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

  • CTA
  • SPC
  • CEPaCT

     genebank locations
    Click on the thumbnail to see a map of the locations of Pacific genebanks. Click here to download a regional directory of genebanks in the Pacific, including information on their location, contact details and holdings.

    PAPGREN partners

    Mr William Wigmore
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture
    Department of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 96
    Cook Islands
    Tel: (682) 28711-29720
    Fax: (682) 21881
    Email: cimoa@oyster.net.ck

    Mr Adelino S. Lorens
    Agriculture Pohnpei
    Office of Economic Affairs
    P.O. Box 1028
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Tel: (691) 3202400
    Fax: (691) 3202127
    Email: pniagriculture@mail.fm

    Dr Lois Englberger
    Island Food Community of Pohnpei
    Research Advisor
    P.O. Box 2299
    Pohnpei 96941
    Federated States of Micronesia
    Email: nutrition@mail.fm

    Mr Apisai Ucuboi
    Director of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forest
    Koronivia Research Station
    P.O. Box 77
    Fiji Islands
    Tel: (679) 3477044
    Fax: (679) 3477546-400262
    Email: apisainu@yahoo.com

    Dr Maurice Wong
    Service du Developpement Rural
    B.P. 100
    Tahiti 98713
    French Polynesia
    Tel: (689) 42 81 44
    Fax: (689) 42 08 31
    Email: maurice.wong@rural.gov.pf

    Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
    Head, Research Section
    Division of Agriculture
    Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development
    P.O. Box 267
    Tel: (686) 28096-28108-28080
    Fax: (686) 28121
    Email : agriculture@tskl.net.ki; Beenna_ti@yahoo.com

    Mr Frederick Muller
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 1727
    Majuro 96960
    Marshall Islands
    Tel: (692) 6253206
    Fax: (692) 6257471
    Email: rndsec@ntamar.net

    Mr Herman Francisco
    Bureau of Agriculture
    Ministry of Resources & Development
    P.O. Box 460
    Koror 96940
    Tel: (680) 4881517
    Fax: (680) 4881725
    Email: bnrd@pnccwg.palaunet.com

    Ms Rosa Kambuou
    Principal Scientist PGR
    NARI Dry Lowlands Programme
    Laloki Agricultural Research Station
    P.O. Box 1828
    National Capital District
    Papua New Guinea
    Tel: (675) 3235511
    Fax: (675) 3234733
    Email: kambuou@global.net.pg

    Ms Laisene Samuelu
    Principal Crop Development Officer
    Crops Division
    Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries & Meteorology
    P.O. Box 1874
    Tel: (685) 23416-20605
    Fax: (685) 20607-23996
    Email: lsamuelu@lesamoa.net

    Mr Jimi Saelea
    Director of Research
    Department of Agriculture and Livestock
    P.O. Box G13
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 27987

    Mr Tony Jansen
    Planting Materials Network
    Kastom Gaden Association
    Burns Creek, Honiara
    P.O. Box 742
    Solomon Islands
    Tel: (677) 39551
    Email: kastomgaden@solomon.com.sb

    Mr Finao Pole
    Head of Research
    Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
    P.O. Box 14
    Tel: (676) 23038
    Fax: (676) 24271
    Email: thaangana@hotmail.com

    Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
    Head of Research
    Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
    Private Mail Bag 040
    Port Vila
    Tel: (678) 22525
    Fax: (678) 25265
    Email: flehi@hotmail.com

    Other links

    Other CROP agencies
    Forum Secretariat
    University of the South Pacific

    Pacific biodiversity
    Biodiversity hotspots
    Breadfruit Institute
    Hawaiian native plants
    Intellectual property rights
    Nature Conservancy
    WWF South Pacific Program

    Other Pacific organizations
    Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific
    Micronesian Seminar
    Te Puna web directory

    Pacific news
    Cafe Pacific
    CocoNET Wireless
    Island Directory
    Pacific Islands News
    Pacific Islands Report
    Pacific Islands Travel
    Pacific Time
    South Pacific travel
    Time Pacific

    Interested in GIS?



    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Ancient knowledge may slow Global Warming

    From : Center for World Indigenous Studies

    Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the modern era may be recognized when it becomes commonly known that ancient knowledge possessed by Fourth World nations can solve modern problems like global warming. As scientists are beginning to realize, forest practices and jungle management developed more than 2000 years ago in the jungles of Brazil and the forests of the Pacific Northwest and Atlantic Northeast of the United States. Complex Fourth World societies in the Rio Negro (upstream of the Amazon) employed a technique now popularly labeled “slash and char” to manage and grow the jungle in a fashion that balanced carbon releases with carbon sequestration. The terra preta–rich dark soils created by the Manacapuru about A.D. 400 and continued in use by the Paredão from A.D. 700 is made to include charcoal. Charcoal is made from slow. smoldering burns of wood instead of rapid burning. Folding charcoal into otherwise depleted jungle soil adds a binder that allows the soil to retain potassium and phosphorous as well as other minerals and nutrients. At least half of the carbon produced from burning a forest using the charcoal method goes into the soil–a form of carbon sequestration.
    By improving the nutrients in the jungle soil, the makers of terra preta so enriched the soil that new trees grew faster and healthier. The dark soil also provided a powerful, highly nutritious substrate for growing food plants as well.
    This “cooperative management” of the jungle appears to be responsible for the successful development of a great portion of the Brazilian jungle. Yes! Human created jungle. Cooperative management of the jungle produced more jungle, stronger jungle and nutritious foods for sizable populations along the Amazon River centuries before Europeans set foot on the hemisphere’s coasts.
    Cooperative management appears to have been as important in the Pacific Northwest of the United States-Pacific Southwest–of Canada. While conventional scientists suggest that the peoples of this region use slash-and-burn techniques for managing the forests, it is possible that slash-and-char may also have been employed. Partial burns of forests in the Atlantic northeast by Haudenosaunee, Micmac and others created garden forests that were sustained over long periods of time–benefiting the earth and the people.
    The Kyoto treaty signators have a great deal to learn from Fourth World nations. And, Fourth World nations have a great deal to contribute to the debate over global climate change. Fourth World nations that still draw on their ancient knowledge should now apply that knowledge in their own territories; and the Kyoto signators should ask to be invited to the table of negotiations for a new global climate change treaty.
    Pacific coastal nations like the Quinault Indian Nation, the Nuxalk Nation and the Wuikinuxv Nation have the potential for contributing substantially to the reduction of carbon emissions simply as a result of their forest management practices. Like the Menominee Nation that so successfully grew a forest in their territory while the remainder of Wisconsin is denuded, the Haudenosaunee and the nations of Brazil have practiced holistic environmental management–balancing human need with the environment’s capacity to reproduce. All should be seated at the table to engage states’ governments on cooperative environmental management.
    Some leaders in the Fourth World now call this process Holistic Environmental Management. As a body of knowledge, Holistic Environmental Management is an accurate description for the process of creating terra preta and balancing environmental pressures to growing a jungle and a garden.
    (c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies

    * Comments:

    I thought the current news and links on Terra Preta soils and closed-loop pyrolysis would interest you.
    SCIAM Article May 15 07;


    After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales. It just needs to be seen by ethical globally minded companies.

    Could you please consider looking for a champion for this orphaned Terra Preta Carbon Soil Technology.

    The main hurtle now is to change the current perspective held by the IPCC that the soil carbon cycle is a wash, to one in which soil can be used as a massive and ubiquitous Carbon sink via Charcoal. Below are the first concrete steps in that direction;

    Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.

