Sweegen Expands Sugar Reduction Portfolio With High-Intensity Sweetener Brazzein

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Oct. 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sweegen is expanding its extensive sweetener portfolio in early 2022 with the zero-calorie, high-intensity sweetener brazzein.  The product was developed in collaboration with long-term innovation partner Conagen, which has scaled it to commercial production. Brazzein is a small, heat-stable protein, 500 to 2,000 times sweeter than regular sugar, making it very attractive to food and beverage manufacturers seeking excellent value in a sweetener.

As a sweetener, brazzein promises little to no bitter aftertaste and helps to reduce sweet linger, reducing taste modulation challenges in the natural sweetener space. Brazzein is stable in a wide range of pH and retains its qualities after pasteurization.  It is also readily soluble, making it ideal for sugar reduction across a spectrum of food and beverage applications.

“Introducing a high-purity brazzein to Sweegen’s portfolio of natural sweeteners is one more creative solution for helping brands make low-calorie better-for-you products,” said Sweegen’s SVP, Head of Global Innovation, Shari Mahon. “Brands can look forward to exploring the synergistic benefits of combining brazzein and stevia for reducing sugar in food and beverages in a cost-effective way.”

As a sweet protein, brazzein has great promise to fit into consumer diets, such as Keto, diabetes, or low-to-no carbohydrate lifestyles. Health-conscious consumers are also turning away from artificial sweeteners and accepting nature-based sweeteners, such as stevia and allulose.

Brazzein’s extraordinary qualities stand out among high-intensity sweeteners, but the quest to scale and commercialize it has proven difficult until now. Found sparingly in nature, brazzein derives from the West African climbing plant’s fruit, oubli. To scale brazzein sustainably, Conagen produces it by a proprietary precision fermentation process, a technology producing clean, nature-based ingredients.

“Brazzein is the first product generated from our new peptide platform, which fits well into our existing world-scale, precision fermentation infrastructure,” said Conagen’s Vice President of Innovation, Casey Lippmeier, Ph.D. “Peptides and small proteins like brazzein can be very difficult to make economically.  However, now that we have successfully scaled this peptide, we expect more sustainable, novel peptide ingredients will rapidly follow.”

About Sweegen

Sweegen provides sweet taste solutions for food and beverage manufacturers around the world.

We are on a mission to reduce the sugar and artificial sweeteners in our global diet.  Partnering with customers, we create delicious zero-sugar products that consumers love.  With the best next-generation stevia sweeteners in our portfolio, such as Signature Bestevia® Rebs B, D, E, I, M, and N, along with our deep knowledge of flavor modulators and texturants, Sweegen delivers market-leading solutions that customers want, and consumers prefer. Be well. Choose well.

For more information, please contact info@sweegen.com and visit Sweegen’s website, www.sweegen.com.

Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, including, among other statements, statements regarding the future prospects for Reb M stevia leaf sweetener. These statements are based on current expectations but are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and are beyond the control of Sweegen, Inc.

Relevant risks and uncertainties include those referenced in the historic filings of Sweegen, Inc. with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by the forward-looking statements, and therefore should be carefully considered. Sweegen, Inc. assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements due to new information or future events or developments.


Ana Arakelian

Ethiopia’s PM Sworn in For Second Term As War Spreads

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been sworn in for a second five-year term running a country in the grip of a nearly year-long war.

Abiy’s Prosperity Party was declared the winner of parliamentary elections earlier this year in a vote criticized and at times boycotted by opposition parties but described by some outside electoral observers as better run than those in the past.

The prime minister, the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner for restoring ties with neighboring Eritrea and for pursuing sweeping political reforms, now faces major challenges as war in the Tigray region spreads into other parts of the country, deadly ethnic violence continues, and watchdogs warn that repressive government practices are on the return.

The 11-month war is weakening Ethiopia’s economy, once one of Africa’s fastest-growing, and threatening to isolate Abiy, once seen as a regional peacemaker. Just three African heads of state – from Nigeria, Senegal and neighboring Somalia – attended Monday’s ceremony.

