Newsletter ALFA #1 - January 2014

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Dear Readers,

Finally, it’s here. The new Newsletter ALFA (Agriculture, Low-carbon technologies and Food sciences in America) from the Office for Science and Technology in Chicago has arrived! What doesn’t change? Everything you liked! What changes? A couple of things. Here they are:
-  New name, new visual identity, better identification;
-  Thematic ranking of articles selected: easier way to find what really matters for you. A couple of news from France in each thematic will complete each panel;
-  New topics: Guest news, Seen on the web, Structure of the month.

Once again, thank you for the suggestions you have sent in the satisfaction survey. This result is partly yours, and we hope you will appreciate it as much as we love providing you with the best information monthly. Don’t hesitate to share this around you!

Enough talking, let’s share science. Three highlights this month, focused on French opportunities in sciences:
-  Office for Science & Technology (section of Boston) of the Embassy of France in the United States of America launches its call for projects 2014: Franco-American Technology Transfer Projects;
-  The French President launching the “Innovation 2030 Worldwide Challenge” as part of the Innovation 2030 Commission;
-  Office for Science & Technology (section of Los Angeles) of the Embassy of France in the United States of America launches its call for projects 2014: "LIFE SCIENCES: inventing - creating - having fun".

Enjoy your reading!

Marc Rousset, Scientific attaché
Simon Ritz, Deputy Scientific attaché

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  • Structure of the month
  • Get in touch with ALFA science
  • Highlights

    Call for project 2014: Franco-American Technology Transfer Projects - Jan. 21
    Since its lauch in 2007, the "France-USA Technology Transfer Exchange program" (FATTE) was in operation thanks to the C.U.R.I.E network and the Office for Science and Technology of the Embassy of France in the United-States (Boston section). Around twenty stays for the technology transfer managers coming from various sectors (universities, research organizations, etc) were organized through this program. They contributed to the start collaborative activities between both countries, but also to help French technology transfer managers to develop an international mindset. Read more

    France Launches its “Innovation 2030 Worldwide Challenge” - Jan. 10
    On April 18, 2013, the President of the French Republic launched the Innovation 2030 Commission, chaired by Anne Lauvergeon and under the aegis of the Minister for Industrial Renewal and the Minister Delegate with responsibility for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Innovation and the Digital Economy. In an effort to confront the major challenges of the world of 2030, the Commission singled out a select number of key opportunities with very significant implications for the French economy. Read more

    Call for projects 2014: "LIFE SCIENCES: inventing - creating - having fun" - Jan. 9
    The Office for Science & Technology (section of Los Angeles) of the Embassy of France in the United States of America will financially support participations to scientific competitions, contests and games specializing in Life Sciences. The Office for Science & Technology hopes this program will encourage students and researchers to participate in exchanges with the United States and France, as well as initiate collaborations between French and American scientists, and promote scientific research and practice. Read more


    In the US

    Extensive Use of Antibiotics in Agriculture Creating Public Health Crisis, Study Shows - Dec. 26

    Citing an overabundance in the use of antibiotics by the agriculture and aquaculture industries that poses a threat to public health, economics professor Aidan Hollis has proposed a solution in the form of user fees on the non-human use of antibiotics. Read more

    Small-acre crops and the farm bill - Dec. 22

    It’s as old as ancient Egypt, as modern as gluten-free diets. It will never be as pretty as corn, but pheasants on the Great Plains love it for habitat. And in an age of climate change, it’s the grain that endures through drought and heat. Welcome to the world of sorghum: the red-headed stepchild at the end of the farm bill table — all grown up and well, almost cool. Read more

    A One-Stop Shop for Organics, with Lots in Store - Dec. 18

    As an organic farmer, I know how frustrating it can be to search the internet for information that might help my operation. It might be there somewhere but finding it takes precious time, especially if I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for. Now, USDA has solved part of that problem with a centralized web resource center on for all the programs, services, and data we have that support organic agriculture. Not only is this web resource center a “one-stop shop” for information about organics at USDA, but there is lots in store! Read more