    Potential Carbon Emissions Reductions from Biomass by 2030by Ralph P. Overend, Ph.D. and Anelia Milbrandt
    National Renewable Energy Laboratory


    The organization 25x25 (see 25x'25 - Home) released it's (first-ever, 55-page )"Action Plan" ; see; http://www.25x25.org/storage/25x25/documents/IP%20Documents/ActionPlanFinalWEB_04-19-07.pdf
    On page 29 , as one of four foci for recommended RD&D, the plan lists: "The development of biochar, animal agriculture residues and other non-fossil fuel based fertilizers, toward the end of integrating energy production with enhanced soil quality and carbon sequestration."
    and on p 32, recommended as part of an expanded database aspect of infrastructure: "Information on the application of carbon as fertilizer and existing carbon credit trading systems."

    I feel 25x25 is now the premier US advocacy organization for all forms of renewable energy, but way out in front on biomass topics.

    There are 24 billion tons of carbon controlled by man in his agriculture , I forgot the % that is waste, but when you add all the other cellulose waste which is now dumped to rot or digested or combusted and ultimately returned to the atmosphere as GHG, the balanced number is around 24 Billion tons. So we have plenty of bio-mass.

    Even with all the big corporations coming to the GHG negotiation table, like Exxon, Alcoa, .etc, we still need to keep watch as they try to influence how carbon management is legislated in the USA. Carbon must have a fair price, that fair price and the changes in the view of how the soil carbon cycle now can be used as a massive sink verses it now being viewed as a wash, will be of particular value to farmers and a global cool breath of fresh air for us all.

    If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP web site I've been drafted to co-administer. http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=node

    It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks and probably many others who's back round I don't know have joined.

    Also Here is the Latest BIG Terra Preta Soil news;

    The Honolulu Advertiser: “The nation's leading manufacturer of charcoal has licensed a University of Hawai'i process for turning green waste into barbecue briquets.”

    About a year ago I got Clorox interested in TP soils and Dr. Antal's Plasma Carbonazation process.

    See: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007707280348

    ConocoPhillips Establishes $22.5 Million Pyrolysis Program at Iowa State 04/10/07

    Mechabolic , a pyrolysis machine built in the form of a giant worm to eat solid waste and product char & fuel at the "Burning Man" festival ; http://whatiamupto.com/mechabolic/index.html

    Here is my current Terra Preta posting which condenses the most important stories and links;

    Terra Preta Soils Technology To Master the Carbon Cycle

    Man has been controlling the carbon cycle , and there for the weather, since the invention of agriculture, all be it was as unintentional, as our current airliner contrails are in affecting global dimming. This unintentional warm stability in climate has over 10,000 years, allowed us to develop to the point that now we know what we did,............ and that now......... we are over doing it.

    The prehistoric and historic records gives a logical thrust for soil carbon sequestration.
    I wonder what the soil biome carbon concentration was REALLY like before the cutting and burning of the world's forest, my guess is that now we see a severely diminished community, and that only very recent Ag practices like no-till and reforestation have started to help rebuild it. It makes implementing Terra Preta soil technology like an act of penitence, a returning of the misplaced carbon to where it belongs.

    On the Scale of CO2 remediation:

    It is my understanding that atmospheric CO2 stands at 379 PPM, to stabilize the climate we need to reduce it to 350 PPM by the removal of 230 Billion tons of carbon.

    The best estimates I've found are that the total loss of forest and soil carbon (combined
    pre-industrial and industrial) has been about 200-240 billion tons. Of
    that, the soils are estimated to account for about 1/3, and the vegetation
    the other 2/3.

    Since man controls 24 billion tons in his agriculture then it seems we have plenty to work with in sequestering our fossil fuel CO2 emissions as stable charcoal in the soil.

    As Dr. Lehmann at Cornell points out, "Closed-Loop Pyrolysis systems such as Dr. Danny Day's are the only way to make a fuel that is actually carbon negative". and that " a strategy combining biochar with biofuels could ultimately offset 9.5 billion tons of carbon per year-an amount equal to the total current fossil fuel emissions! "

    Terra Preta Soils Carbon Negative Bio fuels, massive Carbon sequestration, 1/3 Lower CH4 & N2O soil emissions, and 3X FertilityToo

    This some what orphaned new soil technology speaks to so many different interests and disciplines that it has not been embraced fully by any. I'm sure you will see both the potential of this system and the convergence needed for it's implementation.

    The integrated energy strategy offered by Charcoal based Terra Preta Soil technology may
    provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
    structure without climate degradation, other than nuclear power.

    The economics look good, and truly great if we had CO2 cap & trade or a Carbon tax in place.

    .Nature article, Aug 06: Putting the carbon back Black is the new green:

    Here's the Cornell page for an over view:

    University of Beyreuth TP Program, Germany http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org/?q=taxonomy/term/118

    This Earth Science Forum thread on these soils contains further links, and has been viewed by 19,000 self-selected folks. ( I post everything I find on Amazon Dark Soils, ADS here):

    There is an ecology going on in these soils that is not completely understood, and if replicated and applied at scale would have multiple benefits for farmers and environmentalist.

    Terra Preta creates a terrestrial carbon reef at a microscopic level. These nanoscale structures provide safe haven to the microbes and fungus that facilitate fertile soil creation, while sequestering carbon for many hundred if not thousands of years. The combination of these two forms of sequestration would also increase the growth rate and natural sequestration effort of growing plants.

    The reason TP has elicited such interest on the Agricultural/horticultural side of it's benefits is this one static:

    One gram of charcoal cooked to 650 C Has a surface area of 400 m2 (for soil microbes & fungus to live on), now for conversion fun:

    One ton of charcoal has a surface area of 400,000 Acres!! which is equal to 625 square miles!! Rockingham Co. VA. , where I live, is only 851 Sq. miles

    Now at a middle of the road application rate of 2 lbs/sq ft (which equals 1000 sqft/ton) or 43 tons/acre yields 26,000 Sq miles of surface area per Acre. VA is 39,594 Sq miles.

    What this suggest to me is a potential of sequestering virgin forest amounts of carbon just in the soil alone, without counting the forest on top.

    To take just one fairly representative example, in the classic Rothampstead experiments in England where arable land was allowed to revert to deciduous temperate woodland, soil organic carbon increased 300-400% from around 20 t/ha to 60-80 t/ha (or about 20-40 tons per acre) in less than a century (Jenkinson & Rayner 1977). The rapidity with which organic carbon can build up in soils is also indicated by examples of buried steppe soils formed during short-lived interstadial phases in Russia and Ukraine. Even though such warm, relatively moist phases usually lasted only a few hundred years, and started out from the skeletal loess desert/semi-desert soils of glacial conditions (with which they are inter-leaved), these buried steppe soils have all the rich organic content of a present-day chernozem soil that has had many thousands of years to build up its carbon (E. Zelikson, Russian Academy of Sciences, pers. comm., May 1994). http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/carbon1.html

    All the Bio-Char Companies and equipment manufactures I've found:

    Carbon Diversion

    Eprida: Sustainable Solutions for Global Concerns

    BEST Pyrolysis, Inc. | Slow Pyrolysis - Biomass - Clean Energy - Renewable Ene

    Dynamotive Energy Systems | The Evolution of Energy

    Ensyn - Environmentally Friendly Energy and Chemicals

    Agri-Therm, developing bio oils from agricultural waste

    Advanced BioRefinery Inc.

    Technology Review: Turning Slash into Cash

    The International Agrichar Initiative (IAI) conference held at Terrigal, NSW, Australia in 2007. ( http://iaiconference.org/home.html ) ( The papers from this conference are now being posted at their home page)

    If pre-Columbian Kayopo Indians could produce these soils up to 6 feet deep over 15% of the Amazon basin it seems that our energy and agricultural industries could also product them at scale.

