Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new report on discoveries by USDA researchers that have led to new patents and inventions with the potential for commercial application and potential economic growth. USDA innovations included in this annual report range from USDA supported research that could offer solutions for millions who suffer allergies from peanuts and wheat to safe mosquito control that can help halt the transmission of diseases they spread, and others.
"USDA has a proven track record of performing research that has tangible benefits for the American public, and studies have found every dollar invested in agricultural research returns $20 to our economy," said Secretary Vilsack. "USDA is now accelerating the commercialization of federal research, and government researchers are working closely with the private sector to develop new technology and transfer it to the marketplace."
USDA received 83 patents in Fiscal Year 2014, up from 51 patents in 2013. USDA filed 119 patent applications and disclosed another 117 new inventions, which may lead to future patents and are detailed in the Department's 2014 Annual Report on Technology Transfer released today. Helping drive these innovations, USDA has 267 active Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with outside partners, which includes Universities, and other organizations, and more than 100 small businesses. The USDA's technology transfer program is administered by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
Highlighted discoveries from USDA's 2014 Technology Transfer Report include:
- Procedures to remove up to 98-percent of the allergens from peanuts without affecting the flavor;
- A new process for pasteurizing shelled eggs using radio frequency energy that is 1.5 times faster than the current pasteurization process;
- A portable method for identifying harmful bacteria in food that could improve the response to foodborne illness outbreaks;
- A new method for mosquito control that specifically silences genes in the mosquito so it does not pose a danger to other insects, including pollinators;
- A new soil nitrogen test that rapidly and inexpensively determines the total amount of nitrogen in the soil that is available to a plant, reducing costs for farmers while benefiting the environment;
- Improved information on non-honey bee pollinators and methods for trapping bees to assure quality apple production.
Over the years, USDA innovations have created all sorts of products Americans use every day, from food products to insect controls, medicine to clothing. Here are just a few examples of things USDA research is responsible for:
- A new kind of flour made from chardonnay grape seeds that can prevent increases in cholesterol and weight-gain;
- "Permanent press" cotton clothing;
- Mass production of penicillin in World War II;
- DEET, the active ingredient in all the world's most effective and widely-used mosquito repellents;
- Frozen orange juice concentrate;
- Almost all breeds of blueberries and cranberries currently in production, and 80% of all varieties of citrus fruits grown in the U.S.;
- "Tifsport", a turfgrass specifically designed to withstand the stress and demands of major team sports and used on sports fields across the country.
The 2014 Farm Bill will help to build on these accomplishments by establishing a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that leverages $200 million in public funding and another $200 million from the private sector to support groundbreaking agricultural research.
More information about the USDA innovations contained in this year's report, as well as a look at previous USDA research discoveries is available on the web.