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Africa Asean MENA Pakistan Press Releases South Africa

Conagen Produces Two Thaumatin Protein Natural Sweeteners at Scale

100,000 times sweeter than table sugar

Bedford, Mass., March 23, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Food and beverages brands get two more tools for their sugar reduction toolkits as Conagen announced the successful scale-up production of two new high-intensity sweeteners, thaumatin I and thaumatin II. The development will expand commercial partner Sweegen’s robust sugar reduction solutions of zero-sugar natural sweeteners.

Thaumatin is a group of proteins found in the fruits of the tropical plant Thaumatococcus danielli. Each protein, thaumatin I and thaumatin II, varies slightly in sweetness profiles. Both proteins have been evaluated as 100,000 times sweeter than sugar on a molar basis and 3,000 times sweeter on a weight basis. The high sweetness factor can translate into a strategic cost-effective sugar reduction solution for brands seeking to get the most out of a natural sweetener.

The thaumatin proteins were developed from Conagen’s peptide production platform, which had previously been used for the scaled production of another peptide sweetener, brazzein. “Conagen constantly improves its protein and peptide production platforms to generate more exciting new products,” said Casey Lippmeier, vice president of innovation at Conagen. “In this case, the platform has been leveraged to make thaumatin by several innovative approaches, but under a significantly shorter R&D timeline.”

These two new, high-purity thaumatin proteins add to Sweegen’s creative portfolio of sugar reduction solutions to help brands make low-calorie products. Brands can now explore the synergistic benefits of formulations that contain thaumatin and other products from Sweegen’s Signature Sweetener portfolio, including brazzein and stevia. This diversity of natural, high-intensity sweeteners represents the most cost-effective approach for reducing sugar in food and beverages to deliver the best tasting match for the sweetness of sugar.

The desire for natural sweeteners will drive the demand for fruit and plant-based sweeteners, such as thaumatin and stevia, respectively. The main advantages to sweetening food and beverages with thaumatin are its familiarity and acceptance by consumers and the fact that it is approved for use in products by the majority of the countries in the world.

Health-conscious consumers are generally more accepting of natural sweeteners than sugar and artificial sweeteners. According to FMCG Gurus, Top 10 Future Trends 2030, “60% of global consumers currently believe natural sweeteners are healthier alternatives to sugar.” The trend report further stated, “Increasingly, consumers will want only products that contain real and authentic ingredients, and sweeteners will be no exception to the rule. As such, this will drive demand for sweeteners sourced directly from fruits and plants, something that the industry will respond to.”

Like most other proteins, when thaumatin proteins are consumed, they are digested into amino acids.  However, because thaumatin communicates such a strong sweet taste, the levels used in most applications contribute almost no calories. It is one of the most intense sweeteners ever discovered.

Consumers increasingly expect to stock their pantries with low-to-no sugar products with food and beverages that fit into their lifestyle and diets. Thaumatin can complement a number of consumer lifestyles, such as diabetic, ketogenic, or low-to-no carbohydrate diets. These sweet proteins are low on the glycemic index.

“Thaumatin is the second announced product generated from our peptide platform, which fits well into our existing world-scale, precision fermentation infrastructure.” Lippmeier further added, “Peptides and small proteins like brazzein and thaumatin can be very difficult to make economically; however, now that we have successfully scaled multiple peptides and proteins, we are willing to collaborate with other customers to make other novel peptide products.”

Regulatory approval for thaumatin as natural sweeteners has passed in the European Union (E957), Israel, and Japan. In the United States, it is generally recognized as safe as a flavoring agent (FEMA GRAS 3732).

About Conagen
Conagen is a product-focused, synthetic biology R&D company with large-scale manufacturing service capabilities. Our scientists and engineers use the latest synthetic biology tools to develop high-quality, sustainable, nature-based products by precision fermentation and enzymatic bioconversion. We focus on the bioproduction of high-value ingredients for food, nutrition, flavors and fragrances, pharmaceutical, and renewable materials industries. www.conagen.com

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Ana Arakelian, head of public relations and communications
Conagen
+1.781.271.1588
ana.arakelian@conagen.com
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Africa MENA Press Releases South Africa

Keep Your Cool: Hisense Celebrates Closure of the Summer Season with New Hi-Season Campaign

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, March 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — As summer draws to a close in South Africa, Hisense, provider of high-performance TV and home appliances, is catching the last summer days to help the South African households keep their cool with its new Hi-Season campaign this March.

