Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bugs are food of the future: UN agency By Ella Ide, Agence France-Presse

ROME, Italy -- Beetles, caterpillars and wasps could supplement diets around the world as an environmentally friendly food source if only Western consumers could get over their "disgust," the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday.
"The main message is really: 'Eat insects'", Eva Mueller, director of forest economics at the FAO, told a press conference in Rome.
"Insects are abundant and they are a valuable source of protein and minerals," she said.
"Two billion people -- a third of the world's population -- are already eating insects because they are delicious and nutritious," she said.
Also speaking at the press conference was Gabon Forestry Minister Gabriel Tchango who said: "Insect consumption is part of our daily life."
He said some insects -- like beetle larvae and grilled termites -- were considered delicacies.
"Insects contribute about 10 percent of animal protein consumed by the population," he said.
The report said insect farming was "one of the many ways to address food and feed insecurity."
"Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint," said the report, co-authored by the FAO and Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
But the authors admitted that "consumer disgust remains one of the largest barriers to the adoption of insects as viable sources of protein in many Western countries."
Mueller said that brands such as yogurt maker Danone and Italian alcoholic drinks maker Campari used dye from insects to color their products.
It suggested that the food industry could help in "raising the status of insects" by including them in recipes and putting them on restaurant menus.
"Beetles, grasshoppers and other insects... are now showing up though on the menus of some restaurants in some European capitals," said Mueller, as she showed photo slides of crickets being used as decoration on top of high-end restaurant desserts.
The report also called for wider use of insects as feed for livestock, saying that poor regulation and under-investment currently meant it "cannot compete" with traditional sources of feed.
"The use of insects on a large scale as a feed ingredient is technically feasible, and established companies in various parts of the world are already leading the way," it added, highlighting in particular producers in China, South Africa, Spain and the United States.
"Insects can supplement traditional feed sources such as soy, maize, grains and fishmeal," it said, adding that the ones with most potential were larvae of the black soldier fly, the common housefly and the yellow mealworm.
The report also said the insects most commonly consumed by humans are beetles (31 percent), caterpillars (18 percent) and bees, wasps and ants (14 percent), followed by grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent).
The report said a total of 1,900 species of insects are consumed around the world.
It said trade in insects was thriving in cities such as Bangkok and Kinshasa and that a similar culture of insect consumption -- entomophagy -- should be established elsewhere, stressing that it was often cheaper to farm insects.
While beef has an iron content of 6.0 milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight, the iron content of locusts varies between 8.0 and and 20 milligrams per 100 grams, the report said.
It also said that insects require just two kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of insect meat compared to a ratio of 8-to-1 for beef.
The report concluded: "History has shown that dietary patterns can change quickly, particularly in a globalized world. The rapid acceptance of raw fish in the form of sushi is a good example."
"Not everybody is ready to pop a bug in their mouth," Mueller said. "It will probably take a while. But some people are already doing it."
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

Monday, April 8, 2013

Viloria Losses Split decision, Seeks Rematch

Forgive my out of context topic today but I just express this as sympathy over another fallen Filipino fighter Brian Viloria who losses over Juan Francisco Estrada in Macau.

"I want a rematch..." uttered Viloria.

Here's related news from

ABS CBN : Viloria loses via split decision

 Philstar: Fallen Viloria wants rematch

Friday, April 5, 2013

Holy See (By Conrado de Quiros Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:22 pm | Monday, April 1st, 2013)

I really like this new Pope. Last Holy Thursday, he washed the feet of 12 people, in a reenactment of Jesus Christ washing the feet of his 12 apostles. It’s a ritual to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s commitment to humility, its highest official himself submitting to this lowliest gesture. Nothing new there of course except for this: The feet belonged to the inmates of a juvenile correctional in Rome, two of whom were girls, and one of whom was Muslim.

It had Christian traditionalists, who applauded Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts in the past to restore grandeur and majesty to the papacy, howling their heads off. Of course Pope Francis had done it before in Buenos Aires when he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio; he washed the feet of women along with men on Holy Thursday, but they didn’t expect him to continue with that when he was already pope. “The horror,” one conservative Latin American archbishop said. “The official end of the reform of the reform—by example,” Rorate Caeli, one of the traditionalist blogs, cried.

