Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy


Food Factor I Barcelona Conference, 2016-11-02, 2016-11-04, Barcelona

Food Processing & Technology, 2016-08-10, 2016-08-12, London (UK)

“Florence and Exhibitions and Exhibitions in Florence. Agriculture, Science, and Food (1851 – 1911)”, 2015-05-12, 2015-07-28, Firenze

Designing a Resilient Future: Food, Technology, and Sustainable Development, 2015-05-20, 2015-05-20, Milano

Preconference workshop of food technology 2015 conference “Frontiers in food science for feeding the world”, 2015-06-15, 2015-06-15, Pisa

8th Forum for the Future of Agriculture , 2015-03-31, 2015-03-31, Brussels, Belgium

Memories about Silviero Sansavini

Marketing rules for animal products

A safe refrigerator

The refrigerator today has almost become a synonym for food pantry because it is an important appliance for preserving the freshness of foods which can last longer if kept at a low temperature or protected against from the oxygen that causes oxidation. Frozen and deep frozen food is not considered fresh.
A refrigerator must be at the right temperature, neither too low nor too high, ranging between 4-6°C on the various shelves. Nor should it also be too full, especially if it is not ventilated. For this reason, it is best to choose a refrigerator model with a control thermometer and an external display.
If the temperature in the refrigerator is too low, foods freeze and lose their freshness. With temperatures above 7°C, foods not only lose their freshness, but the microbes that alter foodstuffs can also multiply dangerously, even causing severe food infections and poisoning. In industrialized countries, where almost all families have a refrigerator, it is estimated that only 3% of food accidents result from production whereas the remaining 97% originate in the kitchen during food handling, and is mainly due to improper storage in the refrigerator. 

A new approach to evaluate the environmental footprint of crop and animal food production

The Food and Agriculture Organization has recently estimated that ˜ 15% of the world’s population is chronically hungry nowadays, and that even more suffer from nutritional inadequacy. About 1-billion face an inadequate protein intake, causing a variety of nutritional deficiencies, impaired growth, poor health etc. Prospectively, ˜ 70–100% more food than that produced today will be required by 2050. Therefore, a dramatic increase in the demand of land, the need for increased efficiency in the food production system, and/or a reconsideration of dietary habits in the perspective of human requirements, are to be expected in the near future.
In this regard, the environmental footprint of animal food production is considered several-fold greater than that of crops cultivation.

Officinal and aromatic plants in the history of nations

In the past, the term "drug" meant anything that was able to heal. It could be vegetable, animal, mineral substances or incantations, spells, amulets, etc. The essential thing was to escape death. This led to the birth of numerous imaginative practices that only today can be said to have been almost completely abandoned. Speaking of plants,
 the theory of "signatures" is well-known, which tied the plant’s medicinal effectiveness to its outward shape. Because it has lobed leaves with lower face a wine red, Hepatica nobilis was thought to be useful in treating the liver, and so on. Of course, under the congeries of multiform beliefs and information, "reason" gradually succeeded in understanding what could objectively be of use to the patient.

Is your football team playing badly? It may be air pollution. And what's happening to plants?

Football fans have thousands of reasons to justify the, at times, lackluster athletic performances of their idols. Apart, obviously, from “conspiracy theories” and referee plots, they range from the size and state of the pitch, the color of the t-shirts, the bouncing capacity of the ball, and other theories. A recent article published in The Guardian  has introduced a new element: air pollution.  In fact, a group of German researchers has analyzed the correlations between air quality outside Bundesliga football pitches and player performance by counting successful passes and the conclusions are worrying. 
Toxic substances, even below the threshold allowed by environmental regulations, are responsible for significant reductions in the parameters chosen.

Nanotechnology on the table

Nanomaterials are materials with at least one of measurements between one and one hundred nanometers. A nanometer (i.e., one millionth of a millimeter) is fifty thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and so we are in a universe invisible to the human eye. It is a solid whose surface is one-centimeter square. If we divide this solid into millions of particles, the surface increases by a millionfold, and hence there is a huge increase in surface area and thus a better use of their properties, with a drastic reduction in the quantity used. Nanomaterials have applications in various fields - electronics, pharmaceuticals, energy, environment, food, packaging, textiles, cosmetics, etc. - which have not yet been fully explored still today.
The physical properties of materials and nanocomposites in particular also affect foods, in an orientation that tends to favor physical rather than chemical treatments, with the latter being increasingly opposed by the public. The possible food applications of nanomaterials are diverse, covering also food and especially their packaging for now.

Bioeconomy: an important driving force for economic and industrial revival

The world’s population is bound to increase further. It is estimated that there will be at least 9 billion people by 2050 and that agricultural production will have to rise by at least 70% to feed them. At the same time, some of the traditional, non-renewable commodities are starting to run out. It is estimated that we currently consume natural resources as if we had at our disposal a planet and a half and that if the whole world consumed the same amount of natural resources as the average of the OECD countries, it would be as if we had three planets instead of one. One possible solution is represented by greater and better development of biological and renewable resources to produce greater quantities of higher quality foods and fodder, but also chemical and fuels thus guaranteeing food safety and quality, reduced environmental pollution and climate change as well as new market and employment opportunities. 
Bioeconomy’s priorities include agriculture, forestry, sustainable fishing and aquaculture, food safety and quality, paper and forest production, bioindustry and biorefineries, and the management and promotion of marine resources and internal waters. Bioeconomy is an important pillar of the European economy, with an annual turnover of 2.1 trillion euro and about 20 million jobs, and of the Italian economy, with an annual turnover  of about 250 billion euro and 2 million jobs.

