Judge Lifts Order Preventing Wisconsin Hospital Workers From Starting New Jobs

ThedaCare had sought to temporarily prevent seven employees from leaving for jobs at Ascension, saying the departures would jeopardize patient care. A judge sided with the workers on Monday.

#ascension-northeast-wisconsin, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hospitals, #labor-and-jobs, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #thedacare, #wages-and-salaries, #wisconsin

What Mattered This Week

President Biden rebooted. Democrats feuded. And Republicans watched it all with glee.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #democratic-party, #midterm-elections-2022, #polls-and-public-opinion, #republican-party, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin

Ron Johnson Wasn’t Always Like This. The Trump Years Broke Him.

The Trumpiest man in Wisconsin wants another term in the Senate.

#elections-senate, #johnson-ron-1955, #republican-party, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin

Fury Alone Won’t Destroy Trumpism. We Need a Plan B.

Steve Bannon is thinking globally and acting locally. He’s not wrong. 

#arizona, #democratic-party, #elections-mayors, #how-democracies-die-book, #midterm-elections-2022, #presidential-election-of-2020, #presidential-election-of-2024, #republican-party, #texas, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voting-rights-registration-and-requirements, #wisconsin

Ron Johnson, G.O.P. Senator From Wisconsin, Will Seek Re-election

The renewed bid for office by Mr. Johnson, who has spread many false claims about the 2020 election and Covid, ensures that both parties will be highly invested in Wisconsin’s 2022 Senate race.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elections-senate, #johnson-ron-1955, #presidential-election-of-2020, #primaries-and-caucuses, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wisconsin

Storm Could Bring Destructive Winds to Central U.S.

A tornado watch was issued for parts of six states as wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour bore down on parts of the Upper Midwest on Wednesday.

#colorado, #colorado-springs-colo, #des-moines-iowa, #great-lakes, #iowa, #minnesota, #mississippi, #national-weather-service, #nebraska, #polk-county-iowa, #south-dakota, #tornadoes, #weather, #wind, #wisconsin

America’s Anti-Democratic Movement

It’s making progress.

#arizona, #georgia, #michigan, #pennsylvania, #presidential-election-of-2020, #presidential-election-of-2024, #republican-party, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin

An Apartment in the Big City, at Wisconsin Prices

After living in Madison for six years, they were ready for a change. But they never dreamed they would find a place so close to New York City.

#content-type-personal-profile, #hoboken-nj, #new-brunswick-nj, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate, #wisconsin

‘Self Defense’ Is Becoming Meaningless in a Flood of Guns

More guns, no matter in whose hands, will create more standoffs, more intimidation, more death sanctioned in the eyes of the law.

#arbery-ahmaud-1994-2020, #georgia, #rittenhouse-kyle, #second-amendment-us-constitution, #wisconsin

Waukesha Suspect’s Previous Release Agitates Efforts to Reduce Bail

Darrell Brooks, accused of plowing his S.U.V. through a Wisconsin parade, had been freed on $1,000 bail for a different charge in Milwaukee County, where there is a backlog of cases.

#bail, #brooks-darrell-e, #chisholm-john-t, #criminal-justice, #milwaukee-wis, #waukesha-wis, #waukesha-wis-holiday-parade-attack-2021, #wisconsin

Waukesha Death Toll Rises to 6 as Suspect Is Ordered Held on $5 Million Bail

The Waukesha County district attorney said “there are not words to describe the risk” posed by the man accused of driving through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin and striking dozens.

#assaults, #brooks-darrell-e, #deaths-fatalities, #waukesha-wis, #waukesha-wis-holiday-parade-attack-2021, #wisconsin

Rittenhouse Case Highlights Nation’s Deep Divide on Gun Rights

As groups debate the effect of the verdict, the legislative stalemate shows no signs of changing, and weapons on the street grow.

#crime-and-criminals, #firearms, #gun-control, #gun-owners-of-america, #kenosha-wis, #national-rifle-assn, #rittenhouse-kyle, #second-amendment-us-constitution, #self-defense, #wisconsin

Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections

Led by Senator Ron Johnson, G.O.P. officials want to eliminate a bipartisan elections agency — and maybe send its members to jail.

