Monsanto add another tool to their kit

The Bioengineering giant Monsanto has recently licensed CRISPR-Gas9 genome-editing technology for seed editing. This could give the company the ability to make startling changes to crops destined for the food chain. Crops which are resistant to drought appear to be on the cards, but most sickening of all is the suggestion that a soybean crop could be edited to swap out the plants unhealthier fats, with healthier ones such as those found in olive oil.

Malnutrition rates double in UK city

In a worrying turn of events multiple new cases of Victorian illnesses caused by malnutrition, including rickets and beriberi, have been reported in Salford, UK. The number of malnutrition cases found in the city has doubled and it is believed that poverty is to blame. Paul Dennett, the city’s Mayor has called for a review of current poverty-related services, saying that a new ‘anti-poverty strategy’ will be created in order to address these concerns.

Fungus in humans identified for first time as key factor in Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease (CD) is a debilitating inflammatory bowel disease, which causes severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss, and fatigue. A recent study published in The American Society for Microbiology has shown that levels of beneficial bacteria were reduced, whilst pathogenic bacteria levels (Erratia marcescens and Escherichia coli) were increased in CD patients along with the fungus Candida tropicalis. These findings could potentially lead to new treatments for Crohn’s disease in future.

BPA exposure leads to erosion of children’s tooth enamel

A report earlier this year published in Endocrine Abstracts has linked exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA - a hormone disrupting plastic) to defective tooth enamel in children. A new study in rats has shown the same problem that is appearing in children. The enamel defect is affecting 15-20% of children aged 6-9 years old, although the figure is higher in different parts of the world. It appears that children may be most vulnerable to BPA early on in life.

Taking Fish oil in pregnancy may help boost your child’s attention span

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has concluded that supplementing with DHA (found in fish oil) from weeks 18-22 of pregnancy improved attention in preschool children. There were no significant differences between the control group and supplemented group in terms of general cognition, but attention span was much improved in the group of children whose mothers received supplementation whilst pregnant. The study did not measure DHA status in both the mothers and their children though. Certainly this study indicates that good nutrition both pre-natal and during pregnancy can have a positive impact on children’s mental health.

UK’s first Food Waste Supermarket opens

Campaigners from the Real Junk Food Project have opened a food waste supermarket in Pudsey near Leeds, UK. The store offers customers the opportunity to buy food that is near its sell by date or has damaged packaging for instance at a cost that is determined by the customer. Food that would otherwise be sent to landfill is now being donated by supermarkets to the Warehouse and offered for sale to those on lower incomes. The Warehouse is currently intercepting between 2-10 tons of food a day (that’s just in Leeds), which is the tip of a massive iceberg of food thrown away by supermarkets on a daily basis.

France bans plastic cups, plates and cutlery

France is to become the first country to ban all plastic cup plates and cutlery after it passed a new law that will ensure such items can be composted and are made of biologically sourced materials from 2020. This forms part of the French Government’s project to transition to green energy. The ban has received a cautious welcome, but some are arguing that the new law will be in violation of EU rules on free movement of goods and that people may see this as permission to litter.