Photo: The yellow mealworm species Tenebrio molitor. An IUPUI-led study finds the insect could serve as a good alternate protein source in agriculture.
INDIANAPOLIS -- With global food demands rising at an alarming rate, a study led by IUPUI scientists has found new evidence that a previously overlooked insect shows promise as alternative protein source: the yellow mealworm.
The research is based upon a new analysis of the genome of the mealworm species Tenebrio molitor led by Christine Picard, associate professor of biology and director in Forensic and Investigative Sciences program at the School of Science at IUPUI.
The work was published in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed on Aug. 31.
"Human populations are continuing to increase and the stress on protein production is increasing at an unsustainable rate, not even considering climate change," said Picard, whose lab focuses on the use of insects to address global food demand.
The research, conducted in partnership with Beta Hatch Inc., has found the yellow mealworm -- historically a pest -- can provide benefit in a wide range of agriculture applications. Not only can it can be used as an alternative source of protein for animals including fish, but its waste is also ideal as organic fertilizer.
Picard and her team sequenced the yellow mealworm's genome using 10X Chromium linked-read technology. The results will help those who now wish to utilize the DNA and optimize the yellow mealworm for mass production and consumption. This new technology integrates the best of two sequencing methods to produce a reliable genome sequence.
"Insect genomes are challenging, and the longer sequence of DNA you can generate, the better genome you can assemble," said Picard.
Picard added the mealworm has -- and will have -- a wide variety uses.
"Mealworms, being insects, are a part of the natural diet of many organisms," said Picard. "Fish enjoy mealworms, for example. They could also be really useful in the pet food industry as an alternative protein source, chickens like insects -- and maybe one day humans, too, because it's an alternative source of protein."
Next, Picard said the researchers plan to look at what governs some of the biological processes of yellow mealworms in order to harness information useful for the commercialization of these insects.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Conservation of fish and other marine life migrating from warming ocean waters will be more effective and also protect commercial fisheries if plans are made now to cope with climate change, according to a Rutgers University-led study in the journal Science Advances.
“Sticking our heads in the sand doesn’t work,” said lead author Malin Pinsky, an associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University — New Brunswick. “Effective ocean planning that accounts for climate change will lead to better safeguards for marine fish and commercial fisheries with few tradeoffs.”
As the ocean becomes busier with shipping, energy development, fishing, conservation, recreation and other uses, planning efforts that set aside parts of the ocean for such uses have begun on all seven continents. But these efforts typically do not plan ahead for the impacts of climate change despite establishing plans that can last for many decades.
With ocean waters warming, many commercially valuable fish species could move hundreds of miles northward toward colder water in the years ahead. Such movement is already underway — in some cases dramatically — substantially disrupting fisheries and exacerbating international fisheries conflicts.
Researchers led by Pinsky focused on the costs and benefits of planning ahead for the impacts of climate change on marine species. They simulated the ocean planning process in the United States and Canada for conservation zones, fishing zones and wind and wave energy development zones. Then they looked at nearly 12,000 different projections for where 736 species around North America will move during the rest of this century. They also looked at potential tradeoffs between meeting conservation and sustainable fishing goals now versus in 80 years.
“We were worried that planning ahead would require setting aside a lot more of the ocean for conservation or for fishing, but we found that was not the case,” Pinsky said. “Instead, fishing and conservation areas can be set up like hopscotch boxes so fish and other animals can shift from one box into another as they respond to climate change. We found that simple changes to ocean plans can make them much more robust to future changes. Planning ahead can help us avoid conflicts between, for example, fisheries and wind energy or conservation and fisheries.”
While the study focused on long-term changes, many fisheries’ decisions are focused on near-term changes — one to a few years ahead, Pinsky said. So the scientists are now testing whether they can forecast near-term shifts in where species are found so fisheries can adapt more easily to species on the move.
While climate change will severely disrupt many human activities and “complete climate-proofing is impossible, proactively planning for long-term ocean change across a wide range of sectors is likely to provide substantial benefits,” the study says.
Scientists at Stanford University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, East Carolina University and University of Bern contributed to the study.
