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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.

Soy blocks the sun

A soy-based sunscreen has become the platform for an entire class of cosmetics. The SoyScreen formula, designed by ARS scientists in the late 1990s, is now being sold by iSoy Technologies Corporation of Cary, Ill. as a key ingredient in wrinkle-prevention products marketed by a major cosmetics company.

From: USDA-ARS, August 17, 2007


Blueberry brain boost

Blueberries have boosted brain activity in laboratory rats suffering from neuritic plaque buildup, often seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Tufts University in Boston fed adult rats, with the telltale brain buildup, a diet containing blueberry extracts. The control rats with a similar condition were fed standard fare.

After eight months, memory-maze tests showed rats with blueberry-extract diets fared as well as those with no buildup, and scored much higher than rats not fed the berry extracts.

From: USDA-ARS, August 8, 2007

Too hot for pests

A fiery habanero pepper, developed by USDA researchers, not only blasts taste buds but pests too. The Tiger Paw-NR pepper, developed at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in South Carolina, is resistant to nematodes that can seriously damage pepper plants. The natural resistance offers an alternative to

applying chemicals to combat the nematodes. Based on the standard heat scale, the new habanero pepper is more than three times hotter than a typical habanero and more than 100 times hotter than an

average jalapeno.

From: USDA-ARS, July 2, 2007

Catnip cologne

ARS researchers in Maryland have identified a catnip-oil compound that attracts natural predators to destructive aphids and mites. Iridodial imitates the pheromones of the male lacewing. This natural cologne attracts both male and female lacewings, which then feed on the damaging mites and aphids, providing natural biological pest control.

From: USDA-ARS, June 4, 2007

Film at 11

Dairy and biofuel byproducts may soon keep food fresher. Scientists at the USDA Eastern Regional Research Center in Pennsylvania have discovered a process that combines water with milk casein and glycerol to produce an edible film for protecting food. Glycerol is left over from biodiesel production.

Like conventional packaging, edible films can extend the shelf life of many foods, protect products from damage, prevent exposure to moisture and oxygen, and improve appearance. From: USDA-ARS, June 5, 2007

From: USDA-ARS, June 5, 2007

Soy for bones

Brazilian scientists have determined that soy-based yogurt and exercise help increase bone density. Researchers found that soy isoflavones in yogurt were capable of preventing bone loss or even increasing bone mass in laboratory rats. Through a series of tests on various control groups, rats receiving both the yogurt and exercise fared best.

From:, August 13, 2007

Easing menopause

Naturally-occurring edible plant compounds called polyphenols have been shown to help battle unwanted side effects of menopause. Scientists at the University of Alabama, Birmingham have conducted studies that show polyphenols found in grapes, soy and kudzu can help blunt cognitive loss, hypertension and insulin resistance. The natural treatments also showed fewer side effects than standard hormone replacement therapy.

From: Newswise, August 8, 2007

Bright eyes

Nutritional supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may prevent eye disease according to researchers at the Harvard Medical School and National Eye Institute.

A study found that increased consumption of omega-3 improves the balance with omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked to an increase in risk of retinopathy, a sight-threatening disease affecting four million premature infants and diabetics in the United States. Increased omega- 3 consumption reduced abnormal blood vessel growth in the eyes, which is a hallmark of retinopathy.

Omega-3 fatty acids are in fish, flax and eggs from chickens fed diets containing flax.

From: Nature Medicine, July 1, 2007

Nutty fuel

While America’s biodiesel industry is now fueled primarily by soybean oil, scientists are working on other nutty options. ARS researchers at the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Georgia are testing peanut varieties not suited for commercial edible standards, but are high in oil and with low production-input costs. Scientists say soybeans produce about 50 gallons of fuel per acre, while peanuts can produce 120 to 130 gallons of biodiesel per acre.

From: USDA-ARS, July 30, 2007