News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 22nd October 2015

Irish beef back on the Canadin menu as deal reopens market there

Import of beef from Europe begin again after 19 -year mad cow disease ban

   

Ireland has also reached agreement with authorities in Oman on veterinary health certification which will allow for the export of beef and sheep meat from Ireland to the region for the first time

Canada has reopened its market to Irish and European beef, 19 years after it blocked all imports because of mad cow disease.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Canada has reauthorised the import of beef from 19 member states.

The deal was brokered by the European Commission and follows an EU-wide audit process..

Ireland was a leading participant in the process, having hosted a visit from theCanadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in February last year.

There will be no restriction on the age of cattle from which beef can be exported, the department also confirmed.

The deal comes in the wake of Ireland being granted access to beef markets in the US, China and Japan, which had also been closed since the infamous BSE crisis of the 1990s.

Separately, Ireland has also reached agreement with authorities in Oman on veterinary health certification which will allow for the export of beef and sheep meat from Ireland to the region for the first time.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveneysaid: “I am delighted to see the re-opening of this potentially valuable market in Canada. This is a market with strong Irish links, which appreciates premium quality foods and should be a natural fit for Irish beef.”

“ It builds on the progress in accessing the US market earlier this year,” he said, noting Ireland’s role in showcasing its production systems as part of the EU audit played a key role in securing this access.

He said the department would now commence work with interested plants here to ensure that the trade in product can commence as soon as possible.

Richard Clinton, group commercial director of Dawn Meats, said: “The reopening of Canada to exports of Irish beef is a welcome development, following as it does on the resumption of business in the USA earlier this year.”

“In anticipation of the reopening of this significant market, our business development team have been working over the last number of months to again add Canada to the list of over 40 countries we supply.”

Limerick brothers win EY Entrepreneur of the Year award

 

John and Patrick Collison (above left) have been named the overall winner at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards for their web and mobile payments company Stripe.

The Limerick brothers started Stripe in 2010, with the goal to make accepting payments online simpler and more inclusive. John Collison accepted the international award for Stripe on behalf of himself and his brother.

The 25-year-old thanked his parents for being so understanding, particularly when the pair started the company and moved to San Francisco.

The brothers, who were among the youngest in the competition, also took the overall prize and will now represent Ireland at the World EY Entrepreneur of the year awards in Monte Carlo next year.

  Other winners on the night included Donald Fitzmaurice and Padraig MacBride from BrandTone who won the top prize in the emerging category, and Jack Dobson from Dunbia took the prize in the industry category.

Brandtone, a mobile marketing company headquartered in Dublin, delivers campaigns from brands including Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Diageo and Heineken to almost six billion consumers in developing markets.

Accepting the emerging category award, Donald Fitzmaurice said: “It’s a great honour that I accept this award with Padraig on behalf of everyone at Brandtone.”

Padraig paid tribute to his late father who he said would be “smiling down” seeing him win the award.

“This is a big, big shock. I would like to thank everyone in the Brandtone family as well as my own family,” he added.

Jack Dobson from Dunbia, a multinational red meat company based in Co Tyrone, took the prize in the industry category and was overwhelmed with his win.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m really humbled and honoured.

“I must give a lot of thanks to my wife and family who supported me through the highs and the lows.

“This is really an achievement for me. I have never done anything like this before so thank you very much,” he said.

  Fr Peter McVerry (left) also received a special award on the night for his nearly 40 years combatting homelessness.

He joked that while most of the entrepreneurs in the room had achieved something, despite all his hard work, the number of homelessness is at a higher level than when he first started his work.

“It is to the shame of our nation that despite having the fastest growing economy we have a growing homeless problem,” he stated.

HSE is owed €290m for the use of public facilities

Administration and delays by doctors are holding up repayments, PAC hears

    

The bulk of the €22m tax settlement reached between the HSE and the Revenue Commissioners in recent weeks related to the late payment of employers’ PRSI

More than 50 medical consultants are “years” behind in signing off on claim forms that would release money owed to the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Dáil Public Accounts Committee has heard.

The HSE is owed more than €290 million in income for the use of public facilities by private patients, but administrative issues and delays by insurers and consultants have delayed the payment of this money.

The delay in paying the money due to the taxpayer had increased from 148 debtor days in 2011 to 186 days last year, the committee heard.

HSE chief financial officer Stephen Mulvany said the executive was experiencing significant difficulties with health insurers in obtaining sign-off and payment of the money due.

But delays by consultants in processing claim forms were also contributing to the problem, with almost half of the total delay down to the top five consultants with long delays in each hospital.