Any customers who purchase Hi-Season promotional products and send proof of purchase to prize@hisense.co.za before 15th April will enter the draw to win a Hisense fridge. Alongside the lucky draw, Hisense is offering savings up to R10,000 across its product range. It has be proof of purchase of an online purchase. Participating retailers include Takealot, Makro, Game, Hifi Corp, Everyshop, Hirsch, FNB Complete, and New World.

As part of the Hi-Season campaign, Hisense is casting the spotlight on three appliances that will help users reimagine summer:

75A6GS 4K UHD TV

Experience a total 4K solution with 4K resolution and an UHD AI Upscaler. Over 8 million pixels are housed for true 4K resolution, while the upscaler works to enhance non-4K signals to achieve near-4K resolution and greater detail than standard FHD signals. Feel immersed by the DTS virtual X advanced surround sound solution suite, or connect Bluetooth devices for more audio options. The 75A6GS also includes Game Mode and the VIDAA U4.0 personalized content platform for a non-stop summer of entertainment.

120L5F Laser TV

Bring the cinematic experience home with brighter pictures, natural colours and ultra-clear details. The ultra-short throw 120L5F Laser TV projects a colourful and bright image onto a 120-inch ambient light rejection screen that’s designed for viewing in any room in the house. Enjoy incredible image depth and quality with 4K UHD and over 8 million pixels — and with close to zero harmful blue lights, viewers benefit from a healthier viewing experience free from eye strain, even after long viewing periods.

H670SIA-WD Side by Side Refrigerator

H670SIA-WD is both energy efficient and environmentally friendly, earning the appliance an A+ energy class rating. Its multi-airflow technology cools the fridge evenly from corner to corner so food stays fresher for longer. Hisense’s frost-free technology reduces the humidity level to prevent frost formation, and the accelerated temperature adjustment ensures frozen goods defrost quickly. With the built-in internal water reservoir, users have a permanent supply of chilled water at the press of a button.

For more information on the Hi-season campaign, please visit https://hisense.co.za/ .

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1771531/HiSeason_Summer_KV___final.jpg

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Medical

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the WHO press conference – 23 March 2022

Good morning, good afternoon and good evening.

The global increase in COVID-19 cases continues, driven by large outbreaks in Asia and a fresh wave in Europe.

Several countries are now seeing their highest death rates since the beginning of the pandemic.

This reflects the speed with which Omicron spreads, and the heightened risk of death for those who are not vaccinated, especially older people.

We all want to move on from the pandemic. But no matter how much we wish it away, this pandemic is not over.

Until we reach high vaccination coverage in all countries, we will continue to face the risk of infections surging, and new variants emerging that evade vaccines.

Even as some high-income countries propose a second booster dose, one third of the world’s population remains unvaccinated.

But there are some promising signs of progress.

In Nigeria, for example, vaccine uptake was dramatically increased when supply stabilized, and planning was done on how to effectively distribute vaccines.

WHO’s target remains to vaccinate 70% of the population of every country by the middle of this year, with priority given to health workers, older people and other at-risk groups.

Achieving that target is essential to save lives, prevent the risk of long COVID, protect health systems and increase population immunity.

Other tools, including testing, sequencing and contact tracing, also remain essential, and it’s vital that countries don’t abandon the capacities they have built over the past two years.

WHO continues to support countries with the tools they need.

One of those tools is Go.Data, an application developed by WHO and partners for contact tracing and data management that helps responders track outbreaks in real-time.

Go.Data is free, mobile-friendly, can be used offline and is easily adapted to different outbreaks and locations.

It was first used during outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, and diphtheria in Bangladesh.

