GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida’sInstitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty work on just about any food-related topic imaginable. As 2014 approaches, here are just a few of their food-related predictions – everything from better fruit packaging to a new focus on reducing food waste – that may soon be on the public’s radar:
Good taste, less waste: Food researchers say roughly one-third of food produced for humans around the globe is lost or wasted each year – 1.3 billion tons of it. Discussion of this problem is expected to make its way from food industry and academic circles and into American homes, with home food preparers becoming more sensitive to reducing food waste. Doug Archer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-392-1784, 352-226-5507
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida has released three smart device apps of interest to those in the irrigation business, and for the time being, users can download them for free.
The first three apps to be released were designed for citrus, strawberry and urban turfgrass irrigators, said Kati Migliaccio, an associate professor in agricultural and biological engineering, based at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Fla.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — College students are worried about climate change-related hazards, even if they’re not worried about climate change, suggesting that the threat of climate change still seems theoretical to many, new University of Florida research shows.A UF/IFAS study published online in September by the Journal of Environmental Management measures how worried students are about coastal calamities.
The study is a dissertation by former UF doctoral student Stuart Carlton, now a postdoctoral assistant at Purdue University. Carlton earned his doctorate in interdisciplinary ecology from the UF School of Natural Resources and Environment.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For some 50 years, scientists have tried — but failed — to find a way to use microbes as a means of biological control for destructive subterranean termites.
University of Florida researchers have now discovered why termites have proven to be so disease resistant. Termites use their own feces as nest-building material. The fecal nest promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, which in turn suppress pathogens — or in plainer words: termite poop works as a natural antibiotic.
Besides improving termite control, the findings could help pave the way for new human antibiotics.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Floridians are ardent fans of endangered species and want to see them protected, even if it means fines for violators or restrictions on personal freedoms, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey finds.
In conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, an online survey of 499 Floridians last month found that survey respondents ranked the importance of endangered species as 11th out of 15 public issues, well behind topics such as the economy, health care and food safety.
An Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member received the 2013 Excellence Award for Assistant Professors from the university in recognition of her outstanding research.
Assistant professor Michelle Danyluk, food science and human nutrition faculty member at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, was awarded for her work this past year on Salmonella and E. coli detection and dispersal.
Danyluk said she was “tremendously excited” to win the award.
“I’m extremely grateful to all the folks who have supported me as I’ve established my program at UF, and think the award recognizes not only me, but all those who have supported me – especially to the technical staff in my laboratory, my current and previous graduate students, county Extension faculty, the business office staff and the leadership at my center, department and IFAS levels.”
The 10 recipients of this year’s award will each receive a $5,000 grant to use toward their continued research. Danyluk said she hasn’t decided how to spend the grant, but said she’s considering spending toward updated computers for her graduate students or another truck for her team’s field work.
Her research interests include microbial food safety and quality, as well as developing standards for maintaining them in different storage and processing conditions. Her research focuses on fruits, vegetables and nuts and looks at how and why foodborne pathogens survive in production environments and the role environments play in food contamination.
UF/IFAS photo of Michelle Danyluk by Tyler L. Jones
WHAT: Kevin Folta, interim chairman of the University of Florida’s horticultural sciences department, will participate in a public forum hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute, called “Biotechnology: Feeding the World, or a Brave New World of Agriculture?”
WHEN: 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 4
BACKGROUND: The last few decades have seen traditional plant-breeding techniques begin to give way to a new era of agriculture in which DNA sequencing allows scientists to select for beneficial traits and vastly shortening the time it takes to create new cultivars. While many have concerns about these changes, Folta and science journalist and author Jon Entine have no such fears. During the forum, they will answer critics who say biotechnology may do long-term damage to the world’s food supply or result in inadvertent harm to consumers.
The event initially was to be the first formal debate between biotechnology advocates and detractors, but those who had been set to argue that the technological changes pose a threat — French professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and Jeffrey Smith, the author of “Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods” — withdrew.
The Cato Institute is a public policy think tank, and according to its website, is “dedicated to principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace.”
WHERE: The Cato Institute, Hayek Auditorium, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. The event can be seen live online at www.cato.org/live or you can follow @CatoEvents on Twitter.
CONTACT: Kevin Folta, 352-392-1928, ext. 269, email@example.com or @kevinfolta. Folta is available for interviews before Tuesday’s forum.