ABILENE, Texas — Prairie Dog Pet Products, a manufacturer of freeze dried, smoked and natural pet treats, is allocating $18 million in 2021 for equipment and facilities. This move, which follows increased investments at the end of 2020, will expand output across its manufactured product lines while increasing food safety and innovation.
"We're focused on each facility becoming world class in quality, sustainability and efficiency," said Ted Mischaikov, CEO at Prairie Dog Pet Products. "Each investment is interwoven into the fabric of processes and products we are creating across frozen, freeze-dried, air-dried and smoked treats and diets. Our goal is to provide large volumes of higher quality and more innovative dried products for our private label and co-pack business partners."
Areas of expansion center around low-temperature, low-impact technologies that help retain nutritional profiles in pet food, as well as kitchen upgrades to increase efficiency. These facility enhancements include:
Freeze Drying Technology — The Abilene plant will install 300% more freeze-dried capacity in 2021 with additional equipment designated solely for research and development.
Individual Quick Freeze (IQF) Technology — To support freeze-dried volumes and initiate frozen diets, the Abilene facility is installing significant IQF capability.
Kitchen Expansions — At both the Abilene and Montrose, Colorado, facilities, kitchen expansions are underway including process redundancies and flexibility of forming abilities.
Smokehouses and Air Dryers — Facilities in Abilene and Montrose have undergone overhauls from analog to digital controls to optimize yield and allow full visibility of every step of the cooking process in real time. Volume increases are underway with increased air flow commensurate with truck capacity increases, as well as new steam support systems.
New Corporate and Research and Development Campus — Prairie Dog is interviewing various municipalities with strong economic development goals as potential locations for new corporate offices and a research and development department, which will co-locate with a new smoking and air-drying production plant aimed at increasing its treat line by 250%.
New Colorado Facility — Antler production in Montrose has moved into a new facility, which is more than three times larger than the previous facility, due to an increased demand for premium natural chews and strengthened supplier relationships.
"These capital and process initiatives will increase our prowess and capacity to create the clean, healthy nutrition customers expect and their pets absolutely deserve," said Mischaikov.
NEWARK, Del. — The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule for Pesticides; Exemptions of Certain Plant-Incorporated Protectants (PIPs) Derived from Newer Technologies. The intent of the rule is to streamline regulations to allow for a partial exemption under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) for certain PIPs that are created in plants using biotechnology.
PMA notes that the potential benefits of the proposed rule for the specialty crop sector includes lower costs from reduced regulatory burden, increased research, development and commercialization of pest control options for farmers and reduced use of conventional pesticides, all of which could provide environmental benefits.
PMA’s comments on the proposed rule noted the following key points for the fresh produce and floral sectors:
- Gene editing techniques are low-risk and a variety developed using modern biotech tools can be indistinguishable from a variety developed through conventional breeding. PMA believes that EPA’s approach to regulations of crop varieties bred using modern biotechnology should be risk-based and create an exemption from FIFRA and FFDCA regulations that is functionally indistinguishable from the exemptions given to conventionally bred crops.
- PMA encourages the alignment of the EPA’s proposed regulations with USDA’s counterpart Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE) rule regarding the introduction of certain genetically engineered organisms.
- PMA encourages a focus on regulation that is appropriate to the level of scientifically validated risk, rather than focusing on the regulation of the process used to create the new variety.
- PMA believes that notification to EPA for these limited set of traits is not necessary, as gene-edited crops containing changes that could otherwise have been accomplished through conventional breeding should be exempt from FFDCA and FIFRA, except for the adverse effects reporting requirements, just as conventionally bred crops are treated.
- In reviewing the proposed reporting requirements on trait expression in plant tissues and developmental stages, PMA believes the significant research and data requirements would prevent adoption of new breeding technologies in specialty crops, many of which are just entering the genomics era and could gain tremendous value from the technologies. The risk associated with these products that are commensurate with a conventionally bred counterpart do not warrant the data burden called for in the proposal.
