Friday, April 22, 2011

Long Chain Omega-3 Oil from Plants - Soon

A pioneering Australian research alliance is leading the international race to break the world’s reliance on fish stocks for its supply of the vital dietary nutrient, long chain omega-3.

Three Australian organisations recently announced an A$50 million dollar research collaboration which will use leading edge gene technology to develop and commercialise vegetable oil which will contain the same high quality, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) rich long chain omega-3 that traditionally comes from fish.

This collaboration brings together Nuseed (a wholly owned subsidiary of Nufarm Ltd), CSIRO and the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Already as part of the project, CSIRO scientists have made a significant breakthrough by enabling canola plants to generate long chain omega-3 oils that contain DHA, something that up until now has only been found in beneficial quantities in ocean-based algae and the fish that eat it. Some land-based plants, like flaxseed, can produce short-chain omega-3 oils, but are unable to produce the more beneficial long chain omega-3 oils containing DHA.

Read the Full Article here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Here in Australia, chocolate eggs are very common gifts at Easter, with the egg representing life, as shown by the Christian festivity of the Resurrection, on what is celebrated as Easter sunday.

There has been a call by Tim Costello, the head of World Vision Australia for a tax on chocolate.

No, it is not a crazy thing, but all about the fact that much of the world's chocolate production comes from west Africa, where child slavery and related systems of indentured or sold adult slaves, do much of the work in cocoa production. it is estimated that about 97% of cocoa produced around the world involves child exploitation.

There have been some efforts to overcome the system with Greens chocolate [ based in the UK]attempting to break out of this production cycle, by introducing fair trade type policies around cocoa sales and purchases [ recently written about in Time Magazine], as have Cadbury's.

But the call from Tim Costello is new, and World Vision does have some clout in these issues. Read and hear more here - .

It is not a nice issue to contemplate in a comfortable westernised society, but cocoa production does remain as one of the last areas of serious child slavery in the world.

Be aware of that fact as you eat your chocolate Easter eggs............or just about any other chocolate!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NEW RECORD - World's Hottest Chilli Grown in Australia

A record worth claiming for some, and totally irrelevant for many others.

Have to have some levity ocassionally.

A chilli grower on the Central Coast of NSW, in Australia has produced what is believed to be the world's hottest chilli, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T.

"It was like a eating a fruit salad and then it just exploded in my mouth, it was fantastic!" described Marcel de Wit, head grower at the Chilli Factory, the producer who grew the chilli.

This is supposed to be a new record, surpassing the chillies produced in Assam.[ ]

Full details of new record here -

Friday, April 08, 2011

Sustainability - Great Disruption

In sustainability terms, as well as ecological, a population can grow, reach the limits then decline. For various reasons. Jared Diamond wrote of this theme in his books in the 1990s, as did Paul Erlich to some degree in "Limits to Growth" [1970s].

A recent book by Paul Gilding, "The Great Disruption" adds to the debate about sustainability. The book was reviewed here [ ] during the week, and is now available for sale in Australia. No doubt Amazon will have it also.

The reviewer reckons it is a good read. But maybe they are too similar in views for a dispassionate review. Maybe there cannot be a dispassionate review of the topic.

Read it and comment.

It should stir considerable controvesy.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mangroves - Worth Loving for Carbon Storage

Mangroves have been under threat as mankind increasingly lives near the water's edge - especially the saltwater edge!

Maybe recent events such as earthquakes and tsumanis might encourage a rethink living on the edge of the sea, but for now, many areas of mangroves are torn out for development - of various kinds.

One school of thought even suggests that their prsence along coastlines mitigates cyclonic storm surges and related events, preventing considerable damage, even some distance inland. I recall comments about several major storms in Asia where more damage occurred than might be expected due to the removal of protection from mangroves, torn out for aquaculture development.

Land developers commonly remove mangroves to develop canal estates too.

Some recent scientific research on tropical mangrove trees show they are better at storing carbon dioxide than most other forests, and cutting them down unleashes more greenhouse gas than deforestation elsewhere.
Mangroves are so efficient at keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere that when they are destroyed, they release as much as 10 per cent of all emissions worldwide attributable to deforestation - even though mangroves account for just 0.7 per cent of the tropical forest area, according to some new research.

Daniel Donato, of the
US Agriculture Department's Forest Service and lead author of a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, says mangroves store two to four times the carbon that tropical rainforests do. "Mangroves store a lot of carbon, much more so than most forests on Earth, on a per hectare basis," says Donato. "Since they store so much carbon, there's probably a lot being released from all the mangrove deforestation that's going on."

Yes, if you live near the coast you tend to dislike the mangroves - the source of mosquitoes and sand flies, midges and related biting insects.

Maybe it is better you protect yourself, and leave the mangroves to store carbon and protect us from natural disasters. provides more details.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Snail Biosecurity - Even in Singapore

A visitor to Singapore sees a lot of hard surfaces and little of the green sites.

Seemingly the island appears as a large building, apartment and mall site.

However, surprisingly, the island does have a few biosecurity issues of concern.

A recent article expresses considerable concern over a snail found in some Singapore green sites, such as plant nurseries and remnant jungle areas.

African land snails are a particular issue of concern to many biosecurity agencies around the world, including Australia. The species in this article is not the normally noted one, but still a potential species of some concern. There are comparison photos in the article.

It is true that plant quarantine is often not an issue of major concern to Singapore, especially for outsiders, but it is for Australia.

The Singapore story seems to implicate plant imports as the source of the snail.

While plant imports to Australia from Singapore are not that common, orchid flowers can be a fairly common passenger item, and there is a history of insects as a free rider on the flowers.

Darwin - watchout for this snail.