Ethiopia’s government last week faced condemnation from the United Nations, United States and several European nations after it expelled seven U.N. officials it accused of supporting the Tigray forces who have been battling Ethiopian and allied forces.


Source: Voice of America

Police Arrest Ethiopia Insider’s Founder

WASHINGTON — Journalist Tesfalem Waldyes, the founder and editor-in-chief of Ethiopia Insider, an Ethiopian news and analysis website, is in police custody, according to media reports.

Tesfalem’s colleagues and friends said his whereabouts hadn’t been known since Saturday, but federal police confirmed his detention to the BBC, saying there is nothing to be concerned about.

Police didn’t give additional details. Shortly after the detention, Befeqadu Hailu, the executive director of the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy, said Tesfalem went missing after covering the Irreecha festival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Irreecha is a cultural event celebrated by Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromo community.

Befeqadu also said via Twitter that Tesfalem’s plan for Sunday was to report on the festival, which also took place at a second location, Bishoftu.

The annual event is traditionally held in Bishoftu, a town located in the Oromia region, about 40 kilometers south of Addis Ababa.

After covering the event in Addis Ababa, Tesfalem posted a video on Ethiopia Insider’s Facebook page that showed attendees expressing their criticism of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration.

Attendees also demanded the release of political prisoners, chanting, “Jawar, Jawar!”

Jawar Mohammed, an Oromo activist and opposition leader, has been imprisoned, charged with terrorism and other crimes alongside other prominent Oromo politicians.

In 2014, Tesfalem was among three journalists and six bloggers, who became known as the “Zone 9 Bloggers” and were arrested for inciting violence among other charges, including terrorism. He spent more than one year in prison and was later released. Zone 9 Bloggers were recipients of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award in 2015.

The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least seven journalists are imprisoned in the country.

Separately, Prime Minister Abiy was sworn in for a second term on Monday.


Source: Voice of America

UN Aid Officials Expelled by Ethiopia Depart for ‘Safety’ Reasons

UNITED NATIONS — Seven U.N. humanitarian officials expelled by Ethiopia are no longer in the country, the world body confirmed Monday.

“They have been moved from the country to ensure their safety,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

“Our priority is to make sure that our staff can go about their work safely,” he said when questioned further by reporters. “And if we cannot do that, then we have to take other steps.”

On Thursday, the federal government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave the officials 72 hours to leave Ethiopia. The government alleged that they had meddled in the country’s internal affairs and leveled other charges against them, including diverting aid and telecommunications equipment to the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “shock” at the announcement, and spoke by phone with Abiy on Friday.

The officials who were declared “persona non-grata” include the U.N. deputy humanitarian chief, the deputy humanitarian coordinator, and the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) representative.

The United Nations said Ethiopia does not have a legal basis to expel the staffers. U.N. staff are protected under immunity conventions and the U.N. Charter. The organization maintains that such expulsions can only happen on a country-to-country basis.

“We stand by the neutrality and the even‑handedness and professionalism of our staff,” spokesman Haq said of the staffers.

The Ethiopian government has said the U.N. may replace the expelled officials, but Haq said there are currently no plans to do so.

“At this stage, we believe that the staff that the secretary‑general and the U.N. secretariat have deployed are the people who are fit for the job, and we believe that they should be allowed to go about their work without hindrance,” he said.

He added that the U.N. is evaluating its options as it continues to do its work in Ethiopia.

The U.N. Security Council discussed the matter on Friday, and diplomats said it could meet again this week for another round of discussions.

Millions in need

The Ethiopian federal government has been engaged in an armed conflict with TPLF rebels in the northern Tigray region for nearly a year. The TPLF succeeded in pushing government forces out of the region, and the conflict has now spilled into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar.

Of the six million people who live in Tigray, the U.N. says 5.2 million need some level of food assistance. More than 400,000 people are already living in famine-like conditions, and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine.

