Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources News from Iowa State University

February 12th, 2002


Food security was an issue during World Trade Organization meetings last November. South Korea is one of several developing countries that wants to maintain self-sufficiency objectives and has been reluctant to open borders to trade. It defines food security as ensuring an adequate food supply under all market conditions. As a result, high tariffs protect domestic producers from lower-cost imports—especially rice, meat and dairy. High production prices are supported by government purchases. Recent research at Iowa State University suggests that, rather than ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable food, South Korea's food security objectives hurt consumers and may slow the country's overall economic growth. Economists John Beghin and Jean-Christophe Bureau at ISU's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development found that agricultural subsidization in South Korea costs consumers more than producers gain. They also found that high food costs can reduce demand and keep poor consumers from acquiring adequate nourishment. The researchers propose an alternative policy that sets production rather than self-sufficiency targets for staple foods and uses imports for additional food sources. Their paper, "Food Security and Agricultural Protection in South Korea," is available online at Contact Beghin, (515) 294-5811, or Sandra Clarke, CARD Communications, (515) 294-6257.


An Iowa State University plant scientist may have found a way to control and even exploit plant viruses by figuring out the molecular mechanisms of the virus replication cycle. Allen Miller, a professor of plant pathology and a researcher in Iowa State's Plant Sciences Institute, has been studying the replication processes of the barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), which is transmitted by an aphid vector. The disease is widespread and causes substantial yield losses in wheat, barley and oats. Miller's research focuses on the mechanism by which the virus' genetic code is translated in plants during the process of protein synthesis. His research group has identified a new way that this process can begin. The finding could have important implications for improving control of genes in genetically engineered crop plants, thereby enhancing the sustainability of crop production and the transfer of genetic material between organisms. The research may also shed light on the replication of important human viruses that have many fundamental processes in common with plant viruses. Miller will present his findings in April to applied biologists at an international conference on plant virology advances in Cambridge, England. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and published last year in the scientific journal, Molecular Cell. Contact Miller, (515) 294-2436, or Bridget Bailey, News Service, (515) 294-6881.


Which woody ornamentals should you plant if you live in the north central region of the United States? A list recently released by the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service may be a helpful resource. Jeff Iles, Iowa State University horticulturist, is one of 30-plus cooperators for the USDA-ARS NC-7 Woody Ornamental Evaluation Trials program. The cooperators, located primarily in the Midwest, evaluated woody plants for hardiness, pest resistance and ornamental value. "We try to make sure that the plants that come into Iowa are appropriate for our growers and homeowners," Iles said. "We're also trying to broaden the plant palette of gardeners and horticulturists." A woody ornamental is a tree, shrub or perennial vine that is commonly used for decorative landscaping. The plants listed are available commercially and include: Nugget, a cultivar of ninebark; Sakakawea, a cultivar of silver buffaloberry; Kentucky wisteria; Cardinal and Ruby, cultivars of red osier dogwood; Indigo, a cultivar of silky dogwood; Konza, a cultivar of fragrant sumac; Tara, a hybrid cultivar barberry sold under the trademark Emerald Carousel; and White Knight hybrid weigela. Two notable trees are western larch and Little King sold under the trademark Fox Valley. More information and results are listed on the Web at Contact Iles, (515) 294-3718, or Barb McManus, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0707.


The Global Agricultural Science and Policy Institute (GASPI) will gather international experts to analyze the prospects for global food production and the implications for Midwestern agricultural systems. The conference, "Growing Ambitions: Prospects for Global Grain and Meat Demand," is the institute's inaugural event at Iowa State University on Feb. 28. The conference will address the world's food supply capabilities, potential constraints on global food production capacity, the future of world food demand and how these issues affect food producers and consumers. Representatives from the Matto Grosso Foundation, the primary agricultural developers of Brazil's Cerrado region, and the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture will attend. GASPI was established in 2000 as one of four initiatives funded through an endowment to Iowa State's agronomy department. Information about the conference program content is available from Ricardo Salvador, agronomy, (515) 294-9595. Information about registration and fees is available from Pernell Plath, agronomy, (515) 294-4319, or at Information about GASPI is online at Contact Melea Reicks Licht, Agronomy, (515) 294-1890.


The 2001 Swine Research Report from Iowa State University is now available. New this year, people may purchase at a cost of $10 a CD-ROM that includes the Swine Research Reports from 1998-2001. As in the past, Web users can access the report through the Iowa Pork Industry Center Web site at, then to publications in the news. Also available on the Web and free to those who purchase the CD-ROM is a printed summary of the abstracts from this year's report. The entire report is no longer available in print format. For more information, or to order the CD-ROM, contact Iowa State University swine specialist Palmer Holden, (515) 294-2240. Contact Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.


The 46th Annual Shade Tree Short Course is one of the best meetings of its kind, according to Jeff Iles, Iowa State University horticulturist. The two-day meeting covers research findings, theories and facts on a broad variety of topics that will keep nursery, landscape and grounds maintenance professionals on the cutting edge. The short course will be March 12 -13 at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus. The course is sponsored by Iowa State's entomology, forestry, horticulture and plant pathology departments. Registration fees and information are available on the Web at Contact Iles, (515) 294-3718, or Barb McManus, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0707.