The SW Summary: On gene editing, recycled glass bottles, labour exploitation in Portugal, and more

By Hanna Halmari
Gene editing for climate-resilient crops

In the Genetic Literacy Project, Joseph Maina discusses one of the key innovations in mitigating the effects of climate change in agriculture: gene editing. This technique “facilitates programmable and highly accurate modifications to the genomes of organisms” and can include “deleting, silencing, or inserting desired genes.” Maina outlines the five ways in which gene editing can help increase the climate resilience of crops, through:

    1. Improved drought tolerance
    2. Better disease management
    3. Increased yields 
    4. Higher salinity tolerance
    5. More flexible and easier weed-management strategy

Read more on each of these here.

Laithwaites launches the UK’s first 100% recycled glass wine bottle

Writing for the drinks business, Eloise Feilden reports on the newly launched 100% recycled glass wine bottle by online wine merchant Laithwaites – a first in the UK market. As part of Laithwaites’ pledge to halve its carbon footprint by 2030, the company turned its focus to packaging, which accounts for the majority of its carbon emissions. 

Laithwaites partnered with winemaker Dino Taschetti to produce the ‘w/o Frappato’ wine bottle. Not only is it made of 100% recycled glass, but it also doesn’t include a plastic capsule or foil and comes with a fully biodegradable label. The company opted for recycled glass as it preserves a traditional format whilst reducing the impact on the environment, due to the lower amount of “raw materials used (sand, soda ash, limestone, feldspar).” You can read more on the design and its advantages here.

Labour exploitation in Portugal’s berry industry

In The Guardian, Beatriz Ramalho da Silva and Corinne Redfern raise awareness of the labor exploitation taking place “at the heart of Europe’s soft fruits industry.” They report on the 10,000+ young men and women who have migrated to work in Portugal’s £200m berry industry in hopes of acquiring a Portuguese passport.

Foreigners are eligible to apply for temporary residency regardless of whether they entered Europe legally, provided that they have a work contract and can prove that they are paying taxes in Portugal. Once they have temporary residency, the “five-year countdown to citizenship”, or a “raspberry passport,” begins. Unfortunately, this traps many vulnerable migrants into a cycle of exploitation and “conditions akin to labour bondage”, as they worry that “changing jobs will nullify their residency application.” Read more here on the plight of the migrant workers picking the fruit sold in supermarkets across Europe.

Sustainable wine tourism is on the rise shares a recent report on the role and future of sustainability in wine tourism. The report, produced together with Hochschule Geisenheim University, is based on data collected in November 2021 via a global online survey with 1,579 wineries from 40+ countries.The report demonstrates that “sustainability has arrived in the wine industry”, including in wine tourism, and suggests that the focus on sustainability will continue to increase. highlights the five key findings of the report:

    1. “Sustainability plays a critical role for the wineries.
    2.  Wineries evaluate the overlap between sustainable wine production and sustainable wine tourism very heterogeneously – but the overall overlap appears to be relatively small.
    3. For the wineries, the environmental dimension of sustainability is slightly more important than the economic and social aspects.
    4. Among the measures that wineries plan to implement, using energy carefully, developing a long-term strategy for the company and collaborating with regional companies/actors are the most important.
    5. Recently, 62% of the wineries stated that sustainable practices in wine tourism are essential for visitors; however, 87 % of wineries say it will become significantly more important in 5 years.”

You can read the full report here.

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About the author

Hanna Halmari

Hanna Halmari is the editor at Sustainable Wine and the head of conferences at Innovation Forum. Hanna specialises in sustainability research and events across various industries. She holds an MSc in international development from Kings’s College London, where she developed a strong interest in political economy and post-communist transformation. Hanna speaks Finnish, Bulgarian and English. In her spare time she is a dedicated Radio Lollipop volunteer at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, enjoys travelling, and tasting new wines.