Beware of vegan diets for newborn babies

News of children sent to hospital with severe forms of malnutrition due to a vegan diet imposed by their parents has begun to multiply. The vegan ideology, and its most uncompromising version (fruitarian), is affecting more and more people, usually from highly educated groups. These food choices may be understandable, even if not justifiable, for adults, but forcing children to adopt a diet lacking in animal-derived products may expose them to severe risks for their health and psycho-physical development.
We are talking about ideology because, after being weaned, herbivores in nature are anatomically and physiologically equipped to digest vegetable fibers and proteins with the help of bacteria and protozoans that produce both proteins having a high biological value, like those contained in meat as well as the especially indispensable B-group vitamins. Being omnivores that developed in a food niche where meat had a fundamental role (we were hunter-gatherers for millions of years), humans cannot synthesize these essential nutrients. Thus if they eat only vegetables, they must use artificial food supplements whose efficacy in terms of nutrient bioavailability cannot be compared to that of foods. 

Land Grabbing also hits Europe

SELENIUM-ENRICHMENT in plants grown for food

Revenge of real foods on light foods

Low-fat milk, light butter, fat-free cheeses, lean meats, mayonnaise without oil, sugar-free biscuits and so on are some of the many “light” and “-free” foods whose days, for various reasons, seem to be numbered.
The first reason is that they have not had the hoped-for results as consumers, to the great pleasure of sellers and producers, often tend to eat larger quantities of lean or light food but with a terrible effect on their diet being merely excuses to binge, with the thought that “after all, they’re light”.
Moreover, many important properties are especially lost in making natural foods “light”.

Nutritional profiles and traffic light labelling: do we really need them?

How to restore soil functionality in degraded areas of vineyards


Organic agriculture cannot save us. Genome editing can.

The role of legumes in limiting agricultural consumption of fossil fuels and the greenhouse effect

Cocoa, an ancient drug that fights modern "illnesses"

The interest in chocolate comes from the publication by Crichton et al. (Appetite 2016, 100: 126-132), that states the consumption of chocolate is associated with a better cognitive function as well as from the Siena artisanal chocolate festival which takes place in March and lasts five days. For the fifth time, it hosted the most important Italian chocolate manufacturers. This brief article will try recount in general terms the history of chocolate and its nutraceutical functions.
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) is a small tree originally from South America whose 10-15 cm long pods contain some beans. The Maya and Aztec population migrations spread through central America, moreover, considering it the “food of the gods” and using it as divine offerings. These peoples also believed that the plant could grant immortality.

Mohammed, food and the mountain

Mass emigration today is now encompassing the whole planet as even outside Europe there are similar exoduses such as those to the United States from Mexico, to South Africa from neighboring countries and from Nigeria, and from China to Russia, across the Ussuri River, as well as towards every continent.
Today more than ever, the planet is characterized by economic imbalances and huge differences in living standards while news that once circulated only in restricted circles has now been globalized through electronic devices that acquaint everyone with what New York’s Fifth Avenue is like, how appealing the window displays on Via Condotti or Via Monte Napoleone in Italy are, which cars are used and what foods are being eaten in Europe and the United States, etc.  
However, by applying the Muslim saying “if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”, today’s refugees from hunger (different from those fleeing war and slaughter) are leaving their native lands to come to wealthy countries, even risking very dangerous sea crossings as they are no longer receiving the Euro-American aid that they got until a few years ago.

Biodynamic agriculture and university education

It is an absolute must to properly discuss with university students everything about our times especially if the facts, products, processes, and even fashions have some bearing on university courses. Therefore, it certainly seems fair to discuss biodynamic agriculture fairly, especially in all the agricultural courses, so as to give students sound information on its basic principles and the techniques that make it work. From here to formulate ad hoc training courses, we have to go a long way and we will try to explain our concerns, striving to distinguish this form of agriculture from organic farming. The latter, organic farming, has now established itself with a wide range of products and with a substantial proportion of consumers who prefer them to traditional ones. 
Is biodynamic farming based on the use of specific techniques, like traditional and organic farming? The answer is certainly yes, but it is necessary to consider the merits of these technical means so as to make a careful and accurate assessment. 
Do cultivated fields require a supply of nutrients? Of course, and biodynamic farming does not deny this technical operation, but it is carried out in a very unusual way, with the use of natural substances that are, at times, uniquely prepared. In fact they recommend the "biodynamic preparations" derived from manure, but extremely diluted and used in very small concentrations on crops; or propose derivatives of the cattle horns, which are also used, such as manure, to traditional agriculture, but in very limited quantities as to be homoeopathic; to many skeptics, these practices seem marked by esotericism, therefore devoid of objective scientific basis. Obviously, a cultivation treated with chemicals, either pesticides or fertilizers or, let alone, herbicides cannot be biodynamic. If the synthetic substances now listed are also frequently avoided by organic farming, their absence in biodynamics must be total, as they are opposed to life. 
Not surprisingly, the biodynamic method of cultivation has been inspired by a philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, who lived in Austria from the second half of '800 and the early' 900.

Considerations on the carcinogenicity of red and processed meat

Why does the chinese government want to purchase Syngenta?

Farmers, the reasons for French unrest

Hemp: its present and near future

Donkey’s milk and its nutritional properties

Teff nutritional quality and health benefits

Are genetically modified plants a danger?

There is no reason why plant geneticists must watch helplessly as their research on the genetic modification of plants is subjected to prohibitions. They have suffered in silence for too long and now their voice is being heard.
A European Union regulation leaves it up to member states to regulate the cultivation of genetically modified plants within their borders. In Italy, the State Council has used this as an opportunity to ban both research and production. All this now, while for twenty years, transgenic plants have increasingly been grown worldwide. A little less than 200 million hectares, well over 10% of cultivated areas worldwide, are now destined annually to Genetically Modified Plants (GMP). This, while we feed ourselves with GM-derived plants or animals that are fed with GM plants and feed. Slogans such as "acceptance of the precautionary principle" have led to the premise of destroying plants in the experimental fields (recently with the destruction of transgenic plants at the University of Tuscia). This, while all over the world, species that are more parasite-resistant and have less need of water open up a real possibility to the hungry and the undernourished on the world.
We cannot just ask Italy to respect the role of science on a subject that has already had a huge impact application worldwide. We want to recall that researchers have always studied nature to understand its rules and use them for human progress. Modifications based on the transfer of genes fall within this ongoing process.
Let us start by rebutting claims used by GMP opponents.

