Improved sustainability standards for palm oil production

The production of palm oil is consistently mired in controversy due to the widespread environmental damage it has - and continues - to cause. The plight of the orangutan being a particular concern to many around the world. As such, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has increasingly faced criticism over its lack of progress in bringing the industry to heel. However, following a multi-stakeholder review process, new certification standards for sustainable palm oil have been announced at the close of the RSPO’s 15thannual general assembly. The revised standards include adoption of a no deforestation requirement through the implementation of the High Carbon Stock Approach. This is good news for those looking to ensure the sustainability of palm oil production. Whilst there will always be rogue companies who flout industry standards, the increased support for smallholder farmers gives hope for the future of both the environment and orangutans alike.

Demand for alternative medicine increases

Figures from the UK and the US show a growing number of people choosing to use natural therapies to support their health. A central tenet of the ANH-Intl ‘Blueprint for a sustainable health system’ is that of upstream, participatory medicine where citizens retain the power to select healthcare of their choosing. Many find natural and traditional forms of medicine essential for their health and wellbeing and in the UK, complementary and alternative practitioners outnumber GPs 2:1.  We expect this increasing trend is the tip of the iceberg and that demand for natural and allied forms of healthcare will keep on rising as people become actively engaged in seeking, optimising and maintaining wellness. The ‘blueprint’ is out for endorsement until the end of November 2018. Please contact Melissa Smith, outreach and comms officer, [email protected] if you are interested in adding your name.

Pukka Herbs commits to carbon reduction targets

As part of an ongoing mission to curb its environmental footprint, UK-based Pukka Herbs, has committed to be zero carbon by 2030. It has become one of only 13 companies in the UK to adopt independent, rigorously verified targets through the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). This comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) issued a stark warning of the threats from climate change. On review, Pukka found that the largest contributor to its carbon footprint lay in the boiling of kettles to make their tea. This has led to a partnership with DoNation to launch the ‘Boil Smart Campaign’. The awareness action aims to encourage Pukka tea drinkers to do their bit by boiling only the water they need, switching to renewable energy and using an eco-kettle. Why not make your pledge today to live more lightly on our precious planet?

Omega-3 benefits in pregnancy

A Cochrane review of more than 70 clinical trials found supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids in pregnancy slashed the risk of premature birth (less than 37 weeks) by 11%, risk of an early premature birth (less than 34 weeks) by 42% and the risk of having a small baby by 10%. The review, which updates a 2006 publication, concluded there is high-quality evidence for the use of omega-3 supplementation as an effective intervention for the prevention of preterm birth. In related news, Pharma company, Amarin, is preparing to publish the results from a trial of their synthetic omega-3 oil-based drug, Vascepa. The dosage in the trial is realistically achievable with natural omega-3 supplements and is, in our view, preferable to new-to-nature synthetic products.

GM tech under pressure around the world

The pressure is mounting on Bayer, new parent to Monsanto, as countries around the world continue to reject both GM technology and related overuse of chemicals in farming. In South Africa, the government has thrown out Monsanto’s application to release Triple Stacked Drought Tolerant Maize commercially. Their application was ultimately discarded due to insufficient data demonstrating the efficacy of the drought tolerance and insect resistance of the maize. It also found the yield benefits stated were inconsistent, with some trials resulting in a lower yield than conventional maize. The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) welcomed the news and called for all African governments to implement agro-ecological methods of farming to provide long-term sustainable solutions and support small-holder farms. Across to Southern Asia, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is increasing surveillance on pulses imported from Canada and Australia due to higher than acceptable levels of glyphosate. Current use of glyphosate in India is only permitted in tea plantations and non-crop areas. Find out more about why we need to take a stand on GM crops and the very serious risks they pose to not only human health, but the environment also.

UK smart meter programme stalling

UK energy suppliers are unlikely to meet the government’s target for smart meter installation. The programme has been beset with many problems, not least of which is the realisation that they do little to save consumers money. Despite suppliers employing many different methods to entice, encourage and even ‘bully’ consumers into adopting the meters, consumers are proving to be ‘smarter’. Understanding that not only do they not save money (outside of a major shift in consumption habits), the meters are also potentially hazardous for health. Further information on the health issues associated with electro-magnetic radiation can be found in our EMR campaign.