CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

November 15, 2002

Jun 05, 2014 admin

A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Biotech Communications

Research universities play a valuable role in educating the public about emerging technologies. Agricultural biotechnology is an issue that affects everyone, from the food we eat to the fields we farm and the livestock we raise. People want an affordable and healthy food supply -- and the knowledge that the science behind it is sound. UC Davis has led an effort to meet this goal, inviting representatives of land grant institutions across the country to visit campus in January 2001 to compare strategies and philosophies regarding agricultural biotechnology communications. The group -- calling itself the Agricultural Biotechnology Communications (ABC) committee -- met again in Chicago in September 2001 and in Minneapolis in May 2002. ABC’s goal is to disseminate information to the general public regarding agricultural biotechnology. A subcommittee worked for nine months to develop an informational brochure that allows us to participate in the dialogue about the benefits and risks of this new technology. Participants attending the May 2002 meeting of ABC reviewed the content of the brochure in depth, and all feedback was considered in the final version. The brochure was made possible through the significant contributions of Margarita Camarena, senior artist in the CA&ES Dean’s Office, Pat Bailey, science/agriculture writer in UC Davis’ Public Communications, and Rhoda McKnight, director of communications in the CA&ES Dean’s Office. The intent of the ABC group’s brochure is to present a common message across the U.S. and at the same time maintain local identification with our audiences. This eliminates duplicated efforts and expenses, and unifies our primary messages. Each member institution agreed to print the brochure in whatever quantities it needed for local distribution. Suggestions at our meeting included distribution to supermarkets, Cooperative Extension (CE) advisors and specialists, Master Gardener and 4-H programs, county CE offices, high school science teachers and long-range scientific education programs. The next meeting of the ABC group will be held in Seattle in May 2003 and hosted by Oregon State University. We’ll discuss the impact of this first communication effort, follow-up on efforts to build a common Web site, and plan to produce topical “white papers” that will be available online. All of us are looking forward to informing the public and our educational communities on this important issue.

You can read the ABC brochure

Neal K. Van Alfen
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
[email protected]

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Joy Mench Receives Humane Society Award
The Humane Society of the United States recently honored Joy Mench, professor in the animal science department, with an award for her animal welfare course -- Animal Science 103. The 2002 Animals and Society Award is intended to encourage high-quality college curricula and instruction in animal welfare. In addition to a certificate of excellence, Joy will receive $1,000 for use in course development. Mench’s course examines animal welfare from the animals' point of view. Who are animals, and what do they experience? Which practices compromise their welfare, and which do not? How can management practices and environments be modified to improve the welfare of animals?

Animals and Society Awards

Joy A. Mench
Department of Animal Science
[email protected]
(530) 752-7125

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Christine Bruhn and Irradiated Meat
Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for Consumer Research, told the Washington Post that supermarkets have been slow to adopt meat irradiation technology even though it has been around for nearly 40 years. Many surveys, she said, suggest that 80 percent of consumers are eager to buy irradiated food and 80 percent recognize the names salmonella and E. coli. "It's a no-brainer for the supermarkets," Bruhn said. In another article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bruhn explains why she supports irradiation.

Wasihington Post article
San Francisco Chronicle article

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Appreciating Vernon Singleton
Vernon Singleton, professor emeritus in the viticulture and enology department, received the Outstanding Food Science Award from his alma mater, Purdue University. The award was created in 2000 by the food science department at Purdue to pay tribute to alumni who have “brought honor to Purdue” through unique and outstanding careers in food science. Singleton’s research at UC Davis focused on the reactions of phenolic compounds with oxygen -- compounds that influence the natural character of wine. Singleton was hired by UC Davis in 1958.

Vernon Singleton
Professor Emeritus
Department of Viticulture and Enology
(530) 752-0384

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Mel George Profiled in Breaktime
Mel George, specialist in Cooperative Extension in the agronomy and range science department, was recently interviewed in Dateline’s “Breaktime” section. He discussed his love of agricultural work and his farming roots that extend back 15 generations. George has an interest in genealogy. Last year at the annual conference of the Society for Range Management he presented a poster of photos and vignettes describing his ancestry, “Missouri Roots, Five Centuries of Farming and Western Migration.”

