Minister to stay: sources
Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝), who tendered his resignation before the Lunar New Year holidays, will continue to serve on the Cabinet, people familiar with the matter said yesterday. The sources said that Chang agreed to stay in the Cabinet after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had a meeting with him and praised his performance. Recent rumors said that the president had spoken with Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) during the holidays about a possible Cabinet reshuffle. Jiang yesterday said he had no comment on media speculation about the possible reshuffle and that he would make an announcement on the matter once a decision had been made.
Agency starts cancer drive
The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Health Promotion Administration launched a program on World Cancer Day yesterday to boost its efforts to fight a disease that has topped the causes of death in the nation for the past three decades. The project focuses on raising awareness of cancer prevention methods by promoting regular health checks and studying possible causes of the disease, health official Wu Chien-yuan (吳建遠) said. Given that cancer accounted for 28 percent of Taiwanese deaths over the past 31 years, the government is committed to continuing its efforts to reduce illness and death caused by the disease, she said. More projects, including those encouraging the public to exercise regularly and cut down on sugary beverages and fast food, are also being planned, since breaking these unhealthy habits can help curb cancer rates, she said.
Center boosts fungus study
A research center in central Taiwan’s Asia University is stepping up efforts to develop edible and medicinal mushrooms, after its initial investment in the field generated output valued at hundreds of millions of New Taiwan dollars. The center plans to launch more trials on the cultivation of bamboo fungus — a popular ingredient in Taiwanese cuisine — following its success in raising maitake mushrooms and tremellas, known in English as snow fungus. The center hopes its efforts will contribute to the advancement of local mushroom cultivation, particularly of snow fungus, since Taiwan depends heavily on Chinese imports of this mushroom due to local restrictions on pesticides, center head J.Y. Lin (林俊義) said. Lin said the center has figured out a formula for the optimal levels of humidity, temperature and concentration of carbon dioxide required to mass produce several kinds of mushrooms that it wants to develop further in its research.
ITRI makes super bio plastic
After eight years of research, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has managed to develop a plastic made from cereal grains that can withstand temperatures of up to 100?C without deforming in the heat. Polylactic acid (PLA) plastics normally lose their shape when exposed to temperatures of 50?C or above, the institute said. However, PLAs derived from renewable biomass are heat-resistant, it said, adding that the new plastic derived from cereal grains is biodegradable and non-toxic. The state-funded institute said it has shared its findings with companies that plan to use the technology to produce heat-resistant tableware. Other possible uses for the invention include more resilient and eco-friendly bags, disposable cups, lids, food containers and components for electronic devices.