2014 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo
More complete photographic coverage of the meeting can be found in the digital and mobile editions of Inform.
“If I had one dollar to spend, would I be better off using it to influence regulators or the customers who buy my product?”
That was just one of many insightful questions raised during the 2014 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, held May 4–7 in San Antonio, Texas. More than 1,500 professionals representing 46 countries attended the Joint World Congress with the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society (JOCS), where they learned about the latest scientific and technical research, shared practical technical and business solutions, recognized individuals for their scientific achievements and service to the Society, and grappled with numerous market, regulatory, and environmental challenges.
Trans fats, which jumped to the forefront of challenges in November 2013, when the US Food and Drug Administration announced its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food, were the focus of an emerging topics symposium, a technical session featuring innovative technologies for trans-fat reduction in shortening and oils, and a special afternoon session that brought food scientists, industry representatives, regulators, and public education groups together to consider the practical implications of eliminating PHOs from manufactured foods.
Alan McHughen, author of the award-winning book Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods (2000), was a special invited speaker. The public sector educator, scientist, and consumer advocate spoke at the Professional Educator’s Common Interest Group session about dispelling popular misconceptions related to genetically modified organisms (GMO). His presentation at the Biotechnology Division Dinner, “GMO Policy, the Impending International Trade Train Wreck,” provided a unique perspective into consumers’ understanding of genetically modified foods and how the biotechnology industry can address their concerns.
Other key issues that prompted vigorous discussion included formulating home and personal care products in a changing regulatory environment, how to supply enough oils—particularly healthful omega-3s—to meet the needs of the world’s growing population, the food vs. fuel debate, sustainability, and traceability. A technical session on suspensions, emulsions, and foams sponsored jointly by the Surfactants & Detergents and Edible Applications Technology Divisions allowed professionals from these two areas to explore common ground and exchange ideas, while a total of 450 oral and 175 poster presentations addressed the technical intricacies of analyzing 2- and 3-MCPD esters and glycidol in edible oils and whole foods, methods for identifying adulteration in vegetable oils, determining the composition and quality of algal and marine oils, energy-related applications of surfactants, the use of enzymes and other advances in oilseed processing, new uses for glycerine, evidence-based claims for foods and drugs, lipid crystallization, and many other topics.
The Expo, which featured 71 exhibitors, gave attendees an opportunity to see the latest oils- and fats-related equipment and technologies. Three general networking receptions, the AOCS Annual Business Meeting/Luncheon, and the Expo Sweet Retreat offered opportunities to interact with colleagues over lunch, a glass of wine, or dessert; and several scheduled networking events were held specifically for newcomers, students, young professionals, and professional educators.
Best of all, meeting attendees joined and beta-tested a new information and networking platform, called inform|connect, that will enable them to continue the conversation and build on the connections they made at the meeting by collaborating, networking, and exchanging information on an ongoing basis with other professionals who are similarly interested in fats- and oils-based products and technologies. Were you unable to attend the meeting or did you forget to join while you were there? inform|connect is a great way to catch up with your colleagues.
AM&E Photos and Captions
Alan McHughen gave an invited presentation, “GMO Policy, the Impending International Trade Train Wreck,” at the Biotechnology Division dinner. The educator, scientist, consumer advocate, and author of Pandora's Picnic Basket: The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods has firsthand experience with the technical, biosafety, and policy issues from both sides of the regulatory process. As molecular geneticist, he developed internationally approved commercial crop varieties using both conventional breeding and genetic engineering (GE) techniques. He also had input to the development of US and Canadian regulations governing the safety of GE crops and foods, served on US National Academy of Sciences panels investigating the environmental effects of transgenic plants and the safety of GE foods, and served as a reviewer for a third panel that looked at sustainability of US agriculture and the economic impacts of biotechnology on US agriculture. McHughen uses understandable, consumer-friendly language to explode the myths and explore the genuine risks of GE technology. He recently served as a US Senior Policy Analyst at the White House.