    Harnessing the work of this vast number of microbes and fungi changes the whole equation of energy return over energy input (EROEI) for food and Bio fuels. I see this as the only sustainable agricultural strategy if we no longer have cheap fossil fuels for fertilizer.

    We need this super community of wee beasties to work in concert with us by populating them into their proper Soil horizon Carbon Condos.

    Erich J. Knight
    Shenandoah Gardens
    1047 Dave Berry Rd.
    McGaheysville, VA. 22840
    (540) 289-9750
    Post a Comment

    "Working Together for Plants" - 5th Planta Europa Conference
    From : BGCI
    With 2007 marking the end of the European Plant Conservation Strategy (EPCS), the conference provided a timely opportunity to review progress towards the EPCS targets and to assess future needs for protecting Europe’s flora. The presence of BGCI and representatives from a number of European botanic gardens was welcomed, and the importance of partnerships across the plant conservation community was highlighted.
    The conference included a number of thematic workshops, where experts from throughout Europe provided examples and case studies on the successes in implementing the EPCS over the last six years. These workshops provided an excellent opportunity to exchange up-to-date information with colleagues from other countries in Europe and to share experience and best practice examples in plant conservation today.
    Following the thematic workshops, the conference moved into ‘strategic’ mode and delegates got down to the real business of discussing the next phase of a European Plant Conservation Strategy. It was agreed from the outset that the new strategy would need to be very closely aligned with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), with European targets mirroring global targets. However, it was also recommended that the strategy should go beyond the 2010 time limit of the GSPC, and another six-year programme was agreed. Key emerging issues to be addressed by the new strategy are the impacts of climate change on plant conservation and linked to that, the potentially changing behaviour of invasive species.
    A first draft of the new EPCS was developed during the conference, and following further refinement by the Planta Europa Secretariat, will be distributed to conference delegates for further input. The new EPCS is expected to be completed by the end of 2007.
    Further information and a downloadable version of the “Review of the EPCS – Progress and Challenges 2007” published earlier this year is available at: http://plantaeuropa.org/ 

    Find Out More
    Planta EuropaPlanta Europa is the Network of independent organisations, non-governmental and governmental, working together to conserve European wild plants and fungi. Their mission is to conserve the wild plants, both higher and lower, of Europe, and their habitats.

    * Comments:

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    Nutrition information offered in bytes

    From : Star Bulletin

    By Betty Shimabukurobetty@starbulletin.com

    Perhaps it never occurred to you to wonder about this, but a typical Spam musubi has 253 calories and 6 grams of fat. On the plus side, it has 19 milligrams of calcium.
    A handful of arare? No fat, and 55 calories.
    All this and more can be learned by poking around the new Hawaii Foods Web site, a project of the University of Hawaii-Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii.
    Try it out at http://www.hawaiifoods.hawaii.edu/.
    Don't make the mistake of going to hawaiifoods.com, which takes you to a site for buying food. Hawaii Foods is all about education -- knowing what you're eating. (If you don't want to be frightened, don't look up chicken katsu.)
    Beyond explaining the relative evils of your vices, the site offers a comprehensive data base of Asian and Pacific Island foods that can be overlooked in Western references.
    A few clicks, for example, takes you to a page about choi sum, or Chinese flowering cabbage, a cooked cup of which -- you can see at a glance -- is high in calcium, potassium and vitamin A. There's even a picture, so you can recognize it at the grocery store.

    * Comments:

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    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Let's Go Local High School Club

    From : Lois Englberger

    I would like to share about the exciting news of the Let's Go Local High School Club!
    Last Friday 21 September, twenty-seven of the members from two schools, PICS and SDA, gathered together, dressed brightly in their yellow LET'S GO LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL t-shirts, and went to two elementary schools, Ohmine and Kolonia, sharing the Yellow Varieties message.
    They taught Class 5 and other students, see the attached photo here with John Ryan teaching about the Pohnpei Bananas poster (thanks to Sylvia Nennis for the photo!).
    Gailliard Eliou (President) led the arrangements including arranging the t-shirts, which were kindly donated by the Pohnpei Diabetes program, thank you Robina Anson for your help!
    Ryan Yamada (Vice-President), Marvin Obispo, Miyuki Paul and Jeffrey Bonaparte were some of the others helping in the presentations.
    Thanks are also extended to Kun Isaac, making the arrangements with the high schools for the release of the students for the one-hour period, and with the elementary schools, and to the four principals and all teachers and students involved.
    How exciting to see youth teaching youth, thank you Let's Go Local and all!

    * Comments:

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    Carotenoid and mineral content of Micronesian taro (Cyrtosperma) cultivars

    From : Lois Englberger

    Citation details: Carotenoid and mineral content of Micronesian giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma) cultivars by Englberger L, Schierle J, Kraemer K, Aalbersberg W, Dolodolotawake U, Humphries J, Graham R, Reid AP, Lorens A, Albert K, Levendusky A, Johnson E, Paul Y, Sengebau F. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. In press.


    Dietary change in Micronesia has led to serious problems of vitamin A deficiency and other nutritionally-related health problems. It is essential to identify nutrient-rich indigenous foods that may be promoted for health improvements. Giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma chamissonis) is important for food and culture on atoll and mountainous islands of Micronesia. There are many Cyrtosperma cultivars, but few have been analyzed for nutrient content. Samples were collected in the Federated States of Micronesia (Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap) and the Republic of Palau, assessed for corm flesh color and other attributes, and analyzed for carotenoids (β- and α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene) and minerals (including iron, zinc, and calcium). Of 34 cultivars analyzed, β-carotene concentrations varied from 50 to 4486 μg/100 g. Yellow-fleshed cultivars generally contained higher carotenoid concentrations . Of the ten cultivars analyzed for mineral content (wet weight basis), substantial concentrations of zinc (5.4 to 46.1 mg/100 g), iron (0.3 to 0.8 mg/100 g) and calcium (121 to 305 mg/100 g) were found. All cultivars were acceptable for taste and production factors. These carotenoid- and mineral-rich cultivars should be considered for promotion in Micronesia and other areas for potential health benefits

    * Comments:

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    Phytochemical intakes of the Fijian population

    From : Jimaima Lako

    Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2006;15 (2): 275-285

    Jimaima Lako PhD1, Naiyana Wattanapenpaiboon PhD1, Mark Wahlqvist MD1 and
    Craige Trenerry PhD2
    1Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre, Monash Asia Institute, Building 11A, Monash University,
    Victoria, 3800, Australia.
    2PIRVic DPI-Werribee, 621 Sneydes Road, Werribee, Victoria, 3030, Australia.

    The dietary intakes of major phytochemicals in Fijian population were estimated from the consumption of 90 plant foods reported in five major surveys conducted in Fiji from 1952 to 2001. These surveys included the Naduri Longitudinal study, for which food intake data were collected on four occasions in 1952, 1953, 1963 and 1994), the 1982 and 1993 National Nutritional Surveys, the 1996 Suva-Nausori Corridor cross-sectional study, the 1999 Verata cross-sectional study, and the 2001 Fiji Food Choice study. It was found that the Fijian population generally had low intakes of total phenols (275 mg/day), and total flavonoids (17.5
    mg/day), but high intake of total carotenoids (20 mg/day), in comparisons with the intakes of other populations reported in literature. It has been speculated that the change of eating patterns resulting in the low intakes of phytochemicals may have partly contributed to the increase in the nutritionally chronic disease morbidity and mortality among the Fijians. It is further recommended that the traditional Fijian food patterns with high fruits and vegetables should be revived, and the consumption of sweet potato leaves and drumstick leaves, both of which were rich in phytochemicals, should be promoted.