#elections, #evers-tony-1951, #gableman-michael-j, #johnson-ron-1955, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin

Why Kyle Rittenhouse No Longer Faces a Gun Possession Charge

The barrel of Mr. Rittenhouse’s rifle was too long, defense lawyers argued, to be in violation of a Wisconsin statute that says minors can’t possess dangerous weapons. His age was also a factor.

#firearms, #kenosha-wis, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #rittenhouse-kyle, #schroeder-bruce-e, #wisconsin

What Aaron Rodgers Should See: Covid Pain in a Wisconsin E.R.

An emergency room doctor laments the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s missed opportunity to promote vaccines instead of dispute them.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #football, #green-bay-packers, #national-football-league, #rodgers-aaron, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wisconsin

Reconstructing the Rittenhouse Shootings: How Kenosha Echoed America’s Polarization

In the months leading up to Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial for killing two people, we analyzed hours of footage and interviewed key witnesses from that fatal night in Kenosha, Wis., to understand how the country’s polarization set the scene for violence.

#kenosha-wis, #rittenhouse-kyle, #wisconsin

How Republicans Are Weaponizing Critical Race Theory Ahead of Midterms

Republicans hope that concerns about critical race theory can help them in the midterm elections. The issue has torn apart one Wisconsin suburb.

#black-people, #bradley-lynde-and-harry-foundation, #education-k-12, #elections-governors, #elections-house-of-representatives, #elections-senate, #elections-state-legislature, #mequon-wisconsin, #politics-and-government, #race-and-ethnicity, #republican-party, #wisconsin

Why Democrats See 3 Governor’s Races as a Sea Wall for Fair Elections

Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania all have Democratic governors and G.O.P.-led legislatures. And in all three battlegrounds, Republicans are pushing hard to rewrite election laws.

#elections-governors, #evers-tony-1951, #michigan, #midterm-elections-2022, #pennsylvania, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #trump-donald-j, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #whitmer-gretchen, #wisconsin, #wolf-thomas-w

Democrats Lost the Most in Midwestern ‘Factory Towns’, Report Says

The party’s struggles in communities that saw declines in manufacturing and union jobs, and health care, could more than offset its gains in metropolitan areas.

#bay-city-mich, #democratic-party, #factories-and-manufacturing, #great-lakes, #labor-and-jobs, #midwestern-states-us, #presidential-election-of-2020, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin

Afghan Evacuees Stranded on U.S. Military Bases

An estimated 53,000 evacuees from Kabul remain stranded on eight military bases across the country. Thousands more are waiting at U.S. bases abroad to come to the United States.

#afghanistan, #afghanistan-war-2001, #evacuations-and-evacuees, #fort-mccoy-wis, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #wisconsin

At the Ryder Cup, the Fans Are Part of the Show

The most un-golf golf tournament in the world brings camaraderie, rambunctiousness and world-class banter to a sport normally played in hushed tones.

#fans-persons, #golf, #professional-golfers-assn, #ryder-cup-golf, #whistling-straits-golf-course-sheboygan-wis, #wisconsin

Apple secures first states to support digital driver’s licenses, but privacy questions linger

Apple’s plan to digitize your wallet is slowly taking shape. What started with boarding passes and venue tickets later became credit cards, subway tickets, and student IDs. Next on Apple’s list to digitize are driver’s licenses and state IDs, which it plans to support in its iOS 15 update expected out later this year.

But to get there it needs help from state governments, since it’s the states that issue driver’s licenses and other forms of state identification, and every state issues IDs differently. Apple said today it has so far secured two states, Arizona and Georgia, to bring digital driver’s license and state IDs.

Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah are expected to follow, but a timeline for rolling out wasn’t given.

Apple said in June that it would begin supporting digital licenses and IDs, and that the TSA would be the first agency to begin accepting a digital license from an iPhone at several airports, since only a state ID is required for traveling by air domestically within the United States. The TSA will allow you to present your digital wallet by tapping it on an identity reader. Apple says the feature is secure and doesn’t require handing over or unlocking your phone.

The digital license and ID data is stored on your iPhone but a driver’s license must be verified by the participating state. That has to happen at scale and speed to support millions of drivers and travelers while preventing fake IDs from making it through.