The collapse in commodity prices

It may be the fact that China has bought less, that harvests in some countries were plentiful, or for some other complex reasons. In any case, the result is that the world prices of many commodities, including wheat, have dropped to very low levels.
Of course, aflatoxin-infected wheat costs even less and hence the reason a commodity that cannot be used by law has arrived in an Italian port. 
Yet the underlying problem of this condition of the European agricultural market is in the common agricultural policy, an unfortunate choice by the EU legislature backed by the consensus of many, too many politicians. For a long time, the EC and the USA sent massive quantities of foodstuffs or the seeds to produce them to such non-aligned states as Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Chad, etc. In many questionable, perhaps even despicable respects, they tolerated the presence of dictators like Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.
Those who believed these were humanitarian actions or were carried out to allow exporting the huge surpluses accumulated because of the agricultural policies of the planet’s two most powerful food and economic entities were mistaken. They were foreign policy actions to maintain the previously-mentioned states within the Western sphere of influence in order to contain Soviet expansionism, which had its wings clipped when it came to food products, given the permanent agricultural production crises in Russia and Ukraine.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the EC and the USA decided to change policy also because Europe no longer had any interest in protecting the stabilizing element of power represented by farmers. As I said at a meeting organized by an association of farmers, the “Berlin wall” did not fall on the “communists”, but rather on the European farmers. 

Opening of Georgofili Academy’s 263rd year

On Friday, 8 April 2016, in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, the opening ceremony for the Georgofili Academy’s 263rd year took place.
President Giampiero Maracchi developed a report entitled: “Scenari del futuro” (Future Scenarios).
The opening address was made by Luca Lazzaroli, Director General of the European Investment Bank, on the topic of “Rilanciare la crescita e la competitività in Europa. L'azione della Banca Europea per gli Investimenti” (Re-Launching Growth And Competitiveness in Europe. The European Investment Bank’s Intervention)
After awarding the 2016  Antico Fattore Prize and the Prosperitati Publicae Augendae Prize, the international section of the Georgofili Academy gave special recognition to  the “Manifesto dei Giovani”, a young people’s manifesto, sponsored by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, which contains suggestions for solving the paradoxes of the food system.

Following are some excerpts from the speech by Giampiero Maracchi, president of the Georgofili Academy. 

1. The world in crisis
The starting point is to acknowledge the fact that the world is in crisis, a structural crisis that concerns climate and environment because, for twenty years, we have used more resources that those available. We have huge problems disposing of garbage and soil has lost fertility. This crisis has also been determined by the unbalanced relationship between urban and rural centers: just think of Shanghai, with its 25 million people. Besides the environmental crisis, there also exists a serious political crisis for which the classical scheme of politics controlling the economy has been inverted with multinationals now in control. Added to this is a crisis of values. In fact, a totally free market does not work. An over-dependence on oil and the wars for oil have disastrous consequences that are there for all to see.

Slow food or techno food?

Aquaculture: birth and modernity

Food preservation in modified atmosphere: some food for thought

MAP is based on the principle of replacing the air in the packaging with a pre-determined gas mixture. MAP technology can be applied to various types of fresh and processed foods. In addition, depending on the nature of the food matrix and the duration of the shelf-life to be attained, it is possible to take action on the following factors:
the type and proportions of gases in the mixes,
 storage temperature,
 packaging types and materials, and
 the treatments provided by the transformation process.
As packaging gases are food additives according to art.20 paragraph b of the EU regulations no. 1169/2011, they are not to be considered as ingredients of the packaged food and, consequently, they are not required to be listed among the ingredients. The only information required is that the packages are marked with "packaged in a protective atmosphere”, according to attachment III, paragraph 1 of the regulations mentioned above. 

Teff an interesting gluten free cereal

UE-US Transatrantic Trade and Investments Partnership negotiations focusing on agriculture

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US). It was expected that the agreement would be finalized by the end of 2014, but it has been rescheduled for 2016. The topics under discussion are divided into three broad areas: Market access; Specific regulation; and broader rules and principles and modes of co-operation. Specific regulation includes an Agriculture regulation which is the focus of the present contribution.
In fact achieving foods and nutrition security today and for a world population that will number more 9 billion and be 70% urbanized by 2050 is a key global challenge. In order to resolve this problem and to tackle other relevant problems after a failure of Doha round negotiations UE and US initiated TTIP. The  main goal of TTIP is to stimulate the import and export of goods and services, by reducing trade barriers between both sides of the Atlantic . From many years ago EU-US disputed for trade agreements and agriculture policies particular accusing each other to distort economy by subsidizing agricultures sector which can interpret as protectionism. Both sides had a lot of discussion at the WTO level, and agriculture sector is still unresolved problem. Despite of failures of Doha round negotiations, it has been said that TTIP agreements is full of opportunities.

Californian oil / Italian oil

In a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine (January 25-31, 2016), an article appeared by Peter Robinson and Vernon Silver with the title “A Californian Olive Grower Says His Oil Is Better Than Italy's”.
The title in itself could be interpreted as praising Italian olive oil. If a Californian olive grower promotes his extra-virgin olive oil by saying that it is better than Italy's, it may be inferred that he considers Italian Extra-Virgin Olive Oils as the touchstone of olive oil quality. The article, however, offers quite a different impression.
Before presenting my point of view, let me first clarify this prejudiced discussion.
I'd never say that Californian oils are of lower quality than Italian oils. Such a statement would be unfair and false. There are very good Californian extra-virgin olive oils (and I know some of them very well), and there are also very common or even bad Italian olive oils (and I know some of them as well). But the approach of the article is questionable and seriously damaging to the reputation of Italian olive oil. Unfortunately, this practice of degrading a product is often exercised around the world, particularly in business competition, and is often aimed against the excellence of some Italian foods.
Now, let's get to the point.
It is misleading to compare a Californian (or any other country's) olive oil produced and sold by its producer with olive oils sold by commercial companies as blends of extra-virgin olive oils of various origin. The article correctly cites Jean-Louis Barjol, the executive director of the International Olive Council (IOC), who said “it is rather a question of commodity vs specialized product”. I totally agree: when we are talking about commodity, the basic tool of competition is price, whereas when we are talking about a specialized product, it is quality that counts.

