USDA Scientists Honored for Moving Research to MarketBy Ben Hardin
April 10, 1997
WASHINGTON, April 10--Four teams of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists will receive honors April 15 from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for their work in transferring technology to the marketplace. ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The consortium will honor the ARS teams for work that led to commercial development of an oil-water-starch combination with a variety of potential uses, prevention of millions of tons of soil being lost to erosion in furrow-irrigated farm fields, and reduction of the growth of harmful bacteria in poultry.
The ARS scientists will receive the consortium's Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer at the FLC annual meeting April 14-17 in East Brunswick, N.J. Overall, FLC will recognize the technology transfer achievements of 30 teams and individuals.
The ARS winners include chemists Kenneth Eskins and George F. Fanta, who invented the oil-water-starch combo Fantesk and helped transfer the technology to the private sector through five Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs).
Based at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research at Peoria, Ill., Fanta and Eskins initially developed Fantesk as a completely digestible fat replacement for use in a broad range of foods. The mixture is also being used or has potential in products ranging from seed coatings, non-toxic adhesives and oil drilling mud additives to bases for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Exclusive licensees for various applications of Fantesk include Opta Food Ingredients of Bedford, Mass.; Union Camp Corp. of Savannah, Ga.; and Seedbiotics of Caldwell, Idaho.
Soil scientists Robert E. Sojka and Rodrick D. Lentz from the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory at Kimberly, Idaho, will be honored by the consortium for their work on a method to virtually halt soil erosion caused by furrow irrigation. Sojka and Lentz showed that by adding polyacrylamide (PAM) to irrigation water at a rate of 10 parts per million--about 1 pound of PAM per acre--field sediment losses to erosion could be cut by 95 percent.
Sojka and Lentz worked with CRADA partner Cytec Industries, a business unit of American Cyanamid of Princeton, N.J., to obtain product registration for PAM as an agricultural amendment from various state regulatory bodies. In 1995, the first year of PAM's commercialization, farmers used the product on 50,000 acres, saving an estimated one million tons of soil.
The consortium also will honor microbiologists Norman J. Stern, J. Stanley Bailey, Nelson A. Cox and Leroy C. Blankenship at the Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit of the ARS Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, in Athens, Ga. The researchers worked with CRADA partner Continental Grain Co. of Chicago, Ill., to develop a USDA-patented process for reducing microbial contamination of chicken.
The process, called mucosal competitive exclusion (MCE), involves giving day-old chicks a mixture of intestinal microorganisms from disease-free adult chickens. After treatment, the chicks have much fewer bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter in their intestines.
Continental Grain is conducting commercial trials on MCE, and is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for marketing this product to the broiler industry. Commercialization and use of the product could help reduce the multi-million dollar impact of human illnesses caused by foodborne pathogens.
The fourth team to be honored are ARS microbiologist David J. Nisbet, veterinary medical officer Donald E. Corrier and chemist John R. DeLoach for developing and transferring to industry another competitive exclusion technology to improve food safety. This team of scientists focused their work--at the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit of ARS' Food Animal Protection Research Laboratory in College Station, Texas--on Salmonella as well as Escherichia coli. They developed and patented a defined culture of 29 bacterial isolates used to treat and protect newly hatched chicks against intestinal invasion by against harmful bacteria.
CRADA partner and invention licensee Milk Specialties Company of Dundee, Ill., used scientific data from the College Station researchers to obtain expedited review status from FDA to speed approval of the product, called CF3, for use by the poultry industry.
Success of the CF3 culture has spawned another CRADA between the College Station researchers and Milk Specialties. The new project is aimed at developing technology to reduce Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7 colonization in the gastrointestinal system of swine and cattle.
Scientific contacts: Kenneth Eskins, ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Peoria, Ill., phone (309) 681-6551, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; Robert E. Sojka, ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory, Kimberly, Idaho, phone (208) 423-6562, e-mail email@example.com; Norman J. Stern, ARS Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, Athens, Ga., phone (706) 546-3516, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; David J. Nisbet, ARS Food Animal Protection Research Laboratory, College Station, Texas, phone (409) 260-9368, e-mail email@example.com; Richard M. Parry, ARS Office of Technology Transfer, USDA, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 720-3973, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.