    On-Farm Experimentation - Dec 2013

    Rich Bennett, who raises corn, soybeans, wheat and cover crop seed in Napoleon, Ohio, relies on research to support his management… but not just research from professional scientists outside the farm. Bennett experiments
    on-farm, using his own equipment and land (Sare, 2004). The value in on-farm research, he said, is gaining information you can trust. “A farmer will learn more about his soils and stretch to be more efficient,” said Bennett. Read more

    Dramatic decline in industrial agriculture could herald ’peak food’ - Dec. 19

    Most conventional yield projection models are oblivious to the real world say US researchers: industrial agriculture could be hitting fundamental limits in its capacity to produce sufficient crops to feed an expanding global population according to new research published in Nature Communications. Read more

    In France

    SIA 2014: new technologies and urban agriculture in the spotlight - Jan. 6

    At a time when intempestive statements multiply about the French decline, President of the International Agricultural Show (SIA), Jean-Luc Poulain, wants to prove that "our [French] agriculture is not the type to watch the train passing without jumping in it". The theme of the SIA 2014, which will open its doors on Feb. 22, is "Agriculture in motion." Read more (in French)

    Low-carbon energies

    In the US

    Researchers find simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency - Jan. 3

    Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent. Polymer-based solar cells have two domains, consisting of an electron acceptor and an electron donor material. Excitons are the energy particles created by solar cells when light is absorbed. Read more

    Low-Cost Biodiesel Production - Jan. 2

    As federal biodiesel policy uncertainty rises, low-cost biodiesel production with new technologies to allow processing of cheaper, lower quality feedstocks, is paramount. Biodiesel Magazine provides a cross-section of new technologies being deployed. Read more

    Montana State University research on algal biofuels keys larger study - Jan. 2

    BOZEMAN – There is a lab in the engineering complex at Montana State University where grow lights stay on night and day, even during the winter holiday season, nurturing various bubbling containers of bright green algae. The room is at the heart of a broad research effort to shed light on a possible renewable energy source of the future. Read more

    Grow a garden in your kitchen or create a new form of CSA with GrowCubes - Jan 1

    When I walked into the NYC Resistor hackerspace in Brooklyn last October, a set of large glass cases quickly drew me over. Inside, a ferris wheel-like circle of platforms punched with holes stood ready to begin turning. I couldn’t imagine what they could possibly be for. I later caught up with one of the creators of the mysterious cubes: Chris Beauvois, an NYC Resistor member who told me that they are called GrowCubes and serve as a controlled environment to efficiently grow plants indoors. After growing steadily for three years, Beauvois said GrowCubes is nearing the moment where it will be ready to place units in homes. Read more

    Start-Up Uses Plant Seeds for a Biofuel- Dec. 24

    SAN DIEGO — In an unmarked greenhouse, leafy bushes carpet an acre of land here tucked into the suburban sprawl of Southern California. The seeds of the inedible, drought-resistant plants, called jatropha, produce a prize: high-quality oil that can be refined into low-carbon jet fuel or diesel fuel. Read more

    In France

    Field trial with lignin modified poplars shows potential for bio-based economy - Dec. 30

    The results of a field trial with genetically modified poplar trees in Zwijnaarde, Belgium, shows that the wood of lignin modified poplar trees can be converted into sugars in a more efficient way. These sugars can serve as the starting material for producing bio-based products like bio-plastics and bio-ethanol. Read more


    Food Sciences

    In the US

    The power of packaging in consumer choices - Jan. 7

    When it comes to deciding what food to eat, one might expect that people’s choices will be driven by past experience and personal preference, but how does the general appearance of the package impact buying decisions of consumers? Scientists believe colorful or otherwise noticeable food packages predispose where people look, how long they examine certain options and ultimately, influence which foods they choose, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more

    Healthier kid’s meal choices may impact calorie intake - Jan. 2

    A study published in the Obesity Journal shows that children can eat a favorite fast-food meal and still cut calories. In 2012, McDonald’s made changes to its Happy Meal to improve the nutritional quality of the children’s meal. Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers Brian Wansink and Andrew Hanks analyzed more than 230,0000 transactions from 30 representative McDonald’s restaurants to document whether the change led to more healthful meal selections. Read more