One of the livelier events, Newcomer Speed Networking, was shoulder-to-shoulder, and people kept asking if there was room for one more. Word had spread that the event was the best way for people new to the organization to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time.
Attendees were encouraged to join and help beta test inform|connect, AOCS’ new community and information resource for people interested in fats- and oils-based products and technologies. Completing a personal profile put individuals in touch with a vast network of experienced individuals. Members of this network can talk globally one-on-one. They can share ideas, resources, and events with individual members or the entire global community. They can receive information in real time, through an RSS feed, or as a daily digest. They can post a question or comment; blog or start a discussion thread; participate in discussion forums; or upload, share, organize, tag, rate, and download documents from a growing resource library for biobased products and technologies.
People who completed a personal profile in inform|connect were pictured on the cover of Inform magazine as Scientist of the Year.
AOCS President Steven Hill was lassoed at the AOCS Annual Business Meeting/Luncheon, where guests were treated after their meals to Texas-style roping and fast and fancy gun handling by horse trainer, ranch hand, Wells Fargo stage driver, and cowboy extraordinaire, Ben Stafford Rodgers.
Established professionals hosted tables for young professionals during the AOCS Annual Business Meeting/Luncheon. This mentoring activity gave AOCS’s younger members a chance to meet and seek career advice from members who have led the industry and served the community for many years.
Registrants from around the world donated a wide variety of international toys (pictured) and cash donations totaling $161.25 to AOCS’ San Antonio Toy Drive. The toys and money were given to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
The19th Annual AOCS Foundation Silent Auction raised nearly $7,000 for student programs. Best-selling items included an Echo Smartpen and Livescribe Notebooks donated by Mondelez, a Vivitar HD action sports camera donated by Crown Iron Works, a Nike golf bag with golf balls and accessories donated by ADM, Bose acoustic noise-canceling headphones donated by Wacker Chemical Corp., and a16 GB iPod Nano donated by Graham Corp.
The AOCS Expo featured instrumentation, equipment, technologies, and services from 71 international companies.
A total of 175 poster presentations on almost every conceivable oils- and fats-related topic were displayed in the Expo Hall, where registrants attending the Expo Sweet Retreat and three evening networking receptions could view and discuss the results over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.
Who doesn’t love pie? The Expo Sweet Retreat, free for everyone having a full registration, was a chance to explore exhibits and to network while indulging one’s sweet tooth.
Six AOCS Honored students were recognized during the special Awards Plenary and Recognition session. Pictured from left to right: Taiwo Akanbi, from Deakin University, Australia; Ketinun Kittipongpittaya and Ying Yang from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA; Mia Falkeborg from Aarhus University, Denmark; Darren Gouk Shiou Wah from the University of Malaya, Malaysia; and Xiaowei Zhang from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, People’s Republic of China.
Michael Flock (center) received the Thomas H. Smouse Memorial Fellowship, which encourages and supports outstanding graduate research. Flock is a doctoral student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University, USA, where he investigates the role of fatty acids and their metabolites in modulating the immune response. Flock’s advisor is AOCS member Penny Kris-Etherton. He is pictured here with incoming AOCS President Steven Hill and Past President Timothy G. Kemper.
During the AOCS Business Meeting/Luncheon, AOCS presented the president of the Japanese Oil Chemists’ Society (JOCS), Mitsuo Miyazawa (center). with a print by Illinois photographer, Larry Kanfer, titled “Midsummer Respite.” Miyazawa presented AOCS with two crystal goblets. The gifts demonstrated the mutual appreciation each association had for the other in making the Joint World Congress with the JOCS a success.
The gavel was passed to incoming AOCS President Steven Hill. In his first address as president, Hill talked about AOCS’ need to repopulate the governing board and other leadership positions with fresh talent, and he urged members to complete a questionnaire via the AOCS website that will be used to select potential candidates for leadership positions.