Wine and tea are key ingredients in South African plan to grow domestic research

December 19, 2012

The South African government is investing in scientific research to foster production of agricultural products like pinotage (the country's signature red wine) and honeybush (source of a tea so fragrant that a potful can perfume an entire house) to create jobs and boost the economy. That effort and others aimed at developing a globally competitive research enterprise are the topics of cover stories in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Britt E. Erickson, C&EN senior editor, explains that South Africa currently lags in science, accounting for less than 0.5 percent of the world's research output. South Africa, however, has growth potential in a number of areas, including mining, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and astrophysics. The nation has struggled to maintain its research and development funding, which is currently less than 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product—compared to 2.7 percent in the U.S. South Africa's minister of science and technology is looking for smart ways to encourage scientific research, and agriculture is one sector showing promise.

The wine industry is working with the government to fund scientific research about consumers' tastes and preferences, Erickson reports. To help growers and winemakers improve their products, researchers are using advanced analytical methods to identify the roughly 1,000 compounds that give wines their flavor and smell. Government scientists are also working to extract valuable antioxidant, anti-diabetes and antimicrobial compounds from the honeybush plant. Other researchers are trying to cultivate the plant to boost tea production, which already struggles to keep up with global demand.

Explore further: Outlook for an industry that touches 96 percent of all manufactured goods

More information: "Scaling Up Science In South Africa" cenm.ag/southafrica
"Making Premium Wine And Tea" cenm.ag/premiumtea

Related Stories

'Sweet' chemicals from a 'green' raw material

September 19, 2012

The biobased world's traditional focus on producing fuels for cars, trucks and aircraft is quietly undergoing a major transition this summer toward production of chemicals needed for manufacture of hundreds of different consumer ...

Recommended for you

Antibody-making bacteria promise drug development

August 31, 2015

Monoclonal antibodies, proteins that bind to and destroy foreign invaders in our bodies, routinely are used as therapeutic agents to fight a wide range of maladies including breast cancer, leukemia, asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.