- PMA asked EPA to consider that crops with new traits that were accomplished through gene editing practices, that could have otherwise been accomplished through conventional breeding, have no additional risk and therefore warrant the exemption of conventionally bred crops. PMA suggested EPA consider a mechanism similar to USDA’s SECURE rule exemptions that could be expanded once the agency has had experience with a certain product concept without going through additional rulemaking.
PMA concluded the comments by noting that one of the greatest opportunities for EPA and the industry to meet the growing global demand for healthy and nutritious food is to encourage the development of new varieties through breeding innovations. PMA added that access to this technology is vital to efforts to improve nutrition along with the reduction.
STILLWATER, Okla. — It’s been a long 365 days filled with uncertainty and change. The one constant, however, was a continued love for both food and cooking across the nation.
As the pandemic shifted lives, it also shifted the tastes and preferences of American consumers, sparking actions likely to change the food industry next year.
Change is inevitable — pandemic or not — and is a major force when it comes to food trends, said Andrea Graves, business planning and marketing specialist for the Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.
“Businesses need to pay attention to trends in order to find new growth opportunities and their target audiences,” Graves said. “Understanding these trends helps businesses stay ahead of upcoming change, whether it is regulatory or a new flavor profile. In most cases, consumers drive the trends and are looking for products and companies that are meeting their needs and lifestyles.”
Take a look at the top 10 trends for 2021, predicted by FAPC.
1. Wanting Well-Being: The world may have been unpredictable and somewhat scary for people during the pandemic this year, but individuals turned to food for increased well-being, both physically and mentally. Next year will see a continued emphasis on foods that not only boost a body nutritionally, but also are deemed “better” for the environment. From green and organic to superfoods, consumers are going to spend the upcoming year on the hunt for products that nourish both the body and mind.
2. Pantry Perfect: Quarantine sparked a love for home cooking in individuals across the planet. The need to convert pantry items into drool-worthy meals created a love for time in the kitchen, and it is predicted the new year will see a continued desire to stay in rather than eat out.
3. Finessed Fryer: A combination of the two previously mentioned trends, air fryers are expected to be one of the top appliances in the kitchen as they allow consumers to make a healthy and satisfying meal at home.
4. Bakery Homebase: Another product of quarantine cooking was the desire to bake bread at home. From loaves of white bread to the crackle of sourdough crust as home bakers try something a little more challenging, FAPC predicts next year will see more people joining in on the trend of continuing to whip up their own bread at home.
5. Back to Breakfast: With less of a rush to get to work since many individuals were staying at home, a focus on the importance of breakfast re-emerged. It is not called the most important meal of the day for nothing! Expect large breakfasts, healthy morning meals and even brunch sessions to gain traction next year.
6. Caffeine Capital: It took a little added boost of energy for people to get through 2020, creating a worldwide taste for coffee. FAPC predicts coffee flavors will be finding their way into a multitude of products. From crunchy treats such as granola to decadently flavored chocolate bars, people will be able to satisfy their taste for caffeine in products outside a coffee cup next year.
7. Oil Options: In the midst of developing a taste for cooking at home, consumers have also found a desire to cook with oils other than olive or vegetable. Oils coming from seeds such as sunflowers and pumpkins will be replacing more common cooking oils to help create dishes with more health benefits and flavors.
8. Checking Out Chickpeas: Products such as hummus and falafel have made chickpeas a sought-after vegetable in past years, but 2021 is going to bring an even bigger demand. Offering a lot of fiber and filling the role of a plant-based protein option, chickpeas are going to be making a big splash in grocery stores as they appear on shelves in the form of tofu, flour and even cereal.
9. Jerky Jaunt: Carnivores aren’t going to be the only ones enjoying jerky next year. From mushrooms to jackfruit, a variety of vegetables and fruits are going to start being served jerky-style. This snack will offer the same nutrients of fresh produce but will now possess shelf stability.
10. Dishing up Dessert: With such a difficult year, it should be no surprise the demand for dessert is expected to be at an all-time high next year. Consumers turned to sweet treats to help stay positive in 2020, so be on the lookout for a continuation of demand for elevated desserts of all kinds