May 2019

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Collage: Innovation in China

Gentec’s former Director of Knowledge Translation, Dawn Trautman, spent 12 days in China at the beginning of May with her MBA program group, marvelling at its contradictions and potential. She walked us through her particularly fine photo album, and shared her insights on this global powerhouse. Read/view more here.

The latest on plant-based meat

Food companies are responding to meat substitutes

Gentec researcher and agricultural economist Ellen Goddard forecasts that innovation in the meat substitutes sector is likely to mean more choice on store shelves for consumers. Listen to the interview or read a summary here.

"Investing" in food

Beyond Meat, the maker of plant-based meat substitutes, has just gone public. In this article, CBC's Mark Ting discusses something that doesn't get much press in the super-sensitive world of food technologies: whether shareholders should buy in or not.

Burger King's Impossible Whopper selling well in the US heartland

Burger King has just finished testing its new plant-based Impossible Whopper in the toughest market in the US, where sales were surprisingly brisk. A food writer takes a bite to see what all the fuss is about. Find out more here.

Super-practical applications for DNA technology

Handheld DNA tester can quickly identify illegal shark fins
Once a fin has been removed from the shark's body, it can be hard for law enforcement to determine whether it's from a protected species or not. Rapid, on-site DNA testing could prevent dishonest fishing practices and protect consumers from food fraud, resulting in a definite win-win. Read more here.
Genetic tagging offers better, less invasive way of tracking animals
Using DNA from hair, saliva, feces, and other shed materials is far more effective at tracking animals than wrassling them down to take samples or apply collars--with the added benefit of more reliable results. Another win-win for science and nature. Read more here. Gentec-associated researcher Paul Stothard has contributed to work along these lines as part of a Genome Canada project on chronic wasting disease in cervids.

Want a tasty tomato, finally?
Genetics has done wonders in making store-bought tomatoes disease-resistant, produce more and last longer on the store shelves--all to the detriment of flavour. Now, genetics can also bring the flavour back. Read more here.

A new lease on life for woolly mammoths?

Then there are the less practical applications. There has been "talk" in the past year about the science and ethics of de-extinction thanks to advances in gene editing (some of which is done by Gentec partner, The Roslin Institute). Could we... or should we, even if we could? Thorny questions, indeed. We recommend this TechRadar article because it covers all the bases quickly or this Technology Networks Group video if you prefer to get your information visually.

"Considering that the rate of species extinction is happening 1,000 times faster than if humans weren't around," says Gentec CEO Graham Plastow, "it's important to have a genetic record of life on Earth for scientific purposes, not necessarily to implement Jurassic Park."

Have we reached Peak Meat?

The Economist is known for its "meaty," well-researched articles. This one highlights global facts, benefits and trends surrounding meat-based diets.

Adds Gentec CEO Graham Plastow, "At Gentec, we believe that moderation and variety are the foundational ingredients in reducing waste and helping achieve a healthy sustainable future."

Broiler chickens as an example of how humans have changed our environment

In 2016, 26 billion chickens were slaughtered around the world for meat. These weren't the old-style chickens that spent time outdoors pecking at dirt. Instead, most were bred to grow fast on less feed. These new-style birds can't survive without human intervention. They symbolize a new era in which humans are impacting the Earth. Read more here.

Your DNA is now a commodity

DNA testing is now cheap enough that it's gone mainstream. Companies are now biobanking samples to "repurpose" for other uses. Read/view here how that affects your privacy.


June 3. Canadian Meat Council annual conference. Niagara, ON
June 7-9. World Pork Expo. Des Moines, USA
June 9-11. Saskatchewan Stockgrowers’ Association annual convention. Moose Jaw, SK
June 10-12. Alberta Beef Producers Semi-annual General Meeting. Edmonton, AB
June 18. (Free) LFCE Summer Field Day for Producers. Blucher, SK
June 19-21. Canada’s Farm Progress Show. Regina, SK
June 20. Solstice Collaborative Forage Tour. Beaverlodge, AB
 June 23-26. American Dairy Science Association annual meeting. Cincinnati, USA**

July 16. Annual Southern Alberta Grazing School for Women. Milk River, AB
July 22 or 22-23. Grazing School with Dr. Allen Williams. Grimshaw, AB

** The symposium “Breeding and Genetics: Ten Years of Genomic Selection” will be on Monday June 24 as a highlight of the ADSA meeting in Cincinnati. It will highlight the impacts of genomics and forecast new developments and future scenarios. See link above for more information.

The lighter side: Boeuf bourgignon on the hoof

The relationship between feeding alcohol to cows and beef/dairy production has been tested before. The relationship between that same alcohol and flavour is now being tested on a small scale in France. Bon appetit! Read more here.
© 2019 Livestock Gentec, All rights reserved.

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