Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab

A blog about leading science in peanut and food security.

Could Delta replace peanuts as in-flight snack?

peanutsDelta Airlines is testing out other snacks and might replace the iconic bag of peanuts with cashews.

Delta is based in Atlanta, the capital of the biggest peanut-growing state in the U.S. and has been serving peanuts to passengers since the 1940s. The Georgia Peanut Commission has argued that Delta should continue to serve peanuts because they are more sustainable to grow than other nuts, which also can cause allergic reactions in some travellers.

New yogurt bars and Snyder’s brand pretzels are among the new in-flight snacks Delta Air Lines is testing. Delta will be testing the new snacks through Aug. 21 on certain flights out of Atlanta and Minneapolis.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article about the snack testing and is polling readers about which they prefer, peanuts or cashews.

Click here to go to the newspaper’s blog and cast your vote for Team Peanut.



Scientific journal puts out special edition on aflatoxin

The African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development has put out 12-peer reviewed scientific articles in a special issue about aflatoxin. The main corresponding author for the issue, which is sponsored by the International Livestock Research Institute, is Dr. Johanna Lindahl (

The editor of AJFAND recently sent out a notice about the special issue and expounded on the International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, where participants all seemed interested in the ongoing efforts to control mycotoxin contamination.

“Aflatoxins have become vicious contaminants in cereals and particularly maize which is a major staple for millions of consumers around the world,” Ruth Oniang’o wrote.


Funding opportunities available through horticulture lab

The Horticulture Innovation Lab headquartered at the University of California-Davis is offering a grant up to $750,000 over three years to support a research project in integrated animal-horticulture systems. Sept. 19 is the deadline for brief concept notes, submitted by U.S. university researchers.
The research should be focused on the needs of smallholder farmers in developing countries that are part of Feed the Future, with priority given to Cambodia, Nepal and Rwanda.
Understanding the socioeconomic feasibility and trade-offs involved in mixed crop-livestock farming systems — ones that specifically incorporate fruit and vegetable crops — is the focus of this new call for concept notes.
Check out the announcement here.

The lab has two other open opportunities for funding. The program previously announced two calls for research proposals, one related to tomato handling and marketing in Burkina Faso and another related to dried apricot handling and marketing in Tajikistan. Instructions for how to apply for all three of these grants are on the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s Funding Opportunities page.
The program also maintains a running list of researchers in a variety of countries who are interested in collaborating on future projects. With that list, researchers can both find a collaborator and also request their name and information be added to the list of potential partners.

Politicians on both sides support Feed the Future bill

Partisan politics can make it tough to get legislation passed in a Presidential election year, but lawmakers from both parties came together to support the Global Food Security Act, which passed last month and made Feed the Future federal law. In the past, the effort was a presidential initiative, so President Obama was clearly happy to see the program become permanent before the end of his term.

But he wasn’t the only one.

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican who sits on both the Senate Finance and Foreign Relations committees, put his influence and popularity behind the bill to help see it passed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about the across-the-aisle cooperation in this article, which quotes PMIL Assistant Director Jamie Rhoads.

New partner in Mozambique expands access to inputs, mechanization

Feed the Future’s Partnering for Innovation program has announced a new partnership with Tecnologia E Consultoria Agro-Pecuaria (TECAP) in Mozambique.

Partnering for Innovation is a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program that helps the private sector to scale and market agricultural technologies for smallholder farmers through investing in technology commercialization and knowledge exchange. (more…)

Gifted high-schoolers visit PMIL to learn about food security

A group of academically gifted high school students visited the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab offices this week to learn about peanut research.students1

The students, part of the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP), are nearing the end of a course focused on developing new varieties of crops via marker-assisted selection, transgenic and gene-editing approaches, specifically for extension to subsistence farmers.

The students are from across the Southeastern U.S. and dedicated three weeks of their summer break learning about food security through topics like CGIAR research sites, molecular genetics labs, creating new scientific instruments with Arduino, and international extension services.

Director Dave Hoisington gave students an overview of the importance of peanuts and work of PMIL researchers, and Assistant Director Jamie Rhoads demonstrated the Mobile Assay tablet reader aflatoxin testing system using kabob powder purchased in Ghana.


MasterCard commits $27.1 million to ag education in Africa

The MasterCard Foundation and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) have announced a collaboration that will make $27.1 million available for agricultural education in Africa.

The eight-year commitment from MasterCard will focus on smallholder farmers, connecting university education to the needs of rural communities, and support the training of 220 economically disadvantaged students (110 undergraduates and 110 graduates.

Gulu University in Uganda and Egerton University in Kenya, both early adopters of the RUFORUM approach, will be the key implementers of the program.

Established in 2004, RUFORUM is a network of 60 African universities with a mission to foster innovation for smallholder farmers through training, research and collaboration. The organization has supported the education of more than 1500 postgraduate students and the generation of 300 ag technologies, while mobilizing more than $70 million to strengthen postgraduate education in Africa.


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