A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Monday, August 21, 2006
Posted 3:28 PM by Luigi
Lebot on UK joining EU Kava ban - Vanuatu must act
From Port Vila Presse. By Vincent Lebot, August 14, 2006.
A local expert on kava, Vincent Lebot says there is a need for Vanuatu and the other regional countries to make a policy decision to put an end to the ban on kava imposed by European countries.
Dr Lebot commented this week following the decision of the United Kingdom to uphold the ban on kava following the completion of the results of the study and research done by UK scientists following the ban imposed by Germany and France.
The action taken by the two European countries in 2002 followed allegations made by the health authorities in Germany that kava may cause liver cancer.
"Now kava is illegal in Germany, France and England and the scientists do not know what they are going to do. In this situation, I think there is a need to make a political decision. Germany, France and England are sovereign nations and we cannot change how they are thinking. If they are afraid of kava, it is finished," Lebot says.
He says that in the region, people know that kava is safe but they also know that kava will not be safe if preparations are not correctly carried out. Flaking of the skin can occur. Europeans have no knowledge of how to prepare kava.
"What we, the countries in the region, have to do now is to ask the scientists in Europe to come over and conduct a proper study on kava in the countries that grow it," says Vincent Lebot.
The UK authorities took the decision last month that herbal kava is to remain banned in both medicinal and food products following a review of the latest evidence weighing up its reputed benefits for alleviating anxiety and inducing sleep, against the risk of liver toxicity.
In Europe they don't use the term 'kava', but 'kava kava'. It is a herb from the pepper family with a long history of use in the in some Pacific islands countries and more recently in some EU countries, the US and Australia, as herbal medicine and in foods such as tea, cereal products, smoothies and sport drinks.
The UK's Food Standards Agency, FSA, and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, MHRA, both dismissed the reinstatement of the UK kava kava market last month, even though some within the herbal products industry have maintained that grounds for the ban were unmerited.
However at the time of the original ban Professor Edzard Ernst, chair of complimentary medicine at Exeter University said that it went too far. For him, kava is proven to be effective in treating anxiety. Looking at the total risk, it is safer than synthetic drugs. He said that if we are going to ban kava today, then we should have banned Valium twenty years ago.
In Vanuatu, kava is one the main sources of income for the population in the rural area and, since the ban in 2002, there has been a great effort to improve and to maintain good quality in kava with the initiative taken by government and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to encourage the planting of 10 noble varieties of kava.
On 28 July, there was a signing of financial convention between France and Vanuatu. Under this convention, the government of France is giving the money and the scientists to carry out a study on Vanuatu kava in order to control and improve the quality.
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