Germany risks being left without sauerkraut

Climate and diet

Sustainable productivity increase of plant proteins

At the beginning of the new millennium, 4.5 million hectares in the EU were cultivated with rapeseed, sunflowers, and soya beans and, based on the reduction of the aid provided by Agenda 2000 for the sector, the European Commission foresaw a contraction of about 700,000 hectares (in particular, the predicted decreases in production for 2006 were -50% for soya beans, -12% for rapeseed, and -10% for sunflowers).
Starting in 2003, oilseeds in Italy have undergone a significant contraction. For agronomical and environmental reasons, a drastic reduction of area for oil-seeds has resulted in an unacceptable simplification of crop rotations involving serious repercussions on the more typical cropping systems.

The expected rapid growth of world urbanization: the Chinese government's revolutionary programs

World urbanization
The expansion of human urbanization – rapidly being carried out in the Asian, African, and South American emerging countries – will have very serious and revolutionary consequences, especially in the international industrial and food sectors.
It means the transfer of hundreds of millions of people from rural to urban areas, from rural to centralized industrial and service activities.
Food production will also have to be reorganized and industrialized in rural areas, to meet the new concentrated and diversified needs typical of urban populations. Obviously, in the meantime, in the wide concerned areas, the mechanization of agricultural cultivation operations will have to substitute the labor used so far. New roads and railway lines will have to be restructured or built to facilitate the trade and industrialization of all rural and urban activities, with special reference to new food needs, from a self-sustainable diet confined to the previous and current rural areas to the concentrated daily needs of wide urban agglomerations. It is therefore clear that agriculture too will have to undergo profound operational and organizational changes. What has been achieved in the last fifty years in industrialized countries can also be implemented in many important emerging countries.

The Chinese Programs
The Chinese government recently decided to carry out a dramatic urbanization program. Out of a total of 1.4 billion inhabitants in China, it is said that, by 2020, as many as 100 million of the current residents of rural areas and employed mainly in agriculture will be relocated to new urban centers and work in industry, trade, and social services. This is said to represent the first phase of a program that foresees 70% of the entire Chinese population becoming urban by 2025. indeed, this new plan expects that 60% of the Chinese population will be living in urban areas by 2020 as compared to the current 54%.

Non-destructive Techniques for Evaluating Fruit Quality

Edible flowers: are they a resource for the future?

New European Union Regulations for Pheromones

Fighting food waste

Four new sites designated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems for innovation, sustainability and adaptability

Global Olive Oil Consumption Slips 7 Percent

Soil degradation in Italy

Soil degradation is a major environmental problem worldwide, and there is strong evidence that the soil degradation processes are an immediate threat to both biomass and economic returns, as well as a long-term threat to future crop yields. The vulnerability of the European soils to the degradation processes is certainly high and it strongly increases in the Italian soils due to the higher variability of the environment.
21.3% of the national soil cover is at risk of desertification (41.1% of centre and south Italy).
Main soil degradation processes are erosion, flooding and landslides, losses of organic matter, sealing, aridity, contamination and salinization following the impact of human activities. 
Soil degradation during the last 40 years caused a decrease of about 30% in their water holding capacity and a proportional shortening of the return time of catastrophic events.
Soil degradation has also caused an impairment of several other eco-services, e.g., quality of foods and landscape. 

At the European level the estimated costs of some aspects of the soil degradation can be the following:
erosion: 0.7 – 14.0 billion €,
organic matter decline: 3.4 – 5.6 billion €,
salinisation: 158 – 321 million €,
landslides: up to 1.2 billion € per event,
contamination: 2.4 – 17.3 billion €,

Since agricultural conventional production systems have resulted in excessive erosion and soil degradation, there is need to control and fight such degradation.
Scientific results have clearly showed that the agricultural management systems can play an important role in preventing soil degradation provide that appropriate management practices are adopted. Long-term field experiments in different types of soils have shown that alternative tillage systems, like minimum tillage, ripper subsoiling, etc., improve the soil structural quality.

Press-related Panic

Is a press preview on increased cancer risks due to meat consumption able, by itself, to throw consumers in a modern developed country into a panic? If we consider what has happened, we must admit that, at least apparently, is exactly what happened. Thus the umpteenth food crisis, which is not a real crisis, started and became a real one when we take the facts and their consequences into consideration. Our consumer, a gourmet with a liking for eating traditions and enthusiastic about good food, is actually a coward and immediately loses his head. It is not the first time, nor will it be the last. The more the importance of food grows, even economically, the more irrational behaviors caused by obscure reasons and primitive fears increase. Recent years have been overrun with examples where panic spread and struck foodstuffs; blue mozzarellas, organic salad with E. coli, chickens flesh with avian flu, and so on. News media exasperated by the need for an ever bigger audience and by dropping sales cannot be an objective information source. It only spreads the most terrifying things, causing absurd and disproportionate reactions. We Italians are among the most fearful consumers of the developed world. If it turns out that the alarms were exaggerated, the damage and a negative recollection still remain to penalize consumption.
We must ask ourselves why this happens and why we are unable to have more effective information. However, perhaps some blame also goes to those who, with good intentions, stand in as defenders of the food under attack. Let us take the case of meat.  The fact of the matter is the risk and its potential increase. The alarm starts precisely from the concept of risk. However, if the consumer does not know what the risk of an event taking place is, he cannot understand what a 1% or 10% increase in risk means. Then fear spreads.

