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Creating realistic 3D structure for laboratory-grown meat has been a technical challenge, partly because of the difficulty in getting oxygen to the cells in the middle of a piece of cultured tissue. However, Israeli startup Aleph Farms says it may have the solution.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to ban the advertising of foods high in salt, fat or sugar on the Transport for London public transport network, in a bid to tackle child obesity. The proposal says “This ban would exclude alcohol”, presumably meaning that alcohol could still be advertised.
From 7 May 2018, chain restaurants in the US with 20 or more branches are required to include calorie counts on their menus. The rules are part of an Obama-era health care law.
Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland are developing edible plant cell cultures. They hope that cell cultures of plants such as cloudberry, lingonberry and strawberry could provide health benefits when the conventionally-grown berries are out-of-season or expensive to import. The researchers have experimented with blending the cells into a “jam” to release the flavour, and have designed a prototype of a bioreactor that could be used in the home.
UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has agreed to buy Asda from US supermarket Walmart. Together, Sainsbury’s and Asda will have a market share of 31% of the UK grocery sector, ahead of rival Tesco. The supermarkets claim that the merger will allow them to lower prices by 10% on many items.
Several companies are using microbes to improve crop performance. One of them is Indigo, which uses machine learning to identify the microbes associated with healthy plants and then coats seedlings with these microbes. Indigo’s method has increased wheat yields by 15% and cotton yields by 14% in trials.
Scientists have unintentionally created a variant of a bacterial enzyme that is 20% better than the original at breaking down polyethylene terephthalate, commonly used to make plastic bottles. The researchers were investigating the properties of a bacterium that has naturally evolved to digest plastic.
UK charity WRAP has launched the UK Plastics Pact, a voluntary scheme which brings together businesses responsible for 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold in UK supermarkets. The pact aims to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, among other goals.
European Union member countries have voted to ban three neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids have been linked to the decline of bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids will be banned from use in open fields by the end of 2018, but will still be permitted inside closed greenhouses.
173 countries have agreed to halve emissions from the global shipping industry by 2050, compared to 2008 levels, in a non-binding deal arranged by the International Maritime Organisation. Saudi Arabia, the US and several other countries raised objections to the proposed emissions cuts. Shipping was not covered by the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
Frozen food supermarket Iceland has pledged to remove palm oil from all of its own-brand lines by the end of 2018, citing concerns over collapsing orangutan populations and deforestation. The initiative - the first of its kind among major UK supermarkets - should reduce demand for palm oil by over 500 tonnes a year.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association has launched its One Planet Plate campaign, asking restaurants to showcase sustainable and ethical eating by devising one dish that uses local sourcing, zero waste, better meat, lower carbon footprint or other environmental or ethical considerations. Hundreds of restaurants are taking part in the scheme.
Start-up Wild Type have raised $3.5 million towards the development of a platform and set of technologies that they hope could allow any type of meat to be cultured in the laboratory.
A sugar tax came into force in the UK on 6 April. Soft drinks manufacturers will be levied 18p per litre of drink that contains more than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml. Unsweetened fruit juices and milk are exempt.
Walmart has developed a machine learning tool to predict when fruit and vegetables will spoil and make supply chains less wasteful.
A report (PDF link) tested bottled water in nine different countries and found that 242 out of 259 bottles contained small pieces of plastic. The report suggests that at least some of the plastic particles may be coming from the packaging or the bottling process.
UK farmers may be given targets to reverse soil damage and restore soil health by 2030, as part of an agricultural bill to be brought before parliament later this year.