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UC Davis, Mars researchers discover scalable production technique for low-calorie sugar substitute

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Mars Advanced Research Institute, have announced a significant breakthrough…

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Scientists at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Mars Advanced Research Institute, have announced a significant breakthrough in the production of low-calorie sugar substitutes, such as allulose. This discovery could help address one of the primary obstacles to the widespread adoption of these alternatives: production costs.

Credit: UC Davis

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, in partnership with the Mars Advanced Research Institute, have announced a significant breakthrough in the production of low-calorie sugar substitutes, such as allulose. This discovery could help address one of the primary obstacles to the widespread adoption of these alternatives: production costs.

Allulose, also known as D-psicose, is a naturally occurring rare sugar that provides a viable alternative to sucrose (table sugar). It has a similar taste, texture and functionality, making it an attractive option for those seeking to reduce their sugar intake. By activating a natural process in a microorganism, researchers have developed a method for high-yield and high-purity production through precise fermentation. This advance has the potential to greatly enhance the affordability and accessibility of these products.

Allulose provides nearly 70% flavor and sweet taste as sucrose, yet it is minimally metabolized as it passes through the body. By incorporating it into food products, individuals can reduce their calorie intake from sugar while still satisfying their desire for sweet flavors. Additionally, allulose has an imperceptible effect on blood glucose and insulin levels.

“Allulose is a great alternative to sugar, but we have not had a cost-effective way to manufacture it,” said Shota Atsumi, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and corresponding author on the paper published Oct. 14 in npj Science of Food. “Our new method is efficient, economically feasible and could be scaled up for commercial production.”  

The new approach has a more than 99% theoretical yield with high purity, and therefore only requires minimal processing to isolate the desired product.  Current methods of allulose production are normally limited to much lower levels of yield and purity, requiring expensive separation techniques to isolate allulose from the glucose and fructose starting material. 

Redirecting existing process

Atsumi, Ph.D. candidate Jayce Taylor, Professor Justin Siegel and a number of co-workers in the Department of Chemistry and from Mars Advanced Research Institute looked for a more efficient way to manufacture allulose. They found an industrial microorganism that has the enzymes to make allulose — it just isn’t using them in that way. They were able to edit the organism’s metabolism to get the cells to convert glucose into allulose. The cells consume all the glucose they are fed and convert it to allulose with a noteworthy concentration, a yield of over 60%, and purity of over 95%, outperforming the existing production methods. 

“Once flux was redirected, it turns out the cells have everything they need to do it; they just needed to be turned on and undesired pathways turned off,” Atsumi said. 

UC Davis has filed patent applications on the process and modified organisms. Researchers are working with a commercial partner to discuss scaling up the process. 

Additional co-authors are Dileep Sai Kumar Palur, Angela Zhang, Jake Gonzales, Augustine Arredondo, Timothy Coulther, Amiruddin Bin Johan Lechner, Elys Rodriguez and Oliver Fiehn at UC Davis; and John Didzbalis, Mars Incorporated, McLean, Virginia.  

The work and research by UC Davis were supported and funded by Mars, Incorporated.


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“Civil War, Nuclear War, Economic Collapse… Maybe All Three?”

"Civil War, Nuclear War, Economic Collapse… Maybe All Three?"

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Speed… and… Action

“It’s…

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"Civil War, Nuclear War, Economic Collapse... Maybe All Three?"

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Speed... and... Action

“It’s like every other two-minute clip I watch of this Fani Willis interview she admits to committing another felony.”

- Senator JD Vance (R-OH)

Have you noticed yet that America has turned into a Coen Brothers movie? Everywhere you look, you see madcap characters disgracing themselves while doing their bit to burn the whole country down.

It’s a panoramic extravaganza of everything gone wrong, with slapstick overtones, driving toward an apocalyptic climax — civil war, nuclear war, economic collapse, maybe all three.

And all because the people on-screen just can’t stop lying.

Yesterday was Fani Willis’s turn, her big scene. The Fulton County, Georgia, DA, wasn’t even scheduled to testify, but she barged into Judge Scott McAfee’s courtroom and seized possession of the witness stand, like it was home-base in a game of ringolevio. This was after the morning vivisection of her boyfriend, the feckless Nathan Wade, testifying to the couple’s fun-filled romantic travels during the months they were supposedly busy constructing a racketeering case against Donald Trump and eighteen others scooped into their dragnet.

