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Technical Committee Meeting Minutes – September 8, 2011

Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport
Chicago, IL
September 8, 2011
Committee Members Present
Don Sullins, ADM Milling Company, Committee Chairman
Brian Anderson, Bunge Milling, Inc.
Bill Bonner, Viterra, Inc.
June Currin, House-Autry Mills, Inc.
Mike Fassezke, Star of the West Milling Company
Ellen Gay, Horizon Milling LLC/Cargill
Donald Mennel, The Mennel Milling Company
Kris Nelson, Grain Millers, Inc.
Bruce Roskens, PepsiCo/Quaker Oats
John Shouse, Knappen Milling Company
Carl Schwinke, Siemer Milling Company
Keith Smith, Cargill Corn Milling
Glen Weaver, ConAgra Mills
Nick Weigel, ADM Milling Company
Others Present
Jim Bair, NAMA, Vice President
Sherri Lehman, NAMA, Director of Government Relations
Mary Waters, NAMA, President
                                                                               
1. Welcome and Introductions Don Sullins, ADM Milling Company
Committee Chairman Sullins called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.  Self-introductions were made.
2. Reading of NAMA antitrust guidelines – Mary Waters, North American Millers’ Association
The NAMA anti-trust guidelines were reviewed with the participants.
3. Approval of Minutes – Don Sullins
Minutes from the March 2011 meeting were distributed prior to the meeting and a motion was made for their approval. The motion was seconded and they were approved by a unanimous vote.
4. FDA – Definition of Whole Grain
  • Regulatory proposals with varied terms and proposal on consumer understanding – Ms. Lehman distributed a handout provided by the Whole Grains Council with a chart listing the variety of whole grain standards used by government agencies and programs.  Ms. Lehman noted the confusion created for food manufacturers and school food service providers.

    Ms. Lehman provided an update on a May 26, Federal Register notice requesting public comment on FDA’s proposed experimental study on consumer responses to whole grain messaging on food packages. NAMA had several call with ABA, AACC and others in the “grain chain” to develop recommendations on the wording of the survey.  Ms. Lehman informed the committee that there will be a further 30-day comment period where the graphics for the survey will be made available for comment, when FDA has completed review of the initial comments.

  • FDA labeling staff tours of flour mills – Jim Bair & Ellen Gay, Horizon Milling –
    Mr. Bair and Ms. Gay described mill tours for FDA labeling staff at ConAgra Milling (Martin’s Creek, PA; July 27) and Horizon Milling (Mt. Pocono, PA; July 28). The FDA groups were comprised of 13 individuals from the FDA headquarters office and one from the FDA field office in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  The tours were comprehensive and provided ample opportunity for questions/answers on a wide range of milling topics.  Of particular interest to the FDA officials were: the process of producing whole grain flours, food allergens and gluten-free manufacturing, esp. the potential presence of wheat in oats.

    Mr. Roskens discussed pressure from the Canadian health food industry for oat products with no presence of wheat. He also said he believes there is a better protocol in Canada for determining “gluten free.”  Finally, he stated that some consumers are showing sensitivity to oat foods, raising the question as to whether oat foods are truly “gluten free.”

    Ms. Nelson stated that some FDA officials are opposed to the practice of recombining the milled grain fractions in the naturally occurring ratio in order to make “whole grain” products.

    The committee briefly discussed the considerations of whether soft wheat bran could be combined with hard wheat flour as a means of reconstituting a whole grain product.

    The committee also discussed the issue of customers pushing for microbiological testing on milled products. It was pointed out that such testing could unnecessarily trigger reporting under the Reportable Food Registry. The NAMA/Sperber microbiologics paper should be helpful in explaining why widespread testing is unwarranted.