The U.N. has said for months that it has encountered difficulties in reaching the people of Tigray. One hundred aid-filled trucks are needed daily to meet the soaring needs, but since mid-July, only 606 have been allowed into the region.

“The U.N. has not been allowed to bring in fuel since the end of July, leading to some of our partners having had to severely reduce or suspend their activities,” Haq told reporters. “Cash to run operations is also running out. Medical supplies are depleted, with nearly 200,000 children having missed critical vaccinations.”

Last Wednesday, U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said that after 11 months of conflict and three months of a de facto government blockade, the humanitarian crisis in Tigray is spiraling out of control.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Griffiths said the humanitarian crisis there is a “stain on our conscience,” as civilians starve because aid workers are being blocked from getting enough supplies to them.

The next day, the government in Addis Ababa said it was expelling the seven high-ranking U.N. staffers.


Source: Voice of America

Secret Wealth of High-Profile Individuals Revealed in ‘Pandora Papers’ Leak

LONDON — World leaders, politicians and pop stars are among the thousands of individuals revealed to be concealing huge wealth through a network of anonymous companies.

The documents, known as the Pandora Papers and published Sunday, are part of a leak of almost 12 million files from the archives of several legal firms, which shed light on the secret world of offshore finance. They are being analyzed by a team of more than 600 journalists.

Among the most startling revelations in the Pandora Papers is the hidden wealth of the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his family. The leaks show the Aliyevs and their associates traded property in Britain worth $544 million over the past 15 years.

“Since this family took power in 1993, they have taken control of many of the country’s vital industries and its natural resources and used that to amass wealth,” said Rachel Davies Teka, head of advocacy at the anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International UK. “And this is being done at the expense of the people of that country. There are people who are suffering because their leaders are taking resources which should be shared out amongst those countries’ citizens,” Davies Teka told VOA.

Jordanian king’s property empire

The leaked documents show that King Abdullah II of Jordan has a secret property empire in the United States and Britain worth more than $100 million, using anonymous offshore companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. In a statement, the Jordanian royal palace said that the foreign properties were not disclosed for security and privacy reasons, adding that they were purchased using the monarch’s private wealth.

During a meeting with tribal elders Monday, Abdullah rejected allegations he had tried to conceal his wealth. “Unfortunately, there is a campaign against Jordan; there are still people who want to sow discord and build doubt between us. There is nothing I have to hide from anyone, but we are stronger than this, and this is not the first time Jordan gets targeted,” the king said.

Pakistani Cabinet ministers and their families, including close allies of Prime Minister Imran Khan, are revealed to own offshore companies worth millions of dollars. Khan said they would be investigated.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the country’s second-richest person, used anonymous offshore companies to finance the purchase of an $18 million property in France. Babiš is competing in a general election this week. In a televised debate with rival candidates, he defended his actions.

“The money was sent out of a Czech bank. The money was taxed. It was my money and it returned back to the Czech Republic,” he told the television audience in Prague on Sunday.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and six members of his family are linked to more than a dozen offshore companies, one with assets worth at least $30 million. There is no evidence that the Kenyatta family stole any state assets.

In a statement issued by the office of the president, Kenyatta welcomed the publication of the Pandora Papers.

“These reports will go a long way in enhancing the financial transparency and openness that we require in Kenya and around the globe. The movement of illicit funds, proceeds of crime and corruption thrive in an environment of secrecy and darkness. The Pandora Papers and subsequent follow up audits will lift that veil of secrecy and darkness for those who cannot explain their assets or wealth,” the statement read.

In Indonesia, the weekly magazine Tempo reported Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan served as the CEO of Petrocapital, an oil and gas company established in Panama.

Jodi Mahardi, a spokesman for Luhut, told VOA that during Luhut’s time at Petrocapital, the company had “not been successful in getting a proper investment project” and there was “no cooperation with state oil and gas companies.”

Music stars, including Shakira and Elton John, and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar are also revealed to have set up offshore companies. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing concerning any of their financial activities.