Read the entire articleonline

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Juan Medrano Wins Guatemalan Science Award
Juan Medrano, professor in the animal science department, recently received the 2001 Medal of Science and Technology of Guatemala in recognition of his research achievements. The vice president of Guatemala and the head of Congress presented the award to him. Medrano was the fifth person selected for this award, which is given annually to scientists nominated by their colleagues. Medrano has research projects in milk composition, identification of the high growth gene in mice, and sex determination in sturgeon and rainbow trout.

Juan Medrano
Department of Animal Science
[email protected]
(530) 752-6786

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R. Ford Denison Appears on NPR
R. Ford Denison, professor in the agronomy and range science department, recently spoke on National Public Radio (NPR) about farming issues in California’s Central Valley. He runs a project designed to study long-term sustainable agricultural practices over the next 100 years. “Farmers are going to need to recognize that they have to negotiate on these issues,” Denison said. “And I think many farmers are aware that environmental issues are important and they're concerned about environmental issues. And it's going to mean environmentalists meeting farmers halfway. I mean, if everybody insists on, you know, having it 100 percent their way, then we're going to end up with wall-to-wall subdivisions, and that's going to be sad for everybody.”

NPR transcrpt

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Geographic Information Systems Open House
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the university will hold an open house to promote the contributions that geographic information systems (GIS) technology is making in communities. GIS' many uses include planning wildfire emergency responses; predicting groundwater contamination; monitoring endangered species; and improving land-use planning. Part of global GIS Day, the Davis festivities include short presentations and displays highlighting the work of campus GIS and remote-sensing users. Posters and demonstrations from federal and state agency partners based in Sacramento also will be featured. Sponsors of GIS Day include the National Geographic Society, the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) and Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). The open house will be held in the Memorial Union, Room MU II, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Karen Willet
GIS Manager
Department of Environmental Science and Policy
[email protected]
(530) 752-5678

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Beefed up Marketing
As the cost of cattle production has risen dramatically but the income of cattle ranchers has stayed the same, UC farm advisors like Glenn Nader in Cooperative Extension are helping beef producers capture more income for each dollar spent. Nader has worked with cattle ranchers in Yuba, Sutter and Butte counties, using UC research and other industry innovations to enhance beef marketing efforts. "Ranchers need to find a niche to compete with the big guys," Nader said. "We are moving them from marketing a commodity, live calves, to a product, processed meat, which is a major difference." According to Nader, the key to keeping costs down and finding that market niche is transportation. Ranchers must be close to a beef processing plant, as well as a community with disposable income. Another area Nader has been working on is weaning, the process of separating a calf from its mother. Ranchers usually lock the calves in a corral and the mothers are taken away to a pasture. This separation, changes in the physical environment and a new diet of hay instead of grass put the calves through a great deal of stress. With research developed by UC Davis animal scientist Ed Price and Nader, new weaning techniques are producing healthier calves and, in the long run, a better consumer product. "Fence line weaning" separates the calves and their mothers by only a fence. The calves don't become emotionally stressed and it keeps them out of a corral.

For more information visit theANR Website

Glenn Nader
Farm Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension
(530) 822-7515

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CA&ES Research Funding
CA&ES received $80 million in research funding in 2001-02. Overall, UC Davis researchers received a total of $356.9 million in 2001-02, representing a 20 percent increase over 2000-01. Last year was the ninth consecutive year that campus research funding broke the previous year’s record. According to the National Science Foundation’s most recent reports (2000), UC Davis ranks 17th among all the nation’s universities and colleges in total research and development expenditures. The same reports rank the campus first in the nation in research and development funding in the agricultural sciences. In non-federal research and development expenditures, UC Davis ranks sixth of all the nation’s universities and colleges.

More information

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The Truth About Mealybugs
After several years of careful laboratory and field tests, UC Davis scientists confirmed in a recent issue of California Agriculture that four California species of mealybug could serve as vectors for grapevine leafroll disease. Found in grape-growing regions worldwide, the virus-caused disease reduces the productivity and quality of wine and table grapes. This marked the first experimental evidence of several mealybug species transmitting the grapevine virus.

The article is available online as aPDF

Deborah Golino
Foundation Plant Materials Service
[email protected]
(530) 754-8102

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It’s Harvest Time
Harvest timing has a profound effect on the returns that growers obtain for alfalfa hay. Hay harvested early is of higher forage quality and fetches a better price, while later harvests result in lower quality grades but greatly improved yields. A decision model developed by UC scientists -- based on two years of field data -- helps alfalfa farmers in the intermountain region to calculate the optimal harvest timing and maximize crop returns. This research appeared in California Agriculture.

