The first step in Backsberg’s green wineinitiative was a carbon audit, whichassessed the amount of CO2 producedfrom all winery activities, from vineyardto bottle. Michael Back, proprietor of BacksbergWine Cellars and environment nut. Vineyard planting systems have beenadapted to reduce the number of woodenpoles needed. A selection of carbon-neutral Backsbergwines.(Images: Backsberg)Susan de BruinRed or white wine? At South Africa’s Backsberg Wine Cellars there’s another choice: green. That’s because Backsberg has become one of only five wine producers in the world making carbon-neutral wines.Carbon neutrality means all the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere in the wine-making process is balanced by planting trees to absorb the equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. The other four carbon-neutral estates are Grove Mill Winery in New Zealand, Parducci Winery in California, ConoSur in Chile and Elderton Wines in Australia.Backsberg, which lies between Paarl and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, is owned by Michael Back. Known as something of an “environment nut” on the estate, Back began his green wine initiative in 2004.“Care for the environment means care and concern for succeeding generations,” he says. “As custodians of the land, it is our duty to understand and recognise potential threats, and to mitigate against them for the benefit of the next generation.”The first step was a carbon audit, to assess the amount of CO2 produced from all winery activities, from vineyard to bottle – its “carbon footprint”.A carbon technician measured everything from electricity and fuel consumption to grape fermentation and transport of wine bottles to local and international destinations. Each activity was then calculated to produce a specific amount of CO2. The entire process followed the strict guidelines set out by the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission.From the audit results, the carbon technician calculated the number of trees that should be planted every year to absorb the same amount of CO2 Backsberg produced in that year. This is known as “offsetting”.Backsberg then enlisted the help of South African non-profit organisation Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA). In 2006 FTFA was honoured with the Chevron Conservation Award in California for improving the quality of life for disadvantaged South Africans by planting 2.5-million trees.FTFA and the estate began a village greening programme in nearby Klapmust, an impoverished village that is home to the surrounding wine farms’ seasonal workers. The Klapmust community took the more than 900 trees on a voluntary basis, trees the estate continually monitors to ensure they remain alive and continue to keep Backsberg’s carbon offset in balance. On the estate itself, 3 442 additional trees have been planted over the last 10 years.All these trees finally won Backsberg classification as a Carbon Neutral Estate in 2006, with the right to display the “Carbon Neutral Approved” logo on its bottles. To keep its classification, Backsberg is required to submit a carbon audit every year.Package of green ideasBut Back wanted to do more than simply get a logo on his bottles. A committed environmentalist, he was determined to reduce the estate’s carbon footprint as much as possible. The estate now employs a fulltime environmental consultant to look at all aspects of the business and assess how they could be done in a more environment-friendly way.The estate now has a package of creative green ideas. All farm vehicles and tractors are run on biofuels made from recycled vegetable oil, and the large fuel-guzzling tractors have been traded for smaller ones. The estate now generates its own energy from solar power, and is looking at wind power. Energy demand has been reduced by implementing timers, low-energy bulbs and skylights.The old hot-water “donkey” system, last used over a half a century ago, has been reintroduced, using waste wood to heat the water for washing barrels. Vineyard planting systems have been adapted to reduce the number of wooden poles needed.Back has also reserved 10% of the estate for conservation of the natural habitat, some 40 hectares of Swartland alluvium fynbos. This delicate fynbos environment, one of only a few left in the area, will never be cultivated, even though it might hold soils suitable for more vines.Good economic senseBacksberg remains the only carbon-neutral wine producer in South Africa. But according to John Spiers, chief executive of the estate, other South African winemakers are increasingly interested in environment-friendly production. He said Backsberg’s green initiatives were fairly inexpensive, and will save money in the long term. “It makes good economic sense if you look at where the fuel and energy prices are going,” he says.More than this, Backsberg exports 35% to 40% of its wine to the US, UK and Europe. Recent market feedback from Wines of South Africa (Wosa), which markets South African wine internationally, indicated that the British, American and especially the German markets seek environmentally responsible products. “These three destinations want products that are not only linked to social issues, but also environmentally responsible,” says Andre Morgenthal, Wosa communications manager.Spiers believes it is still early days for the carbon neutral logo to play a deciding role in the minds of the international consumer. But he adds: “In future it will become very important, and then we will definitely benefit from it.”Useful linksBacksberg Wine CellarsFood and Trees for AfricaWines of South Africa
8 August 2014City residents and commuters boarding trains and taxis at Pretoria Station will now have access to free breast cancer screening, thanks to the opening of Hello Clinic at the station.The clinic, a joint initiative of the government, Metropolitan Health, Pink Drive, Bidvest and Motion Pathology, was opened by Deputy Social Development Minister Hendrietta Mogopane-Zulu on Thursday.Bogopane-Zulu said the opening of the clinic was not only about detecting cancer, but also about promoting a healthy lifestyle.“When the mother passes on, it is us that must pick up the pieces,” Bogopane-Zulu said. “Our business is about strengthening families. We have a responsibility to assist families become strong and healthy so they can assist us in combating poverty.”She said the Pink Drive truck, which was also launched on Thursday, would be used as a one-stop shop for conducting cervical cancer testing and HIV testing, as well as providing dignity packages to girl learners in rural areas.She added that the department would be making funding available to ensure that Hello Clinic has dedicated sign language interpreters to strengthen its work.First Lady Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, also speaking at Thursday’s opening, said women’s health should be at the centre of all government programmes.“We can’t even begin to talk about development without women’s health featuring there,” Madiba-Zuma said. “Women should be healthy in order for them to play a meaningful role in the economic growth of our country.”She added that the clinic reflected the power of public-private partnerships. “The clinic is a goal standard for innovative approaches towards improving women health.”Deputy Health Minister Joseph Phaahla commended the work done by the Pink Drive. “We believe that any contribution towards alleviating the burden of cancer is highly appreciated. This is not a small effort and we are really grateful.”Noelene Kotschan from Pink Drive said that, while cancer was a potential killer, so was ignorance. “Breast cancer is an enemy fighting us. Together we must fight it and we must win.”Source: SAnews.gov.za