    * Comments:

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    From : Samoa Observer

    Alcohol, smoking, hypertension, inactivity and unhealthy eating are killing the people of the Pacific. That was the clear message from speakers on the second day of the 10th Pasifika Medical Association Conference, being held at the National University of Samoa (NUS).Currently, 60% of the world’s death can be directly attributed to chronic and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, kidney failure, asthma and others. It is predicted that by the year 2020, that figure will increase to 70%. But for the Pacific region, we’ve already surpassed that. Our current rate is approximately 75% and a lot of that is premature death, i.e. many are dying before they reach 60 years-of-age which WHO has defined as old age. “Governments of the Pacific need to recognise the situation we’re in,” said Dr Temo Waqanivalu, Nutrition & Physical Activity Officer of WHO, in Fiji.“Professional organisations like the Medical Association should play an active, advocacy role, in translating what is plain fact into a language our politicians understand to enable them to see the totality of the situation and take a leadership role and make some commitment.”Dr Temo Waqanivalu’s view that Pacific people smoke too much, consume a large quantity of alcohol and eat too much while doing little exercise was widely acknowledged by participants.“Very few of us are engaged in physical activities and we are noticeably obese,” said Dr Waqanivalu pointing out American Samoa, as an example.Dr Sione Talanoa Latu, a Tongan physician echoed the same comments.He pointed out the need for Pacific governments to spend more on primary health care and to do something about obesity which he described as a time bomb waiting to explode.He pointed at statistics which show that the average weight for Tongan females has jumped by some 20 kilos since 1973.Lea’ana Dr Lance Eves said diseases like typhoid were endemic in Samoa.He concluded that there could be a lot of carriers of the disease in the population. He also pointed to some of the problems hindering the delivery of primary health care such as people not keeping appointments, not taking their medication, or simply relying more on traditional healing methods than conventional (medical) treatment. For Pacific people’s health to improve, we not only need a multi-sector approach, we also need a lot of input from communities as well as from governments. “The problem,” said Dr Waganivalu, “is that when you look at the wider Pacific, you’ll see an obvious mismatch between the commitment and priority and investment governments put into primary [health] care….Governments need to realise that unless our population are healthy, their vision for economic development will be difficult to realise.”Health services need to be reoriented. Health professionals need to be a lot more assertive in driving some of these issues. They need to address many of the current health issues of today, he said. The more vertical approach to primary health care where health professionals prioritise, identify then decide solutions which they then communicate to health workers will need to change. We need a holistic approach in addressing health issues,” he said.“Communities now need to be encouraged to identify their own issues and agenda and, working with health services and health professionals, find solutions,” said Dr Waqanivalu.Pacific countries' health spending also needs re-prioritising. In terms of budgetary spending, 45% for Fiji, 57% for Samoa and 51% for Tonga.

    * Comments:

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    DNA barcodes 'tackle disease, protect biodiversity'

    From : SciDevNet

    DNA 'barcoding' offers rapid and low cost ways to monitor human disease vectors and biodiversity in developing countries, scientists told a conference this week.
    The comments came during the Second International Barcode of Life Conference in Taipei, Taiwan (18–20 September). The technique identifies known species and records new ones by sequencing a specific, short area of mitochondrial DNA, previously identified and agreed by scientists. This "barcode region" of mitochondrial DNA mutates at a rate fast enough to create differences between species, but slow enough to leave members of the same species with nearly identical barcodes. Species that divided recently or are still interbreeding can be difficult to separate using this method. Comparing the sequence to all others in a database produces a picture of how similar the specimens are. The process takes a few hours and costs as little as US$2. Yvonne-Marie Linton of the UK's Natural History Museum, and leader of the Mosquito Barcoding Initiative, told SciDev.Net that barcoding should help control mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria, West Nile disease and dengue fever. "Often only one or two mosquito species are capable of transmitting disease," she says. "It is important to know exactly which these are and then we can tie this information in with the ecology of these species, work out where they breed and use larvicidal techniques to control the mosquitoes, not 'blanketly' spray all of them." And Eldredge Bermingham, acting director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, says DNA barcoding helps to identify and protect tropical biodiversity. The Institute has collected many samples that are as yet unclassified and DNA barcoding lets non-experts help classify these cheaply. "Barcoding efforts based in labs in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Panama are discovering new species, and providing geo-referenced data for informed conservation decisions," Bermingham told SciDev.Net.But David Schindel, executive secretary of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life, based in Washington DC, United States, explains that barcoding's low cost reflects only the sequencing. Building a reference library of barcode sequences is more expensive. "Borrowing a book from a public library is free, but someone had to pay for writing and printing and buying the books in the library," he points out.

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    African alliance funds next cohort of crop breeders

    From: SciDevNet

    The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is to fund a new initiative to train the next generation of African crop scientists, aiming to improve agricultural productivity and food security in the region.
    The funding, which will allow African PhD students to study staple African crops, was announced today (19 September).
    AGRA will provide US$8.1 million and US$4.9 million respectively to the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, and the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana.
    ACCI's programme, started in 2002, currently has 46 students from southern and eastern Africa studying 13 crops.
    "The new funding from AGRA allows us another five intakes of eight students a year, starting this year," says Pangirayi Tongoona, deputy-director of ACCI.
    "Students focus on different crops, depending on what is more pressing in their countries," Tongoona adds. Crops include sorghum, millet, cassava, groundnut and pigeon pea.
    From January WACCI will admit eight students a year from western and central Africa. Eric Danquah, director of WACCI, said they were in the process of making the final selection for this first intake.
    Students will spend the first two years of their five-year programme studying at one of the universities, before returning to their local research institutions to complete their thesis.
    "AGRA has committed itself to continued funding of the research programmes of our graduates after they get a PhD. So they are not abandoned after graduating, but instead get the funding they need to continue their plant breeding projects," says Mark Laing, director of ACCI.
    He adds that the centre is confident that the academic and practical training the students receive will equip them to successfully breed new crop varieties, addressing the specific needs of the local environment. Some ACCI graduates have already started to release new varieties.
    AGRA will also give US$1.7 million to the US-based Cornell University, which will provide services and resources such as assessing students' doctoral proposals, distance learning opportunities and library access.
    AGRA was founded in 2006 by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    The False Promise of Biofuels

    From : The International Forum on Globalization
    and the Institute for Policy Studies

