Why SWT grows stevia plants

The world we live in offers us choices. Nature and technology can be synergized to make our lives healthier and more sustainable. Creating and applying technological innovation for the betterment of human health, the natural environment, internal and external ecosystems is like harmonizing a symphony orchestra, with often widespread reverberations that require consideration. The same technologies we avoid in our foods for being GMO-based provide promising solutions to clean our oceans from plastic. Biotechnology has made impressive progress and allows technicians to insert foreign genes in microorganisms to make them produce almost anything. These technologies allow us to have antibiotics, insulin and other molecules which help us, and which we cannot harvest directly from nature.

Nature holds its own secrets and creative wonders, and one of them is the stevia plant. The stevia plant is a small shrub which we have been able to grow almost everywhere, from the equator up to the middle latitudes of the US. A unique plant which is very diverse when adapting to different climates. During an annual crop, stevia undergoes cycles of growth, where key metabolic events occur when the plant flowers. This flowering process is the milestone we expect and accept for harvesting. Flowering happens in stevia as the day shortens below a number of light hours per day, usually thirteen hours. Thus, tropical conditions will trigger flowering spontaneously after the first growing stage of the plant has happened, and in higher latitudes, flowering will happen late in the autumn.

So, when planting stevia in the tropics, we usually see flowering every 50 to 60 days and we cut the crop in order to start all over again. The plant grows vigorously as a round short shrub, and it provides many moderate harvests a year. Meanwhile, when growing the plant in higher latitudes, we plant at the beginning of Spring, whenever ice and snow are gone, and we let the plant grow and develop until it is a tall and robust plant by mid-autumn, and performing one large harvest. These cycles are diverse, and they offer advantages and tradeoffs to both growers and to the plant.

From a sustainability and climate impact perspective, we ask ourselves, what impact does growing stevia have on the climate, and what impact does the climate have on growing stevia?

In just six square meters, stevia plants can grant all the sweetness a person will consume in a sweet-tooth country for an entire year. This is thirty-five times the amount of sweetness that cane sugar can deliver in the same surface area. Stevia is thus by far the most efficient way of producing sweetness on earth.

From a CO2 sink capacity via photosynthesis and reducing greenhouse effects, the stevia plant has been shown to be a world class player (Moreno y Jarma,2010). An excellent and beautiful plant species to encourage pollination by bees, stevia produces hundreds of beneficial compounds, including antioxidants with proven health-enhancing activity and recently proposed as powerful preventative agents against diseases such as COVID (Geuns, 2020).

The changing climate affects stevia, and we have suffered the impact of hurricanes when planting stevia in the US, La Niña and El Niño in the Peruvian coast, and many abnormal rain profiles in Mexico. Therefore, it is a challenge and an adventure to balance different climates and latitudes to secure and homogenize stevia crops, growing it in different latitudes, near and far from oceans and in different hemispheres. Fortunately, this noble plant is highly versatile and able to adapt in so many forms, always fulfilling its promise of beautiful sweetness.

To create and offer sugar-free sweetness that solves many health concerns, we could choose to avoid growing the actual stevia plant and simply use the biotechnologies that produce compounds identical to the sweet compounds found in stevia. We have made a choice. To help consumers to improve their health and reduce sugar, the alternative must taste great. We choose to grow stevia plants because experience has shown us that the sweetness we receive from the plant is always more delicious than without the plant. This is fundamental to our purpose of providing natural and great-tasting sweetness. Moreover, the positive ecological impacts, the agricultural jobs we create, the diversity of compounds a stevia plant offers, and the efficient use of land inspire and reconfirm our choices – what we do and how we do it. Overcoming all challenges, we will continue planting and growing the most beautiful and sweet stevia plants in the world, yielding the sweeteners we take to your table –health-supporting, natural, unmodified and delicious.

SWT stevia – the natural choice.

References:

Geuns Jan M.C. Can Stevia Reduce Inflammation in COVID-19 Disease?. Arch Food Sci Nutr Res. 2020;1(1):1001.

Moreno, Jarma 2012. Análisis de la incidencia y relación de los factores ambientales en el desarrollo vegetativo de la Stevia rebaudiana B. en condiciones de invernadero en la sabana de Bogotá