European Parliament Rejects National GMO Bans Proposal

Wednesday October 28, 2015, The European Parliament approved by 577 votes to 75, with 38 abstentions the recommendation, presented by the rapporteur Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), to reject the draft EU law that would have allowed any EU member state to ban or restrict the sale or use of EU-approved GM product in its territory. Parliament Members were concerned that if the law was approved, it would have led to reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries. 
The law could have had negative consequences for agriculture in the EU, which is heavily dependent on protein supplies from GMO sources. It could also have indirect negative effects on imports. Finally, there were concerns over whether this proposal could even be implemented, because there are no border controls in the EU, 
Parliament Members call on the Commission to table a new proposalabout the issue.
European Commissioner for Health and Food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said that the European Commission will not withdraw the legislative proposal, which will be discussed by EU ministers.

New editions related to olive oil and table olives

The bibliography for the biological activity of some minor compounds of olive and olive oil becomes more extensive every day, and a vast amount of published material has been accumulated. Two new books by researchers of the world's most prestigious universities explore the recent knowledge development on olive oil and table olives bioactive constituents and properties of olive oil as a specialty oil and its use in food. The common ground between them, the presence of Prof. Dimitrios Boskou as Editor and author.
Dimitrios Boskou received his diploma and doctor’s degree in chemistry from the School of Chemistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Hellas; his Food Science from the University of London; and a Doctor of Science degree from the School of Chemistry, Aristotle University. He served as an assistant lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and head of the Laboratory of Food Chemistry and Technology, School of Chemistry, Aristotle University (1970–2006). In the period from 1986 to 1998 he was a member of the IUPAC Oils, Fats, and Derivatives Commission. He served as a member of the Supreme Chemical Council, Athens (1995–2005), and a member of the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Commission and an expert of the Food Additives Panel of the European Food Safety Authority (1995–2012).
Dr. Boskou has published over 90 papers and reviews. He is the editor of 7 books and the author of 20 chapters in books related to the major and minor constituents of fats, natural antioxidants, olive oil, and heated fats, published in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, India, and Croatia. He is also a contributor to international scientific encyclopedias and the Lexicon of Lipid Nutrition, a joint IUPAC/IUNS work.
Maria Lisa Clodoveo, corresponding Member of Academy of Georgofili, has co-authored two chapters.

Pessimism does not help

At the closing session of the series of meetings organized at Expo 2015 by Intesa San Paolo, Prof. Jared Diamond from the University of California, 1997 Pulitzer Prize winner, paused over environmental sustainability and the growing gap between the rich and the poor both within individual countries and all over the planet. The press appeared to have understood a strong pessimism, reporting with scaremongering headlines the opinion that we are heading towards the extinction of the entire human race and that the only possible defense is to reduce consumption.
It is only right and proper to make us aware of the risks that are looming over our survival. They are many and include, for example, air pollution and climate change, the disastrous food insecurity and water shortages, the geopolitical confusion and insane abuses that lead to conflicts with ever more devastating weapons, moral disorder that spreads lawlessness, organized crime, corruption, etc., destroying common sense and reason. The risks created by these realities must not however lead to a destructive overall pessimism and inactivity, but rather stimulate our strength of mind to seek new positive ideas, not related to past ideologies based on rules that create poverty.
There are certainly many reasons of concern on which to reflect. But there is no longer time for ideological fights and political disputes. We must make use of past experiences and common sense. While easy manifestations of pessimism, although authoritative and directed at getting attention, can only increase the already widespread distrust of so many people who are by now tired and defeatist (see the decreasing number of election votes).

Genetic makeup of thousands of rice varieties placed in global seed data pool

Vegetables Fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil More Nutritionally Beneficial than Boiled

Pale Lager Clarification Using Novel Ceramic Hollow-Fiber Membranes

Since the year 2000, rough beer clarification may be carried out by resorting to three different membrane systems, namely those proposed by Norit Membrane Technology/Heineken Technical Service, Alfa-Laval AB/Sartorius AG, and Pall Food & Beverage/Westfalia Food Tech. Whereas the Norit/Heineken or Pall Food & Beverage CFMF units consist of polyethersulfone (PES) hollow-fiber modules with pore size of 0.50 or 0.65 ?m, respectively; the Alfa-Laval/Sartorius CFMF units are made of PES flat-sheet cassettes with pore size of 0.60 ?m. The main problem with such systems is that the average beer permeation flux through PES membrane modules is about a fifth of that (250-500 L m-2 h-1) obtained with powder filters.

On the need and the possibilities to reduce water use in agriculture

Agriculture is the economic activity with the highest water demand. Worldwide it uses about 70% of the available water resources, percentage largely overcome in the developing countries (FAO, 2006).The water use efficiency is approximatively equal or even lower  than 50%. In addition, actual water availability in agriculture is expected to decrease in the next few years due to the increasing competition with domestic and industrial uses and climate changes. 
In addition, due to the continuous increase of the world population and the marked increase in water demand, mainly in emerging countries, to meet the demand for food over the next three decades,  food production will need to rise by 70% (FAO, 2013).

Site Security (SS) and Food Defense: beyond Food Safety

Preservation of agricultural landscape Vs food security

Some Italian regions are enforcing autonomous “regional-landscape schemes” (without excluding agricultural land), erroneously referring to our Constitution that obviously could not deal with “landscape protection” without considering what was expected by the laws in force at that time in our country that wisely and clearly excluded agrarian land.
The idea of also “safeguarding” agrarian land came out only in the final decades of the 20th century with the political increase of European environmentalists and their abuse of power even in the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy). These are requests which we can all share as regards those principles designed to properly protect a habitat in which it is possible to survive but without abandoning the equally important production of food.
Instead, at the beginning of 2000, the "Codice Urbani" was published in Italy; it used the term “Conservation of agricultural landscape”, an expression that must be understood to have only one possible and feasible meaning, namely, as requiring the “land use conservation of the rapidly diminishing arable lands. The subsequent attempts to impose a static utopia on agricultural activities thus seem focused precisely on annulling the freedom of businesses (not just farms) by opposing their ongoing need to adapt and change products and techniques according to the changing needs of the times and the markets. Instead all the risks, production costs and taxes have been left to the businesses while imposing (through spurious mandatory landscape planning measures decided at the top) what, how and where to cultivate, and moreover with no assumption of responsibility and the consequent proper indemnities. 