    Preface of the document

    CHANGE, rooted in a century of over-consumption of fossil fuels, is merging with another crisis with the same basic root cause—the looming depletion of inexpensive oil and gas supplies (“peak oil”). Combined, they bring the world to an unprecedented and profoundly dangerous moment that threatens global environmental and social crises on an epic scale. These crises potentially include a breakdown of the most basic operating structures of our society, even industrialism itself, at least at its present scale. Long distance transportation, industrial food systems, complex urban and suburban systems, and many commodities basic to our present way of
    life—autos, plastics, chemicals, pesticides, refrigeration, et al.—are all rooted in the basic assumption of ever-increasing inexpensive energy supplies. (See Manifesto on Global Economic Transitions, published by IFG). One would think that such threatening circumstances would bring clear and effective movement from the leaders of national governments, acting on behalf of present and future generations. So far, however, with a few exceptions, the response of most governments has been inadequate to address the scale of the problem. This is particularly the case in the U.S., where government, politicians, and most corporations are still hoping to somehow convert the climate and peak oil crises into a new business opportunity. We are seeing a lot of scurrying and signifying, as each sector, government, business, and that odd new third sector—presidential candidates—are engaged in a mad rush to identify magic bullets to “solve” the “energy problem” while pushing corporate growth and unabetted consumerism. By avoiding reality, they make the problems worse, and real solutions more difficult to achieve. Solutions so far include, for example, desperate grabs for the last remnants of oil and gas supplies, thus the war in Iraq. And now all eyes are focused on the Canadian tar sands, which can be mined only at stupendous cost and environmental harms. Next may be the Arctic. At least those are the goals of what we might call the fossil fuel “dead-enders,” many of whom still doubt climate problems exist at all. The more rational and increasingly popular opinion is that the ultimate answer will not come by extending the existence of the destructive fossil fuel economy, but purposely ending it before it does further harms, and then switching as quickly as possible to renewable alternative energies. But the question is which renewables? They are not all equal either in potential performance or potential harms, though none are likely to have the grim downsides of fossil fuels, or nuclear energy. But, there is a strong case that no combination of renewables will be sufficient to sustain the industrial system at its present bloated, wasteful scale. Ultimately, the answer must involve renewables plus significant efforts toward all-out conservation, efficiency, reduced consumption and “powering down” of energy use. It is crucial that these latter elements always be included in discussions of sustainable futures. All of this comes at a quadrennial moment in the U.S. political context, when presidential sweepstakes take center stage. All proposals are processed and evaluated more in terms of their political saleability, and their potential for fund raising, rather than whether or not they will actually contribute to a lasting solution. So we now have the spectacle of governments, businesses, and presidential candidates vying to be the bravest leader in bringing forth renewable energy solutions, breaking with foreign oil dependency, and somehow also keeping our economy growing at an exponential rate. They are desperate to seem as if they have the best answer to the crisis of global warming, and for the environment. Regrettably, that desperation has seriously muddied the waters. Proposals and decisions are heading at us at very high speed, but without much serious evaluation, analysis and thought. In fact, wrong decisions are being made very rapidly because of the pressures and opportunities involved for all parties. And we are left in grave danger of
    replacing one set of harms with another set.

    There is some good news. A new process and set of evaluative tools is now gaining favor among scientists, which they are calling “Life Cycle Analysis.” This basically means that new technologies, and specifically energy technologies, are evaluated in a far more comprehensive way, including all inputs and materials used at every stage of their extraction through mining, assembly, transport and performance from “dust to dust.” Their full ecological footprints from the ground-up, from birth to death. This process has the potential to dissuade us from making glib assumptions about which energy alternative actually contributes more, and harms less, than the others. So far, Life Cycle Analysis is not sufficiently in use, and so we may not yet be making much progress in our overall quest for the right technologies and energy systems that will lead to ecological sustainability in a world where what is really needed is a new paradigm, a new set of standards to be achieved, and the appropriate technological and lifestyle choices. The basic goal must be to move toward creating an economy that operates first of all in the interests of ecological sustainability, within the ecological limits of the planet, and which includes social and economic equity, without which no long term solution is possible. The lives of our children and the planet literally depend on our doing the right thing, not the most propitious thing.
    It is in that spirit that the report which follows was conceived and created among the key players in the International Forum on Globalization’s Alternative Energy Working Group. It is the first of a series of reports we will be producing over the next year, that will present fuller details and analysis on some of the hidden problems that may come with certain choices, compare renewables among each other, and compare them to the current fossil-fuel economy.

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    PNG DAL urges stakeholders to observe World Food Day on October 16

    From : DIDINET

    All stakeholders in the agriculture sector and the general public have been urged to observe the 2007 World Food Day (WFD) which falls on October 16.

    Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock Anton Benjamin has called on stakeholders, including government agencies and institutions, commodity boards, non-government organisations, the private sector, industries, provincial administrations and others to join hands in celebrating this important occasion.

    The theme for this year is “The Right to Food”.

    Mr Benjamin said the theme reaffirms that the right to food is a universal human right. It is important that every man, woman and child must have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs to live an active and healthy life.

    He said PNG is one of the 77 countries that have been classified as a Low Income and Food Deficit Country (LIFDC) by Food and Agriculture Organisation. PNG is also a signatory to the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. He said PNG therefore has a commitment to increase public awareness and understanding of the problems of hunger and poverty, which limit the capacity of people to realise their universal right to food. PNG joins efforts with the international community in addressing this problem and cutting the number of hunger and malnutrition by half by 2015.

    Mr Benjamin said WFD is also an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together and reaffirm their commitment to address these problems in a collaborative manner with national and international agencies. He urged all stakeholders and the public to join the Department of Agriculture and Livestock in committing resources and making arrangements to celebrate WFD on October 16.

    He said WFD can be celebrated through a number of activities including cultural events, sports, agricultural shows, farmer field days, workshops, art displays and essay competitions. He stressed that the WFD message and activities should reach all provinces, districts and local communities.

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    Seed sense

    From : Society Guardian

    Hundreds of vegetable varieties have been lost from UK soils and are now illegal to grow. But the conservation battle goes on Judy Steele is growing a row of peas called Carruther's Purple Podded in her Warwickshire garden. She would not find this variety in her local garden centre or in any seed merchant's catalogue. In fact, it is illegal to buy seeds of this old variety. But Steele is not a criminal or a botanical terrorist. She describes herself as "a foster-mother for orphaned pea varieties," and is one of 300 seed guardians for Garden Organic.
    Garden Organic - formally known as the Henry Doubleday Research Association, based at Ryton, near Coventry - has developed an extensive seed library of 800 traditional vegetable varieties grown in Britain and which are now outlawed by European legislation.
    "During Victorian times, seeds were available from local growers, and gardeners knew who to complain to if they didn't grow, but gradually seed companies got bigger and more remote," says Sandra Slack, head of Garden Organic's seed library. "Plant breeders' rights began in the 1920s. To protect customers and to standardise the seed business across borders, the EU intervened in the 1970s, making sure that seed varieties were properly tested. Unfortunately, testing is expensive and those varieties not tested were dropped. If a variety has been dropped from the approved common catalogue, then its seeds cannot be bought or sold."
    These days, it is easier to grow cannabis than Carruther's Purple Podded peas or Auntie Madge's tomato or Mr Stiff's bunching onion. Worried that these old varieties would vanish unless they were in circulation, Garden Organic set up what it calls the Heritage Seed Library to rescue our vegetable treasures from extinction. To stay within the law, a scheme was established whereby gardeners pay to become members of the seed library, and each year they are given a selection of six of the hundreds of varieties to grow.
    This is not just a smart wrinkle to get around EU rules. There are important cultural and scientific reasons for growing old kinds of vegetables. Many varieties that find their way into the library are part of a very personal history, as well as contributing to local cultural identity and distinctiveness.
    The pea called Carlin came from a family that had inherited it 100 years ago, when a great grandfather received seeds as a wedding present. This variety dates back at least to Elizabethan times and is still eaten - doused in beer and mint - in parts of the north of England on the Sunday before Palm Sunday - known regionally as Carlin Sunday. One version of the Carlin legend has it that a shipload of these peas arrived in Newcastle upon Tyne when it was besieged in 1644 and saved many from starvation.
    Seeds carry these stories through the generations, and also across continents. Few beans can be as poignant as the Cherokee Trail of Tears. In the winter of 1838-39, Cherokee people in the US were forced to march from their lands in Georgia, over the Smoky Mountains in appalling conditions, to be confined in a reservation 1,000 miles away; 4,000 died on the way. The shiny black bean the Cherokee took with them is an important heirloom seed for the American organisation Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa, but it has also been grown in Britain for a long time and is in HDRA's seed library.
    In the last 100 years, 90% of UK vegetable varieties have been lost from our soils. The same thing has happened in the rest of the world. This loss has been globalisation's gain. Only three corporations now control a quarter of the world's seed markets, and many of the seeds available in catalogues are legally protected hybrids that cannot be saved, or won't come "true" if they are.
    In developing countries, saving food plant seed - a traditional practice for which farmers and growers have been criminalised - is tied to the politics of globalisation through issues such as food sovereignty and intellectual property rights: whoever controls seeds controls a people's ability to feed themselves. In Europe and America, vegetable seed conservation is more about the custodianship of genetic and cultural heritage.
    Heritage, in the sense of preserving the past, can become a selection of what we like about history and freezing it in time, even though the world that created it has long gone. So it is with seeds. To conserve the world's food seeds for the future, the Global Crop Diversity Trust has built the "doomsday vault", the first global seed bank, housed in a frozen bunker buried under the island of Spitzbergen, near the North Pole. It is intended to protect 3m seed samples from nuclear war, asteroid strike and climate change.
    Seeds are more than a metaphor for our hopes for the future, and getting them growing - and contributing to biological diversity - can have more value than locking them up in a vault - especially when faced with climate change.
    "Seed conservation is important, but if we keep growing these old varieties - many of which have adapted to very local conditions - we will understand more about their adaptability to changes in climate, pests and diseases," Slack says. "For example, peas prefer cooler conditions, and if you're growing them in the north of England and the climate is warming, you might find that varieties such as Glorious Devon or Kent Blue will do better in the future than Lancashire Lad. We are losing older and tougher varieties before we understand their adaptation to climate change.
    Cancer treatment
    "Also, we don't know about the properties of all the varieties. For example, colour pigments have been discovered that combat illnesses: the red in tomatoes helps prevent hardening of the arteries, greens are used in cancer treatment. We have to make these connections and keep seeds available."
    Keeping these old varieties growing is what Steele's row of Carruther's Purple Podded is all about. She will not eat the peas but will collect them to be stored in the seed library, as will the other seed guardian volunteers growing their peas, beans, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, turnips and radishes, so that they can be distributed to a growing number of gardeners.
    "I do it for the fun of learning about these old varieties and about how to be self-sufficient," Steele says. "The biodiversity aspect is very important. The Irish potato famine happened because there was no genetic diversity in the crop, so when disease struck, there was no resistance. In Peru, farmers mix lots of potato varieties in the same field as insurance against disease. Also, having heritage seeds in living form enables the plants to evolve in new conditions. In 20 to 30 years' time, there will be a different climate and we need varieties that can cope with that."

