Stevia First Corporation Announces USDA Support for Stevia Herbicide Trials
Mar 18, 2013
SACRAMENTO, CA--Stevia First Corp. (
Stevia First Corp., together with researchers from the USDA and UC Davis, have helped move clethodim into advanced status within the national IR-4 Program, part of the USDA's Specialty Crops Project (http://ir4.rutgers.edu/). In 2010, much less than 1% of global stevia leaf cultivation occurred in the United States, and as a result there are very few organic and conventional agrochemical products specifically identified as stevia leaf cultivation aids in the US. Currently, farmers must pursue off-label use exemptions for the non-labeled products already in use with other crops. In addition, stevia is increasingly capturing the attention of state agricultural regulators, but with little crop tolerance and chemical residue data available in the US, regulations governing agrochemical use for stevia cultivation are subject to potentially rapid change. The advancement of clethodim in the IR-4 program is an important step in providing stevia growers with safe, consistently reliable, and effective tools that enable long-term domestic stevia leaf production.
Stevia First Corp. is currently using California grown stevia leaf for a number of ongoing R&D projects. Leaf is being used as feedstock for novel fermentation processes, to validate modern stevia extraction and purification methods, and to obtain new plant genomic information. Fermentation-based stevia production methods may bypass or greatly diminish the need for stevia leaf production, which by some estimates accounts for 70% or more of the total costs of traditional stevia extract production. Through deployment of the Company's fermentation and agricultural technologies, Stevia First Corp. aims to create a sustainable domestic supply of great-tasting stevia products that is not dependent on overseas stevia plantations.
"These actions taken in concert with USDA and UC Davis researchers could help provide American growers with a potent tool for conventional stevia cultivation," said Robert Brooke, CEO of Stevia First. "We're excited to be a catalyst within the USDA's IR-4 Program, and to support both conventional and organic domestic stevia leaf production. Ensuring a robust supply of California stevia leaf is a broad strategic aim of ours, and this is but one of many examples where meaningful progress is being made today."
About Stevia First Corp. (
Stevia First Corp. is seeking to establish a vertically-integrated enterprise in the U.S. that uses technological expertise in fermentation-based stevia production and improves upon traditional stevia farming and processing methods. Stevia First's U.S. operations are located in the heart of California's Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. For more information visit: www.steviafirst.com.
About the Stevia Industry
The market for all-natural, zero-calorie stevia sweeteners is expanding rapidly. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates stevia intake could eventually replace 20-30% of all dietary sweeteners. The total global sweetener market was estimated at $58.3 billion in 2010. For more information visit: www.steviafirst.com.
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