When the pandemic struck, many countries realised that older contact tracing methods were not fit for purpose.

Today, 65 countries have used Go.Data. It’s a good example of an aspect of the COVID response that will now strengthen health systems.

For example, Brazil has used it for COVID, and is now also using it to track measles.

Now to Ukraine.

It’s now one month since the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine began. Almost 10 million people, nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population, have now been forcibly displaced.

The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in many parts of the country, and is critical in the Mariupol and Bucha districts.

The disruption to services and supplies throughout Ukraine is posing an extreme risk to people with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and TB, which are among the country’s leading causes of mortality.

Displacement, poor shelter, and overcrowded living conditions caused by the conflict are also increasing the risk of diseases such as measles, pneumonia and polio, as well as COVID-19.

So far, WHO has delivered about 150 metric tonnes of medical supplies.

We have established supply lines from our warehouse in Lviv to many cities in Ukraine, but access to many parts of the country remains blocked.

A humanitarian convoy to Mariupol was not able to be dispatched due to insecurity.

We continue facing serious cash-flow constraints in our ability to deliver life-saving support.

So far, WHO has received just 9.6 million US dollars against our appeal for 57.5 million dollars over the next three months.

We thank Norway, Switzerland and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund for their generosity, but we continue to face a huge funding gap that prevents us from delivering urgently needed medical supplies.

We call on donors to quickly address these urgent needs.

WHO has now verified 64 attacks on health care since the start of the war, and we are in the process of verifying further attacks.

Attacks on health must stop. Health systems, facilities and health workers are not – and should never be – a target.

We also have concerns around the integrity and safe operation of nuclear and chemical facilities.

WHO is working with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and we continue to call on all sides to minimise the risk of a nuclear or chemical accident, which could have catastrophic consequences for human health.

We continue to call on the Russian Federation to stop the war.

Although Ukraine is rightly the focus of the world’s attention, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the many other crises in which people are suffering.

Last week, I spoke about the humanitarian disaster in Tigray, and that WHO was still waiting for permission to send an additional 95 metric tonnes of medical supplies.

Since then, permission has been granted. If we can deliver these supplies safely, they will help people in desperate need, but much more is needed.

So far, only 4% of the needs for health supplies have been delivered to Tigray. That is insignificant.

The region has been under siege for almost 500 days, with dire shortages of fuel and food. People are starving to death. Actually, giving them food is more important than medicine.

We continue to call on Ethiopia and Eritrea to end the blockade.

===

Earlier this week, I had the honour of attending the Guinea Worm Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Although it’s largely unknown in high-income countries, Guinea worm has plagued people in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for millennia.

But thanks to a partnership between WHO, the Carter Center and other partners, the eradication of this ancient disease is now within sight.

In the 1980s there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of Guinea worm disease globally. Last year, there were just 15 cases.

Today, Guinea worm remains endemic in just five African countries.

At the Guinea Worm Summit in Abu Dhabi this week, Ministers of Health from those countries came together to commit to taking the action needed to eradicate Guinea worm by 2030.

Finally, tomorrow is World TB Day.

Tuberculosis kills more than 1.5 million people each year.

Ending this debilitating disease remains a priority for WHO, and in recent years, we have made encouraging progress.

More than 66 million people received access to TB services since the year 2000.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions that reversed years of progress. And the war in Ukraine is also jeopardising progress in that country.

For the first time in over a decade, WHO has reported an increase in TB deaths.

This is a very dangerous trend that we must arrest. We call on all countries to invest in expanding access to effective tools against tuberculosis, and in new tools to End TB.

Christian, back to you.

Source: World Health Organization

Categories
Politics

Millions in East Africa Face Hunger if Rainy Season Fails Again

Aid agencies working in East Africa warn of a massive humanitarian crisis if the coming rainy season falls short of expectations. The aid groups say persistent drought has left 44 million people in urgent need of assistance across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.

Millions of people are on the move in East Africa as drought takes their livelihoods and most are forced to flee their homes in search of food and water.

