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Research Support Offered for Fermented Food Projects

The United Nations University is initiating a research programme on fermented food. The objective is to create one or more networks of researchers who will profit mutually from joint studies and information exchange. These networks should facilitate the application of the newer findings in the field of biology to upgrade indigenous products.

At the IFS/UNU workshop on Development of Indigenous Fermented Foods and Food Technology in Africa, held from 14 to 18 October 1985 in Douala, Cameroon, the possible research areas were identified as: fermentation of cassava, resulting in products such as gari and fufu; lactic and alcohol fermentation of cereal and vegetables; and fermentation of beans into vegetable cheeses such as netetou.

The aim of the research programme is the possible transfer of the Indonesian solid-state soya fermentation product called tempe (see Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 7 (2): 24 (1985) to other countries. The programme envisages supporting research projects in various institutions all over the developing world, but priority will be given to those in sub-Saharan African countries.

Institutions interested in participating in this research are invited to give background information about their research interests and possibilities to: Robert Kokke, Senior Programme Officer, Development Studies Division, United Nations University, 29th Floor, Toho Seimei Building, 15-1 Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150, Japan.


The members of the Council of the IUNS for 1986-1990 are as follows:

President: M. K. Gabr, 162 Tahreer St., Cairo, Egypt.
J. G. A. J. Hautvast, c/o Department of Human Nutrition, Agricultural University, De Dreijen 12, 6703 BC Wageningen, Netherlands.
J E Dutra de Oliveira, Brazil.
A. Valyasevi, Thailand; B. A. Underwood, USA; A. S. Truswell, Australia.
E. Menden, Federal Republic of Germany.
Council members:
S. Berger, Poland; Jin Soon Ju, Republic of Korea; L. Hambraeus, Sweden; Vinodini Reddy, India; A. Rérat, France; Takehiko Tanaka, Japan.
Immediate Past President:
R. Buzina, Yugoslavia. Immediate Past Secretary-General: D. S. Hollingsworth, United Kingdom.

The first IUNS Award in Human Nutrition

Dr. T. N. Maletnlema has been selected as recipient of the first award for outstanding regional contributions to human nutrition in developing countries made by the International Union of Nutritional Sciences supported by the International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries.

Dr. T. N. Maletnlema was born in 1934 in Moshi, Tanzania. He studied medicine and pediatrics in Makerere University, and in 1965-1966 followed the London-Ibadan Nutrition Course. From 1965 to 1974 he was in charge of a Nutrition Unit within the Ministry of Health in Tanzania. Since 1974, he has been Managing Director of the Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre in Dar es Salaam. Dr. Maletnlema is currently the chairman of a committee that co-ordinates nutrition activities in central, eastern, and northern African countries.

UNU to Co-publish a New Journal of Food Composition and Analysis

The United Nations University would like to announce that it will soon begin co-publication, with the Academic Press, of a new quarterly periodical, the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. This will be an activity of the UNU International Food Data Systems Project (INFOODS), and will publish articles concerned with food analysis methodology and food composition.

The new journal will be edited by Dr. Kent Stewart with the co-operation of an international editorial board. Editorial costs will be shared by UNU and Academic Press. A limited number of subscriptions will be available without charge to developing-country institutions concerned with food and nutrition. The first issue is planned for early 1987. Suitable manuscripts are being sought now for the first issue and should be submitted to: Dr. Kent Stewart, Editor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Dept. of Food Science and Technology, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.

Brief Reviews

Agricultural Change and Rural Poverty: Variations on a Theme by Dharm Narain. Edited by John W. Mellor and Gunvant M. Desai. Published for the International Food Policy Research Institute by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

This book, the first in a series, addresses the causes of the poverty and starvation that have been or are endemic to much of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and demonstrates how the green revolution has been good for the poor in many Third World countries. This conclusion stands in stark contrast to widespread arguments that the green revolution has worsened the plight of the poor by primarily helping rich farmers get richer and driving poor farmers off the land.

Mellor and Desai find that the numbers of poor in India and, by extension, other Third World countries fluctuates substantially in direct relationship to food prices and inversely to changes in food production. By increasing the productivity and output of Third World farmers, the green revolution generally increases rural incomes and provides the poor with less expensive food. Other factors- population growth, social inequalities, and structural distortions in Third World economies-influence the extent to which increased agricultural production actually decreases poverty.