    Why we will need Genetically Modified Foods - Dec. 17

    Signs of late blight appear suddenly but predictably in Ireland as soon as the summer weather turns humid, spores of the funguslike plant pathogen wafting across the open green fields and landing on the wet leaves of the potato plants. This year it began to rain in early August. Within several weeks, late blight had attacked a small plot of potatoes in the corner of the neat grid of test plantings at the headquarters of Teagasc, Ireland’s agricultural agency, in Carlow. Read more

    Pediatricians urge consumption of only pasteurized dairy products - Dec. 16

    Pregnant women, infants and young children should avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products and only consume pasteurized products, according to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Read more

    Over 95% of food and beverage ads on children’s programming are unhealthy products: Study - Dec. 20

    Industry attempts to self-regulate the advertising of food and drinks on children’s television programs are ‘unsuccessful’ and ‘ineffective’, says a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Read more

    In France

    How do the fibers protect us from diabetes and obesity - Jan. 9

    It is well known by researchers that a diet rich in fiber protects the body from obesity and diabetes. However, the involved mechanisms eluded them for twenty years. A franco-Swedish team including researchers from CNRS, Inserm and Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, has elucidated the mechanism in which are involved the intestinal flora and the ability of the intestine to produce glucose between meals. These results, published in the journal Cell from 9 January 2014, further clarify the role of the gut and its associated microorganisms in maintaining blood sugar levels. They also will offer new dietary recommendations to avoid diabetes and obesity. Read more

    What do you think about ’use-by’ dates ? - Jan. 2

    SURVEY - In partnership with ADEME, the CLCV - National Association for the Defence of Consumers and Users - interviewed 2,584 people to identify consumer behavior vis-à-vis the ’best before’ and ’use-by’ dates on food products. The survey shows that consumers do not hesitate to eat products, which, within the meaning of the regulations, are outdated for several days. Conversely, it also reveals that many are still throwing eatable food, which contributes to food waste. Read more (in French)

    Guest News

    We are convinced that you all have some information to share once in a time. Send it to us, we will make a small selection, and will be delighted to promote your researches findings, your event, job opportunities, or whatever interesting in the ALFA fields. Send us your news for February’s Newsletter here!

    Seen on the web

    Bloody Wine Branding

    Red wine may be likened to the blood of Christ, but how about the vital fluid of advertisers? Beaujolais Nouveau AD packaging takes the surprising form of IV bags, intended to play on the concept of freshness, vitality and life-giving gifts. Read more

    Structure of the month

    The French National Institute for Agriculture Research

    In today’s complex climatic, demographic and energy context, agricultural research must deal with major issues on various scales. Preparing worldwide food availability and security by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, and promoting alternative agricultural and forestry practices that can respond to non-reversible climate change are challenges the entire world must face. To deal with these issues, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) produces scientific knowledge and works for economic and social innovation in the areas of food, agriculture and the environment. Discover here

    Get in touch with ALFA science

    Website to see this month

    For the United States information

    Federal agencies : learn about American people’s behavior with food. : discover a scecial focus on green chemistry.

    News articles : News from the United States covering advancements in science and technology (French articles).

    For France information

    Research centers : read about acrylamide in food and its potential cancerigen impact on human health. : meet up with a giant scientific wall hanging in the Montparnasse-Bienvenüe train station in Paris.

    Information centers : News from France on advancements in science and technology (French articles). : Discover the new French agricultural law about agriculture. : learn how an international scientific encounter to study the relationships between agroecology and sociology.

    Coming Events

    Professional Grounds Conference Bell County Expo Center Belton, Texas Jan. 23
    7th Organic Seeds Producers Conference Oregon State University CH2M HILL Alumni Center Corvallis, Oregon Jan. 30 - Feb. 1
    Annual Meeting of Integrated Management of Animal Health Metaprogram INRA Paris, France Feb. 11-12
    Paris International Agriculture Show Parc des expositions, Porte de Versaille Paris, France Feb. 22 - Mar. 2
    Global Food Safety Conference Hilton Anaheim Anaheim, California Feb. 26-28


    French Office for Science and Technology at the Embassy of France in Washington, DC - website:
    Consulate General of France in Chicago - website:


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