The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to release draft tax reform legislation on November 1 with a markup beginning one week later on November 6 (TAXDAY, 2017/10/27, C.1 ). The markup is expected to go on for several days, ensuring Democratic lawmakers have “ample time” to weigh-in on the policy proposals in the legislation, according to Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has indicated a Thanksgiving deadline for moving legislation through the House.The Senate is reportedly gearing up to release its own tax reform legislation in the coming days. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) will mark up its tax reform bill the week of November 13, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Tex., told reporters. “We need to get the tax bill out of the Senate before Thanksgiving,” he said. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., also confirmed on October 26 that Senate Republicans are looking to pass tax reform legislation by Thanksgiving. Under that schedule, House and Senate leadership will likely then move both bills to conference committee negotiation, where members and the Trump administration will try to agree on final bill language, for a vote by the House and the Senate before Christmas recess.Several Democrats, including SFC ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., have been critical of the pace with which Republicans are moving forward on tax reform. “They are rushing their tax giveaway to big corporations and the wealthy through the Congress so quickly that nobody catches on,” Wyden said on the Senate floor on October 26.Child Tax CreditMeanwhile, two Senate Democrats are focused on expanding the Child Tax Credit. Sens. Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced the American Family Bill of 2017 on October 26. “The bill would create a new $300-per-month, per-child credit for children under 6 years of age and a $250-per-month, per-child credit for children 6 to 18 years of age—therefore, at least tripling the credit (now at $1,000 per year) for all children and, for the first time, making the credit fully refundable,” according to Bennet’s press release.The White House has also been promoting an expanded Child Tax Credit. Ivanka Trump, a senior advisor to President Trump, has been meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on Capitol Hill over the last several days to rally support for the expansion. The Trump/GOP Tax Reform Framework released in September calls for “significantly” increasing the credit (TAXDAY, 2017/09/28, C.1 ).By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News StaffLogin to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.
If you can tell French Chardonnay from Italian, you might have an annoying insect to thank. Microbes that live on grape plants—specifically, yeast of the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae—vary from place to place in ways that cause subtle but detectable differences in the taste of the resulting wine. Now, researchers have found that different strains of the yeast mingle and mate like crazy inside the guts of hibernating wasps. The findings suggest that wasps might help to foster yeast biodiversity, with important implications for ecology and industry.S. cerevisiae is one of the most widely cultivated fungi in the world—used not only in winemaking, but also in baking, brewing, and lab experiments. But researchers have known little about its ecology in the wild, where it grows on ripe fruit.Thanks to the new results, reported online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they know a lot more. “It’s the first evidence that shows that in the gut environment, S. cerevisiae can [produce spores], germinate, and mate,” says Duccio Cavalieri, a biologist at the University of Florence in Italy, who led the project.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)When Cavalieri and his collaborators first reported finding yeast in wasp intestines in a 2012 paper, they speculated that wasps feeding on yeasty grapes might transfer the yeast from fruit to fruit during warmer months and provide a safe place for it to wait out the winter. But they didn’t know what happened to the yeast during its months inside a hibernating wasp.To find out, they fed European paper wasps five different strains of S. cerevisiae each. After letting the wasps hibernate for as long as 4 months, they compared the gut-dwelling yeast with colonies that came from the same starting strains but were grown in the lab instead. The different S. cerevisiae strains from the wasps had bred with each other just as much as they had in the controls. In addition, some of the wasps’ S. cerevisiae strains had mated with S. paradoxus, a related species of wild yeast that doesn’t normally breed with S. cerevisiae in the wild.Together, the results show that the wasp’s belly is more than just a holding chamber for yeast. The yeast are “living, dying, battling for resources, all within this wasp,” says Anne Madden, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who was not involved in the study.The fact that S. cerevisiae and S. paradoxus were able to mate inside the wasps means the gut environment could propagate hybrid strains that wouldn’t otherwise occur, the researchers argue.The findings suggest that wasps may be much more important than usually thought, Madden says. “What’s often perceived as a pest species by humans can have incredible relevance, not only to our understanding of greater ecology, but in terms of having real commercial and industrial value,” she says. “What we’re beginning to learn is that there’s wide unexplored world of microbes and bugs—insects, spiders, mites.”For instance, beers and wines have regional flavor difference influenced in part by their microbes, including yeasts. “Maintaining this uniqueness requires maintaining the uniqueness of the microbial communities,” says Cavalieri, who comes from a long line of vintners. Wasps could help. But he also thinks there’s a larger ecological context for the work.“We normally wage chemical warfare against insects all over the place,” he says. “What our findings are basically saying is that if we continue killing the wasps, we lose a fundamental part of the ecological cycle.” Cavalieri’s team is investigating whether similar processes occur in other insects, such as ants.Not everyone is convinced. Matthew Goddard, a biologist at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom, and the University of Auckland in New Zealand, notes that the team didn’t directly demonstrate that the yeast reproduced within the gut. But Cavalieri says his group’s microbiology techniques make it extremely unlikely that the yeast formed cross-species hybrids after they were removed from the wasps.