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    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Discovery of an Amylose-free Starch Mutant in Cassava
    (Manihot esculenta Crantz)
    From : J. Agric. Food Chem. 2007, 55, 7469-7476 7469

    Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Apdo Ae´reo 6713, Cali, Colombia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Palmira Campus, Centre de Coope´ration Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le De´veloppement. (CIRAD), 73 rue Jean-Francüois Breton, TA B-95/16, 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France, and John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, U.K.

    One of the objectives of the cassava-breeding project at CIAT is the identification of clones with special root quality characteristics. A large number of self-pollinations have been made in search of useful recessive traits. During 2006 harvests an S1 plant produced roots that stained brownish-red when treated with an iodine solution, suggesting that it had lower-than-normal levels of amylose in its starch. Colorimetric and DSC measurements indicated low levels (3.4%) and an absence of amylose
    in the starch, respectively. SDS-PAGE demonstrated the absence of GBSS enzyme in the starch from these roots. Pasting behavior was analyzed with a rapid visco-analyzer and resulted in larger values for peak viscosity, gel breakdown, and setback in the mutant compared with normal cassava starch. Solubility was considerably reduced, while the swelling index and volume fraction of the dispersed phase were higher in the mutant. No change in starch granule size or shape was observed. This is the first report of a natural mutation in cassava that drastically reduces amylose content in root starch.

    * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: h.ceballos@cgiar.org.
    † Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT).
    ‡ Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Palmira Campus.
    § Centre de Coope´ration Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour
    le De´veloppement.
    ^ John Innes Centre.
    ( Courtesy of Choo, BI Malaysia)

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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Expert says climate change will spread global disease

    From : Pacnews

    Climate change will have an overwhelmingly negative impact on health with possibly one billion more people at risk from dengue fever within 80 years, an expert said Tuesday.
    While there would be some positive effects, "the balance of health effects is on the negative side," Alistair Woodward, a professor at the University of Auckland, (http://www.health.auckland.ac.nz/population-health/staff/alistair_woodward.html) told a regional meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in South Korea Professor Woodward was a lead writer for the fourth assessment report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. Giving examples in a speech, he said that in China's Jiangsu province the winter freezing zone has moved northwards. The water snail that transmits schistosomiasis had also shifted northwards, putting perhaps 20 million people at risk of the parasitic disease also known as bilharziasis. In France extreme heat in August 2003 led to about 25,000 deaths. In the WHO's Western Pacific region, a heat wave in summer 1998 increased mortality in Shanghai threefold. Globally, said Professor Woodward, the largest effect would be under-nutrition. "There will be some winners and losers, but overall, climate change is expected to have a negative effect on food production." In the Western Pacific, changes in temperature and rainfall would make it far harder to control dengue fever, he said. "Empirical modelling suggests the climate that is likely to apply in 2085 will put an extra billion people at risk of dengue worldwide, and perhaps half that number will be in this region." Water supplies would be an increasingly serious concern, with the percentage of the world's land area suffering drought increasing perhaps tenfold by the end of the century. Small Pacific island states would be especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns. Professor Woodward said the health sector must be at the forefront on climate change. He called for studies on water management in low-lying Pacific islands, community-based disaster preparedness, and on efforts to reduce the impact of rural drought. "The most difficult change of all is a change of will. We should not be daunted by the size of the task," Woodward said. WHO director general Margaret Chan, in a speech Monday afternoon, said that even if greenhouse gas emissions were to stop immediately the changes already being seen would go on throughout this century.
    "Climate changes will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air, water," she said. "Developing countries will be the first and hardest hit. Subsistence agriculture will suffer the most. Areas with weak health infrastructures will be the least able to cope."……..PNS (ENDS)

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    Tangerine peel 'kills cancer'

    From : BBC News

    A compound extracted from tangerine peel can kill certain human cancer cells, research shows.
    A team from Leicester School of Pharmacy found Salvestrol Q40 was turned into a toxic compound in cancer cells, destroying them. Salvestrol Q40 is found at higher concentrations in tangerine peel, than in the flesh of the fruit. The researchers suggest the modern trend to throw away peel may have contributed to a rise in some cancers. Lead researcher Dr Hoon Tan said his work was still at an early stage, but together with his colleagues he has formed a company to investigate further the potential to develop natural anti-cancer therapies. He said: "It is very exciting to find a compound in food that can target cancers specifically."

    Plant immune system

    Salvestrol 40 is a type of phytoalexin - a chemical produced by plants to repel attackers, such as insects or fungi. It is converted into a toxic compound by the P450 CYP1B1 enzyme, found in much higher levels in cancer cells. As a result, the researchers found, it proved to be 20 times more toxic to cancer cells than their healthy equivalents. Dr Tan said Salvestrol was found in other fruit and vegetables, such as the brassica family, which includes broccoli and brussels sprouts. However, the compound tends to be produced at higher levels when infection levels among crops are high. Therefore, the use of modern pesticides and fungicides, which have cut the risk of infections, have also led to a drop in Salvestrol levels in food. Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's science information manager, said: "Many naturally occurring substances have anticancer properties, but while this research shows that salvestrols have an effect on cells in the laboratory, there is no evidence that they have a similar effect in patients. "Clinical trials would be needed to tell us if these substances could be developed into a cancer treatment."