‘Ridiculous’

Committee chairman John McGuinness described the situation as ridiculous and said it was clear the HSE was failing to bring the consultants responsible for the delays into line. Ultimately, the taxpayer was bearing the cost. He suggested it was time for the health service to “kick ass” and deal with the long-running issue.

Mr Mulvany said the consultants were busy people and their focus was on patients. While disciplinary action was a significant step, it would have to be considered.

The bulk of the €22 million tax settlement reached between the HSE and the Revenue Commissioners in recent weeks related to the late payment of employers’ PRSI, the committee was also told.

Late payment

Mr Mulvany said €18 million of the settlement was in respect of tax with a further €4 million relating to interest and penalties. He said €14 million was in respect of payroll taxes with the bulk relating to the late payment of employers’ PRSI. He said about €2.5 million was in relation to VAT.

Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said the public would be shocked to learn the HSE did not pay over PRSI contributors on behalf of employees on time. He said the HSE appeared to be trying to minimise the issue by “whinging” that it only related to a tiny fraction of the organisation’s overall tax payments.

Mr Mulvany said it was not seeking to minimise the issue but to put it in context that 99.9 per cent was paid.

He said what had occurred was a gap between contracts of service and contractors for service in relation to a small number of employees.

Cheese is addictive just like drugs so “I guess I am a junkie”

  

A valuable study has found that cheese is actually as addictive as drugs, and now I think I owe a lot of my family members some reconciliatory phone calls. Because it happened to me: my cheese addiction ruined my relationships.

The study, published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, examines why certain foods are more addictive than others. Researchers identified addictive foods from about 500 students who completed the Yale Food Addiction Scale, designed to measure if someone has a food addiction…

The study found certain foods are addictive because of the way they are processed. The more processed and fatty the food, the more it was associated with addictive eating behaviors.

The study ultimately found that the foods most associated with addiction shared traits with the most addictive drugs: they were highly processed and had high doses and rapid rates of absorption.

Cheese in particular is so addictive because it contains a protein called casein which, when digested releases actual opiates called casomorphins. The property has led Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, to call cheese “dairy crack.”

So, I guess I’d like to say…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all the missed birthdays, for the broken plans, for the missed soccer games, and the failed relationships. I’ve lost too many nights covered in cracker crumbs, bent over the toilet with a boulder of dairy in my stomach. I have been at the mercy of my addiction and while I know I am not to blame, I am at fault.

Stem cell breakthrough reverses infertility after cancer

Scientists from Egypt’s Mansoura Medical School show it is possible to restore fertility by injecting stem cells directly into the ovaries

   

Mice who had suffered ovarian failure from chemotherapy were able to have large litters after treatment. 

Cancer patients made infertile by chemotherapy have been offered new hope after scientists succeeded in reversing the damage caused to eggs for the first time.

In a landmark breakthrough hailed as “phenomenal” by fertility experts, researchers from Egypt and the US showed that injecting stem cells into ovaries can bring them back to life.

Chemotherapy is toxic to the ovaries, destroying eggs and ovarian tissue and triggering early menopause in some women.

  • IVF women third more likely to develop ovarian cancer

Many younger women are now advised to freeze their eggs before undergoing cancer treatment, but in urgent cases there is often not time.

Now scientists have shown it is possible to restore fertility by injecting stem cells directly into the ovaries.

“This is very exciting piece of research that adds to our understanding of how cells differentiate to become egg stem cells.”

Dr Stuart Lavery:-  Although the procedure has only been carried out in mice so far, the results were so successful that the researchers say they are ready to move to human trials.

Mice who had suffered ovarian failure from chemotherapy were able to have large litters after treatment.

The new treatment offers hope to more than 20,000 women of childbearing age who are diagnosed with cancer each year, and could also help those suffering from early menopause and ovarian failure.

Lead researcher Dr Sara Mohamed, of Mansoura Medical School in Egypt, said she had come up with the idea after meeting a 22-year-old cancer patient who was at risk of infertility from chemotherapy.

“It was a very emotional for me so I decided to pursue it and work on it to figure it out,” she said.

“It a very common problem based on statistics of cancer female diagnosis every year.

“We inject stem cells in the ovaries of mice which had chemotherapy and were damaged and we got very good ovarian function restoration in form of follicle number, hormonal production and finally getting pregnant and having new pups which was our ultimate goal.

“We are now working on translating that into clinical trials (for humans). This approach carries high promise to women with chemotherapy-induced and potentially other types of premature ovarian failure.”

In the trial involving 18 mice, one group were given chemotherapy and then ovarian injections of bone marrow stem cells, while another group had ovarian injections of saline. A third, control, group, had saline injections without the preceding chemotherapy.

