Volume 22. Number 5. 2017

The Science Behind Sugar Reduction

Sugar has come under increasing public scrutiny from policy makers and consumers due to its caloric contribution to the diet and the rise of overweight and obese populations of children and adults throughout the world. To assist researchers and product developers in understanding the science and technology in formulating with reduced sugar and alternative sweeteners, IFT has compiled 13 review papers and studies from its peer-reviewed scientific journals in a special web section on Sugar Reduction. IFT Weekly 5 October 2017.

Brain Cells Sensing Amino Acids Lead To Feelings Of Satiety

A study by researchers from the University of Warwick, published in the journal Molecular Metabolism has found that a type of cell in the brain can detect certain amino acids and release signals to other parts of the brain that deal with feelings of satiety. Food E-News Edition 646, 4 Oct 2017. For the full article.

The Moringa Tree Enters The Arsenal Of Treatments Against Chronic Diseases

Although native to the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in India, Moringa can thrive in most tropical and subtropical regions. This tree is a food, a vegetable, and a medicine. Every part of the tree can be consumed; leaves and young fruits (pods) as food; and the seeds, bark, flowers, and roots as medicine. The leaves are highly nutritious. Once harvested and dried, they contain 30% protein, all essential amino acids, and have abundant levels of vitamins and minerals. The trees have a natural defence mechanism against environmental stress and pests. These are unique chemical compounds, known as phytochemicals, which include antioxidants and defence compounds. When consumed these compounds also protect people against various conditions and diseases. The bioactive compounds in moringa are called isothiocyanates (ITCs) and are similar to ones found in broccoli, cabbage and rocket – giving them a little peppery taste. Research showed their ability to reduce chronic inflammation, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, obesity and inflammatory bowel disorders in both cellular and animal models. The Conversation. 2 October 2017.

Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization

improves on retorting by minimizing time-temperature requirements to produce healthier foods and cleaner labels. We interview a company principal about packaging options and requirements for MATS.

It isn’t every day that a new thermal processing method comes along, but that rare day occurred last week when 915 Labs announced plans for the first full-scale Microwave Assisted Thermal Sterilization (MATS) system that’s on order for installation at a North American food company processing facility. MATS is an alternative to retort processing used for canned foods and other products and packaging.

Provided by a member without publication references. ( Ed.

EU Court Rules that Prejudices on GMO's are Unfounded

"Do we really wish to have a science-based society or should we let ourselves be governed by prejudices and misconceptions?" ask Roberto Defez, a molecular microbiologist at the Italian National Research Council, and Dennis Eriksson, a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. They asked this question in their article in Euractiv, which was published after the EU court ruled that prejudices on GM foods are unfounded.

In the article, they narrated the story of two farmers in Northeastern Italy who wanted to cultivate GM maize. Giorgio Fidenato, one of the farmers, had complained that Italy had denied him the right to grow GM maize (MON810) because of an Italian law passed in 2013. On September 13, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a judgment that the Italian law had no legal basis and thus was invalid.

This sentence is a milestone. GMO's have always been a psychodrama in Europe. After years of controversy among the EU member states, the EU in 2015 lifted the white flag and with the Directive 2015/412 handed over to the individual countries the decision whether or not to allow cultivation of MON810 or any future GMO's approved for cultivation in the EU…The CJEU judgment has now presented a great opportunity to start recovering a rational, science-based approach. The technology to produce GMO's is already old and mainstream. Emerging genome editing technology adds to the diversity of the breeder´s toolbox and provides easy, rapid, precise and powerful means to reduce pesticide inputs as well as help plants to face climate change, the researchers concluded in their article. Crop Biotech Update. 27 September 2017. Read the rest of the article in Euractiv.

Relationship Between Research Outcomes and Risk of Bias, Study Sponsorship, and Author Financial Conflicts of Interest in Reviews of the Effects of Artificially Sweetened Beverages on Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Reviews


Artificially sweetened beverage consumption has steadily increased in the last 40 years. Several reviews examining the effects of artificially sweetened beverages on weight outcomes have discrepancies in their results and conclusions.


To determine whether risk of bias, results, and conclusions of reviews of effects of artificially sweetened beverage consumption on weight outcomes differ depending on review sponsorship and authors’ financial conflicts of interest.


We performed a systematic review of reviews of the effects of artificially sweetened beverages on weight. Two assessors independently screened articles for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risks of bias. We compared risk of bias, results and conclusions of reviews by different industry sponsors, authors’ financial conflict of interest and journal sponsor. We also report the concordance between review results and conclusions.


Artificial sweetener industry sponsored reviews were more likely to have favorable results (3/4) than non-industry sponsored reviews (1/23), RR: 17.25 (95% CI: 2.34 to 127.29), as well as favorable conclusions (4/4 vs. 15/23), RR: 1.52 (95% CI: 1.14 to 2.06). All reviews funded by competitor industries reported unfavorable conclusions (4/4). In 42% of the reviews (13/31), authors’ financial conflicts of interest were not disclosed. Reviews performed by authors that had a financial conflict of interest with the food industry (disclosed in the article or not) were more likely to have favorable conclusions (18/22) than reviews performed by authors without conflicts of interest (4/9), RR: 7.36 (95% CI: 1.15 to 47.22). Risk of bias was similar and high in most of the reviews. Conclusions: Review sponsorship and authors’ financial conflicts of interest introduced bias affecting the outcomes of reviews of artificially sweetened beverage effects on weight that could not be explained by other sources of bias. ILSI Nutrition Briefs. July – August 2017. Publication: PLoS One. 2016 Sep 8;11(9):e0162198.

NAM Adopts Resolution Supporting Biotechnology

The Non-Aligned Movement scientists acknowledged the importance of biotechnology during the technical meeting on Science and Technology in Zimbabwe on August 22-24, 2017. The meeting focused on its theme "Driving Value Addition and Beneficiation" with participating experts from Cuba, Egypt, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Zibabwean biochemist, Prof. Christopher Chetsanga, said in his keynote message that GMOs are safe for human consumption citing the US as an example of a country where biotech products have been consumed for over 20 years.

"Most African countries still fail to take full advantage of biotechnology in agriculture and industry...there are continuing false rumors about GMOs being health hazards to humans. I worked extensively with GMOs when I was working as a professor in the US...there has not been any report of people's health being harmed by these new GMO products," he stressed. Crop Biotech Update. 13 September 2017.

A Tiny Country Feeds The World

The Netherlands has become an agricultural giant, producing abundent crops using reduced resources – and pioneering new ways to fight hunger. In a potato field near the Netherlands' border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in a cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise. From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he is monitoring two drones - a driverles tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air – that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. Van den Borne's production numbers testify to the power of his "precision farming", as it is known. The global average yield of potatoes per acre is about nine tons. Van den Borne's fields reliably produce more than 20.

The copious output is made all the more remarkable by the other side of the balance sheet: inputs. Almost two decades ago, the Dutch made a national commitment to sustainable agriculture under the cry "Twice as much food using half the resources". Since 2000 van den Borne and many fellow farmers have reduced dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90% and they have almost eliminated the use of chemical pesticides on plants in greenhouses.

Amazingly, The Netherlands, bereft of almost every resource thought to be necessary for large scale agriculture, is the world's number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States. National Geographic. September 2017. Pg 83.

Snippets - contributions are welcome. Edited and produced by Dr. B Cole. - / Fax +27 (0)86 625 2869 with the help of the Northern Branch Committee.