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Elsewhere in ag innovations

Editor’s note: As a service to our readers, we provide news from around the globe on new uses for agricultural products. Please note that ARS is the research arm of the USDA.

Shrimp bandages

The U.S. Army has discovered that a shrimp extract is the best way to stop extreme bleeding. Medical personnel have started purchasing bandages made from chitosan, an extract from the exoskeletons of Icelandic shrimp. Chitosan is a mucoadhesive that gets very sticky when wet. Army researchers found the dressings had a 97 percent success rate for external hemorrhage control in combat operations. Although they are edible, the bandages do not taste like seafood and will not trigger reactions in people allergic to shellfish.

Source:, February 2, 2007

Wine for the heart

One of Great Britain’s largest supermarket chains is cashing in on healthy eating and drinking trends by launching a new heart-healthy wine. Red Heart, marketed by Sainsbury’s, has an antioxidant level 32 percent higher than most other red wines. The antioxidants come from the skin and seeds of special grape varieties used to make Red Heart.

Source:, December 12, 2006


Metal-eating plants

ARS researchers are successfully using alpine pennycress plants to remove cadmium and other heavy metals from contaminated soil. With a phytoextraction process, pennycress and other metal- accumulating plants can reduce metal concentrations to safe levels in three to 10 years — at a fraction of the cost of other remediation practices.

Source: USDA-ARS, January 23, 2007

Yogurt drinking binge

Drinkable yogurt is the world’s fastest growing food and beverage product according to ACNielsen market research. Researchers credit its healthy attributes, good taste, handy packaging and portability for the consumption surge. Yogurt beverages also adapt well to added functional ingredients such as omega-3, phytosterols and probiotics. Researchers tested 45 markets. China led with a 49 percent annual growth in yogurt beverage consumption. Markets in Greece, Romania, Finland and Italy grew more than 40 percent, but growth was down by 5 percent in the United States.

Source:, January 26, 2007

Where does our corn go?

While Minnesota’s ethanol industry is increasing demand for corn, the majority of the state’s crop is still exported — as raw corn, not fuel. According to the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, the average corn crop from 2002 to 2006 was about 1.09 billion bushels per year. During that time, 153 million bushels — about 14 percent — was processed into ethanol, 23 percent was fed to Minnesota livestock, and about 7 percent was processed in Minnesota for other uses. The remaining 56 percent, roughly 610 million bushels, was shipped out of state.

Source: Corn Talk, January 2007

Mushrooms battle fowl sickness

A major parasitic disease afflicting poultry may have met its match in the mushroom. ARS researchers at the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Maryland have developed a technique for controlling coccidiosis, which costs the world’s poultry industry billions annually. The technique introduces mushroom proteins to birds via injection or drinking water. The proteins spur a protective reaction against the disease in the bird’s gut. Coccidiosis is caused by parasites that infect the intestinal tract and are transmitted between birds through infected feces.

Source: USDA-ARS, December 8, 2006