The reason the lovebirds could take so much time cavorting across the Caribbean and California — vineyard tours featuring “pairings of champagne, chocolate, and caviar,” Ms. Willis testified — is because their Fulton County case was entirely prepped for them out of DC by Mary McCord, the veteran blob lawyer active in every Get-Trump hoax cooked up since 2016. (And I’d bet cash-money that she had plenty of assistance from Lawfare blobsters Norm Eisen and Andrew Weissmann.) The complex particulars of the case were all teed up, ready to go. All Ms. Willis and her lead prosecutor, Mr. Wade, had to do was get the trial date set, raise the curtain, and follow the script.

Alas, the couple got carried away in the raptures of amour and, all of a sudden, we’re in something like The Real Housewives of Atlanta. And then they lied about the details under oath, especially around the money involved. If they are not disqualified from participating in the Trump “racketeering” case — in which their own behavior would be centerpiece evidence of an ineptly tainted and malicious prosecution — and/or if the case is not tossed summarily, then it will have to be removed to another county and most likely delayed until after the 2024 elections.

Nice work, Party of Chaos!

That little opéra bouffe is but one sub-plot in the larger scenario.

Also this week, the scandal of the century was re-kindled when alt-news reporters Taibbi, Shellenberger, and Guttentag filed the story of how Barack Obama and CIA Director John Brennan, with his chore girls, Avril Haines and Gina Haspel, cooked up the RussiaGate caper and fed it to the FBI, with a major assist from The New York Times, the WashPo, CNN, and other useful idiot news media vectors. All of this had actually been well-documented for years, but the reporters dredged up new corroboration from disgusted blob insiders further clarifying the origins of the hoax.

The cast of characters in that part of the big movie has been consistent through eight full years of anti-Trump hysteria and the associated trips laid on our country. Ms. McCord, for instance, was U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security during the birth of RussiaGate; later served as counsel to the House Committee that kicked-off Trump Impeachment No. 1 (coordinating the Eric Ciaramella “whistleblower” scam); then became counsel to Rep. Bennie Thompson’s J6 committee investigation, and now turns up as Fani Willis’ legal tutor, and probably also tutor to New York State Attorney General Letitia James and her preposterous Get Trump real estate valuation case under Judge Engoron. (Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA on the Stormy Daniels case against Mr. Trump, was coached by then US Associate Attorney General Matthew Colangelo who was hired out of the DOJ directly into Mr. Bragg’s office for tutoring purposes.) All of this coaching  post Jan 20, 2021, was coordinated by the “Joe Biden” White House.

Speaking of whom, the evermore spectral “president” was not having a great week either after DOJ Special Counsel Robert Hur painted him into a corner in his final report as either too demented to face charges in the purloined documents case (and, by inference, not mentally capable to be president), or else a criminal trafficking in top secret documents he was not authorized to possess as Senator and Veep. Looks like that puts an end to “JB’s” game of pretending to run for reelection (that is, lying about it) and leaves the Democratic Party holding a flaming bag of dog doo-doo.

In the background of all these shenanigans in high places lurk three other smoldering bonfires: 1) all the lying, deception, and treason behind the Covid-19 operation that has left more than half the country susceptible to deadly vaccine injuries (and disordered our society); 2) the monumental mail-in ballot fraud of the last two elections (2020, 2022) enabled by the Covid-19 “emergency”; and 3) the War in Ukraine which is winding down towards another US humiliation, and behind which lurks a virtual off-gassing giant landfill of money-laundering, bribery, and something that smells like treason. Also looks like BlackRock will miss out on the colossal asset-stripping op it has been looking forward to there.

Oh, and by the way, this movie is not over. A lot of the people involved are going to end up in court themselves, perhaps in prison. Stay in your seats.

* * *

Support his blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page or Substack

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/16/2024 - 16:20

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Realtor.com Reports Active Inventory UP 13.9% YoY; New Listings up 9.5% YoY

Realtor.com has monthly and weekly data on the existing home market. Here is their weekly report: Weekly Housing Trends View — Data Week Ending February 10, 2024• Active inventory increased, with for-sale homes 13.9% above year ago levels.

For a 14th …

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Realtor.com has monthly and weekly data on the existing home market. Here is their weekly report: Weekly Housing Trends View — Data Week Ending February 10, 2024
Active inventory increased, with for-sale homes 13.9% above year ago levels.

For a 14th consecutive week, active listings registered above prior year level, which means that today’s home shoppers have more homes to choose from that aren’t already in the process of being sold. The added inventory has certainly improved conditions from this time one year ago, but overall inventory is still low. For the month as a whole, January inventory is down nearly 40% below 2017 to 2019 levels.

New listings–a measure of sellers putting homes up for sale–were up this week, by 9.5% from one year ago.