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    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Developing nations 'need genetic resources rules'

    From : SciDev.Net

    [BEIJING] To benefit from genetic resources, developing countries need to improve their governance, a meeting in Beijing was told this week (4 September).
    Developing countries are losing out because their laws do not specify which resources should be paid for and how, said Gurdial Singh Nijar, a law professor at the University of Malaya in Malaysia.
    He made his remarks at an international workshop on genetic resources and indigenous knowledge, supported by the UN Convention of Biological Diversity.
    The Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources (ABS) mechanism calls for developed countries to pay for the collection and use of plant or animal species that they obtain for commercial use from the developing world.
    But, said Nijar, the resource users — mostly developed country companies and institutions — can easily overcome international legal duties on benefit-sharing by paying minimal money to local communities.
    This is due to the lack of a legal definition of what constitutes payable genetic resources, and clarity on who owns these resources: national governments or local communities of origin.
    Chee Yoke Ling, legal advisor to the Third World Network, an international network of development organisations, agreed, saying developing countries need to adjust their patent systems.
    Many systems favour the knowledge and expertise of developed countries, rather than supporting the indigenous knowledge of genetic resources in the developing world, she said.
    Nijar said that implementing genetic resource legislation would strengthen developing world countries' status in international negotiations.
    But Wang Canfa, from China Politics and Law University — and the major drafter of China's biosafety and biodiversity regulations — says attempts to legislate on biodiversity use in China have been suspended since 2006 because government departments are arguing over who should govern the area.
    Seizo Sumida, from Japan's Bioindustry Association, says in the absence of genetic resource legislation, the best option is to set up international partnerships. Japan has formed a collaborative consortium with 11 Asian countries, including China, Mongolia, Myanmar and Vietnam, to research their natural genetic resources and share the benefits, Sumida says (see Scientists search for new microbes in Mongolia).

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    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Phytochemical flavonols, carotenoids and the antioxidant properties
    of a wide selection of Fijian fruit, vegetables and other readily
    available foods

    From : Jimaima Lako


    Food Chemistry xxx (2006) xxx–xxx

    Frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lowered risk of cancer, heart disease, hypertension and stroke. This has been attributed to the presence of various forms of phytochemicals and antioxidants present in the foods, e.g. carotenoids and polyphenol compounds including flavonoids and anthocyanins. Seventy Fiji grown fruits and vegetables, and some other commonly consumed products, were analysed for their total antioxidant capacity (TAC), total polyphenol content (TPP), total anthocyanin content (TAT) as well as the major flavonol and carotenoid profiles. These data will be used to estimate the phytochemical and antioxidant intake of the Fijian population and will be a useful tool in future clinical trials.
    Green leafy vegetables had the highest antioxidant capacity, followed by the fruits and root crops. A number of herbs also exhibited high antioxidant capacity. Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) leaves have the highest TAC (650 mg/100 g) and are rich in TPP (270 mg/
    100 g), quercetin (90 mg/100 g) and b-carotene (13 mg/100 g). Moringa oleifera (drumstick) leaves also have a high TAC (260 mg/100 g) and are rich in TPP (260 mg/100 g), quercetin (100 mg/100 g), kaempferol (34 mg/100 g) and b-carotene (34 mg/100 g). Curcuma
    longa (turmeric ginger) has a high TAC (360 mg/100 g), TPP (320 mg/100 g) and is rich in fisetin (64 mg/100 g), quercetin (41 mg/100 g) and myricetin (17 mg/100 g). Zingiber officinate (white ginger) also has a high TAC (320 mg/100 g) and TPP (200 mg/100 g). Zingiber
    zerumbet (wild ginger), a widely used herb taken before meals is the richest source of kaempferol (240 mg/100 g).

    2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Keywords: Phytochemicals; Flavonols; Carotenoids; Antioxidant capacity; Food; Fiji

    Authors :

    Jimaima Lako a,*, V. Craige Trenerry b, Mark Wahlqvist a, Naiyana Wattanapenpaiboon a,
    Subramanium Sotheeswaran c, Robert Premier d

    a Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre, Monash Asia Institute, Building 11A, Monash University, Vic. 3800, Australia
    b PIRVic DPI-Werribee, 621 Sneydes Road, Werribee, Vic. 3030, Australia
    c Chemistry Department, The University of the South Pacific, Fiji
    d PIRVic DPI-Knoxfield, 621 Burwood Highway, Knoxfield, 3152 Vic., Australia
    Received 10 April 2005; received in revised form 2 January 2006; accepted 20 January 2006

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    Climate change impact on indigenous peoples� water security, land use, among issues

    From : Media Newswire

    The climate was changing on climate change� and, with that, there was a growing appreciation that much more needed to be done, and quickly, said a panellist at a round-table discussion today, as the DPI/NGO Conference, with its focus on the impact of climate change, continued at Headquarters.What had happened in the past year had been absolutely remarkable -- there had been reports, discussions, and headlines on the issue, including at every summit, said panellist Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Director of the Secretariat for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Many new truths had been learned, some of them inconvenient. There was now a solid and scientific understanding and consensus that climate change was unequivocal.Addressing a panel entitled �The Economics and Politics of Energy and Climate Change�, he said, however, that that sense of urgency still had not taken hold in intergovernmental negotiations because of fear of economic hardship. On the one side, industrialized countries feared that acting aggressively would mean losing an economic advantage. Developing countries worried that action on climate change would impact poverty eradication and economic development. However, that reluctance was based on a misconception that economic growth and climate protection were mutually exclusive. Rather, they reinforced each other.The topics for the other round-table discussions were: �Water Security and Climate Change�; �Indigenous Peoples, Culture and Traditional Knowledge�; and �Coping with Climate Change -- Best Land Use Practices�. Two more round-table sessions will be convened tomorrow morning, before the Conference concludes in the afternoon with the adoption of a declaration.Assessing the effects of climate change on water security, including ways in which the projected increase in both droughts and floods would exacerbate existing strains between impoverished peoples and their access to water, Cecilia Ugaz, Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Programme ( UNDP ) Human Development Report Office, said that, by the end of today, 5,000 children will have died because of lack of access to water. The numbers associated with the water crisis were already staggering: more than 40 billion hours per year were devoted to women�s collection of water; 1.1 billion people had no access to water; and 2.6 billion people were without sanitation.During the interactive session on the impacts on indigenous peoples, the panel provided examples of local initiatives that demonstrated the indigenous peoples� commitment to defend their cultures through active participation in efforts to reduce human-induced causes of the phenomenon. In many parts of the world, the indigenous communities were among the first victims of climate changes.One panellist, a representative of a non-governmental organization and member of the Maasai tribe in Kenya, Daniel Salau Rogei, asserted, �We are all in the same sinking ship, and it�s going to take everybody working together to scoop all the water out.� Fiu Mata�ese Elisara-La�ulu, Director of Ole Siosimaga Society ( OLSSI ) in Samoa, said that bystanders, who knew the world was in crisis, but did nothing, were just as bad as the architects of the crisis. He urged Government leaders to ask indigenous people about the effects of climate change before taking any decisions, and tribal peoples not to act under pressure from global processes driven by big Governments.The panel on best land use practices focused on, among other things, innovative ways to minimize and cope with the negative impacts of climate change, primarily the erratic weather patterns, which aggravated famine and mass migrations in already burdened areas. Rosiland Peterson, California President and Co-Founder of the Agriculture Defense Coalition ( ADC ), expressed concern about experimental weather modification programmes that were supposed to explore initiatives aimed at countering the effects of global warming, but which could, in fact, negatively impact a crop production or cause other problems.She said that if mitigation efforts continued along those lines, particularly putting chemicals into the atmosphere that could reduce photosynthesis, growing seasons could be altered and pollinators could be affected. Another example was the use of solar panels to create conditions that extended the growth season of some crops. Similarly, she was concerned about persistent jet contrails, which science had shown could expand and spawn man-made �clouds� that trapped heat in the atmosphere. �How do you like your skies, natural or man-made?� she asked.

