Phytonutrient Forum Aims at New Research PartnershipsBy
Jill Lee and
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2--Scientists from the medical, nutritional and
agricultural arenas will have opportunities to build new research partnerships
at a conference on "Food, Phytonutrients and Health" here March 9-11.
The Agricultural Research Service,
the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief
scientific agency, has invited more than 250 industry, government and university
scientists to attend the conference, to be held in the USDA's Jamie L. Whitten
Building in Washington and workshops in nearby College Park, Md.
Phytonutrients are natural plant compounds of increasing interest for their
potential medical or nutritional benefits. Plants rich in phytonutrients range
from the well-known carrots and broccoli--with antioxidants that help fight
disease--to the trendy St. Johns wort believed by some to alleviate depression.
ARS recently established a new
at its Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural
"Providing science-based benefits of phytonutrients to people will
require strong new research partnerships among scientists in different fields
and from different sectors-- industry, academia and government," said ARS
administrator Floyd Horn.
For example, medical researchers have linked phytoestrogens in soybeans with
reduced discomfort during menopause. Agronomists who know how to enhance the
phytoestrogen content of soybeans could help turn the medical findings into
real-life benefits for women seeking an alternative to conventional estrogen
Speakers will outline the status of phytonutrient research and conduct
workshops on the biological effects of plant compounds, plant breeding and
medicinal plants. The workshops are designed to generate new research
partnerships and clarify research needs.
Scientific contact: Carla Fjeld, ARS National Program Leader for
Human Nutrition, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-6216.