Newly listed homes were above last year’s levels for the 16th week in a row. While the jump was not as big as the one we observed in the previous week (12.8%), it was still an encouraging rate, which could further contribute to a recovery in active listings meaning more options for home shoppers
Here is a graph of the year-over-year change in inventory according to realtor.com

Inventory was up year-over-year for the 14th consecutive week following 20 consecutive weeks with a YoY decrease in inventory.  

Inventory is still historically very low.

New listings really collapsed a year ago, so the YoY comparison for new listings is easier now - although new listings remain well below "typical pre-pandemic levels", new listings are now up YoY for the 16th consecutive week.

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Fed Chair Powell Just Said The Quiet Part Out Loud

Fed Chair Powell Just Said The Quiet Part Out Loud

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Regarding the surprisingly strong…

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Fed Chair Powell Just Said The Quiet Part Out Loud

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Regarding the surprisingly strong employment data, Fed Chair Powell said the quiet part out loud. The media hopes you didn’t hear it as we head into a contentious election in November.

Over the last several months, we have seen repeated employment reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that crushed economists’ estimates and seemed to defy logic. Such is particularly the case when you read commentary about the state of the average American as follows.

“New Yorker Lohanny Santos publicly vented her frustration after her attempts to go door-to-door with her CV in hand in the hope of finally landing a job were unsuccessful.

It would appear that other young jobseekers could relate to Lohanny’s struggles. The USA and Canada rank fifth out of seven when it comes to youth unemployment and third when it comes to total unemployment, according to World Bank data based on an International Labor Organization model for 2020, as per Statista.” – Business Insider

Even M.B.A.s are finding it difficult.

“Jenna Starr stuck a blue Post-it Note to her monitor a few months after getting her M.B.A. from Yale University last May. “Get yourself the job,” it read. It wasn’t until last week—when she received a long-awaited offer—that she could finally take it down.

For months, Starr has been one of a large number of 2023 M.B.A. graduates whose job searches have collided with a slowdown in hiring for well-paid, white-collar positions. Her search for a job in sustainability began before graduation, and she applied for more than 100 openings since, including in the field she used to work in—nonprofit fundraising.” – WSJ

These stories are not unique. If you Google “Can’t find a job,” you will get many article links. The question, of course, is why individuals with college degrees, no less, are having such a tough time finding employment. After all, aside from record-smashing employment reports, we also continue to see near-record low jobless claims and high numbers of job openings, as shown below.

The Washington Post touched on part of the problem and why the unemployment rate for college graduates is higher than for all workers.

“Part of the problem is that the industries with the biggest worker shortages — including restaurants, hotels, daycares, and nursing homes — aren’t necessarily where recent graduates want to work. Meanwhile, the industries where they do want to work — tech, consulting, finance, media — are announcing layoffs and rethinking hiring plans.”

As the Washington Post summed up:

“The result is yet another disruption for a generation of college graduates who have already had crucial years of schooling upended by the pandemic. In interviews, many said they’d struggled to adjust to remote-learning in early 2020 and felt like they had missed out on opportunities to forge connections with professors, employers and other students that could have been crucial in lining up for postgraduate work. Now, as they enter the workforce, they say they’re feeling increasingly disillusioned about the economy, which is fueling political discontent and causing them to rethink the financial independence they thought they’d achieve after college.”

Of course, it isn’t just the shuttering of the economy and the shift to working from home causing the problem. It is also the shift in demand from consumers to more service-oriented conveniences, combined with the need by employers to maintain profitability.

Fed Chair Powell Says The Quiet Part

Since the turn of the century, the U.S. economy has shifted from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-oriented one. There are two primary reasons for this.

The first is that the “cost of labor” in the U.S. to manufacture goods is too high. Domestic workers want high wages, benefits, paid vacations, personal time off, etc. On top of that are the numerous regulations on businesses from OSHA to Sarbanes-Oxley, FDA, EPA, and many others. All those additional costs are a factor in producing goods or services. Therefore, corporations needed to offshore production to countries with lower labor costs and higher production rates to manufacture goods competitively.

During an interview with Greg Hays of Carrier Industries, the reasoning for moving a plant from Mexico to Indiana during the Trump Administration was most interesting.

So what’s good about Mexico? We have a very talented workforce in Mexico. Wages are obviously significantly lower. About 80% lower on average. But absenteeism runs about 1%. Turnover runs about 2%. Very, very dedicated workforce.

Which is much higher versus America. And I think that’s just part of these — the jobs, again, are not jobs on an assembly line that [Amerians] really find all that attractive over the long term.

Fed Chair Powell emphasized this point in a recent 60-Minutes Interview. To wit:

“SCOTT PELLEY: Why was immigration important?

