesis (Bt) eggplant, Tavera said the bacteria introduced into the gene of an eggplant has been observed to produce a dangerous toxin which harms human health. She said field trials are being pushed by several agencies, including the University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. Last July 11, Tavera, organic food producers, traders, and consumers filed a petition to the Supreme Court asking the High Court to intervene to stop the field trials of Bt eggplant. Tavera said GM products proliferating in the market have no labels. “We are already consuming them without us knowing. We should join hands not to allow GM foods into our diet.” She also urged the public to join their protest to petition the Aquino administration not to support the field testing of GM vegetables. “We are raising this public alarm over the issue because we are very much concerned with the ill-effects of genetically-modified plants in the health of our people, especially farmers who will be asked to field test these crops,” Tavera said. Source: www.mb.com.ph