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Development Value-Added Agricultural Commodities, Ensuring Their Safety, and Facilitating Technology Transfer


<ol> <LI>Identify and develop value-added uses for commodities and waste streams in food and industrial applications. <LI> Improve the quality and safety of commodity and processed products to maintain or increase their value in the marketplace.<LI> Strive to transfer the technology developed from any successful research efforts to the marketplace to facilitate economic development by providing employment and improving the profitability of Iowan farmers and industry.

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Non-Technical Summary: Agriculture is the most important industry in Iowa. Current low prices of commodity crops, caused by their overabundance, limits economic development. Adding value to agricultural crops grown in Iowa will promote economic development within the state and the Midwest. Value can be achieved by developing new food and non-food applications for these crops, by altering components of the crops themselves, by creating new processes for utilizing these crops, by developing new processes to prevent economic loss via spoilage, and by rapid detection, characterization and monitoring of any safety and quality issues associated with these products. Furthermore, building new processing facilities that utilize these crops or processes close to where they are produced or used, will increase employment and improve the tax base for the state. Developing value-added agricultural commodities, ensuring their safety, and facilitating technology transfer so that farmers and agricultural-based industries can benefit from new potential markets will greatly assist the economy of the state and the Midwest. <P> Approach: The initial focus will be to advance research projects where technological progress has been made, such as in adding value to corn and soybeans in both food and nonfood areas. Methods to add value to crops will capture crop diversity created by both traditional and biotechnological approaches. Crop components of greatest interest include modified oil, protein and carbohydrate, as well as unique microorganisms. The diverse crops can be a source of microorganisims with modified metabolic systems, which have the potential for more efficient conversion of low-value high-cellulosic materials or for conversion of waste streams into high-value products. Methods to improve the efficiency and safety of processing by small processors in the state will be directed at products such as apple cider and tofu. A sampling of the projects to be tackled is described: 1) hydrolysates of low-priced soy protein flour as adhesives, plastics and edible products; 2) new soybean oil extraction processes to replace hexane; 3) new soybean oils with altered fatty acid and minor constituent compositions; 4) chemical modification of partially hydrogenated soybean oil to change its crystallization behavior; 5) improved yield of ethanol and quality of distiller's dry grain from corn; 6) pharmaceuticals and therapeutic proteins from corn; 7) new starches and oils with better functional and health-promoting structures from corn; 8) rapid detection of pathogens and food spoilage organisms; 9) antimicrobials to prevent growth of unwanted spoilage and pathogenic microbes; and 10) beneficial microbes utilized in the production of crops. All successful efforts will be directed toward technology transfer.

Mendonca, Aubrey
Iowa State University
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