Elsewhere the Pope’s act was welcomed enthusiastically by faithful and nonfaithful alike. It was of course all of a piece with what Pope Francis had been doing these last few weeks, and you are stunned to realize he has been pope for just a month or so. Yet he might as well have been there for a year or more, given the extent to which he has turned things around in the Vatican.

True enough by example: From the very start, he shunned the regal trappings of the papacy, opting for simpler vestments. On his inauguration as pope, he begged off from wearing the red velvet cape, used for grand official functions, preferring instead to just wear a simple white cassock. He received the cardinals’ professions of loyalty not from a chair on a pedestal but standing up on the same level with them.

Then on Holy Thursday, he did the above. The following day, Good Friday, he led the Stations of the Cross where the prayers that were recited at each cross were composed by young Lebanese. They called for an end to “violent fundamentalism, terrorism and the wars and violence which in our days devastate various countries in the Middle East.” Pope Francis himself capped the meditations by extending the hand of friendship to “our so many Muslim brothers and sisters” who are suffering the same fate.

I really like this new Pope. The power of what he has done, or at least initiated, goes beyond his exhortations for us to hark to the needs of the poor, to care for the poor, to help the poor. Or the marginalized generally, which in Christendom has also meant, particularly during Benedict’s time, not just the poor, but also women and non-Christians. That is no mean feat in itself, wrought as it has been in such a short time. Indeed, wrought as it has been amid ferocious opposition, within an institution that has seemed as impervious to change as, well, a rock, as it calls itself.

But more than this, the power of what he has done lies in that he has, true enough by sheer example, persuaded us, guided us, compelled us, to see the poor.

Last Holy Week was by no means the first time I saw a pontiff kissing the feet of the lowly, the down-and-out. Other popes had done it in the past, it is hallowed tradition during Lent. But this is the first time I’ve seen it and been moved by it. That picture of Pope Francis last Thursday kissing the feet of the modern-day version of the apostles was startling not just because of the composition of the lot, which truly reminds us of how ragged and destitute the original apostles were, but because it looked absolutely genuine. It wasn’t just ritual, it wasn’t just routine, it wasn’t just something popes had to do once a year. It was something he did out of belief, out of compassion, out of an immediate and powerful connection with the poor.

Those people weren’t just props in a Lenten rite, they were real people to him. He had walked with them, talked with them, broken bread with them. He could see them.

It’s not the easiest thing to do, to see the poor. Particularly from the lofty perch Pope Francis occupies now, particularly with the base jealousies and fears he has unleashed among an elite unwilling to give up their privileges. You see that right where we are. Though we teem with poor right at the heart of the city, we do not see them. What we see are malls, cars and the bright lights of the city. The poor are just the vague and fleeting shadows that weave around cars and buses and jeepneys, badgering commuters for coin, but whose faces we are not quite able to transfix into reality, into shape and form, into flesh and blood.

We do not see them. They are invisible. They might as well not be there.
Not to Pope Francis. Any more than it is so to people like Chito Tagle and Tony Meloto. It awes me that there are people like them, people who have reached the heights they have, but who, having come from the poor themselves or hovered around its margins, have never forgotten poor. They congregate with the poor, they live with the poor, not out of obligation, not out of a sense of duty, but because it is the most natural thing in the world. That is the congregation, that is the faithful. The same congregation the founder of their church faced every day, the same faithful the builder of their faith turned the once faithless into. Pope Francis, Tagle, Meloto: They wash the feet of the poor not just on Holy Thursday but every day, if in a figurative sense, and in doing so they do not see a formless mass, they see people. They do not see slime and grime, they see the faces of the apostles.

Before you can be concerned with the poor, you must first see them. That is what Pope Francis by everything he’s done these past weeks has been helping us to do. See them.
He’s the real deal, this Holy See.

Volunteering is Good for the Heart (Agence France-Presse Tues, Feb 26, 2013)

OTTAWA—Volunteer work has long been touted as good for the soul, but the practice is also good for your heart, according to a study out Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver wanted to find out how volunteering might impact one’s physical condition, and discovered that it improves cardiovascular health, said study author Hannah Schreier. 

And “the volunteers who reported the greatest increases in empathy, altruistic behavior and mental health were the ones who also saw the greatest improvements in their cardiovascular health,” said Schreier.
Previous studies had shown that psychosocial factors, such as stress, depression and well-being, play a role in cardiovascular disease, which is a leading cause of death in North America. 

