Improving Safety and Quality

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gmResearchers in Norwich say releasing genetically-engineered fruit flies in the wild could be a cheap alternative to using pesticides. Scientists at the University of East Anglia found increasing the male population by releasing the modified insects could reduce the overall population - making it a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to control pests. Mediterranean fruit flies infest more than 300 types of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Source: itv.com

peerThere will be aid measures for fruit and vegetable growers by the European Union for the loss of income due to the Russian import ban. At the beginning of next week the EU will give more clarity about the aid to compensate the losses, said European Commissioner Ciolos after the meeting of European agriculture-experts in Brussel. They talked about support for the producers of cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes. There will also be a weekly meeting to monitor the current situation. "It's nessecary that the EU supports the sectors which got the hardest hit by the boycott," says Dijksma, the Dutch Secretary of State, on Twitter. The Dutch horticulture companies are in really bad weather. According to the greenhouse industry spokes person Nico van Ruiten, for 500 horticulture companies this boycott can be the knockout punch. It's just a matter of weeks before these companies can no longer sustain. Bell pepper grower Jos Enthoven acknowledges that. "My nursery can endure this situation for like 10, 12 weeks. If the situation doesn't improve, it's over." Stong together - Earlier this week, different Dutch municipalities pleaded for support to growers and Greenport Holland sent an urgent letter to Dijksma. Die action 'Strong Together' now has more than 6,500 like on Facebook. Source - www.freshplaza.com

onionA proposed rule by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would drastically increase costs for American onion farmers and consumers, without any improvement in public safety. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident of government overreach — regulation for the sake of regulation is fast becoming the norm in Washington. The proposed regulation, stemming from the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, would limit E. coli levels in irrigation water for any foods that could be consumed raw. This sounds like a justified reason for government action since E. coli outbreaks have the potential to sicken consumers. There’s just one problem: Onions are not subject to E. coli contamination from irrigation. According to a thorough field study led by Oregon State University professor Clinton Shock, there is absolutely no risk of E. coli contamination in onions from irrigation water, regardless of method used or bacteria levels in the water. This confirms what farmers and their customers have long known. Complying with this regulation would have substantial financial consequences for farmers. They would need to test their irrigation water weekly and stop watering if E. coli levels were too high, even though it would pose no danger to consumers. Onions are finicky, and even a small break in irrigation could drastically reduce crop yields. Another FDA regulation would require onion farmers to use plastic crates instead of the wooden ones they have been using for years. Thankfully, OSU researchers decided to test the merits of this rule as well. They filled new, bleached plastic crates and two-decade-old wooden ones with onions and then tested them for E. coli. No traces of the bacteria were found on the onions from the wooden crates. The FDA is reviewing the proposed rules in light of the new scientific evidence and is set to issue a revised regulation by the end of summer, but they need to do more than that. The FDA should focus its efforts on paring back its grip on businesses, not searching for more places to apply its heavy-handed regulation. Regulations crafted inside the Beltway have far-reaching, real effects on the rest of America — often for the worse.

Source: washingtonexaminer.com

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