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    Nutrition 101

Plant biotechnology: Make it a decaf : Nature News & Comment

I decided to do some research on this transgenic coffee…

According to, , “Coffee contains some 2,000 chemical compounds that give the drink its enticing aroma and flavour, including caffeine, a stimulant and natural pesticide. Removing the caffeine while leaving all the others intact poses a significant challenge. Brewers have generally turned to chemistry: Ludwig Roselius of Bremen, Germany, patented the first commercial decaffeination process in 1905. But his coffee, marketed as Kaffee HAG, used benzene in the extraction process, and the chemical was later replaced by less toxic solvents. Today, companies may instead douse raw green coffee beans in high-pressure liquid carbon dioxide or soak them in hot water for several hours to remove the caffeine before roasting. Aficionados say that all these methods destroy the taste, but the decaf market is still worth US$2 billion a year.”
So the challenge has been to grow a plant that naturally does not contain caffeine and one day about a decade ago Paulo Mazzafera discovered one of his plants to be lacking of caffeine in the leaves…it was a breakthrough. He continued and still continues to try and replicate this plant into one that actually creates decaffeinated beans…and has created “low caffeine” plants but no decaf plants as of yet.

“The plants, however, did not cooperate. As they grew, their caffeine levels rose. Moisyadi and Neupane moved on to academic careers and, in 2000, Stiles left the university, setting up a private lab in Waialua. In 2008, after disagreements with the local community and the state legislature over the right to field test his transgenic coffee, the company folded, and Stiles now says that he was never 100% certain that he had created caffeine-free coffee. Many coffee researchers also doubt that he had. “We were always doing this on a shoestring,” Stiles says. “We were never Monsanto.”
I found the last words the most interesting…“We were never Monsanto.” Just saying…money talks.



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