Say what? Coconut Oil is poison? What have you been smoking?

A professor said coconut oil is “pure poison” and because she is affiliated to Harvard University everyone is running around like chickens without heads. Well, my response is this: why have a billion Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans who use coconut oil daily for cooking not been poisoned?? In those countries they also apply coconut on their hair as routine and regular treatment.

For about 200 years Seychellois used coconut oil for cooking and we are still around, albeit more obese and probably sicker but not because of coconut oil.

My family’s company Jivan Jetha & Co, produced refined cooking oil from coconuts, famously known as “Jivans Cocoil”. This factory closed down when cheap palm oil from the Far East flooded the market. That was probably the early beginnings of obesity and related health problems, now hugely exacerbated by junk food and a sedentary life style.

Melissa Majumdar, a spokesperson for the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has said coconut oil is fine in moderation. “My message is that we can eat coconut oil,” Majumdar said, “but to be mindful of how it fits into our daily life.”

Carnivores are taking over the planet and that’s not good for anyone, warn scientists.

Consumption of meat is increasing at a faster rate than the world population. On a global scale the per capita consumption and the total amount of meat consumed are higher than ever before. This is bad news for the environment and our health, a report, published in the Journal of Science, says.

Two main factors are responsible. The world’s population is increasing which drives overall demand up, and individual incomes are rising so more people can afford to eat meat

There are various harmful effects on the environment. Rearing livestock produces higher carbon emissions than growing vegetables, fruits and grains. Currently, livestock production is responsible for 15% of all carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Animal production contributes to a loss of biodiversity, as forests and untamed land are turned into agricultural fields to grow animal feed.

Another area of concern is human health. Meat is a good source of nutrients for low-income households, but a meat-heavy diet has been linked to incidents of colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease.


As Japan makes its move in the Indian Ocean power play what will be the future of the Blue Economy?

It’s becoming more and more evident that the trajectory of Seychelles’ Blue Economy is heavily dependant on geopolitics in our region. Who the big regional players are and whether they are advocates of sustainability and equity (2 key pillars of the Blue Economy) will be determining factors in the take-off or crash and burn of the Blue Economy.

As Seychelles signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative this week, against the background of its controversial decision to allow India to develop a naval base on Assumption island, it becomes the latest Indian Ocean nation to stumble into the power play of these 2 super- powers in this region.

Now, Japan has signaled that Tokyo is wading into the Indian Ocean, with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera’s groundbreaking trip to Sri Lanka this week.

Japan has a strategic interest in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. It reflects its “free and open seas” policy, which calls for a rules-based maritime system to ensure stability and prosperity.

Japan is looking to close ranks with India and Singapore and also develop Sri Lanka’s northeastern port of Trincomalee, the world’s second-deepest natural harbor, as a counterweight to China.

It’s therefore not a coincidence that Japan has this week officially announced it’s intention to open an Embassy in Seychelles.

Seychelles, and other smaller countries, which walked a tightrope between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War must prepare for another difficult balancing act as larger countries continue to move into this (once again) strategically important region.

Let us hope that the Blue Economy will not be sacrificed on the altar of geopolitical expediency.

Is Fish Oil just Snake Oil?

A new study following 112,000 participants shows that taking omega-3 supplements has little or no effect on cardio-vascular diseases, disproving claims that using them improves heart health. Moreover, in my view, the production of omega-3 supplements has a major impact on marine ecosystems because they are made mostly from millions of small fish like menhaden, anchovies and krill that are key in maintaining marine food webs. Take home message: consuming omega-3 capsules does not reduce heart disease, stroke or death but their production is aiding and abetting in the destruction of the environment

What’s yours is mine: Wealthy countries get their fish from poorer countries’ waters

Coastal communities in developing countries cannot be food secure because 78% of fishing in their Exclusive Economic Zones is by vessels of rich nations, a new study shows. A whopping 97% of all high seas industrial fishing comes from developed nation’s vessels. The new study reveals the global dominance of industrial fishing by wealthy nations.

Survival of the Laziest may be the most successful strategy in evolution

Yesterday I was in a meeting about HR development in Seychelles where a business man got up and spoke for 30 minutes on laziness in the work force. But, if research is anything to go by, his workers may live longer than he does

A new study of fossil and living marine shells from the Atlantic Ocean suggests “laziness” may be a successful strategy for survival of individuals, species and even communities of species. The researchers found a difference for marine shell species that have gone extinct over the past 5 million years and ones that are still around today. Those that have gone extinct tend to have higher metabolic rates than those that are still living. In other words, those that have lower energy maintenance requirements seem more likely to survive than those organisms with higher metabolic rates, say the researchers.

This contrasts with recent research on Homo erectus, which suggests groups of this early human became extinct because of “least effort” strategies. Are we Men or are we Snails?

The search for the human face of the tuna industry

Finally, a scientific study correlates the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) with tuna fishing. Our understanding of how social and economic drivers contribute to overexploitation is not well developed. The authors brilliantly address this problem by integrating social, ecological and economic indicators to help predict changes in exploitation status relative to the level that would support. At the Indian

Ocean Tuna Commission the EU said this idea, proposed by the Maldives, was too complicated and they have used their own system to calculate the impact of proposed allocation criteria. Well, read this and weep!!

Bark allows trees to defy gravity

De-barking, the act of removing bark from a living tree, is a common practice in Seychelles to kill invasive or otherwise unwanted trees. We were taught at school that bark’s function is purely to protect the plant from outside threats, much as skin does. So de-barking makes sense. However, I’ve watched de-barked Albizia, a highly invasive and fast growing tree introduced to Seychelles, keep on living and growing for a short while and then suddenly bending or losing branches and literally start to fall apart.

This has now been explained. When researchers recently studied the interior structure of both stem and bark, they found that the fibres in the bark were organised in a sort of trellis structure. As the tree grows, the circumference of the bark increases; this causes the trellis to generate forces along the stem to keep it growing upright. Bark therefore plays an important role in allowing trees to defy gravity by growing upwards

It’s amazing there are still discoveries to be made about something as ubiquitous as bark!