Stories for the Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s 13th International Convention and the 12th IUPAC International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry held in Melbourne from 4-8 July 2010.

We supported by the Commonwealth Government’s National Enabling Technologies Strategy (NETS) and delivered a media program for the event.

The events’ major sponsors were: Croplife International, Nufarm, Syngenta and Sigma Aldrich.

Visit the conference website at

Eight for apples, 46 for muffins

What does food do – time to move beyond the glycaemic index

It’s time to get smarter about food labelling according to Dr John Monro, speaking at the international chemistry conference in Melbourne this week.

“We need to know not just what is in the food, but what the food is going to do in our bodies,” he says. John is a researcher with the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.

“And we need easy to follow guides that make sense when we’re pushing our trolleys around the supermarket.”

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Spinning the world clean

Prof Colin Raston and his colleagues in the Centre for Strategic Nano-Fabrication at the University of Western Australia are setting about cleaning up the world—and chemical industry in particular—through developing a suite of technologies to enable continuous, rather than batch, processing.

“We’re working at getting rid of the round-bottom glass in the laboratory, and the array of tanks and pipes in chemical plants.” [continue reading…]

Eight for apples, 46 for muffins and other chemistry stories

Eight for apples, 46 for muffins

Plants protect plants and triple yields in East Africa

Spinning the world clean

Thursday, 8 July 2010 at Chemistry for a Sustainable World, an international conference organised by RACI, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. Speakers in Melbourne and available for interview. More info on all stories online. [continue reading…]

Plants protect plants and triple yields in East Africa

More than 30,000 East African farmers are using plants to protect their corn (maize) crops from insect and weed attack. The crop protection strategy was developed by Kenyan and UK scientists.

Termed “Push-Pull’, it relies on strategically deploying attractive and repellent plants in alternating rows to control the growth of African witchweed and stemborer insects. These are the biggest threat to cereal crops in Sub-Saharan Africa. Stem borers often destroy 80% of a crop.

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Can we feed nine billion people by 2050?

IUPAC Plenary Six and Seven, Wednesday 9:45am

Chris Leaver, University of Oxford

The world’s population has more than doubled in the past 50 years and the relative abundance of food has kept pace, with the poorest benefiting most. Yet one billion people are malnourished and live below the poverty line.

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Vegetable oil to lubricate your car, tractor and truck

IUPAC Symposium 6B – Crop Biofactories: Plants as Sustainable Bio-Production Systems for Industrial Raw Materials, Wednesday 3:30pm

Sten Stymne, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Vegetable oil is the agricultural product that chemically most resembles fossil oils and has therefore great potential to replace it, says Sweden’s Sten Stymne.

He’s part of an 11-million-Euro global project to engineer seed oils for bio-lubricant uses.

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Could your lawn, golf course or pasture make its own weedkiller?

IUPAC Symposium 4A – Natural Products, Tuesday 1:45PM – 3:00PM

Leslie Weston, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga

Leslie Weston has discovered and patented two weedkillers made by plants. Now she’s investigating Patterson’s curse to see what tricks it uses to invade grasslands and repel herbivores. Her vision is to use plants or plant extracts to control plants, as an alternative to synthetic pesticides and herbicides.

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Potato flakes for breakfast?

RACI Symposium – Cereals & Disease Prevention, Tuesday 4:30pm

Paul MacLean, University of Colorado

Resistant starch could transform our breakfasts, our gut health and help us lose weight.

Paul MacLean has shown that replacing simple sugars and digestible starch with starch that is resistant to digestion in the small intestine can have big consequences.

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Greening agricultural sprays

IUPAC Symposium 1A – Formulation: Efficacy and the Environment

Ingo Fleute-Schlachter, Cognis, Germany

Friendlier pesticides are on the way. Every pesticide contains an active ingredient. But there is more in the can. The formulation may need additives and adjuvants which boost performance: working as emuslifiers, wetters, dispersants, or sticking agents to deliver the pesticide to where it’s needed – the surfaces of leaves for example.

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What difference is GM making to Australian cotton crops?

IUPAC Symposium 3B – Changing Pesticide use and Risk Scenarios with the Introduction of GM Crops Monday 3:30pm

Gary Fitt, CSIRO Entomology

GM cotton was released in 1996, as part of the fight back against Helicoverpa – arguably the most destructive agricultural pest in the world.  Bollgard II varieties now make up 90% of the Australian cotton industry. What difference have they made?

Gary Fitt from CSIRO Entomology in Queensland will report that farmers have reduced pesticide use by up to 90% providing on-farm benefits and greatly reducing environmental disruption.

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New perfumes for bugs

IUPAC Symposium 4B – Natural Products, Tuesday 4pm

John Pickett, Rothamsted Research

John Pickett and his British colleagues are creating new kinds of perfumes or attractants for pest insects.

They’re employing farnesyl diphosphate—the ‘parent’ molecule  that insects use as the starting point for many chemical signals such as sex pheromones—to create new, more powerful attractants that will be cheaper and easier to make.

Use your spray smarter: save money and the environment

IUPAC Symposium 4B – Formulation, Efficacy and the Environment

Monday 4:30pm

Heping Zhu, United States Department of Agriculture

“Current label-recommended levels of pesticides for spray application technology, pest pressure and crop growth structure are vague, frequently resulting in excessive use of pesticide,” says Heping Zhu from the USDA in Ohio.

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Fighting termites – with a natural chemical from an Aussie tree

David Leach, Southern Cross University

A wood extract has been registered as the first natural termiticide in Australia by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Administration.

David Leach and his colleagues from Southern Cross University and the University of Western Sydney identified the active extract in Eremophila mitchellii also known as budda, false sandalwood.

The achievement illustrates the potential to learn new tricks from Australia’s native plants and animals.

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A new chick magnet – if you’re a moth

IUPAC Symposium 3A – Chemical Ecology and Crop Protection, Thursday 9:30am

Peter Gregg, Cotton CRC

A plant perfume that attracts female moths—a world-first attractant invented by the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC and its partner Ag Biotech Australia—is already reducing pesticide use by Queensland and NSW cotton growers.

Peter Gregg and his colleagues have developed a ‘moth magnet’ that attracts Helicoverpa, the cotton boll worm moth which causes billions of dollars of damage to agriculture world-wide.

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Tracking malaria resistant mosquitos: a new tool

IUPAC Symposium 1A – Resistance Management: Insect Disease Vectors & Agricultural Pests Tuesday 2:30pm

Hilary Ranson, The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Pyrethroid insecticides are the front line weapon of choice against malaria-carrying mosquitos.

These are the only class of insecticide that can be used to treat bednets and they are being used extensively for indoor spraying (replacing DDT in many areas). These two interventions are being rolled out on a massive scale across Africa (the goal is to achieve 80% coverage).

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Putting the spray where you need it

Paul Miller, Waterborne Environmental, Inc

UK scientist Paul Miller will be presenting his work on modelling and thus minimising spray drift.

His work with field trials, wind tunnels and simulations have shown that boom height and the droplet size distribution from the nozzles are the most important variables influencing drift risk with changes in boom height having a greater effect than changes in wind speed.

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