Friday, January 17, 2014


From time to time claims are made by scientists regarding the impact of their research on human health but often these claims are made based on limited studies of improper research design or part of academic studies of research students engaged in Ph.D thesis writing. No doubt some studies are sound in concept and bring out some new aspects that may have some use in understanding the food system better. The recent claim made by a group of scientists in Mexico regarding processing of carrots to get useful chemicals that can fight Cancer, Flu CVD, nerve degeneration etc is such a study which has some novelty and potential  in it. If proved by independent studies, the research efforts of this group have to be applauded. Here is a take on this new revelations and its utility to human race. 

"Scientists have developed a new technology that uses grated carrot to obtain natural compounds, which they claim have the potential to prevent cancer, flu, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative conditions. Researchers from the FEMSA Center of Biotechnology at Technologic of Monterrey (ITESM) designed the technique, which also allows them to obtain shikimic acid - a substance which is a raw material used to produce antiviral drugs for influenza. Currently the production of bioactive compounds in plants is accomplished by genetic engineering; however, this new process employs an alternate technique in which the tissue is stressed by cutting and applying herbicides. The project, lead by Daniel Alberto Jacobo Velazques, won the National Award in Food Science and Technology (PNCTA) 2012 in the Technology Professional in Food category. The award has been given and organised for 37 years by the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the Mexican Industry of Coca-Cola. Velazques explained that they activate the carrot's metabolism using cut stress (grating), and then the carbon flow of its metabolism is modulated by applying an herbicide called glyphosate that inhibits enzymes. This technique makes it possible to accumulate great amounts of shikimic acid and phenolic compounds in the plant tissue".

As the group won an award for innovation in food technology from the Mexican Council of Science and Technology, it can be presumed that the scientific claim had undergone peer review making it credible. The development is indeed path breaking and international bodies must take this up for further studies and make this useful to the whole human race. It is for an agency like WHO or FAO to take note of this development. 


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