The goal of digitizing licenses and IDs is convenience, rather than fixing a problem. But the move hasn’t exactly drawn confidence from privacy experts, who bemoan Apple’s lack of transparency about how it built this technology and what it ultimately gets out of it.

Apple still has not said much about how the digital ID technology works, or what data the state obtains as part of the process to enroll a digital license. Apple is working on a new security verification feature that takes selfies to validate the user. It’s not to say these systems aren’t inherently problematic, but there are privacy questions that Apple will have to address down the line.

But the fragmented picture of digital licenses and IDs across the U.S. isn’t likely to get less murky overnight, even after Apple enters the picture. A recent public records request by MuckRock showed Apple was in contact with some states as early as 2019 about bringing digital licenses and IDs to iPhones, including California and Illinois, yet neither state has been announced by Apple today.

Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Rhode Island are likely further behind, after finding out about Apple’s digital license plan the very day it was announced at WWDC.

#apple-wallet, #california, #digital-wallet, #driver, #iphone, #mobile-phones, #privacy, #security, #wisconsin

A Blue-Ribbon Affair

In Wisconsin, as in many parts of America, state and county fairs were back this summer.

#4-h-clubs, #agriculture-and-farming, #conventions-fairs-and-trade-shows, #education-k-12, #state-and-county-fairs, #wisconsin

Scott Walker: Act 10’s Weakening of Unions Worked in Wisconsin

Act 10’s reforms to weaken public-sector unions helped both schools and taxpayers.

#collective-bargaining, #education-k-12, #organized-labor, #politics-and-government, #seniority-systems, #teachers-and-school-employees, #walker-scott-k, #wisconsin

Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Paved the Way for Donald Trump’s America

If Democrats want to create an enduring coalition to prevent the unraveling of democracy, they must return to their labor roots.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #collective-bargaining, #labor-and-jobs, #organized-labor, #reagan-ronald-wilson, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin

Dear Leader: A Near-Perfect Letter From a Trump Sycophant, Annotated

Chris Kapenga, a Wisconsin Republican leader, wrote a letter to former President Trump that is a valuable master class in sucking up to the party leader.

#presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #state-legislatures, #trump-donald-j, #wisconsin

Wisconsin G.O.P. Wrestles With Just How Much to Indulge Trump

The former president set off infighting among state Republicans by saying they were not working hard enough to challenge the 2020 results, accusing them of covering up “election corruption.”

#gableman-michael-j, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vos-robin-j, #wisconsin

Biden Administration Backs Oil Sands Pipeline Project

The administration urged a court to throw out a challenge brought by tribal and environmental groups, backing a pipeline that would carry Canadian oil across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

#alberta-canada, #army-corps-of-engineers, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #earthjustice, #enbridge-inc, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #minnesota, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #pipelines, #red-lake-nation, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin

Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Cases in Five US States

Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.

#antibodies, #blood-donation, #china, #clinical-infectious-diseases-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #illinois, #massachusetts, #mississippi, #national-institutes-of-health, #pennsylvania, #states-us, #united-states, #wisconsin, #your-feed-science

Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Infections in Five U.S. States

Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.

#antibodies, #blood-donation, #china, #clinical-infectious-diseases-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #illinois, #massachusetts, #mississippi, #national-institutes-of-health, #pennsylvania, #states-us, #united-states, #wisconsin, #your-feed-science

Welcome to Barn-Quilt Country

Take a road trip in the Midwest to see a homegrown art form that creatively combines aspects of Americana.

#agriculture-and-farming, #art, #barns, #bowling-green-ky, #iowa, #ohio, #quilts, #road-trips, #travel-and-vacations, #wisconsin

Biden Must Stop the Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota

The fight over the pipeline will be, at least for now, where Biden’s climate commitment will be judged.

#alberta-canada, #army-corps-of-engineers, #boston-mass, #canada, #customs-and-border-protection-us, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #enbridge-inc, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #indigenous-people, #keystone-pipeline-system, #minnesota, #mississippi-river, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #oregon, #pipelines, #superior-wis, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wisconsin

Wisconsin Pharmacist Who Tampered With Vaccine Gets 3-Year Sentence

The pharmacist, Steven R. Brandenburg, believed in conspiracy theories and thought vaccines were dangerous, the authorities said.