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    The ATSE Crawford Fund Fellowship was established in 2002 with the generous support of Dr Brian Booth AM FTSE.

    The aim of the Fellowship is to provide further training of a scientist in agriculture, fisheries or forestry from a selected group of developing countries whose work has shown significant potential. The training will take place at an Australian agricultural institution and will emphasize the application of knowledge to increased agricultural production in the Fellow’s home country.

    The Fellowship will be offered biennially to an agricultural scientist below the age of 35 years who is a citizen of, or who is working in, one the following countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Fiji, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Is, Tonga, Tuvalu and Kirabati, Vanuatu, Viet-Nam.

    Nominations are now invited for:

    The ATSE Crawford Fund Fellowship for 2007

    Nominations supported by two proposers, one of whom must be an Australian, should be made on the nomination form obtainable from The ATSE Crawford Fund Central Office, 1 Leonard Street, Parkville, 3052 Victoria Australia (email: tlangley@mira.net) or from the Crawford Website http://www.crawfordfund.org

    CLOSING DATE FOR NOMINATIONS: Monday 5 November 2007

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    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Rome 31 August 2007
    Dear Colleague,

    The Global Crop Diversity Trust wishes to announce the opening of three new windows of funding as part of our mission to ensure the conservation and availability of unique plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) in a rational, efficient, effective and sustainable global system.

    1. Regeneration of Threatened, Globally-Important Crop Diversity
    What we will do: The Trust anticipates providing financial support to regenerate more than 100,000 distinct and threatened samples now held in some 120 collections in developing countries. In identifying specific collections for support, the Trust has relied on the global crop strategies which have been formulated by crop experts over the past couple of years, as well as other consultations. More than 500 experts from over 150 countries were involved in this process and, among other things, identified which collections collectively would provide the best coverage of the genepool of each crop. Funding will support regeneration of threatened samples in relevant collections. At this time, the Trust is focusing its efforts on 22 crops listed in Annex I of the International Treaty (banana, barley, bean, breadfruit, cassava, chickpea, coconut, cowpea, fababean, finger millet, grass pea, maize, major aroids, lentil, pearl millet, pigeon pea, potato, rice, sorghum, sweet potato, wheat, yam). We expect to invest more than USD 2.5 million in the process over the course of three years.
    How we will do it: The Trust will soon be contacting holders of the identified priority collections. We are not in a position to provide support to collections not identified as globally unique by crop experts. Financial support will be provided exclusively to such high priority collections held in developing countries.

    2. Regeneration of Crop Diversity through PGRFA Networks
    What we will do: As with the first opportunity, the focus will be on rescuing and safeguarding unique samples, globally considered, of PGRFA of the 22 Annex I crops listed above held in developing countries. This window, however, will target generally smaller collections of regional or national importance. The Trust will provide support for the regeneration of such materials, working through the 15 regional networks for PGRFA that cover the whole of the developing world. We expect to invest more than USD 1 million in the process over the course of four years.
    How we will do it: The Trust will soon contact the Regional Networks to initiate the process.

    3. Award Scheme for Enhancing the Value of Crop Diversity
    What we will do: The Trust is initiating a competitive grants scheme to support evaluation of genetic resources of 22 Annex 1 crops. We will provide approximately 20-25 grants annually to enable researchers and other users to screen collections for important characteristics and to make the information generated publicly available. Priority will be given to screening for characters of greatest importance to the poor, and especially those relevant in the context of climate change. We anticipate providing approximately USD 1.5 million in grants for this purpose during the next four years.
    How we will do it: The 2008 Call for Proposals will shortly be issued by email, and posted on our website (www.croptrust.org <http://www.croptrust.org/> ).

    In Conclusion
    The first two programmes outlined above will, by our calculations, rescue over 90% of the globally unique samples of the crops concerned that are currently deteriorating and in urgent need of regeneration before being lost completely. The third programme will add considerably to our knowledge about these and other collections and thus to their value and use. While the role of the Trust is not to provide funding to national programmes for exclusively national purposes - that is the responsibility of national governments - these initiatives will strengthen and benefit national programmes as they contribute to building an efficient and effective global system to ensure conservation and availability of PGRFA. In all cases, the Trust will be looking towards building partnerships in which all parties bring resources to the table to accomplish a goal that both are interested in achieving.
    Cost-sharing, therefore, will be our model, not fee-for-service.
    Due to funding limitations, staffing constraints, and our own very tight focus on specific goal-oriented initiatives such as those outlined above, we are not in a position at this time to consider unsolicited funding proposals for other PGRFA-related work. We trust you will understand. Our approach aims to produce the maximum amount of real and lasting global benefit, and to do so in a manner that we and our partners can sustain over time.
    The Role of the Trust is outlined in more detail in a document with this title that can be found at: http://www.croptrust.org/main/role.php
    <http://www.croptrust.org/main/role.php> . This document contains a "decision-tree" that we use as a general guide for funding decisions. We believe the paper will be of interest to anyone concerned with the complexities of and the strategic options involved in creating a rational global system.

    Prof. Cary Fowler
    Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust
    Prof. Cary Fowler
    Executive Director
    Global Crop Diversity Trust
    c/o Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, Italy

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    Tastes good to Kaua‘i visitors

    From : Kauai Island Garden News

    Award-winning Chef Mark Reinfeld treated visitors to a “Taste of the Islands” yesterday at the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s South Shore Visitors Center.More than 100 people eager to experience local cuisine sampled fresh ulu and okinawa — Hawaiian for breadfruit — and purple sweet potato.
    Reinfeld, a founding chef at the popular Blossoming Lotus restaurant in Kapa‘a, prepared the dishes only using ingredients grown on Kaua‘i.Melissa Gregory, assistant to the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute Director Dr. Diane Ragone, was also on hand at the free ‘Ohana Day event to promote the study and use of breadfruit for food and reforestation.For more than 3,000 years, Pacific islanders have used these tall evergreen trees for food, canoes and homes, she said.The Breadfruit Institute, partnering with Sustainable Harvest International, is working on a project to send 3,000 plantlets to farmers in Honduras to help end hunger there and in other tropical regions, Gregory said.Blossoming Lotus uses the breadfruit in its dishes in a variety of ways, and Reinfeld shared a couple preparation tips with the crowd.For example, he suggested quartering the melon-sized breadfruit, boiling it until a knife easily passes through it, cutting it into cutlet size and marinating it in soy sauce and maple syrup.After 15 minutes, he said, grill the creamy white flesh and top it with basil and macadamia nut pesto.“It didn’t look appetizing at start, but it’s absolutely delicious,” a visitor from Los Angeles said. “I’d like to eat this everyday.”The versatile breadfruit can also be cooked over coals in a campfire, baked, fried or turned into a cake.“Pretty much anything you can do with a potato you can do with ulu,” Reinfeld said.A South African red tea called rooibos accompanied the chef’s samples.Reinfeld said the best place to find breadfruit and purple sweet potatoes on Kaua‘i is at farmer’s markets.Patti Pontone, a National Tropical Botanical Garden volunteer, said a steady stream of island visitors and local residents were taking advantage of the tasty treats before and after tours through gardens there.For more information, visit breadfruit.org.

    * Comments:

    I so enjoy a cup of
    rooibos red tea

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