Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Biotechnology issues to be addressed at meeting

February 21, 2001


Can you tell me more about the biotechnology meeting that you and Farm Bureau are sponsoring? I saw a flyer on it at a grocery store.

Yes, let me tell you about it. Biotechnology is one of the areas receiving a great deal of attention from the media, consumers, agricultural producers, environmentalists and the list goes on.

To respond to many of the questions and concerns being raised about biotechnology, the Douglas County Farm Bureau and K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County have planned an educational seminar to address these issues.

The seminar, titled "Biotechnology How Is It Affecting Our Food Industry?," will be 7 p.m. Monday in Building 21 at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper streets.

Topics addressed during the seminar will include: why scientists are genetically altering plants; what the benefits and risks to farmers, processors, consumers and the environment are; what the social and ethical impacts of biotechnology are; and who's monitoring its development and implementation.

Anyone who's interested in learning more about food biotechnology is welcome and encouraged to attend. The seminar is free, and we are not asking for any advanced pre-registration.

Who are the presenters for the seminar?

We are excited to have Kansas State University, Kansas University and the Kansas Rural Center represented on the panel of experts.

To kick off the presentation, Robert Bowden, an Extension plant pathologist from K-State and a member of the Biotechnology Action Team, will identify what biotechnology and genetic engineering is. In addition, he will discuss crop production issues and the potential benefits of biotechnology.

Chip Taylor, a professor of entomology with KU's Kansas biological sciences department, will address concerns about the effects of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterflies. He also will share the regulatory process that genetically engineered foods and organisms are subjected to before they are released for use.

Dan Nagengast, a local farmer and executive director of the Kansas Rural Center, will discuss issues related to the economics of biotechnology and its effects on U.S. markets and international trade. Nagengast also will share information on what is being done in the science of biotechnology to address world hunger.

Karen Penner, a food science specialist with K-State Research and Extension, will share information on proposed labeling of biotech foods, food safety issues related to it and consumer attitudes and level of acceptance.

Following the speakers, there will be an opportunity for the panel to respond to questions from the audience.

How can I find out more information on biotechnology?

In addition to attending the seminar, visit our Web site at for updates on regulatory and legislative issues, as well as what K-State is doing in the way of biotechnology research and who's working on it. The site also has numerous links to other biotechnology-related Web sites.

What foods contain cholesterol?

I have found that the best way to answer this question is to ask yourself, "Did the food originally have a liver?" If it did not have a liver, then it does not have cholesterol.

Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver of humans and animals. Therefore, only foods of animal origin contain cholesterol, including meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, egg yolk and dairy products.

Foods of plant origin have no cholesterol. These include vegetables, fruits, grains (which are made into cereals and flours), nuts and seeds, and vegetable oils.

However, that does not mean that you only have to be concerned about foods of animal origin if you are watching your blood cholesterol levels. Blood cholesterol is influenced by three factors: the amount of dietary cholesterol eaten, the body's control of cholesterol production and the types of fatty acids eaten.

In the typical American diet, the saturated fat content is the strongest contributor to raising blood cholesterol. The cholesterol in foods also contributes, but to a much lesser extent than saturated fat.

Can you explain the difference between brown rice and regular white rice?

Brown rice has the added advantage of having extra vitamin E and fiber because only the outer hull is removed during processing, leaving the brown bran layer. Longer cooking time is needed because of the firmer texture, which makes the rice chewier, with a nutlike flavor.

For regular white rice, the hull and bran have been removed during processing. A thin coating of vitamins is applied to each grain to restore nutrients. So, avoid rinsing unless specified on the package.

Shorter grained rice is softer and stickier. Long grain rice is best for all purpose use.

Parboiled or converted rice is treated before milling to retain the natural vitamin and mineral content. It takes a little longer to cook than regular rice.

Wild rice actually isn't rice but a seed from an American aquatic grass, the zizania plant.

Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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