#brandenburg-steven-1974, #conspiracy-theories, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #food-and-drug-administration, #grafton-wis, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wisconsin

Rescuing Artists of Vision

The unrivaled Art Preserve in Sheboygan, Wis., opening soon, is collecting and showing artist-built environments found along rural byways, in city lofts — and even at Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel.

#art, #art-preserve-john-michael-kohler-arts-center, #artist-built-environments, #bickford-laura, #deyoung-kohler-ruth-ii-1941-2020, #kohler-john-michael-arts-center, #museums, #sheboygan-wis, #smith-charles-1940, #wisconsin

Gunman Kills 2 at Wisconsin Casino

Police said officers killed the assailant in the shooting outside a casino and hotel complex in Green Bay.

#green-bay-wis, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #wisconsin

In new deal, Wisconsin slashes controversial Foxconn subsidies 30-fold

A man in a open-collar suit speaks into a microphone.

Enlarge / Foxconn chairman Young Liu speaks in Taipei on March 16, 2021. (credit: -Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The state of Wisconsin has negotiated a dramatically scaled-back deal with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn. The move, announced Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, is a repudiation of a deal negotiated four years earlier by Evers’ Republican predecessor Scott Walker.

The original deal envisioned Foxconn spending as much as $10 billion to manufacture a state-of-the-art factory for manufacturing large liquid-crystal display panels. The deal was announced in 2017, and then-President Donald Trump traveled to Wisconsin for the 2018 groundbreaking, describing the new factory as “the eighth wonder of the world.” Foxconn was supposed to get $2.85 billion in state and local incentives under that original deal.

The deal may have been savvy politics for Foxconn in 2017. The company uses factories in other countries to assemble consumer electronics products for Apple and other American companies—products that are often then sent back to the United States for sale. So Trump’s protectionist inclinations seemed like a serious threat. Announcing plans to create of thousands of jobs in a key battleground state gave Trump something to boast about, and that may have helped Foxconn curry favor with the new administration.

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#donald-trump, #foxconn, #policy, #tony-evers, #wisconsin

Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory plans scaled back dramatically

It was “the eighth wonder of the world,” Donald Trump said, driving a golden shovel into the ground. The then-president touted Foxconn’s planned Wisconsin factory as a major win for his economic goals.

A year and a half later, the future of the manufacturing deal is far less certain. Earlier this week, the state announced a dramatic scaling back of a plan it had hoped would return blue-collar jobs back to the hard hit state. The Taiwanese manufacturing giant is scaling back its investment from $10 billion to $672 million.

The new plans also call for a massive cut to potential headcount — to 1,454, down from 13,000. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers framed the reduction as a tax-saving deal in a press release issued this week.

“When I ran to be governor, I made a promise to work with Foxconn to cut a better deal for our state—the last deal didn’t work for Wisconsin, and that doesn’t work for me,” Evers said. “Today I’m delivering on that promise with an agreement that treats Foxconn like any other business and will save taxpayers $2.77 billion, protect the hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure investments the state and local communities have already made, and ensure there’s accountability for creating the jobs promised.”

Evers stepped into the role of Governor in 2019, following Scott Walker, who played a key role in negotiating the deal under Trump. The package included in the neighborhood of $4 billion in incentives for Foxconn, a record-breaking deal for the firm.

Plans for the TV factory shifted considerably since it was announced nearly four years ago, and in early 2019, it appeared that Foxconn had abandoned it altogether, before a phone call from Trump apparently put plans back on track.

As Reuters notes, the state has already spent in excess of $200 million on infrastructure, training and other aspects ahead of the planned factory opening.


#foxconn, #labor, #manufacturing, #policy, #trump, #wisconsin

These Rocks Made a 1,000-Mile Trek. Did Dinosaurs Carry Them?

Researchers suggest a collection of prehistoric stones found in Wyoming journeyed from Wisconsin in the bellies of very large beasts.

#dinosaurs, #geology, #paleontology, #research, #rock-and-stone, #terra-nova-journal, #wisconsin, #wyoming, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Biden infrastructure plan proposes spending $174B to boost America’s EV market

President Joe Biden has earmarked $174 billion from his ambitious infrastructure plan to build out domestic supply chains for electric vehicles, noting the imperative for United States automakers to “compete globally” to win a larger share of the EV market.