Grape Waste Could Make Competitive Biofuel

EU Agriculture Committee objects to national bans on imports of GMO foodstuffs and feed

Knowing mushrooms

Culinary mushrooms, mostly members of the Basidiomycetes class of macrofungi, are rich in high quality protein, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals (potassium, calcium, and magnesium), fibre and other bioactive compounds, but low in fat and sodium. 
In brief some culinary/edible mushrooms  may be considered “functional foods”, a term reported by Martirosyan (2011) recognizing “a natural or processed food that contains known biologically-active compounds which in defined quantitative and qualitative amounts provides a clinically proven and documented health benefit, and thus, an important source in the prevention, management and treatment of chronic diseases of the modern age” . 

Pollen allergies: the AIS LIFE Project

In Italy, allergic rhinitis has risen to 25.8% in the population. Allergic rhinitis and asthma have a significant economic impact on patients, their families, and society in general. The reasons for this increased susceptibility to developing allergies are still unclear, but life-style and environmental factors such as the exposure to both indoor and outdoor air pollutants and the now proven synergy between pollen and pollutants certainly play a major role in triggering and favoring the onset of allergies. 

Saverio Manetti and his treatise “On different wheat species and bread as well as bread-making”

Georgofili member Saverio Manetti, one of the eighteen founders of the Florentine Academy, was among the first who attempted to find a solution to the hunger that followed the terrible, recurrent famines in past centuries, characterized especially by the loss of wheat and thus of the main food, bread.
In his treatise On different wheat species and bread as well as bread-making, published in Florence in 1765, he not only analyzed wheat and its varieties, flour and the bread-making process, different kinds of bread, its other unusual types for packaging, baking, and shape. He also analyzed bread made with flours other than wheat flour, extensively describing the bread’s appetizing effect and the pleasure that gladdened the tables of both the rich and the poor. He finally examined the “faults” of flour and bread, its varieties in other populations, seeds, fruits, and plants suited to making bread when there was a wheat shortage. 

Mass propagation of giant reed (Arundo donax L.), an invasive species suitable for biomass production

Carbon Footprint of a pale lager

The Milan Charter, doubts and certainties

EXPO 2015 has been a great opportunity for Italy to offer the world a forum for tackling a fundamentally important theme for humankind, that of food, with the focus, at least since Milan was first chosen as the exhibition seat, on two main topics as well as their many off-shoots: the present state of food that still today, as regards quantity, does not meet the world’s needs, and a future one that seems to imply an ever greater need as a result of population growth and per capita consumption.
The exhibition, however, has taken a very different path. As was predictable, taking into consideration the exhibitors’ economic and commercial interests and the necessity of all exhibitions to be a fantastic world to attract visitors and business. High hopes regarding respect for the basic issues were placed on the Milan Charter, a document that should have included thoughts, suggestions, and commitments concerning the search for answers on the overall theme of food. 

Hundreds of Restaurants Get New ‘MedDiet’ Label

ENEA Introduces Italy’s First Vertical Farm: Agriculture 3.0 has arrived


Beyond the traditional virgin olive oil extraction systems: searching innovative and sustainable plant engineering solutions – An Ultrasound-Assisted extraction process.

Agriculture, soil management and prevention of hydrogeological instability – the farmer’s role

The correct management of agricultural and forestry land is fundamental for maintaining the environmental and climate balance at both local and global level and for reducing the risk of hydrogeological instability.
Farmers have always played a positive role in the Community, producing food and preserving the environment.
The agricultural sector is facing major challenges: producing more food to guarantee global food security and ensuring greater sustainability in the sector in the future. Against the backdrop of climate change, farmers are being asked to make additional efforts towards broad mitigation and adaptation actions. The challenges facing the sector will only be able to be met with more agriculture and more farmers and, in particular, by way of the family-farming model.
We need to recognize the value of farmers as ‘custodians’, for their multi-functional activities and the way they protect the land, and take into account the central role played by the economic sustainability of agricultural holdings. 
Strong opposition is needed to land consumption and the abandonment of marginal agricultural areas and more focus must be placed on research and innovation. We also need investments which help to develop mechanisms to encourage farmers and their families to apply best practices. Here, new European instruments under the second pillar of the CAP could provide an important incentive. However, the benefits of greening are less clear and it seems instead simply to put at risk the already fragile economic situation on farms.

Expo 2015’s first month

The first month of Expo 2015 has just ended, with various ideas on the theme “Feeding the Planet: energy for life” already emerging. I will mention just a few.
During Caritas Day, with the 84 countries participating (mainly from Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East), opinions critical of a general increase in the world’s food production came out. Instead, it was suggested that small local communities in poor countries be put in a position for them to produce the food they need rather than buy it. As a matter of fact some poor countries have already tried this approach and, overcoming periods of emergency, they have become exporters of food commodities.
The Indian Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner in economics and professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard, expressed the opinion that the real problem to be considered is poverty from which hunger always derives. He therefore considered it limiting to talk about food shortages without analyzing the causes of hunger.

Biodiversity and its Preservation

Biodiversity is a hymn to the comprehensive meaning of the nature that surrounds humankind and which we have been called to admire, use, improve, and preserve for ourselves and future generations. The beauty, harmony, and complexity of this world and its landscapes have been cherished, portrayed, and enriched by human works. Poets, painters, scientists, singers, and even simple tourists have sought out the most fabulous landscapes that, unfortunately, are more often at risk because of the human interventions that, knowingly or not, cause serious damage to nature's beauties. 
Biodiversity gives life continuity as it permits ecosystems to adapt, overcoming the changes of natural events by ensuring a population’s fitness or biological success and its ability to synchronize with environmental changes over space and time by protecting ecosystems from the damage caused by changes in the environment. The plant and animal species populating an ecosystem have as a common characteristic harmony with the environment and they influence each other. However, their complexity lets them adapt to a variety of climates and pathogens as well as to their own and human dietary need, and have a positive relation to the ecosystem’s productivity as they use completely different resources.

