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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Agricultural economist measures impact of forthcoming federal GMO labeling law

John Bovay

John Bovay

A new label on food packaging could soon alter the purchasing habits of American shoppers and significantly affect producer operations. A federal law will take effect in July 2018 that informs consumers about the genetic science that may be at work behind their favorite foods. This designation may lead to price increases and other far-reaching consequences in the grocery industry and beyond, says Assistant Professor John Bovay of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UConn Extension, and the College’s GMO Working Group. Bovay has started investigating how the execution of the legislation might take shape and the ways it could reverberate through the national economy.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) law introduces labeling standards that require companies to disclose if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are present in their products. Although many consumers and non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the Non-GMO Project, champion greater transparency and increased awareness about the foods we eat and drink, Bovay cautions that it could further perpetuate misconceptions about the safety of genetic engineering (GE) technology in food production. These factors could drive customers and producers to respond in ways legislators may not have intended or foreseen. These reactions also largely depend on how the government decides to implement and regulate the law, but they have thus far offered few details on their plans. Despite these challenges, Bovay is drawing from prior examples of labeling initiatives and consulting other relevant studies to project the outcomes and costs of the new law. Bovay is completing his research with Julian Alston, a distinguished professor in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

newspaper readersTime to Eat the Dogs podcast interviewed Department of Kinesiology Associate Professor Beth Taylor about running, health and long distance athletes. It drew on some of UConn’s research.

WSHU public radio broadcast an article about a retrofitted boat called the Research Vessel (R/V) Connecticut. It will collect data and map the floor of Long Island Sound. Professor Sylvain De Guise, who is on the faculty of pathobiology and is director of the Sea Grant College Program, was quoted.

The Daily Campus ran a story about the showing of Forgotten Farms, which depicts longtime New England dairy farmers and the sometimes undervalued work that they do. Cooperative Extension System Associate Professor Bonnie Burr was part of the panel discussion after the film.

By Patsy Evans

Historical image of the week

Nurses in chemistry lab

Nurses in chemistry lab. By Jerauld A. Manter, 1946. From the Jerauld A. Manter Photograph Collection, University of Connecticut Photograph Collection.

Extension educator promotes partnership and volunteerism in economic and community development projects

Laura Brown

Laura Brown.

Connecticut has quaint rural communities, scenic coastal towns and bustling urban areas. These diverse locations are home to an array of businesses, attractions, municipal services, community organizations and residents, making every one of Connecticut’s 169 towns truly unique. Laura Brown recognizes and celebrates the distinct character and resources of each town through her work as a community and economic development educator for UConn Extension in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). She helps towns harness the benefits of their assets, promoting community sustainability through programs that improve environmental and economic outcomes.

“My work centers on helping communities make informed decisions, giving them the capacity to recognize their strengths and develop strategies to overcome their challenges,” says Brown. “I love meeting new people, reaching out to potential partners and getting to know what local communities need and how I can help them achieve their objectives. Every town is different and a one-size-fits-all approach does not apply.”

Brown introduced the First Impressions Program to Connecticut in an effort to help towns reflect on their particular qualities and resources. Since it can prove difficult for towns to accurately assess themselves, First Impressions employs an outside perspective to gather feedback on communities. The program provides a framework for residents to observe other communities and evaluate their visit. Sharing this information with local municipalities can initiate policy change and other reforms to enhance plans for community and economic development. Brown describes First Impressions as giving communities “a fresh set of eyes to see what’s happening in their towns.” (more…)

Researcher uses nanotechnology to design food-based nutrient delivery systems for treatment and prevention of chronic diseases

The Luo lab research team. Left to right: PhD students Mingyong Zhou, Taoran Wang, Jingyi Xue (PhD student) and Qiaobin Hu; and Yangchao Luo.

The Luo lab research team. Left to right: PhD students Mingyong Zhou, Taoran Wang, Jingyi Xue (PhD student) and Qiaobin Hu; and Yangchao Luo.

Yangchao Luo’s passion is food. At home, Luo likes to cook Chinese food and tasty soups for his toddler daughter. In his lab at UConn, where he holds his primary appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and  joint appointments in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Institute of Materials Sciences, he focuses on groundbreaking work in the emerging science of nanotechnology as applied to food. He wants to make healthy food healthier for individuals with special needs as well as for the rest of us. Luo became interested in functional foods as an undergraduate, and his interest grew as he worked toward his MS in food science and Ph.D. in nutrition and food science.

When foods are fortified or enriched, they become functional foods. But the biological efficacy of nutrients in functional foods is hardly realized due to limited bioavailability when the foods are ingested. Bioavailability is the proportion of a nutrient absorbed and therefore able to produce a particular effect. Many nutrients, such as vitamins and phytochemicals, are known to have a low bioavailability. The major goal of research in Luo’s laboratory is to use nanotechnology to improve the bioavailability of those nutrients and eventually help treat and prevent chronic diseases when they are put back into food. Luo uses food-grade biomaterials, including proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, to create non-toxic nanoscale vehicles that can carry nutrients and boost their absorption, making them more bioavailable.

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