The funds are just one part of Biden’s plan, which calls for an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure investment across multiple sectors. The Fact Sheet for the plan includes six references to China – one of these in reference to the size of the Chinese EV market, which is two-thirds larger than the domestic U.S. market. Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, Apple’s main supplier, said in February it was considering producing EVs at its Wisconsin plants – just weeks after tentatively agreeing to manufacture an EV for startup-turned-SPAC Fisker.

To ensure Americans actually purchase these domestically manufactured EVs, Biden also plans to establish sales rebates and tax incentives for the purchase of American-made EVs, though the size of the credit has not been released. Customers can already cash in a $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs, but it is not available to automakers that have sold more than 200,000 electric cars – people looking to purchase a Tesla, for instance, would not qualify for the credit. It’s unclear whether the new tax credit would raise or abolish the sales limit for automakers.

The plan also proposes using some of the funds to build a national EV charging network of 500,000 stations by 2030. A recent survey from Consumer Reports found that the availability of public charging stations was a major concern deterring people from looking into an EV for their next vehicle purchase.

On the transit side, Biden’s administration said the funds will also go towards replacing 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrifying at least 20 percent of school busses, through a new program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The plan places a huge emphasis on providing good-paying jobs to American workers, but it still has a long way to go. It must be approved by Congress before becoming law.

#automotive, #battery-electric-vehicles, #charging-station, #china, #congress, #consumer-reports, #electric-car, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #environmental-protection-agency, #foxconn, #green-vehicles, #joe-biden, #president, #transport, #transportation, #united-states, #wisconsin

How Senator Ron Johnson Helps Erode Confidence in Government

Pushing false theories on the virus, the vaccine and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Mr. Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, has absorbed his party’s transformation under Donald Trump.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #johnson-ron-1955, #mccarthy-joseph-r, #mckenna-vicki, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #senate, #sensenbrenner-f-james-jr, #storming-of-the-us-capitol-jan-2021, #sykes-charlie-1954, #trump-ukraine-whistle-blower-complaint-and-impeachment-inquiry, #united-states-politics-and-government, #voter-fraud-election-fraud, #wisconsin

Wisconsin Hunters Kill Over 200 Wolves in Less Than 3 Days

The gray wolf lost Endangered Species Act protections last year, prompting a recent hunt that killed at least 216 wolves — far exceeding a quota set by state wildlife officials.

#endangered-and-extinct-species, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #wisconsin, #wolves

Has a startup finally found one of food science’s holy grails with its healthy sugar substitute?

A little less than three years ago at the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View, Calif. the founders of a young company hailing from Cambridge, England addressed a crowd of celebrities, investors and entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s August Demo Day promising a revolution in food science.

Over the years, the event has become a relatively low-tech, low-budget showcase for a group of tech investors and billionaire industry insiders to take a look at early stage businesses that could be their next billion-dollar opportunity.

Sharing the stage with other innovation-minded budding entrepreneurs the Cambridge scientists boasted of a technology could produce a sweetener that would mimic not just the taste of sugar, but the caramelization and stickiness that makes sugar the go-to additive for the bulk of roughly 74% of packaged foods that are made with some form of sweetener. Their company, Cambridge Glycoscience  could claim a huge slice of a market worth at least a $100 billion market, they said.

Now, the company has a new name, Supplant, and $24 million in venture capital financing to start commercializing its low-cost sugar substitute made from the waste materials of other plants.


The bitter history of the sweetest ingredient

Sugar came into the human diet roughly 10,000 years ago as sugarcane, which is native to New Guinea and parts of Taiwan and China. Over the next 2,000 years the crop spread from those regions to Madagascar and eventually took root in India, where it was first refined in about 500 BC.

From there, the sweetener spread across the known world. By the first century AD Greek and Roman scholars were referencing its medicinal properties and, after the Crusades, sugar consumption traveled across Europe through the Middle Ages.

It was a welcome replacement from Europe’s mainstay, honey, and the early artificial sweeteners used by the Romans, which contained near-lethal doses of lead.

