Health, wellness driving VRIC research

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
June 29, 2011
By Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
June 29, 2011, Vineland, Ont – Three new research scientists have joined the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC). Dr. Bernard Goyette (post harvest technologies), Dr. Valerio Primomo (vegetable breeder), and Dr. Anissa Poleatewich (plant pathology), bring their respective research expertise and experience to Vineland.

“So much of horticulture is focused on the fresh market,” said Dr. Jim Brandle, Vineland CEO. “Having a differentiated product, particularly with healthy, local or sustainable attributes, is essential to meeting market demand and creating a favourable price point for the grower. The work of Dr. Goyette, Dr. Primomo and Dr. Poleatewich in areas of storage, handling, packaging, biocontrol and variety breeding will also positively influence the national discussion on Canadian food security and food sovereignty.”

Dr. Poleatewich has joined Vineland from Penn State University. Her area of research will include development of biocontrols and other alternatives to chemical pesticides for control of plant diseases and weeds with an emphasis on integrated pest management in vegetable, fruit and ornamental crops grown in Ontario. Diseases in these crops continue to be a major challenge for growers. Dr. Poleatewich will start work immediately in assessing plant pathogen threats to local varieties of ethno-cultural vegetables, and more broadly diseases in storage.

Dr. Bernard Goyette joins Vineland from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). He is concerned with postharvest handling, including pre-cooling, storage and packaging to maximize quality. Dr. Goyette is also studying the effects of physical treatments on vegetables to enhance quality attributes of fresh produce. Initial work in tomatoes has proven highly successful in increasing levels of lycopene.

“I recently met with Dr. Goyette to discuss immediate issues for the tender fruit industry,” said Len Troup, chair of the Ontario Tender Producers’ Marketing Board. “Our growers produce superb product but proper handling and storage management practices continue to be a challenge. To hold a premium place in the market we need product to reach the consumer in its best possible condition which also includes consumer-tested and technology-proven packaging.”

Dr. Primomo comes to Vineland from Pioneer Hi-Bred as a molecular breeder for several crops. At Vineland, he will deliver germplasm, varieties and traits to the vegetable industry that will have commercial value to Canadian growers. Dr. Primomo begins his work with an assessment of worldwide breeding programs and genetic seed banks that could have value for breeding varieties adapted to Canadian growing regions.

“As food producers we are also in the health business,” said Anne Fowlie, executive vice president of the Canadian Horticultural Council. “Horticulture has an important role to play when it comes to the health of Canadians. Diet and lifestyle related health care costs Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars each year ($4.3 billion in 2004). In Ontario alone, the provincial government was expected to spend approximately 46 per cent of its total budget on health care in 2010. We are collaborating with Vineland to lead research that is focused on locally-produced fruits and vegetables that will contribute to a healthy diet.”

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