A number of stories in the past few days have highlighted some novel initiatives to “mainstream” traditional medicine in Africa and China. First there was an article in The Economist on the effort by the Association for African Medicinal Plants Standards to develop a pharmacopoeia, or database of plants used in traditional medicine. By early next year this will include information on about 50 plants and how they are used across Africa. Then today there’s a report from a WHO meeting in Lusaka saying that institutionalizing traditional medicine would improve the care provided by African health systems. And there’s also news that the Chinese government has launched a programme to test the safety of traditional medicines, the latest in a series of projects on traditional medicine in China (see links at bottom of the page).
Here’s a story about breeders’ efforts to perfect the jack-o’-lantern.Â A clue: it’s all in the peduncle. And there’s apparently no “gene-splicing” involved!
Would you eat a purple pizza? Breeders at Oregon State University are hoping you would, because they’re a couple of years away from releasing a purple tomato hybrid, the colour apparently coming from a wild relative. Read about it here. Supposed to be better for you too…
There’s a discussion of marker assisted selection (MAS) in, of all places, the Guardian. The writer, Jeremy Rifkin, tries to sell MAS as a consumer-friendly alternative to GM, but judging by some of the comments that is not going to be a universally successful strategy.
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) has long been touted as a healthy source of flavonoids and other compounds claimed to protect against heart disease and other “civilised” ailments. A report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (abstract available freely here) says that Indian scientists have developed a new method of extracting sea buckthorn juice that results in a greater yield of juice that is higher in these protective compounds. An article suggests that sea buckthorn could now join “an ever-increasing list of a number of antioxidant fruits, including pomegranate, guarana, mangosteen, noni berries, goji berries and blueberries, which are increasingly seen by food and beverage makers as up and coming ingredients”. Ah, but will it taste good?