Wars or food: an unacceptable alternative

It seems to me that, given the rebel conflicts besetting the Middle East and parts of Africa that are involving the whole world, it would be more than appropriate to encourage and support agricultural production systems in Europe – and in other developed countries – in order to make abundantly available those basic commodities needed to feed everybody. It would be necessary therefore to draw on the “common values” that also coincides with the necessity of giving real answers to problems that cannot be solved with violence. 
In fact, looking at the situation, it goes from the bombs on Iraq and Syria to the pseudo-democratic revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia caused not so much by a desire for freedom as by the rise in the price of wheat due to the 2010 Russian ban on exports following a devastating fire in the steppes west of the Urals. Add to that the massacres in Libya and in the Islamic Caliphate that thrives in a land of poverty and ignorance as well as the despair of the Eritreans and the Somalis and, together with the events in Nigeria, you will have a tragic picture of the situation in a significant part of the world.
The answer to the turmoil in the Middle East and the menaces to security in the US and, to a lesser degree, in Europe, consists actually in choosing a lesser evil (repression and the techniques used Guantanamo on the alleged terrorists) compared to the greater evil (danger that the attacks will spread throughout the developed countries and be beyond control). Starting from the 21st-century terrorist attacks, the Canadian politician, and human rights expert Ignatieff recognizes the necessity of violating some basic rights to protect the state’s interest, understood as the general interest. In an age when the risk of attacks is very high he – and many Americans with him – does not seem to understand the difficulty of identifying the limit of this “lesser evil” choice and the extreme importance of the question of who has the power, right and legitimacy to choose.

Expo: the oldest flour in the world, discovered in Tuscany, dates back to 30,000 years ago

It is the world's most ancient flour and it was discovered in Tuscany. This discovery – which has radically changed our understanding of Paleolithic humans and their diet – was presented in Florence at an event entitled The Earliest Flour in Tuscany – Origins of a Diet, aimed at exploring the subject of dietary evolution, set in the framework of Expo 2015.
The story began 30,000 years ago when a group of homo sapiens settled temporarily in the Bilancino area, on the banks of the Sieve River. Thousands of years passed until 1995-1996 when the area was to be flooded so as to create an artificial lake for use as the Bilancino reservoir.  A group of archaeologists discovered where a Paleolithic camp had been set up at one time later covered with silt by the Sieve. 

Detailed Genetic Map of World Wheat Varieties Developed

Food and sustainability. The solution is the Market Transformation.

Sourdough ecophysiology to better guide the industrial processing

Valorization of autochthonous fruit genetic resources in Italy: genetic traits for breeding programmes

The Italian competence on Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for food and agriculture is shared between the Ministry of Agriculture (MiPAAF) and the Regions which, thanks to the Rural Development Programmes (RDP) 2000-2006 and 2007-2013, have taken advantage of important financial support to dedicate to activities targeted at the realization of the objectives set out in the different international agreements to which Italy is a Member State.
The FAO International Treaty (IT) on PGR for food and agriculture has been ratified by Italy in 2004; the respective national law entrusts the competences to achieve the objectives of the Treaty to Regions and authonomous Provinces. The Ministry of Agriculture maintains the international coordination, while regional activities are dedicated to the recovery, characterization, conservation and valorization of PGR. The new Rural Development Programme 2014-2021 will continue to support the national activities in this regard.

Richard Cobden and the “healthy propensity for peace”

2015 – a year of anniversaries and of events.
Among the first anniversaries are the 100th anniversary of Italy’s disastrous entry into the First World War on 24 May 1915, the 70th of the Liberation from German occupation, and the 150th of Florence as capital of the new unified Italy. As for events, we clearly think immediately of “EXPO 2015, Feed the Planet, Energy for Life”, which opened just a few days ago and which is probably the biggest media event of the year.
However 2015 marks another anniversary that perhaps most people do not know of, the anniversary of Richard Cobden’s death, the English father of liberalism and a promoter of free trade among nations, on 2 April 1865.
Faithful to its origins, the Florentine Georgofili Academy could not help but admire the man who tried to steer England from an ironclad protectionist policy to broader horizons characterized by the cooperation and generosity between peoples.   

A challenging job: plant pathology in the urban environment

According to Agrios (2005), “Plant pathology is a science that studies plant diseases and attempts to improve the chances for survival of plants when they are faced with unfavorable environmental conditions and parasitic microorganisms that cause disease”. So, it is a discipline that has a practical and noble goal of protecting the food (quantity and quality) available for humans and animals. Nowadays to this crucial task at least another mission must be added: “to ensure the presence of well performing and safe plants (especially trees) in our cities”. This is because plant diseases, by their presence, menace the survival of the plants, shorten their life expectancy and make them dangerous in the urban environment representing a limiting factor for citizen’s security.
At world level, far more than 50% of human beings currently live in an urban area and at least 70% will live there in the year 2050. Cities are similar to an organism in that they consume resources from their surroundings and excrete wastes. Urbanization concentrates people, materials and energy into relatively small geographical areas (cities and towns are estimated to be less than a mere 3% of the total land of our planet), whose environmental conditions are often critical. Quality of life in cities relies on a range of components, such as social equity, income and welfare, housing, social relations and education and a healthy environment. The environmental elements for an adequate quality of life include good air quality, low noise levels, clean and sufficient water, fair urban design with sufficient and high-quality public and green spaces, and a good local climate or opportunities to adapt to climate change. Urban trees provide a number of important (but not easily quantified) aesthetic, economic, and psychological benefits (“ecosystem services”) for humans. They increase property values, promote tourism, provide educational opportunities, encourage healthy life styles and outdoor activities, improve the visual appeal of urban areas, mitigate stress and encourage biological diversity. But trees, just as all other plants, may be sick and attacked by biotic and abiotic stress factors, and a diseased tree may represent an intolerable risk factor for human welfare.

