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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Prince George's County, Maryland's hidden-in-plain-sight, 21st century science research facility

               Where does nutrition information about beef and pork come from?  The answer: Prince George's County, Maryland's hidden-in-plain-sight, 21st century science research facility: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Data Laboratory (NDL) which is part of the research campus at BARC. BARC is shorthand for the Henry A Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, the largest in the world. One would imagine that the county makes this a center piece of economic development, and one would be least up to now.

               BARC's NDL lab just released a report of its collaboration with the beef industry and various universities. BARC has conducted several research studies designed to update or expand the nutrient data on beef and pork cuts in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR).[1] 

               According to USDA's website, "These studies have not only provided current and accurate estimates of beef [and pork] data to update SR, but the study results are now being incorporated into a data set that can be used for nutrient labeling.  NDL has developed a reference called the USDA Nutrient Data Set for Retail Beef Cuts, Release 2.0 which presents beef data in an easily usable table format.[2]   

               The question I have for Prince George's County and Maryland is why we are not actively working in partnership to take advantage of USDA's technology transfer programs as a tool for economic development? Can't we think of something else besides retail malls? How about a state and county incubator directed at bio-agro-tech solutions that takes advantage of the leasing authority for research that BARC and NAL have?[3]

               The State of Maryland has as one of its key focus for economic  development a commitment to "work with area research institutions,  universities/colleges and the private sector to develop a strategy for connecting researchers with federal and State resources and funding opportunities to aid new business development."[4] USDA-ARS BARC through its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) program is the primary tool linking government and industry researchers. This program has sat here unsupported by any Prince George's County initiative since 1986. The program, authorized under the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, allows federal laboratories and businesses to form partnerships that help move new technologies to the marketplace.

               What exactly are we here in Prince George's County waiting for?

[1] Rosalie Marion Bliss. Nutrient Data in Time for the New Year. January 13, 2012. [accessed January 19, 2012]

[2][2] USDA Nutrient Data Set for Retail Beef Cuts, Release 2.0. [accessed January 19, 2012]

"This data set provides retailers with easier access to the most accurate beef nutrient data for the purpose of on-pack nutrition labeling and for nutrition claims. This data set focuses on the beef cuts identified by USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) proposed labeling regulations for fresh, single-ingredient meats in addition to some new Beef Value Cuts. The FSIS, an agency of the USDA, is the public health agency responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged."

[3] USDA-ARS-BARC Seeks Expressions of Interest to Lease  This procurement is for an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) opportunity for 5 separate parcels located within the Beltsville Agriculture Research Campus in Beltsville, Maryland. USDA's objective for this RFP is to receive proposals from a prospective Offeror from qualified private or public entities interested in leading the development and long-term operation of facilities to promote the mission of ARS and the research programs at BARC. Offerors are expected to have either a collaborative agreement in place or a plan of a potential project with current research program at BARC. Before a lease can be signed a collaborator research agreement must in place. 

[4] Federal Facilities Advisory Board. Interim Report To The Governor And Legislature. February 2011. [accessed January 19, 2012]

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