A paper in the latest GRACE looks at coloured potatoes as sources of natural colourants (anthocyanins). I suppose it is good to find other uses for these under-utilized varieties, but surely there are lots of people out there who’d really like to taste a purple potato. I know I would. And what about levels of micro-nutrients?
The BBC reports that the government in Kuala Lumpur is planning to give cash incentives to people who want to open Malaysian restaurants abroad. I’m all for it, Malaysian food is great. And it’s got to be good news for all those weird local vegetables, fruits and spices, right? But of course the idea wont get anywhere without a celebrity chef.
The International Sorghum and Millet Collaborative Research Support Program (INTSORMIL) based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln “works to improve nutrition and natural resource management and to increase income in developing countries, while developing new technologies to improve sorghum and pearl millet production and its use worldwide.” CropBiotech Update recently announced that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has given INTSORMIL a grant of US$9 M to continue enabling “plant breeders from U.S. land-grant universities to work with researchers in host countries through education, mentoring and collaborative research.” Sounds very worthy, but I must admit I hadn’t heard of this outfit before.
A mammoth metadata study of 111 different papers concludes that “biodiversity matters”. Well, duh. But it is good to have data. The study is published in Nature (press release here) for 25 October. To demonstrate the value of biodiversity, the study’s author Bradley Cardinale chose a paper that shows that the presence of three aphid predators has a greater impact on pests than one would expect from each of the three alone. In a single state — Wisconsin — this pesticidal service was worth millions of dollars, Cardinale said. Not to dismiss all the other services that biodiversity performs, but it seems that one way to get decision makers to understand its importance is to turn those nebulous “services” into something they do understand: cold hard cash.
The London Times reports a new effort to preserve British livestock breeds. Sperm and egg banks will be created to preserve roughly 100 of Britain’s 130 or so rare breeds of cattle, sheep, horses, goats, poultry and pigs. A database will record the location of rare breeds so that in the event of a disease outbreak, like the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001 in which four threatened sheep lost more than a third of their numbers each, steps can be taken to preserve rare breeds.
“The move is not only about the historic importance of keeping traditional breeds with their genetic diversity, but also because of the enormous contribution these animals make to the national economy,” says the article.