Opening of the Georgofili Academy’s 262nd Year

EXPO, the unbearable “burden of sustainability”

Fine, let us introduce the right to food in the constitution, as long as it does not have the same fate as the balanced state budget which ended up in the constitution too but only in writing…. Whereas with the approach of Expo, the torrent, the deluge of yapping and rhetoric is becoming almost unbearable. 
For those people though who – like us – are always rooting for their country, it is worth putting up with them as long as everything ends for the best. As they say in English: my country, right or wrong. In any case, it is undoubtedly hard. We have not yet understood if, in Milan, we will send our best foods and wines to strut down the runway or we will explain how to nurture our planet by using less chemicals, water, etc. In which case, we should also talk about GMOs without incurring religious wars and maybe – as Professor Romano Prodi has invited us to do – think about investing more in agriculture research. Because it is okay to want to feed and water the world but maybe we should focus more on how to produce more cereals, cultivate semi-arid lands, produce meat without destroying the soil and subsoil and grow fruit varieties that are more adaptable to the various climates and more resistant to pathogen attacks and less on culatello ham and Amarone wine. 

Drosophila suzukii a new pest for wine grape

Agricultural districts in the Italian Regions: looking toward 2020*

Will genetically engineered apples still keep the doctor away?

An article recently published on The New York Times has brought the attention of the public opinion to newly generated transgenic apples that are resistant to turning brown when sliced or bruised. These apples are genetically engineered in a way to suppress the production of an enzyme that causes browning when cells in the apple are injured, from slicing, for example. They will decay naturally just like any other apple, but will not turn brown from bruising, cutting or biting – not in minutes, hours or days.
Any apple variety can be engineered to be a nonbrowning apple. Okanagan, the biotech that developed the fruit, decided to first convert two of the most popular apple varieties of all time, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. 

The olive quick decline syndrome in south-east Italy

OQDS is characterized by the presence of leaf scorching and desiccation of twigs and small branches, that prevail  first  in the upper part of the canopy (Fig. 1A),  then extend to the rest of the crown,  which  acquires a burned look (Fig. 1B). The more seriously affected plants are heavily pruned by the growers to favour new growth which,  however, is scanty and dessicates in a short while. The skeletal-looking trees push a multitude of suckers from the base (Fig. 1C) and survive for some time, i.e.  as long as the roots are viable.  
As to disease incidence, a rough estimate  indicates  that the  whole area where multiple  and disperse  OQDS foci occur  amounts to about 230,000 hectares. However, the infected surface area given over strictly to olive (i.e. the totality of the symptomatic olive groves taken together) may not exceed 9,000 hectares,  which accounts for  about one million plants. These are huge  numbers that are liable to increase over time,  considering that the infection  foci, which now  have a scattered  distribution,  will tend to coalesce.

Parasite provides clues to evolution of plant diseases

Insects for food or feed: an opportunity?

Recent discovery of chili peppers’ analgesic role

The health effects of hot chili peppers in our diet have been debated for some time and numerous biomedical studies have been carried out regarding this topic. Many results are favorable even if there are some contraindications that have often been questioned by the majority of experts.
Not only has the antibacterial role of hot chili peppers been ascertained but also its high vitamin-C content antioxidant power, and positive digestive effect—to mention just some of its properties.
In early 2015, the use of hot chili peppers as a painkiller was authoritatively confirmed.

Food and sustainability. The Problem.

The World Total Biocapacity is 1.78 global hectare  (gha) per capita (Italy is 1). The Footprint Network  calculates that the current World Ecological Footprint of Consumption is 2.7 gha per capita: 1,5 times more resources than the Earth can provide. In case of business-as-usual scenario (BAU) in only 15 years the Humanity will need two Earths to survive. That is unsustainable.
In 2030 we will be 8 billion and F.A.O. projects that by 2050 we will be about 10 billion, 3 more than today, for which we need to produce additional food in a quantity that we ate in the last 6000 years. 149 million km2  is the total land area of the world, of which 30% is used for agriculture. UN estimate that we lose 23 ha per minute (12 Mha/year) because of degradation and desertification, an area where we could produce 20Mt cereals each year. Restoring just 12% of the world’s degraded agricultural land could feed 200 million people by 2030, while also strengthening climate resilience and reducing emissions. 

The Teachings of Expo 2015

In a few weeks, our country will proudly inaugurate Expo Milano 2015. Its seat was chosen at a world level, with Milan intelligently sending off the proposal to dedicate the exhibition to the specific theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. A multitude of visitors is expected because all the countries involved are committed to confronting this essential problem that concerns all humankind.
In the international climate we are about to experience, this great event may lead us to contemplating and even regaining our optimism. Each one will be able to participate in a wide-ranging, sensible, and practical dialogue on the most advanced techniques available to increase production, optimize resource use, and preserve the renewable biosphere of areas under cultivation.

The Georgofili School of Olive Oil Science and Technology

At the request of Academician Emeritus, Prof. Claudio Peri, the Academy of Georgofili has approved the Official Rules of The Georgofili School of Olive Oil Science and Technology. 

The first aim of the School is educational: to improve the professional standards of people and organizations involved in all aspects of the olive oil chain, from olive tree cultivation to oil use in restaurants and food establishments. The courses (30 to 60 hours, 50% of which consist in practical training and activities) are addressed to a very precise recipient target: the High Schools of Agriculture and Food Technology and Restaurant and Hotel Management. Basic concepts will be presented in all courses. Subjects specific to the interests of students in agriculture or technology or gastronomy will be developed and adapted according to the different professional interests and careers.
The second aim of the School is communication: to promote greater understanding of the general public regarding olive oil quality, science and technology. This aim is pursued with short (one or two days) events, differing in content and approach according to the type of audience (journalists or doctors, housewives or food connoisseurs, children or adults, scientists or traders, and so on).

Launch of

Ireland first EU state allowed to export bovine products to the US market

Noise and its impact on the perception of food and drink

The only source of our daily bread