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Green Genes from Transgenic Alfalfa Yields New Products / April 8, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Expressing alfalfa juice

Green Genes from Transgenic Alfalfa Yields New Products

By Linda McGraw
April 8, 1998

Green genes from transgenic alfalfa may someday help solve animal waste disposal problems now faced by hog and poultry producers.

Agricultural Research Service and University of Wisconsin researchers have teamed up to develop and harvest a special alfalfa for its valuable enzymes. The extraordinary alfalfa was created by University of Wisconsin scientists to yield industrially valuable enzymes not normally found in alfalfa.

An ARS agricultural engineer at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis., has designed processes to separate the three important components from the transgenic alfalfa.

Phytase is one of these components. It reduces the need for costly phosphorus supplements in hog and poultry rations. Improving phosphorus utilization in these animals can decrease its excretion in their manure. Feed is the most costly part of raising hogs and poultry, and phosphorus supplements cost about $3 per ton of feed. Alfalfa-produced phytase may cost only half this much.

In addition to phytase, the transgenic alfalfa yields proteins and xanthophyll, a pigmenting substance fed to poultry to give yellow color to egg yolks and poultry skin.

The April issue of Agricultural Research, ARS' monthly magazine, has an article about the research. The article is also on the World Wide Web at:

Scientific contact: Richard G. Koegel, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, Wisconsin, phone (608) 264-5149, fax (608) 264-5147, e-mail

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