5. Fumigants – Jim Bair
  • Status of MB Critical Use Exemptions
    Mr. Bair reported that NAMA’s 2012 CUE request has received approval of 2012 Critical Use Exemption from technical staff in the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), with final review (and expected approval) at UNEP meeting in November 2011.  The 2013 CUE has been sent from US government to UNEP with official request and recommendation. In August, NAMA submitted a 50-page CUE application for continued use through CY2014. That request included, for the first time, detailed data on every methyl bromide fumigation on a mill by mill basis for CY2008-2010, as required by EPA.
  • Proposed revocation of SF residue tolerances
    Mr. Bair stated that he has submitted 47-page comment letter to US EPA responding to the Agency’s proposal to revoke the residue tolerances and cancel associated uses of sulfuryl fluoride (SF), the only known and registered alternative to methyl bromide. Also, he said, NAMA was an active leader in the Sulfuryl Fluoride Agricultural Coalition. Among other activities the SFAC coordinated a bi-partisan letter from nine US Senators to the EPA Administrator expressing concern with the proposed SF cancellation.
  • Preparing for sanitation with reduced fumigants
    Mr. Bair discussed his conversations with the IAOM Food Protection Committee (FPC) regarding developing guidance materials to assist millers in the transition away from fumigations. The IAOM/FPC will begin developing those materials however given the magnitude of the task it is likely to take at least a year to complete.
6. Enogen Corn
  • Update on Syngenta advisory committee and tour- Bruce Roskens, Pepsi/Quaker, Don Sullins
    Mr. Roskens described his recent participation in a tour of Enogen cornfields in NW Kansas. He reported that 5,200 acres of Enogen are under production by 17 farmers in 39 fields. Other than Bruce, Will Duensing was the only other participant of the tour led by Jack Bernens of Syngenta.  Bruce reported that it appears that appropriate isolation and signage on fields and bins are in place. He said the corn is thriving and estimated the yield at about 200 bushels/acre.  The Enogen stewardship plan calls for isolation by 12 border rows, but in practical terms the borders are 16 rows since the participating farmers have 16 row planters. Training of famers on appropriate seed handling and cleanout of machinery has been executed. Enogen expects to double production in 2012.
  • Refusal to provide samples – Mary Waters – Ms. Waters described frustration with Syngenta’s refusal to provide Enogen samples for food functionality testing unless the recipient signs a confidentiality agreement. Committee members agreed that it would be pointless for any NAMA representative to agree to those terms since that would prevent the sharing of any data that might be generated. Syngenta claims that other stakeholders have signed the agreement in order to do testing, but that claim has not been verified.It is our understanding their are at least one major food manufacturer is considering implementing contract language requiring suppliers to warranty that no Enogen is present in product shipments. The Enogen production contract available on the Syngenta website indicates liability for escapes of Enogen is the responsibility of the grower.
  • Activist litigation – Jim Bair
    Mr. Bair described conversations he has had with anti-biotech activists regarding Enogen. The activists indicated they are working toward filing a lawsuit to stop Enogen planting and now need a party with standing that they can represent.
  • Organic Concerns- Creation of USDA biotech advisory committee – Jim Bair
    Mr. Bair discussed the AC21 biotech advisory committee created by USDA. The committee has no representation from commercial grain handling and processing. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has charged the committee to generate ideas for compensation mechanisms to address economic losses by growers when the value of their crops is reduced due to the unintended presence of biotech materials.
7. Regulation of biotechnology – Jim Bair
  • Trait developers legislation – Jim Bair
    Mr. Bair stated that draft legislation promoted by at least on biotech trait developer would accelerate the process for approving new traits, however that legislation has been put on hold by the House Agriculture Committee.
  • Export concerns & litigation on signage – Jim Bair
    Mr. Bair discussed a Syngenta lawsuit filed in federal court against a grain handler/exporter seeking response to the grain handler posting signs in its grain elevators stating it would not accept specific varieties of soybeans and corn that have not received regulatory approval in China.  Mr. Mennel stated that NAMA needs to follow this legal action closely and consider filing an amicus brief supporting millers’ right to buy and sell to and from whomever they choose.
8. Research – Sherri Lehman
  • Changes at Wooster Lab
    Ms. Lehman reviewed the current situation at the Wooster Soft Wheat Quality Lab.  Research leader Ed Souza has left to join private industry, Midwest-area director Frank Flora has retired and Meera Kwan’s position has been vacant for over a year.  Dr. Peg Redinbaugh will serve as interim director at Wooster and Larry Chandler, new Midwest-area director, has oversight responsibility for the continuity of programs at Wooster.  Don Mennel mentioned his conversations with ARS staff who indicated that recruitment for Ed Souza’s job would be put on hold until the ARS budget situation becomes clear.  Carl Schwinke suggested, and the group agreed,  a letter should be sent supporting filling the position as soon as possible and  making recommendations for Ed’s replacement.  Mr. Mennel said that ARS would not be entertaining candidates until more was known on the budget front.

