Volume 21. Number 4. 2016

American Heart Association sets new added sugar limits for children

The American Heart Association (AHA) has announced a new standard for how much added sugar children should consume a day. Written by a panel of experts that did a comprehensive review of scientific research on the effect of added sugars on children's health, the scientific statement advised that children aged 2-18 should eat or drink less than six teaspoons of added sugars daily, which is equivalent to about 100 calories or 25 g of sugar. IFT Weekly 24 Aug. 2016.

110 Nobel laureates warn Greenpeace of 'crime against humanity' on GMOs

In an open letter addressed to Greenpeace, the United Nations, and the world's governments, a staggering 110 Nobel-winning scientists called upon the organisation to cease its campaign against genetically-modified organisms and biotechnology in agriculture.
The progress of science has its opponents. Chief among them is the environmental movement, often led by the radical activist group, Greenpeace. Originally formed by Vietnam-era anti-war activists to protest nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, the organisation broadened its scope to address many other environmental issues. Over the decades, it has grown into an international behemoth operating in 40 countries, and claiming over three million supporters who donate an annual budget of $360 million. Despite its tax-exempt status in most countries, it is a huge business, forever needing new and more sensational campaigns to make sure the money keeps rolling in.
From laudable beginnings, opposing nuclear bomb testing and environmental pollution, the organisation has become ever-more dogmatically opposed to industry of all kinds. It protests all forms of energy except wind and solar, even though nuclear energy is the safest, greenest form of energy in existence. It protests all forms of mining, although both the wind and solar power industries rely heavily on mining, especially of rare earth metals. These elements are called 'rare' not because of their scarcity, but because they are not concentrated as ore deposits. Extraction of rare earth metals requires strip mining on a vast scale, processing using toxic acids, and leaving vast quantities of radioactive slurry in its wake. Daily Maverick, First Thing, 5 August 2016.

Obama Signs GM Food Labeling Law

U.S President Barack Obama signed the GM food labeling bill into law. The bill was drafted by Senators Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow, which aims to prevent states from issuing mandatory labeling laws and require food manufacturers to use one of three different labels for GM food products: (1) label with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) symbol indicating the presence of GMOs; (2) label using plain language; or (3) add a scanning code that links to ingredient details. Crop Biotech Update 3 Aug 2016.

New Plant Engineering Method to Help Mass Production of Malaria Drug

A new research reports that a novel and inexpensive technique for producing artemisinin, the main ingredient in the most effective treatment for malaria, could help meet global demands for the drug. Artemisinin is produced in low yields by the herb known as sweet wormwood, Artemisia annua.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology have discovered a new way to produce artemisinic acid, the molecule from which artemisinin is derived, in high yields.
Their method involves transferring its metabolic pathway from A. annua into tobacco, a high-biomass crop.
The team calls this approach COSTREL, short for combinatorial supertransformation of transplastomic recipient lines. The first step was to transfer the genes of the artemisinic acid pathway's core set of enzymes into the chloroplast genome of tobacco plants, generating what are known as transplastomic plants. The team then used their best transplastomic tobacco plant line to introduce an additional set of genes into its nuclear genome, generating the COSTREL lines. These remaining genes encode factors that increase the synthesis, or generation, of the acid in ways that are still largely unknown. Crop Biotech Update 15 June 2016.
Read more about this research at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology website.

University Of Florida Study Finds Consumer Knowledge Gap On GM Food

A newly published study from the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) reports that while consumers are aware of genetically modified (GM) crops and food, their knowledge level is limited and often at odds with the facts.
From those sampled, 84 percent supported a mandatory label for food containing GM ingredients, but 80 percent also supported a mandatory label for food containing DNA, which would result in labeling almost all food. "Our research indicates that the term 'GM' may imply to consumers that genetic modification alters the genetic structure of an organism, while other breeding techniques do not," McFadden said. Food Biotech Update 1 June 2016. For more information, read the news release at IFA/IFAS News.

Snippets - contributions are welcome. Edited and produced by Dr. B Cole. - / Fax 011 660 6444 with the help of the Northern Branch Committee.