Challenges - Part 1

As Oat Newsletter editor, I collect information from multiple sources and disseminate it to the community primarily through Oat Newsletter updates/emails, OatMail, and ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter). The biggest challenge for me comes in how to package that information and get it out to you in a timely manner. As the old saying goes, “it never rains, it pours”, and so this update is in two parts!

Challenges can sometimes be good things, and, if you or someone you know is up for it, there is an employment opportunity for a Food Technologist/Chemist at the USDA-ARS Cereals Research Unit in Fargo, ND! The deadline to apply is March 20th. Please note that this position is open only to US citizens or nationals. Other job postings are listed in the latest “Weekly Web Harvest” in the “Community News" section.

Grain safety and quality has become a hot-button issue in North America. An article challenging the safety of oats grown in Canada and used to make food products in the USA was recently published in the “Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology”. Most of the authors are members of the Environmental Working Group, which has targeted oats before. The article states that the plant growth regulator (PGR) chlormequat (Manipulator) was found in various oat products, including some that had been made using organic oats. It is acknowledged in the original article, however, that the amounts found were orders of magnitude less than what is currently considered harmful.

The reason the article has become problematic is that the mainstream media has picked up the story; e.g., ”Pesticide linked to reproductive issues found in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and other oat-based foods” and "Study finds chlormequat in Cheerios and Quaker products: What to know about the pesticide". Since then, a number of articles challenging the premise that oats from Canada contain dangerous levels of this chemical have also appeared; e.g.,

Some companies, however, are advocating taking a cautious approach, and there are questions regarding what the effects of the chemical are on grain quality and whether PGRs are even useful on oats. It remains to be seen what actions will be taken by producers and other companies.

I will leave you with a taste of what challenges will be discussed in part 2 of this update, which will be posted next week. If you wish to have any of your material sown in the demonstration plots in Saskatoon for the American Oat Workers’ Conference this July, please contact Aaron Beattie ( as soon as possible!

Enjoy your weekend, and Happy International Women’s Day to my fellow women tomorrow, March 8th!