Within a week researchers saw a boost in oestrogen, an essential hormone in ovulation, in the stem cell group followed by regeneration in ovarian tissue after a fortnight and an increase in the number of follicles.

Follicles produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone and each carry a single egg which they release at ovulation.

The mice who had suffered ovarian failure were able to go on to have large litters of pups while those who had saline injections struggled.

Consultant Gynaecologist Dr Stuart Lavery, of Imperial College, said: “This is very exciting piece of research that adds to our understanding of how cells differentiate to become egg stem cells.

“Clearly, there remains an enormous amount of work to see whether these results would be transferable into humans.

“But it does provide some realistic hope that post-chemotherapy patients who have been made menopausal could one day restore ovarian function and possibly fertility.”

The researchers are now hoping to move to human trials using umbilical cord or even embryonic stem cells although they will still have to convince regulators the procedures are safe.

Recent trials to stimulate stem cells in the ovaries were banned by the Food and Drug Agency (FDA).

Currently women diagnosed with cancer can be be offered egg freezing, or even early stage IVF, before chemotherapy.

But many trusts have cut IVF funding and women are sometimes denied cryopreservation. The new therapy would give peace of mind for women that something could be done to reverse the damage caused by chemotherapy.

And because the new technique regenerates ovarian tissue the new eggs could be even healthier than they were before chemotherapy, experts have suggested.

Women are born with all their eggs but they degrade over time. Stem cells have the potential to make eggs brand new again.

Dr Geoffrey Trew, consultant in Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Hammersmith Hospital, London, said: “Fertility-wise, if this works it would be stupendous.

“Certainly it does appear promising and anything you can do to regenerate and ovary is a good thing.

“Theoretically if you are regenerating the ovary you should be getting better quality eggs.

“Clearly we’re not here yet, and it’s good that the researchers are not over-claiming their findings, but it’s a great proof of concept.”

Dr Edgar Mocanu, consultant gynaecologist at Rotunda Hospital in Dublin and board member of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, said: “This could open phenomenal opportunities for women.

“Millions of women around the world undergo cancer treatment and some of them will become infertile through ovarian failure.

“While cancer survival rates have increased dramatically, to date there is no effective method of preventing infertility after chemotherapy. It could also open new avenues for the treatment of menopause induced health issues.”

“This approach carries high promise to women with chemotherapy-induced and potentially other types of premature ovarian failure.”

Lead researcher Dr Sara Mohamed

Dr Owen Davis president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine: “If this experimental treatment can be translated to women who have lost ovarian function from chemotherapy, it will be a great advance.

“Restoring ovarian hormone production, follicle development and fertility to chemotherapy patients is a potential new application for bone marrow donation that could help many women.”

Coventry-based fertility expert Richard Kennedy, president-elect of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, said: “One of the really important messages for our cancer colleagues is that when men or women present for treatment, think about their fertility, think about the impact of the cancer treatment on their fertility.

  • Thousands of cancer patients to be denied treatment

“That is a really important message because the majority of people with cancer now are living for five years or longer, and many are surviving their cancers, so thought about the long-term impact of treatment is important.”

Katherine Taylor, of Ovarian Cancer Action, said: “This sounds very promising and we welcome any new research that helps us build on our knowledge of cancer and fertility. We look forward to seeing how this research advances in years to come.”

The research was presented at the annual sheeting of then American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Baltimore.

NASA unveils super powerful rocket designed to take astronauts to Mars and beyond

 

Space agency hails the arrival of first ‘exploration class’ spacecraft in 40 years and vows to fly it to the Red Planet

Mars or bust: An artist’s impression of NASA’s new rocket

NASA has completed work on a new rocket which could one day carry human astronauts on a mission to the Red Planet.

The Space Launch System is the most powerful spaceship ever built and is designed to “meet the challenges of the journey to Mars”.

It is the first “exploration class” rocket since the legendary Saturn V, which ferried astronauts to the moon during the Apollo era between 1966 and 1973.

“We’ve nailed down the design of SLS, we’ve successfully completed the first round of testing of the rocket’s engines and boosters, and all the major components for the first flight are now in production,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Division.

“There have been challenges, and there will be more ahead, but this review gives us confidence that we are on the right track for the first flight of SLS and using it to extend permanent human presence into deep space.”

The new rocket has passed important preliminary tests and is expected to blast off on a test mission in 2018.

“This is a major step in the design and readiness of SLS,” added John Honeycutt, SLS program manager.

“Our team has worked extremely hard, and we are moving forward with building this rocket. We are qualifying hardware, building structural test articles, and making real progress.”

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