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Peanuts for all?

(article, Culinate staff)

Sure, peanut butter is a kids' staple in the West. But could it solve global malnutrition? That's the argument behind a peanut paste that's been patented and marketed as Plumpy'nut, "an edible paste made of peanuts, packed with calories and vitamins, that is specially formulated to renourish starving children."

As the New York Times noted earlier this month, the peanut paste is controversial in developing countries in the same way AIDS drugs are: it can save lives, and yet the poor are being asked to pay for it.

bq. “This is an enormous breakthrough,” said Werner Schultink, chief of nutrition for Unicef. “It has created the opportunity to reach many more children with relatively limited resources.” Nonetheless, Schultink estimates that the product reaches only 10 to 15 percent of those who need it, because of logistical and budgetary constraints.

Plumpy'nut and similar competing products, the paper reported, are under patent. But many folks are simply ignoring the patents, making their own versions of the nutritious goo instead. Meanwhile, the various corporations involved are duking it out in court. That's a lotta smearing going on.