Learning about agricultural research that has implications for fighting cancer, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today visited The Ohio State University's Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship, where researchers are studying the development of novel functional foods and components that offer impressive benefits to health. Vilsack's visit coincides with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the land grant university system with the signing of the Morrill Act of 1862.
Today, USDA partners with more than 100 state colleges and universities who in turn have graduated more than 20 million students; produced countless scientific breakthroughs; vastly increased agricultural productivity; and improved the lives of people everywhere.
These land grant universities receive funding for a wide variety of food and agricultural research. Currently, OSU alone has 67 active research and integrated grants competitively awarded through USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
NIFA's flagship competitive grants program established under the 2008 Farm Bill is the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. AFRI makes awards in five challenge areas—childhood obesity prevention, global food security, climate variability, food safety, and sustainable bioenergy—and through foundational and fellowship programs. The AFRI challenge areas will continue to support societal challenge areas where research, education, and extension can achieve significant and measurable outcomes.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, USDA NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.
At OSU, significant research is underway:
Researchers used a $1,275,000 USDA grant to develop a soy-fortified tomato juice that could potentially benefit prostate cancer patients. They also are conducting clinical trials to study the impact of raspberries and a soy bread on certain cancers.
Food scientists are working to increase the absorption of antioxidants by the human body. By encapsulating the antioxidants in plant-based polymers, the researchers will create micro particles that can be broken down in the gastrointestinal tract.
OSU researchers are also studying new and emerging intestinal diseases in swine and cattle. The scientists developed a real-time tool that can detect viruses in swine. This information can help prevent the spread of the disease to animals in other regions or event to humans.