Francesco Rigamoti is the regional humanitarian coordinator for Oxfam Horn East and Central Africa. He says if nothing is done, the situation is poised to get worse in coming weeks.

“The crisis can actually worsen until and beyond June if the March to May rains fail to be average or below average,” he said. “There is a concrete possibility that in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, only between 15 and 20 million people will be in IPC 3 phase and above and unfortunately, the experts are telling us in South Sudan already between May and July 8.3 million people will be in this situation.”

The aid agencies use the IPC scale to classify households’ food insecurity. IPC phase 3 means the households have food consumption gaps that can lead to acute malnutrition.

Since January, at least 13 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have been displaced in search of water and pastures for their livestock.

In Kenya, crop production has dropped by 70%.

Oxfam International head Gabriela Bucher traveled to Somali regions to witness the drought situation and what it is doing to people. She says communities are finding it difficult to adapt to the change in weather patterns.

“For centuries pastoralists have had an extremely resilient and incredible coping mechanism in very harsh conditions but the current situation, the severity of the long drought extension and how many countries are affected is breaking those traditional mechanisms and in reality, we see that the climate crisis is present there and they are suffering the worst consequences of something that [they did] nothing to generate. So we know this is an issue of justice because it’s us, the global community that needs to be aware and respond,” she said.

The aid agencies say more than 650,000 Somalis have fled their homes due to drought, leaving almost half of the children under the age of five acutely malnourished.

Javier Rio Navarro is head of ECHO Somalia, a European Union emergency response organization. He says the country is facing famine.

“Today, we face a number of hard truths in Somalia,” he said. “The consequences of the drought are catastrophic and pose a very real threat of famine in the country. The other real truth is that the capacities of the partners are overstretched and the additional reality is that additional funding is hard to come by. Hence collectively, we need to recognize that the single common priority of humanitarians in Somalia today is to save lives.”

In 2017 humanitarian organizations averted possible famine by getting supplies to communities in hard-to-reach areas on time and using the lessons learned during the 2011 famine which killed a quarter of a million people.

Aid agencies are appealing for more funding to reach millions and save lives.

Source: Voice of America

Categories
Politics

Mali Attaches Conditions to Handing Over Late PM’s Body, Says Family

Relatives of the late former prime minister of Mali say the country’s military government has refused to turn over his body unless they agree not to request an autopsy.

Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga died March 21, 2022, at a Bamako hospital after seven months in detention.

Maiga served under former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was deposed in a 2020 coup. Maiga was arrested in August 2021 on charges of fraud.

His health deteriorated while in jail, and his family repeatedly sought permission to get him released for treatment. For the last three months, he has been under guard at a Bamako clinic.

At Maiga’s home in central Bamako on March 22, where his family gathered to receive guests, his brother Mohamed Boubèye Maiga said the military government has refused to hand over his body unless the family agrees not to request an autopsy.

He added that Maiga’s family, friends and lawyers had been refused access to Maiga in recent months as his health deteriorated, so no loved ones were present when Maigi died.

Several Malian political parties, along with the head of Mali’s U.N. mission and the president of neighboring Niger, have publicly reacted to Maiga’s death.

The spokesperson for a group of opposition parties, Ismael Sacko, talked to VOA from Bamako via a messaging app.

Sacko said Maiga’s death could have been a form of political assassination, so an investigation is crucial.

Aguibou Bouare, president of Mali’s National Human Rights Commission, a governmental agency that investigates human rights abuse accusations, said that the commission monitored Maiga’s case, but it was denied access to the former prime minister while he was in the hospital.

Bouare said that all prisoners, including Maiga, who had not yet been tried have the right to medical treatment and to receive visits from family. Human rights must be respected at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances, he said, especially during exceptional circumstances and periods of crisis.

VOA attempted to reach a Malian army spokesman for comment, but got no response.

The government released a short statement Monday announcing Maiga’s death “after a long illness.”

The military government ordered Radio France Internationale and France 24 off the air last week after RFI and Human Rights Watch reported on alleged human rights abuses by Mali’s army.

Source: Voice of America