FED CHAIR POWELL: Because, you know, immigrants come in, and they tend to work at a rate that is at or above that for non-immigrantsImmigrants who come to the country tend to be in the workforce at a slightly higher level than native Americans. But that’s primarily because of the age difference. They tend to skew younger.

The suppression of wages, increased productivity to reduce the amount of required labor, and offshoring has been a multi-decade process to increase corporate profitability.

A Native Problem

Following the pandemic-related shutdown, corporations faced multiple threats to profitability from supply constraints, a shift to increased services, and a lack of labor. At the same time, mass immigration (both legal and illegal) provided a workforce willing to fill lower-wage paying jobs and work regardless of the shutdown. Since 2019, the cumulative employment change has favored foreign-born workers, who have gained almost 2.5 million jobs, while native-born workers have lost 1.3 million. Unsurprisingly, foreign-born workers also lost far fewer jobs during the pandemic shutdown.

Given that the bulk of employment continues to be in lower-wage paying service jobs (i.e., restaurants, retail, leisure, and hospitality) such is why part-time jobs have dominated full-time in recent reports. Relative to the working-age population, full-time employment has dropped sharply after failing to recover pre-pandemic levels.

However, as noted, full-time employment has declined since 2000 as services dominate labor-intensive processes such as manufacturing. This is because we “export” our “inflation” and import “deflation.” We do this to buy flat-screen televisions for $299 versus $3,999. Such is also why the economy continues to grow slower, requiring ever-increasing debt levels.

For recent college graduates, this all leads to a more dire outlook.

Immigration Is Needed, But It Has Consequences

To keep an economy growing, you must have population growth. In other words, “demographics are destiny.” As such, there are two ways to obtain more robust population growth rates – natural births and immigration. As shown below, the fertility rate in the United States is problematic in that we aren’t producing enough children to replace an aging workforce.

Such is particularly problematic given the rapid aging of older adults versus a declining working-age population. Such means the underfunding of entitlements will continue to grow, requiring more debt issuance to fill the gap.

However, there is a vast difference between immigration policies that import highly skilled workers, capital, and education versus those that don’t. Merit-based immigration policies bring workers who earn higher salaries, create businesses, employ labor, and create tax revenues and other economic contributions. However, current policies are creating a rush of lower-skilled, uneducated labor that will work for cheaper wages, produce less revenue, and are subsidized by tax-payers through welfare programs. As noted above, these workers tend to fill the jobs in the service areas of the economy, thereby displacing native-born workers. Such was a point made by the WSJ:

“Before the pandemic, foreign-born adults were almost as likely as the overall population to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. This was mainly because of higher educational attainment among immigrants from Asia, Africa, and Europe, which offset lower levels of schooling among people from Mexico and Central America.”

Post-pandemic, this has not been the case, which is impacting native-born employment. This is not a new issue, but one addressed by Bill Clinton in the 1995 State of the Union Address:

“The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants; the public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers.”

Such is the natural consequence of a change in the economy’s demands and the need for corporations to maintain profitability in an ultimately deflationary environment.

Conclusion

While there is much debate over immigration, most of the arguments do not differentiate between legal and illegal immigration. There are certainly arguments that can be made on both sides. However, what is less debatable is the impact that immigration is having on employment. Of course, as native-born workers continue to demand higher wages, benefits, and other tax-funded support, those costs must be passed on by the companies creating those products and services. At the same time, consumers are demanding lower prices.

That imbalance between input costs and selling price drives companies to aggressively seek options to reduce the highest cost to any business – labor. Such was discussed in our article on the cost and consequences of the demand for increased minimum wages.

  • Reductions in employment would initially be concentrated at firms where higher prices quickly reduce sales. 

  • Over a longer period, however, more firms would replace low-wage workers with higher-wage workers, machines, and other substitutes.

  • As employers pass some of those costs on to consumers, consumers purchase fewer goods and services.

  • Consequently, the employers produce fewer goods and services.

  • When the cost of employing low-wage workers rises, the cost of investing in machines and technology goes down.” – Congressional Budget Office.

Such is why full-time employment has declined since 2000 despite the surge in the Internet economy, robotics, and artificial intelligence. It is also why wage growth fails to grow fast enough to sustain the cost of living for the average American. These technological developments increased employee productivity, reducing the need for additional labor.

Unfortunately, these tales of college graduates expecting high-paying jobs will likely continue to find it increasingly complicated. Particularly as “Artificial Intelligence” becomes cheap enough to displace higher-paid employees.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/16/2024 - 11:00

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