Washington Insider - Monday

Coffee and Your Health

Here’s a quick monitor of Washington farm and trade policy issues from DTN’s well-placed observer.

China to Subsidize Grain Transportation, Storage Facilities

Projects to upgrade or build facilities to load and receive grains along major railways and waterways will be subsidized by the Chinese government, according to a document released by the National Development and Research Commission (NDRC).

"Setting up special funds... will help reduce the cost of grain distribution and improve efficiency," the document said. Grain facilities that offer storage, processing, trading and quality inspection services will also be subsidized, with the NDRC listing specifications for the facilities including that they have more than 100,000 metric tons of storage capacity. The subsidies could be up to 100 million yuan ($15 million).


Monsanto: Mexico Action Revoking Commercialized GMO Soybeans Unwarranted

Monsanto said Mexico has revoked its permit to commercialize GMO soybeans in seven Mexican states, calling the action unwarranted on legal and technical grounds, according to Reuters.

Mexican newspaper Reforma said the permit was withdrawn as GMO soybeans had been found in areas where they were not permitted. The action applies to Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Reuters said, and follows a 2016 legal suspension of the permit.


Washington Insider: Coffee and Your Health

In general, we are pretty used to being told that various foods and beverages are bad for us, and sometimes even the cause of something awful. For example, a United Nations agency not long ago published a long list of foods, beverages and activities as potential carcinogens—including those that offer only very slight dangers, or perhaps none at all for most consumers.

So, it was something of a surprise recently that European scientists reported that drinking three cups of coffee each day could save your life. The UK’s Daily Mail reported recently that while liver disease is a very important problem, it probably is not worsened by coffee. In fact, the report says, scientists discovered that modest consumption levels “can slash the risk of liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis by up to 70%."

It says coffee's life-saving benefits stem from the drink's abundance of caffeine, kahweol, cafestol and antioxidants. And experts believe, “this mixture of compounds and substances protects the liver and stops the scarring of tissue and inflammation - linked to all three ailments.”

The article was based on a “science review,” funded by six large coffee manufacturers, which was based on previous studies looking into the benefits of coffee on the liver. It referred prominently to an Italian study last year that discovered drinking three cups of coffee each day slashes the risk by 65%.

The current review was funded by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee - which is made up of illycaffe, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Nestle, Paulig, and Tchibo.

Moderate coffee drinking was defined by the European Food Safety Authority’s review of caffeine safety as three to five cups a day. The report says that the number of people with liver disease, of which there are more than 100 types, is increasing in the UK and the U.S. and that it “affects two million Britons and 30 million Americans. It is on the increase because of obesity, undiagnosed hepatitis infection and alcohol misuse.”

The report highlighted results of a roundtable held at the Royal Society of Medicine which was chaired by Professor Graeme Alexander from University College London. It included academics, transplant groups and representatives from national liver associations from across seven European countries.

Professor Alexander said the findings could help patients who may not have liver disease diagnosed to make changes in their lives.

He added that patients often have a negative opinion of coffee and are not given proactive advice on coffee consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle. “However, roundtable delegates felt that patients could benefit from such advice.”

For example, Judi Rhys, chief executive of the British Liver Trust said: 'Liver disease is a silent killer as often there are no symptoms until it’s too late.

“Coffee is something that is easily accessible to everyone and regularly drinking it - filtered, instant or espresso - may make a difference in preventing, and, in some cases, slowing down the progression of liver disease,” she said.

“It is an easy lifestyle choice to make,” she added.

We will see. It will require something of a switch for European foodies to shift from their perpetual regard of their own perceived “threats,” to see coffee on the basis of its medicinal qualities. And, because we consume so many products that are potential sources of so much caffeine, it will be difficult to sort all the many individual effects.

So, it will be useful to note whether the results of the recent review stand up to later scrutiny, recognizing that the current review was financed by companies with a direct interest in coffee consumption.

Still, a bit of good news about a central lifestyle item of ordinary people is good news, and should be toasted warmly as we enter the holiday season, Washington Insider believes.


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(GH/BAS)