Much of the activity revealed by the Pandora Papers, including use of offshore companies, is legal. Governments must do more to reveal hidden wealth, argues Davies Teka.

“This investigation and what these journalists have uncovered is vital because, unfortunately, governments, particularly in the West, are not doing enough to bring transparency to where all this money is moving to — where this money is being hidden,” she told VOA.

Role of London

One thread that is common to many of the revelations is London. The capital and the British Overseas Territories linked to it, such as the British Virgin Islands, offer a hidden network of legal structures designed to conceal who really owns the money, says Davies Teka.

“You can buy property anonymously if you use a company that’s registered and formed in an overseas territory where there is currently secrecy. We also have luxury services on offer to the global elite, and, unfortunately, we have a concerning amount of professionals, accountants, lawyers, estate agents who are happy to help corrupt and criminal actors launder and hide and manage their wealth.”

The British government has put forward legislation to prevent individuals from using offshore companies to conceal ownership. “However, for three years now they have hesitated to lay this legislation down in parliament and actually pass it, which raises questions about how serious they really are about tackling this problem,” Davies Teka said.

Britain’s ruling Conservative Party has become embroiled in the accusations after the leaks revealed party donors were linked to alleged corruption. Speaking at the start of the weeklong Conservative Party conference Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected accusations that his party had accepted corrupt money.

“All I can say on that one is that all these donations are vetted in the normal way,” he told reporters.

British Chancellor Rishi Sunak denied that London’s reputation on tax avoidance was “shameful” and said the government had a strong track record on tackling global corruption.


Source: Voice of America

Abiy Ahmed sworn in as Ethiopian Prime Minister for a new 5-year-term

ADDIS ABABA, Ahmed Ali has been sworn in in front of Parliament as Prime Minister of Africa’s second-most populous nation, Ethiopia.


The PM who had been in office since 2018 begins a new five-year mandate after his party won majority seats in the Parliament.


“After a landslide victory in June’s Ethiopian elections which took place with prominent opposition either boycotting or jailed, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has just been officially sworn in for his 5-year term in office. He had been ruling on an interim basis since April 2018.”


Two African leaders arrived in town to grace the occasion, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Macky Sall of Senegal arrived late Sunday in Addis Ababa.


Under Ethiopia’s ethnic federal system, the party or coalition with most seats in the federal Parliament elects the Prime Minister. Abiy is the leader of the ruling Prosperity Party.


Ethiopia has been in the news for the past 10 months for a prolonged war in the northern Tigray regional state where government forces are battling regional forces.


The attendant humanitarian crisis has become the subject of global reportage citing food shortages and what UN says is a de facto siege placed on Tigray by the central governnment.


Source: Nam News Network

Algerian FM, Former Nigerian President Arrive in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, Foreign Affairs Minister of Algeria, Ramtane Lamamra has arrived in Addis Ababa to attend the inaugural ceremony of new government formation in Ethiopia.

Foreign Affairs State Minister Redwan Hussein and other Ethiopian government officials received the Algerian Foreign Minister at Bole International Airport.

Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo has also arrived in Addis Ababa last night to attend the government formation ceremony to be held on today.

Obasanjo was welcomed by President Sahlework Zewde and Minister of Innovation and Technology Abreham Belay.

The leaders, Ministers and delegations of several countries have been arriving in Addis Ababa to take part at the new government formation ceremony to be held on Monday.

So far the Presidents of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and Senegal Macky Sall have arrived in Addis Ababa.

It is to be recalled that Prime Minister Ahmed’s Prosperity Party had won in the country’s general election held on June 21.

As per the result declared by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, Prosperity Party will for the new government today.

Several regional states of Ethiopia have also been forming their respective governments.

Other regions such as Harari and Somali have conducted elections on September 30 and are expected to form government after the announcement of the results.

The elections held in these regions were delayed partly due to logistics and other issues when the national election was conducted on June 21, 2021.


Source: Ethiopia News Agency