According to the book, the differences between the characteristics of poverty in Asia and Africa point to different strategies for development. In Asia, the general outline of a long-term strategy already exists, because many Asian countries have worked on increasing agricultural production for almost two decades. In Africa, where hunger and poverty are now the world's most critical problems, a long-term strategy and set of priorities still needs to be developed. The same elements of increased agricultural production, inexpensive food, and social changes are just as appropriate as in Asia. However, they must be adapted to the different conditions.

Nutrition and Development. By Margaret Biswas, Balliol College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK, and Per Pinstrup-Andersen, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C., USA. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1 985.

This volume is a collection of essays that cover general issues related to sociological and development concerns of health and agricultural planners in Third World countries. The book also contains case studies from Africa, India, and South-East Asia. As Philip Payne states in his contribution, malnutrition is defined not in clinical but in operational terms, as a condition in which an adequate level of performance, such as physical work, can no longer be maintained. Payne suggests that intervention programmes should be judged by their effects on levels of performance, relative to development.

The book develops this thesis by examining variables influencing nutritional states, including national agricultural policies, land distribution among rich and poor segments of a community, and research and development policies. P. Pinstrup-Andersen, P. L. Scandizzo, and I. Tsakok examine changes in the role of agriculture in the Third World. The former analyses the significance of the shift from subsistence to export crop production and the latter two the tendency to regard agriculture as secondary to urban industrialization on the road to "true development."

E. Kennedy, O. Knudsen, and M. Biswas discuss short-term food aid from the Western world to developing countries suffering from famine, and examine strategies for long-term food aid and agricultural development programmes. Family planning, population control, and traditional health improvement programmes are also discussed. F. Sai stresses that health programmes must not be ignored by those who take primarily political and economic approaches to problems of malnutrition.

Energy and Protein Requirements. Report of a Joint

FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation. Technical Report, Series 724. World Health Organization, Geneva, 1985.

This much-delayed and long-awaited new report on energy and protein requirements was published in December. Economists, agriculturalists and others accustomed to using the recommendations of the previous 1973 FAD/WHO may be disappointed that average energy requirements are no longer given. Instead, guidelines are provided for determining the dietary energy needs of specific populations according to their level of activity and other factors.

Populations that in the past would have been judged deficient in dietary energy are now recognized to have achieved energy balance, mainly by reduced physical activity, at an unknown but significant social and economic cost. This adaptation for survival may be so extreme as to permit little or no productive activity. For children the implications of adaption to chronic dietary energy deficiency are less stimulus to cognitive development from interactions with their environment and, if severe, interference with normal growth and development.

There is also a marked change in the estimate of the protein requirement for adults from the 0.57 g/kg of the 1973 report to 0.75 g/kg of high-quality protein, such as that from milk, meat, and eggs. This must be adjusted for the protein value of actual diets. The results of the UNU. sponsored collaborative studies in 14 countries made an important contribution to the conclusion that the 1973 estimate was too low.

The practical effect of this change is not as great as it would have been under the previous method of adjusting for protein quality. UNU collaborative studies also showed that the differences in the amount of protein required by adults from mixed diets, as ordinarily consumed, is accounted for almost entirely by differences in digestibility. Hence correction is ordinarily not required for differences in biological value as measured directly or indirectly from the amino-acid score.

Estimated protein needs of children differ only to a minor degree from those in the 1973 report, although the method of arriving at them is different. For young growing children it is necessary to correct for biological value as well as digestibility. Separate amino-acid reference patterns for infants, pre-school children, schoolchildren and adults are provided. The recommendations for pregnancy and lactation are essentially unchanged in approach and values.

The report contains detailed chapters on "The Principles for the Estimation of Energy Requirements and Protein Requirements" and on "Factors Affecting Energy and Protein Requirements," such as available energy, density, quality, and digestibility of dietary proteins and environmental effect on energy and protein requirements. There is also a chapter on "Principles and Issues in the Application of Requirement Estimates" and several useful annexes. There is a need for practical guidelines for the various potential uses of the recommendations that is not met by the new report. These were supposed to have been developed by a subsequent consultation that has not yet been held.

This publication should be in the hands of all nutritionists as well as in those of social scientists who require an understanding of energy and protein requirements. It is not easy to use, however, and controversy over energy and protein requirements is likely to continue. A chapter on "Future Research" identifies the main issues. Copies can be purchased from WHO for 80 Swiss francs. UNU has a limited number of copies for distribution to nutrition institutions in developing countries.

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