Natural sweeteners derived from stevia may produce as little as 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions of sugar while still providing the same level of sweetness, according to new research from the University of Surrey.
Researchers conducted a Life Cycle Assessment on steviol glycosides extracted from stevia and found that the production of the sweetener caused less environmental impact across a wide range of markers, when compared to sugar. For example, it offers an opportunity to reduce land use or water consumption compared to the same level of sweetness as sugar.
Many non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS), like steviol glycosides, can reproduce the taste of sugar, but without the associated health risks, such as tooth decay, obesity, or diabetes. They can do this because they are many times sweeter than sugar. For example, 4g of steviol glycosides provides the sweetness equivalent of 1,000g sugar, because it is perceived to be 250 times sweeter.
Groups of spiders could be used as an environmentally-friendly way to protect crops against agricultural pests.
That's according to new research, led by the University of Portsmouth, which suggests that web-building groups of spiders can eat a devastating pest moth of commercially important crops like tomato and potato worldwide.
The tomato leafminer moth, Tuta absoluta,has developed resistance to chemical insecticides, which cause human and environmental damage, so different approaches, like using natural predators such as spiders, are needed to combat infestations.
The researchers explored the use of tropical tent web spiders, Cyrtophora citricola, as pest control, as these spiders form groups and are not cannibalistic, and they create large webs to capture prey. In lab settings, different types of prey - the small tomato leafminer, flightless fruit flies (Drosophila hydei) and larger black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) - were introduced to colonies of spiders of varying body sizes. Researchers found that larger spiders built larger webs and generally caught more prey, and they easily caught and ate the tomato leafminer and fruit flies, while the larger black soldier flies were rarely caught.