Schreier noted that the first signs of the disease can begin to appear during adolescence, which is why she recruited young volunteers for her study. 

She and her team measured the body mass index, inflammation and cholesterol levels of 53 Vancouver high school students who spent an hour a week working with elementary school children in after-school programs in their neighborhood. 

They compared the results with a group of 53 students who were waitlisted for the volunteering program.
The researchers also assessed the teenagers’ self-esteem, mental health, mood and empathy. 

After 10 weeks the volunteers had lower levels of inflammation and cholesterol and less body fat than those on the waitlist.

Giving (Phil Daily Inquirer, Editorial March 11, 2013)

The situation where a big chunk of a country’s wealth is controlled by a few is typical in poor and developing countries that embraced the capitalist system. What is disturbing in the data presented late last month by former economic planning chief Cielito Habito is the magnitude of such a reality here: The increase in the wealth of the 40 richest families in the Philippines that made it to the 2012 Forbes list of the world’s billionaires accounted for 76 percent of the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP). 

It’s one of the biggest rich-poor gaps in the free world and, Habito observed, the highest in Asia. He cited such examples as Thailand, where the top 40 families accounted for only 33.7 percent of its economic growth; Malaysia, 5.6 percent; and Japan, 2.8 percent.

Agence France-Presse also noted that according to the Forbes 2012 annual rich list, the two wealthiest people in the Philippines, Henry Sy and Lucio Tan, were worth a combined $13.6 billion, or equivalent to 6 percent of the Philippine economy. In contrast, as the news agency pointed out, government data showed that about 25 million people, or a quarter of the population, lived on $1 a day or less in 2009, which was little changed from a decade earlier. To be poor meant earning less than P16,800 a year (or P1,400 a month or P47 a day), which covers 26.5 percent of the nearly 100 million Filipinos. Based on the official poverty data of the National Statistical Coordination Board, the proportion of poor Filipinos to the total population was 28.4 percent in 2000, 24.9 percent in 2003, 26.4 percent in 2006, and 26.5 percent in 2009.

This has led to the now oft-repeated term “inclusive growth,” or economic expansion that creates jobs and reduces poverty, or allows the fruits to trickle down to the lower-income segments of society. But this calls for structural reforms, which will take years to implement. These reforms are “well-known,” Motoo Konishi, the World Bank’s country director for the Philippines, noted at the Philippine Development Forum in Davao City. “They have been studied, written about and reflected on for a long time.” (He also said that now—under the Aquino administration—was the time to accelerate and sustain the reform agenda.)
Economists agree that little progress has been made in changing an economic structure that allows one of the worst income inequalities in Asia. As Habito, a columnist of the Inquirer, was quoted as saying, “I think it’s obvious to everyone that something is structurally wrong. The oligarchy has too much control of the country’s resources.” 

Income inequality is actually a global problem. Using different estimation models, a review of income distribution in 141 countries by Isabel Ortiz and Matthew Cummins for Unicef in April 2011 “found a world in which the top 20 percent of the population enjoys more than 70 percent of total income, contrasted by two paltry percentage points for those in the bottom (20 percent) in 2007; using market exchange rates, the richest [20 percent of the] population gets 83 percent of global income with just a single percentage point for those in the poorest (20 percent).” 

“While there is evidence of progress, it is too slow; we estimate that it would take more than 800 years for the bottom billion [of the world’s population] to achieve 10 percent of global income under the current rate of change,” the Unicef paper said. Overall, it noted that the extreme inequality in the distribution of the world’s income “should make us question the current development model (development for whom?), which has accrued mostly to the wealthiest billion.” 

At home, as the government struggles to implement structural reforms, it is actually taking care of the poorest of the poor through its conditional cash transfer program. The Aquino administration is spending more than P40 billion this year on this flagship undertaking, which will see 15 million of the nation’s poorest people receive money directly in exchange for their kids going to school and mothers and children getting proper health care. 

What about the big proportion of people earning the basic minimum pay mandated by law? They can only pray for the kindness of their employers, for the latter to awaken to the virtue of giving and sharing. We’ve seen billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and tycoon Warren Buffett give away the bulk of their wealth to charity. The rich in the Philippines need not do as much. They need only give a little more.