Sustainability in Food

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Investing in science for nutritional control of obesity

Prof. Andreu Palou, winner of DuPont Science Award in Spain & Portugal

Within the theme of the latest edition of the DuPont Science Award relating to the field of health and nutrition, Dr. Andreu Palou has been recognized for his scientific contributions in the area of molecular nutrition: the regulation system of body weight (obesity); leptin and the relationship between diet and (epi-) genetics (nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition); the diet/illness mechanisms related to food safety and efficacy; functional food; and the identification of health claims on foods and new biomarkers for European substantiation of health claims in food.

Prof. Andreu Palou, winner of the DuPont Science Award in Spain & Portugal

Prof. Andreu Palou, winner of the DuPont Science Award in Spain & Portugal

Obesity – and the associated metabolic alterations – is one of the biggest nutritional issues today, with huge impact on health but also economics and society. Andreu Palou and his team are working in three main areas:

  • Thermogenesis and thermogenetic food that would allow us to lose the excess of calories in the form of heat instead of fat,
  • Omic or nutrigenomic biomarkers for early prediction of potential health alterations, and
  • Obesity prevention.

In this last area, Prof. Palou and his team have discovered a new function of leptin, a protein that is present in breast milk but not in substitute milks. The protein has an effect on lactating babies that protect them against the obesity in the future.

The DuPont Science Award was established in the Iberian Peninsula under the auspices of Professor Severo Ochoa (Nobel Prize winner in Medicine 1959) in order to encourage initiatives which make an important contribution to the advancement of science and its applications. For the last twenty-two years, DuPont has been giving the award to Spanish and Portuguese scientists that have contributed with their work to the advancement of science.

You can find information on the foundation, jurors and other details related to the DuPont Prize of Science: http://www.premiodupont.org.

Dr. Andreu Palou is Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Nutrition, University of Balearic Islands and Head of Group Research Center on Obesity and Nutrition Network (CIBERobn)

What Do You Want to Know About Biofortified Sorghum?

Dr. Marc Albertsen, left, and Dr. Jim Gaffney, Regulatory Lead for ABS, discuss biofortified sorghum on a recent trip to Africa.

Over the course of the next week, a science blog will host an interactive interview online with Dr. Marc Albertsen, DuPont Pioneer research director, about efforts underway to enhance sorghum with key nutrients – Pro Vitamin A, iron and zinc – as a part of the DuPont-supported Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Initiative.

 The Biofortified Blog, is inviting people to submit questions related to the biofortification of sorghum and ABS by Feb 12. Questions will be answered by Dr. Albertsen and posted the following week.

Dr. Albertsen is the research lead and principal investigator for the Africa Biofortified Sorghum Project, a public-private partnership that is actively working to improve the health and survival of millions of people who rely on sorghum as their primary diet by enhancing its nutritional quality through biofortification. The immediate target of the ABS initiative is to increase and stabilize levels of pro-vitamin A. In the near future, the focus will expand to achieving enhanced bioavailability of zinc and iron and improved protein digestibility.

Based on conservative estimates, currently achievable biofortified sorghum has the potential to contribute from 35 to 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A for children in Africa. DuPont Pioneer provides technical, monetary and in-kind support to the ABS initiative. 

Submit your questions to Dr. Albertsen today!

Update: Global Food Security Index shows food prices rise and slight decrease in food affordability

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) announced today that global food commodity prices rose slightly in the last quarter of 2013, decreasing food affordability in the majority of the 107 countries covered in the EIU’s Global Food Security Index.

“The Global Food Security Index brings a new dimension of evaluating key factors impacting food security,” said James C. Borel, Executive Vice President, DuPont. “The power of this data tool lies in its ability to help determine where to best dedicate limited resources and generate the most impact.”

Price Adjustment Factor Key Findings

In the quarter that just ended (December 2013), global food commodity prices rose by an estimated 1.39% from end-September, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index, largely owing to increases in the prices of dairy and meats, which were offset by falling sugar, cereal and oil prices.

  • Once again, the largest drops in food security happened in countries experiencing political violence — Syria and Sudan. Syria had the largest drop and Sudan faced the second largest drop in food security.
  • South Korea had the largest improvement in food security. Its overall food security rank rose two spots to 23rd. Its rank for food affordability rose from 26th to 22nd.
  • Western European food affordability improved in the fourth quarter. Food security improved in 50% (13 of 26) of the European countries included in the Index, representing over a third of all countries that experienced improvements in food security. Western Europe benefited from its modest economic recovery and the strengthening of the euro.
  • Global Food Security Index-ScreenshotEast Asia and Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia were the only two regions to experience an overall improvement in food security during the quarter. Their respective regional scores rose by 0.18 (to 61 out of 100) and 0.06 (to 70), leaving the regions ranked third and second (out of seven), respectively, behind North America.
  • Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) had the largest decline in food security. The region’s score fell by 0.12 to remain in the fourth position. This contrasts with LAC’s performance last quarter when all countries, except Chile, experienced an improvement in food security.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa remained the lowest scoring region. Its score fell by 0.1 from the previous quarter to 33.3. Only five Sub-Saharan African countries (Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Sierra Leone) out of 28 experienced improvements in food security during the fourth quarter.

“The global economy will strengthen in 2014, led by the richer countries,” said Leo Abruzzese, Global Forecasting Director for the EIU. “While that could increase food demand, many of the emerging markets are not growing as rapidly as they once did. With generally strong food production and high stocks, we don’t see prices rising for staples this year, a good sign for food security.”

To read the full release and EIU findings, and to explore the Global Food Security Index online, visit http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/.

The Index, commissioned by DuPont to deepen the dialogue on food security, is prepared annually and evaluates the affordability, availability and quality of food across 107 countries. Each quarter, the Index is adjusted to reflect the impact of global food price fluctuations on each country’s food security.

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