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Food and Fuel Initiative: Iowa

Wolt, Jeffrey D; Munkvold, Gary P; Misra, Manjit; Lawrence, John D
Iowa State University
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The goal is to develop a multidisciplinary approach for facilitating a balanced growth among food, feed, and fuel applications due to biofuels production.

Within this overarching goal, our specific objectives are: 1) Discovery of new value-added food safety compounds in co-products for enhancing economic development opportunities; 2) Mycotoxin monitoring in co-products for food and feed safety and mitigation strategies; 3) Economic analysis and performance of co-products in animal feed; and 4) risk assessment, outreach and communication.

Some organizations are already working to investigate the effects of biofuel production on the prices and supply of food. Research is also underway at many public and private institutions to develop lines, both by conventional and biotechnology methods, that are high yielding or are more adaptable to biofuel production. We do not intend to duplicate these efforts. Rather, we would focus our activities in areas where knowledge gaps exist as outlined in the objectives above for public good. This will make Iowa and the US a world leader in biofuels production.

More information
Non-Technical Summary: A number of public and private sector organizations are focusing their efforts on biofuel production which will impact food and feed. The production of biofuels requires the same natural resources for those needed for food and feed and some have framed this debate as opposing issues. We believe, however, that through technology development, economic analysis and policy framework, we can provide a balanced growth for food, feed, and fuel for Iowa, the nation and the world.

Approach: Project 1 will include evaluation of various extracts from grain and lignocellulosic biofuel co-products for beneficial compounds (antimicrobial, antioxidant, biosurfacant, prebiotic, and immune-enhancing activity). Project 2 will investigate the potential of field-dried plant biomass contributing herbicides, pesticides, and mycotoxins into non-fermentable co-products used in food animal feed. We will develop protocols so that co-products meet all livestock industry standards for toxic residues and nutritional value. In Project 3, we will conduct a comprehensive research and educational program to address concerns of livestock producers of how to utilize the co-products in a cost-effective manner. This will include a curriculum development and testing phase, a multi-state train-the-trainer phase for extension professionals where biofuel co-products are fed and a delivery phase where producer workshops are conducted. Project 4 will research regulatory processes and policy decisions to address emerging controversy regarding food-fuel trade-offs. Our intent is to inform the R&D community, regulators, and policy planners as to the potential limitations of the current regulatory process and to suggest ways by which the regulatory approaches may need to shift to accommodate the urgent national need for crop systems that can accommodate both food and fuel production. Along with this, communicating the risks and benefits to decision-makers and the public is a crucial step. We will therefore develop a communication element which will include: a) an annual symposium, b), newsletter articles, c) presentations, and d) development of a website as a means to engage the public, professionals, and policy makers working with the food and fuel issues.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Education and Training
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication