News That Matters

19/05/2023 ---- 22/05/2023

As the conflict in Ukraine escalates, with Kyiv experiencing its ninth attack this month, the G7 leaders have taken a united stand against Russia's aggression and economic coercion. In response to the violence, which has seen one person killed and two wounded in Odesa, Ukraine's Air Force has managed to shoot down 29 out of 30 Russian missiles overnight. Meanwhile, Ukraine's army remains in an "increased state of readiness" for a counter-offensive, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has rejected a peace plan that would involve giving up territory to Russia.

The G7 has agreed on sanctions against Russia during a summit in Japan, aiming to "starve Russia's war machine." The US has cut off 70 companies from exports and imposed 300 sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft. The G7 also imposed a $60 per-barrel price cap on Russian oil and diesel last year, while the UK has banned Russian diamonds and imports of metals, targeting 86 individuals and companies.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy attended the G7 summit in Hiroshima on Sunday. US President Biden has already agreed to allow the training of Ukrainian pilots on American F-16 fighter jets, with training taking place outside Ukraine at sites in Europe in the coming weeks.

The conflict has seen the eight-month-long battle for the city of Bakhmut, the longest and bloodiest battle in the ongoing war. Analysts believe that Bakhmut's fall would give Russia tactical advantages but not decide the war's outcome. The G7 Hiroshima summit concluded on May 21, with the communiqué released a day before the closing. In addition to targeting Russia, the G7 communiqué also targets China, mentioning the country 20 times.

Critics argue that the G7 is serving US strategic interests rather than international welfare and that cooperation with China is the true path of "derisking" for the Western world. G7 leaders reaffirm their support for Ukraine in their final communique. The White House has permitted allied countries to supply Ukraine with US-built F-16 fighter planes.

In a united stand against economic coercion, G7 leaders have agreed on an initiative to counter such tactics from actors like China and Russia. They have committed to deepening cooperation on hardening supply chains and have established a new body to deal with "economic coercion."


Imagine a world where an apple a day genuinely keeps the doctor away, providing all the essential vitamins and minerals we need. It may soon be a reality, thanks to the revolutionary field of gene editing. Recent techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9 and TALEN, have made it possible to modify and enhance various crops, paving the way for a new generation of superfoods – foods with improved nutritional value, flavour, and overall appeal. This powerful technology holds the potential to transform our diets, contribute to better health outcomes, and support sustainable agriculture. Gene editing offers a faster, cheaper, and less controversial alternative to traditional breeding techniques and genetically modified (GMO) foods. CRISPR/Cas9, one of the most popular gene-editing tools, uses RNA to target a specific DNA sequence within the genome. Once the target is found, the Cas9 enzyme acts as a pair of molecular scissors, cutting the DNA at the precise location. This break prompts the cell to repair the DNA. Scientists can insert, delete, or modify the DNA sequence as desired during the repair process. TALEN, another gene-editing technique, works similarly but uses a custom-designed protein to bind to the target DNA sequence and create a break, allowing for the desired modification.

Rather than inserting whole genes from external sources like in GMOs, gene editing enables small, targeted changes to the genetic makeup of existing crops. It allows for the creation foods with altered properties, such as improved nutrient levels or modified taste profiles. Many crops have been produced using gene editing, including soybean and rapeseed with healthier fat profiles, bananas and rice with extra vitamin A, and other crops enriched with vitamin E, iron, and zinc. Gene-edited foods could surpass current nutrition-boosting methods, such as supplements, meal replacements, and fortified foods, which often need more satisfaction and social aspects of eating. Furthermore, fortification can add extra nutrients to everyday staples.

One of the exciting possibilities offered by gene editing is the design of whole foods that function as medicines for better physical and mental health. Researchers have used gene editing to enhance levels of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) in tomatoes, which may contribute to improved heart and mental health outcomes. At the same time, they have also reduced the levels of oxalic acid in tomatoes, which can trigger flares in people with gout, a painful inflammatory condition. Gene editing can also enhance sweetness, reduce bitterness, and dial-up flavour and aroma, encouraging people to eat healthier plant-based foods.

However, the complexity of foods means we cannot simply create new nutrient-dense foods and assume that higher contents translate into more significant benefits. Striking the right balance between adding nutrients and bioactive and maintaining taste is crucial. One challenge will be ensuring we do not edit out healthful compounds, as negative attributes like bitterness often come from beneficial bioactive compounds.

Gene editing offers numerous advantages for food production and human health. It has the potential to create superfoods with enhanced nutritional content, improve food taste and quality, and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. However, it also comes with challenges, such as ensuring that the edited foods maintain their healthful compounds and balancing the addition of nutrients and bioactive without compromising taste or introducing extra calories. As we continue to explore the potential of gene editing in food production, ongoing research and responsible development will be crucial to realizing its full potential and benefits for human health and the planet. Personalized nutrition and "prescription foods" could also become a reality, allowing individuals to consume foods tailored to their specific dietary needs and health conditions. Moreover, gene-edited crops could contribute to more sustainable agriculture by improving crop yields, reducing the need for harmful pesticides, and enhancing resistance to environmental stressors, ultimately benefiting the planet.


The skies over Kyiv have been filled with missiles as Russia continues its relentless assault on Ukraine, with the latest attack leaving casualties in the Black Sea port of Odesa and blasts heard in Vinnytsia, Khmelnytsky, and Zhytomyr regions. Despite the intensity, Ukraine's Air Force has managed to shoot down the majority of Russian missiles. As the frequency of attacks increases, Ukraine's army is now at "an increased state of readiness" for a counter-offensive.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has rejected a peace plan involving territorial concessions to Russia, while the G7 leaders have agreed on sanctions to "starve Russia's war machine." A summit was recently held in Hiroshima, Japan, where the G7 nations issued a joint statement on imposing further sanctions and measures. The United States plans to cut off about 70 companies from Russia and other countries from US exports, and the UK Prime Minister has announced a ban on Russian diamonds and imports of metals, with Britain targeting additional individuals and companies involved in Putin's "military-industrial complex." The G7 is also expected to announce restrictions on the export of rough diamonds from Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima on Sunday. Germany has announced a new military aid commitment worth €2.7 billion ($2.91 billion) to Ukraine, and US President Joe Biden has authorized the training of Ukrainian pilots on American F-16 fighter jets. The training will take place outside Ukraine at sites in Europe and will run for several months. Some NATO members have already begun training Ukrainian pilots.

As sanctions on Russia have thus far failed to deter Putin's aggression, Zelenskiy has been visiting London and European capitals, seeking logistical support and additional economic sanctions on Russia. The inflationary costs of sanctions have weakened the western alliance behind Ukraine.

As G7 leaders meet in Hiroshima, Japan, to discuss Ukraine and China containment, European powers have unified their military strategy in Ukraine. Zelenskiy has been visiting Italy, Germany, France, and the UK to discuss a counter-offensive. The G7 plans to tighten sanctions enforcement and debate Russia's total military humiliation and convincing the global south to join the containment effort. New Europe hawks argue for Russian military defeat and Ukraine's NATO membership, while French President Emmanuel Macron argues against humiliating Russia, calling for a European security architecture.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida focuses on the relationship between the G7 and the global south, promising $75 billion for infrastructure by 2030. As the global south resists US domination and seeks influence in global affairs, Ukraine opens dialogue with non-aligned states, focusing on post-Soviet diplomacy. To succeed, the G7 needs to share the world stage and regain the global south's trust. As tensions escalate and the world watches, the future of Ukraine and global diplomacy hangs in the balance.