The cold climates of Northern Europe proved mostly inhospitable to sugarcane cultivation so the root took root in the more temperate South and the islands off of Europe’s southern coast.

Those regions also became home to the first European experiments with agricultural slavery — a byproduct of the sugar trade, and one that would plant the seeds for the international exploitation of indigenous American and African labor for centuries as the industrial growth of sugar production spread to the New World.

First, European indentured servants and enslaved indigenous people’s powered the production of sugar in the Americas. But as native populations died off due to the introduction of European diseases, genocidal attacks, and back-breaking labor, African slaves were brought to the new colonies to work the fields and mills to make refined sugar.

Sugar hangover

The horrors of slavery may be the most damning legacy of industrial sugar, but it’s far from the only problem caused by the human craving for sweeteners.

As climate change becomes more of a threat, fears of increasing deforestation to meet the world’s demand — or to provide cover for other industrialization of virgin forests — have arisen thanks to new policies in Brazil.

“Conventional cane sugar is heavily heavily water intensive,” said Supplant co-founder Tom Simmons in an interview. That’s another problem for the environment as water becomes the next resource to be stressed by the currents of climate change. And species extinction presents another huge problem too.

“The WWF number one source for biodiversity lost globally is cane sugar plantations,” Simmons said. “Sugar is a massive consumer of water and in contrast, there’s big sustainability pitch for what we do.. the raw materials are products of the current agricultural industry.”

And the quest for sugar substitutes in the U.S. has come with related health costs as high fructose corn syrup has made its way into tons of American products. Invented in 1957, corn syrup is one of the most common sweeteners used to replace sugar — and one that’s thought to have incredibly disastrous effects on the health of consumers worldwide.

The use of corn syrup has been linked to an increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease, in the world’s population.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 08: In this photo illustration, products containing high sugar levels are on display at a supermarket on April 8, 2016 in Melbourne , Australia. The World Health Organisation’s first global report on diabetes found that 422 million adults live with diabetes, mainly in developing countries. Australian diabetes experts are urging the Federal Government to consider imposing a sugar tax to tackle the growing problem. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Getty Images)

Looking For A Healthier Substitute

As Supplant and its investors look to take the crown as the reigning replacement for sugar, they join a long line of would-be occupants to sugar’s throne.

The first viable, non-toxic chemically derived sugar substitute was discovered in the late 18th century by a German chemist. Called saccharine it was popularized initially during sugar shortages caused by the first World War and gained traction during the health crazes of the sixties and seventies.

Saccharin, still available in pink Sweet n’ Low packets and a host of products, was succeeded by aspartame (known commercially as Equal and present as the sugar substitute in beverages like Diet Coke), which was supplanted by sucralose (known as Splenda).

These chemically derived sweeteners have been the standard on the market for decades now, but with a growing push for natural — rather than chemical — substitutes for sugar and their failures to act as a replacement for all of the things that sugar can do as a food ingredient, the demand for a better sugar has never been higher.

Supplanting the competition 

“Not everything that we back is going to change the world. This, at scale, does that.” said Aydin Senkut, the founder and managing partner of Felicis Ventures, the venture firm that’s one of Supplant’s biggest backers. 

Part of what convinced Senkut is the fact that Supplant’s sweetener has already received preliminary approvals in the European Union by the region’s regulatory equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration. That approval not only covers the sale of Supplant’s product as a sweetener, but also as a probiotic with tangible health benefits he said.

So not only is the Supplant product arguably a better and more direct sugar replacement, as the founders claim, it also has health benefits through providing increased fiber in consumers who use it regularly, Senkut said.

“The European FDA is even stricter than the U.S. FDA,” Senkut said. “[And] they got pre-approval for this.”

Senkut and Felicis invested in Cambridge Glycosciences almost immediately after seeing the company’s presentation at Y Combinator.

“We became the largest investors at seed,” Senkut said.

Its selling points were the products extremely low glycemic index and its ability to be manufactured from waste plant fibers, which means that it ultimately can be produced at a lower cost, according to Senkut.

What’s the difference? 

Supplant differs from its competition in a number of other key ways, according to company co-founder Tom Simmons.

