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Around the world: Managing health conditions, food waste and the microplastics problem

Tons of rotting apples and wonky veg never even make it to our supermarket shelves, but what if tweaking their genes could change that? Here are the stories answering that, if apps can help your health and how we can reduce microplastics in our oceans.

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Can apps manage chronic health conditions?

Ewa-Lena Rasmusson’s mobility has transformed during the pandemic thanks to a Swedish app that creates bespoke exercise plans designed to help alleviate joint pain.

The app, called Joint Academy, launched in 2014 with the goal of improving treatment for osteoarthritis. It was co-founded by Leif Dahlberg, a professor of orthopedics at Lund University in southern Sweden, and his son Jakob, now 30, who dropped out of his degree in computer sciences to launch the startup.

Almost 50,000 people have used Joint Academy since April last year, the company says, making it now the most common first-line treatment of chronic joint pain in Sweden.

Read the full article here
Words by Maddy Savage

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What if microplastics were biodegradable?

Microplastics are everywhere, from Arctic snow and the deepest corners of the ocean to bottled water. The source of the problem is sometimes less than obvious—laundry detergent, for example, is typically made with plastic microcapsules to hold fragrance. In Europe, these “added” microplastics will soon be banned in products. But until recently, there hasn’t been a viable alternative.

Calyxia, a Paris-based startup, has now developed new microcapsules that are biodegradable and is scaling up production.

Read the full article here
Words by Adele Peters

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Can super crops reduce food waste?

Farming has a major food waste problem. Approximately 40 per cent of the food produced globally goes uneaten every year, and much of this wastage occurs even before the food leaves the farm as a result of several factors––disease, bad weather and cosmetic imperfections.

In all, a whopping 1.3 billion tonnes of food (worth $1 trillion) is wasted every year––yet 811 million people worldwide still go hungry.

Scientists are deploying a new weapon in the fight against food waste: gene editing. They hope that the technology can help develop next-generation crops that are more resistant to pests and diseases, sustain less damage during transportation and storage, or have a longer shelf life––essentially quasi-imperishable produce.

Read the full article here
Words by Delle Chan

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