    Ms. Lehman reported that the NAMA grant for the Souza genomics project, approved at the March Soft wheat Division meeting, would be delayed for at least a year as recommended by Ed Souza and Gina Brown-Guedira.

  • ARS Funding
    Ms. Lehman reported on the current status of Federal funding for agriculture research, noting that the Senate Appropriations Committee finished their work on their FY 2012 Agriculture spending bill.  A total of $2.309 billion was allocated for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and ARS.

    The Senate restored $100 million in funding to ARS from the House version of the bill, though it is still a 12 percent decrease from FY 2010 level.  The Senate funded NIFA’s key grant program at $266 million, equal to FY 2011 levels.

  • Dr. Roger Beachy to speak at annual meeting
    Mr. Bair announced that Dr. Roger Beachy would be speaking at the NAMA annual meeting in Colorado next month. Beachy is emeritus director of the Danforth Plant Center in St. Louis and is a leader in the development of crops to meet global food needs.
9. Updates
  • Wheat Summit – Jim Bair
    Representatives from across the U.S. wheat value chain, from growers to food companies, met in Chicago for Wheat Summit IV. At the first Wheat Summit in 2006, participants acknowledged the importance of improving the competitiveness of wheat compared to competing crops. Five years later, the same group has “identified a number of critical areas of agreement when it comes to paving the way for the responsible introduction of biotechnology.” Those areas include providing consumers with a choice, guarding the quality of wheat, and reasonable tolerances for future non-biotech shipments. Dana Peterson, chief executive officer of the National Association of Wheat Growers; Alan Tracy, president of U.S. Wheat Associates; Mary Waters, president of the North American Millers’ Association and Lee Sanders, senior vice president of the American Bakers Association, jointly hosted the meeting.
  • KSU – creation of NAMA instructor of milling – Mary Waters
    Ms. Waters discussed the newly-created NAMA instructor of milling at Kansas State University.  KSU is currently soliciting recommendations for the post. Additionally, KSU already needs to fill two milling professor positions in the department. Committee members expressed some concern about the respective roles of KSU and IAOM, that is who should be responsible for short courses vs. core curriculum.
  • Interns visit to Washington, DC – Mary Waters
    Ms. Waters described the day-long program for milling interns on August 3. Four interns from two companies participated in meetings with EPA, the American Bakers Association and several Congressional offices.
  • Food safety – regulatory timeline and comments submitted – Sherri Lehman
    Ms. Lehman briefed the committee on the implementation progress of the Food Safety Modernization Act, noting that two rules became effective July 3, 2011, – Administrative Detention of Foods, and the Authority to Suspend Registration of Food Facilities.  NAMA has submitted comment to FDA on Preventive Controls
10. Other new business
  • Research
    Mr. Fassezke announced that Michigan growers had passed a referendum for an assessment of 0.5% of the value of the wheat crop with revenue dedicated to supporting wheat research.
  • Allergens
    Committee members inquired about the food allergen research that has been planned for several years at the University of Nebraska and its ultimate outcome. Mr. Bair was recently in communication with Professor Steve Taylor, director of the research, and he will report back to the committee with an update.  He was to speak at the Corn Dry Milling Conference but was ill.
11. Adjournment – There being no other business the committee adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Bair, Vice President

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