While companies like the Israeli startup DouxMatok or Colorado’s MycoTechnology and Wisconsin’s Sensient work on developing additives from fungus or tree roots or bark that can enhance the sweetness of sugars, Supplant uses alternative sugars to create its sweetener, Simmons said. 

“The core difference is they’re working with cane sugar,” according to Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you don’t need to use cane sugar.”

Simmons said that these other startups have been approaching the problem from the wrong direction. “The problem that their technology addresses isn’t the problem the industry has,” Simmons said. “It’s about texture, bulking, caramelization and crystallization… We have a technology that’s going to give you the same sweetness gram for gram.”

There are six different types of calorific sugar, Simmons explained. There’s lactose, which is the sugar in milk; sucrose, which comes from sugarcane and sugar beets; maltose, found in grains like wheat and barley; fructose, the sugar in fruits and honey; glucose, which is in nearly everything, but especially carbohydrate-laden vegetables, fruits, and grains; and galactose, a simple sugar that derives from the breakdown of lactose.

Simmons said that his company’s sugar substitute isn’t based on one compound, but is derived from a range of things that come from fiber. The use of fibers means that the body recognizes the compounds as fibrous and treats them the same way in the digestive tract, but the products taste and act like sugar in food, he said. “Fiber derived sugars are in the category of sugars, but are not the calorific sugars,” said Simmons.

NEW YORK – DECEMBER 6: Packets of the popular sugar substitute Splenda are seen December 6, 2004 in New York City. The manufacturer of sucralose, the key ingredient in the no-calorie sweetener, says demand is so high for the product that it will not be able to take on new U.S. customers until it doubles production in 2006. Splenda has been boosted by the popularity of the low-sugar Atkins diet. (Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Trust the process? 

Supplant’s technology uses enzymes to break down and fragment various fibers. “As you start breaking it down, it starts looking molecularly like sucrose — like cane sugar — so it starts behaving in a similar way,” said Simmons.

This is all the result of years of research that Simmons began at Cambridge University, he said. “I arrived at Cambridge intending to be a professor. I did not arrive in Cambridge intending to start a business. I was interested in doing science, making inventions and stuff that would reach the wider world. I always imagined the right way for me to do that was to be a professor.”

In time, after receiving his doctorate and beginning his post-doctoral work into the research that would eventually turn into Supplant, Simmons realized that he had to start a company. “To try and do something impactful I was going to have leave the university,” he said. 

In some ways, Supplant operates at the intersection of all of Simmons’ interests in health, nutrition, and sustainability. And he said the company has plans to apply the processing technology across a range of consumer products eventually, but for now the company remains focused on the $100 billion sugar substitute market.

“There’s a handful of different core underlying scientific approaches in different spaces,” he said. The sort of things that go into personal care and homecare. Those chemicals. A big drive in the industry is for both less harsh and harsh chemicals in shampoos but also to do so in a way that’s sustainable. That’s made form a sustainable source but also biodegradable.”

Next steps 

With the money that the company has now raised from investors including Bonfire Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital, and Y Combinator, Supplant is now going to prove its products in a few very targeted test runs.* The first is a big launch with a celebrity chef, which Simmons teased, but did not elaborate on.

Senkut said that the company’s roll out would be similar to the ways in which Impossible Foods went to market. Beginning with a few trial runs in higher end restaurants and foodstuffs before trying to make a run at a mass consumer market.

The feedstocks for Supplant’s sugar substitute come from sugar cane bagasse, wheat and rice husks, and the processing equipment comes from the brewing industry. That’s going to be a benefit as the company looks to build out an office in the U.S. as it establishes a foothold for a larger manufacturing presence down the line.

“We’re taking known science and applying it in the food industry where we know that it has value,” Simmons said. “We’re not inventing any brand new enzymes and each part of the process — none of it on their own are new. The discovery that these sugars work well and can replace cane sugar. That’s someone that no one has done before. Most sugars don’t behave like cane sugar in food. They’re too dry, they’re too wet, they’re too hard, they’re too soft.”

Ultimately the consumer products mission resonates highly for Simmons and his twenty person team. “We’re going to use these hugely abundant renewable resources produced all around the world,” he said. 

*This story was updated to include Bonfire Ventures and Khosla Ventures as investors in Supplant.

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