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Nutritious, Pollution-Fighting Corn Wins Honor for Idaho Scientist / March 14, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Nutritious, Pollution-Fighting Corn Wins Honor for Idaho Scientist

By Marcia Wood
March 14, 2001

ABERDEEN, Idaho, Mar. 14—For developing new kinds of corn that help people, animals, and the environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Victor Raboy of Aberdeen, Idaho, has won a national technology-transfer award.

A research geneticist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Raboy was honored by the ARS Office of Technology Transfer for developing a patented technique that yields corn and other grains with a lower amount of a compound called phytate.

"Phytate interferes with the ability of some animals to absorb phosphorus," explained ARS administrator Floyd P. Horn. "Dr. Raboy's unique, low-phytate grains increase the amount of phosphorus that pigs, poultry and fish can absorb from grain-based feed. That reduces phosphorus loads in their manure and helps minimize leaching and pollution.”

Phosphorus pollution is thought to play a role in algal blooms and fish kills.

“In addition,” Horn noted, "Dr. Raboy's low-phytate grains may battle iron-deficiency anemia in humans by making iron, an essential mineral, more available to our bodies. We've already seen that happen in preliminary studies with volunteers who ate tortillas made with flour from the low-phytate corn.”

Raboy was commended at an awards ceremony held recently at the Agricultural Research Service’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Md. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific agency. Raboy has been with ARS since 1987, working first at Bozeman, Mont., then transferring to Aberdeen in 1997.

He earned his bachelor of science degree in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts in 1978, master of science in horticulture in 1980 and doctorate in horticulture in 1984, both from the University of Illinois.

Scientific contact: Victor Raboy, USDA-ARS Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit, 1691 S. 2700 W., P.O. Box 307, Aberdeen, ID 83210; phone (208) 397-4162, ext. 151, fax (208) 397-4165, e-mail vraboy@uidaho.edu.

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