Award

Novel value-added sunflower butter from underutilized sunflower seeds

This biological control technology reduces apotent environmental carcinogen, thus makingcrops more valuable and agricultural communitiesless vulnerable. Aflatoxin contamination has beena concern to the Arizona cotton industry for overthree decades. Despite extensive research oncontamination in many parts of the U.S. and theworld, no practical preventive measure had beendeveloped for any crop or region. Throughgreenhouse and field-plot experimentation, Dr.Peter Cotty developed a theoretical basis foraflatoxin management using naturally occurringstrains of Aspergillus flavus that do not produceaflatoxins to competitively exclude aflatoxin-producing strains. The technology uses these“atoxigenic” strains to reduce the incidence ofaflatoxin-producing fungi and, thus, aflatoxin incrops and the environment.Since inventing the technology over 10 yearsago, Dr. Cotty has expendedconsiderable time andresources to the transfer of thisaflatoxin management tool. Hedeveloped collaborations withcotton producers, cotton gins,oil mills, and cottonorganizations in the mostseverely affected portion of thecountry, and developed apractical basis for implementingthis biological controltechnology. He thenestablished partnerships withthe Arizona Cotton Researchand Protection Council(ACRPC), the National Cotton Council, ArizonaCotton Growers Association, and Cotton Incorporated, whereby atoxigenic strain usetechnologies were transferred for practicalcommercial application.To further this effort, Dr. Cotty also developedprocesses for large-scale production of atoxigenicstrain material, and assisted in the design anddevelopment of a commercial-scale facilityoperated by ACRPC. The atoxigenic strains areconsidered to be biopesticides by theEnvironmental Protection Agency; thus, thetechnology transfer included partnering with theIR-4 Biopesticide Program to complete thepesticide registration process. A full registrationwas obtained in 2003.A result of the technology transfer is that theatoxigenic strain technology has beenimplemented on an expanding scale. This willresult in reduced incidence of aflatoxin-producingfungi in the environment and reduced incidenceof potentially carcinogenic aflatoxinsin air, soil, food, and the environmentin general. This benefits everyoneentering or living in or near areasreceiving atoxigenic strain treatmentsby providing a healthier and saferenvironment. This technology is nowbeing adapted to several regions ofthe world, including Africa, Australia,and Asia. Dr. Cotty was awarded the2003 Environmental TechnologyAward by the Arizona Farm Bureaufor his efforts to develop and transferthis important technology.
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Region: 
Southeast