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China

Scientists sequence the vanilla genome

Chinese scientists have completed the genome sequencing of Vanilla shenzhenica, giving way to hopes that a synthetic version of the world’s second most expensive spice.

Briefing

Industry and MPs want hemp as a food, but ministers continue to resist

Late last month, a forum of Australian and New Zealand ministers met in Auckland to discuss a number of proposed and recently implemented changes and additions to the countries’ food...

New Zealand

Food security: One of humanity’s ‘most significant challenges’

While food security is nothing new, the scale and interconnectedness of the problem the world is now facing make it “one of the most significant challenges humanity has ever faced,”...

Innovations

From goon sack to cask: Australia’s wine box celebrates 50 years

One of South Australia’s best-loved inventions—alongside the Stobie termite-proof telegraph pole, the Hills Hoist clothesline and the Jump plough that doesn’t get stuck on rocks—the so-called “goon sack” was the...

Australia

Government urged to continue complementary health drive through budget

Australia’s non-pharmaceutical medicines lobby has called on the government ahead of the federal budget to reflect on the economic and health benefits its members have had on Australia’s healthcare system....

New Zealand

Mice study: TCM-derived flavonoid could quell diabetes symptoms

A study led by researchers in New Zealand suggests that an antioxidant can greatly improve symptoms related to obesity and type II diabetes by reversing inflammation in the brain caused...

New Zealand

Almost all NZ’s freshwater fish at risk of extinction

The majority of New Zealand’s native freshwater fish species are threatened or at risk of extinction, says a Canterbury University researcher.

Australia

Tasmania goes it alone in backing hemp food production

Even though a council of antipodean ministers has rejected calls to allow the use of hemp seed oil as a food, Tasmania’s government is planning to introduce legislation that will...

Probiotic pill shows promise in blood sugar management and battling diabetes: Rat data

A genetically engineered strain of human gut bacteria from the lactobacillus family could help to slash in incidence of high blood sugar by up to 30%, according to new research...

Cost, cynicism and frustration: Malaysian government launches own palm oil standard

The Malaysian government has launched its own sustainable palm oil certification standard – but will this add to or detract from sustainability and transparency efforts in the sector?

Briefing

Hemp lobby dashed after ministers block call for its use in nutrition

Australia and New Zealand’s health and food lawmakers do not appear to be backing down in their opposition to the use of low-THC hemp as a food following a meeting...

News in brief

Senior official defends China’s agriculture’s ‘safety guarantee’

China's agricultural products are generally safe and reliable, China’s chief agricultural economist has stated.

Australia

Researchers ‘astounded’ by results of probiotic peanut allergy study

A probiotic could hold the key to treating peanut allergies in children, researchers in Melbourne have found.

Australia

Greens and growers wade into country-of-origin labelling debate

An influential industry group has added its weight to the push by the Australian Green party for clearer country of origin labelling on food, claiming the current system does not...

China

Bird flu season becoming a serious concern for Chinese authorities

A series of human infections from bird flu this year, alongside a spate of import bans, illustrates the acute fear among Chinese officials over the threat posed by live poultry...

News in brief

China opens doors to all US apples, ending 2012 ban

China’s food watchdog will allow the import of all US-grown apples in a move that could be worth US$100m a year to the American apple industry. 

Umami taste sensitivity linked to physical health in the elderly

There is a close relationship between a person’s perception of umami flavours and their appetite and physical health, according to new research.

Soapbox

Some wellness jobs haven't even been invented yet

An essential input into the natural health supply chain is the provision of well-educated and sound practitioners—just as is the case of those who seek corporate jobs in wellness, media,...

China

Smog blamed on smoking bacon, city bans practice ahead of new year

The culinary practice of smoking bacon, a traditional method of preserving pork, has been banned in the Chinese city of Chongqing after being blamed for much of its noxious air.

Australia

Poll: Public angry at gov't and industry’s approach to healthier food

Two-thirds of Australians believe that the food industry has more say than the government over food regulation, while eight out of 10 believe the health star rating should me mandatory...

China

Death for man who sold 19k tonnes of slaughtered cattle waste as lard

A man who sold thousands of tonnes of cooking oil made from the waste of slaughtered cattle has been given the death penalty and fined RMB340m (US$56m) by a court...

India

Indian government embarks on widespread agri-modernisation initiatives

More than 140m Indian farmers will receive so-called “soil health cards” over the next three years in an effort by the country’s agriculture ministry to help them boost productivity by...

Consultation on proposed updates runs until 20 February

MPI looks at upping food safety fees

Feedback on changes to fees around food safety and biosecurity, including some increases, is wanted by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

News in brief

China's agriculture smuggling seizures topped $7.2bn in 2014

Chinese customs seized more than 210,000 tonnes of smuggled rice in 2014, worth over US$200m, according to officials.

Japan

Hong Kong bans some Japanese poultry imports after H5N7 is detected

Hong Kong has banned the import of poultry from some regions of Japan, Israel and Nigeria following the announcement of H5 avian influenza outbreaks there.