The article is available online as aPDF

Steve Orloff
Cooperative Extension Advisor
ANR North Coast and Mountain Region
[email protected]
(530) 842-2711

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Rice’s Sensitivity to Salinity
Rice is much more sensitive to salinity than previous guidelines suggest but proper water management can limit impacts on yield, UC Davis researchers report in California Agriculture. An important California field crop, rice was grown on about 470,000 acres in 2001, with a production value of $138 million. Cultivated under flooded conditions, it is one of the state's most salt-sensitive crops. To reduce pesticide contamination from their fields into natural waterways, rice growers coordinated with water regulatory agencies to begin restricting drainage water discharges in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, within several years some rice growers began noticing yield reductions. Researchers found that by altering water management practices -- such as adding water during the plant's most salt-sensitive growth stages -- growers can reduce yield impacts while protecting the environment.

Steve Grattan
Water Relations Specialist
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
[email protected]
(530) 752-1130

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Knights Landing Playground Ribbon Cutting
On Nov. 20, a formal ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at the new playground at Grafton Elementary School in Knights Landing. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. Patsy Eubanks Owens, associate professor in the environmental design department, and her students have been major contributors to the development and design of the playground. In addition, the Grafton school group known as the X-Treme Team played a major role in building the playground. This story is a reflection of school-university connections, community development and youth development.

James I. Grieshop
Cooperative Extension Specialist
Department of Human and Community Development
[email protected]
(530) 752-3008

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Crop Production and Marketing Workshop
The workshop “Identity Preservation in Crop Production and Marketing,” will be held Nov. 19 at the Heidrick Ag History Center in Woodland. Sponsored by the UC Davis Extension, the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center and the California Crop Improvement Association, it runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The fee of $165 includes tuition, materials and lunch. Enroll in section 022AGR104.

More information is available at theUC Davis Extension Website

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Agricultural Labor Law Workshop
The workshop, “Agricultural Labor Law,” will be held Dec. 19 at the Western Center for Agricultural Equipment on campus. Sponsored by the UC Davis Extension, the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center and the California Crop Improvement Association, it runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fee of $165 includes tuition, materials and lunch. Enroll in section 022AGR103.

More information is available at theUC Davis Extension Website

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Arboretum Events
On, Dec. 7, the UC Davis Arboretum will hold a “Holiday Wreath-making Workshop” from 9 a.m. until noon at the Bowley Science Center. Instructor Eleanor Buehler, an experienced floral designer and Arboretum docent, will demonstrate the construction of wreaths in both the traditional style, using evergreen conifer foliage, and with a regional flair, using California native plants. Each participant will make a wreath to take home. On Dec. 11, join Arboretum superintendent Warren Roberts for a lunchtime stroll in the Arboretum. Enjoy late autumn in the garden, with colorful berries and foliage, learn about the Arboretum's collections, and get a little exercise. Meet at noon at Arboretum headquarters, on LaRue Road. For More Information: UC Davis Arboretum (530) 752-4880

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Wagner Exhibition Extended
The retrospective exhibition, "D.R. Wagner: The Master," currently showing in the Design Museum, has been extended through Nov. 22, 2002. Hours are Monday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 17, 2 to 4 p.m.

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Exhibition Openings
A clothing design by Bonnie Wells, a second-year MFA student in textile arts and costume design, was selected for "Wearable Expressions 2002/2003," the fourth international biennial juried exhibition for wearable art at the Berkland Gallery, Palos Verdes Art Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Wells' creation, "Money Coat," is one of a series she is producing on narrative clothing, or clothing with content. Its theme concerns women and their relationship to money -- or the lack of it. The exhibition runs Nov. 15 to Jan. 5. Textile pieces by George Chen (MFA '98) and Susan Taber Avila (MFA '96) are included in "Bay Area Art V," Nov. 8 to Dec. 14 at Napa Valley College Fine Arts Gallery, 500 Main Street, Napa. The opening reception is Friday, Nov. 15, 7 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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CA&ES Currents, the faculty/staff newsletter of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, is distributed every other Friday. News deadline is noon Monday preceding Friday publication. Send inquiries to Ann Filmer, [email protected]



Issue Editor:


Clifton Parker

(530) 752-6556

[email protected]



Contributors: Donna Gutierrez, Thomas Kaiser, Susan Kancir, Rhoda McKnight, Neal Van Alfen, John Weston.


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