Who benefits from alternative proteins?

August 2022

What problem is the burgeoning market for alternative proteins from plant-based meat [1] and cell-based meat [2] trying to solve?

Manufacturers of imitation meat stress that their product is one we can "feel good about". It's healthier, it will solve the rising protein needs of our increasing global population, and it will save the planet from the crippling effects of our unsustainable, greenhouse gas-gushing food system.

The problem presented is the need for more protein-rich food at the same time as the need to reduce the greenhouse gases produced by meat production. We can only solve this contradiction by building factories for mass-produced plant-based and cell-based meat substitutes.

Or, are we being lead up the garden path?

Fake real meat - or a bunch of hooey?

August 2022

The latest food-like substance trying to transition from the laboratory to the factory, and hence to our dinner-plates, is fake real meat. That is, real animal cells, whose many-times-great grandparents were part of a real animal and which have been persuaded to multiply themselves in a great big tank, are squished together to make pretend mince-meat.

A better class of fake requires that the cells are exercised on a mini-muscle-gym to make them develop physically more like the real thing, and a scaffold for the cells to grow on to give them a muscle-like shape and texture.

Fake real meat is also known as 'lab' meat, 'cell' meat, 'cultured' meat, 'vat-grown' meat, 'lab-grown' meat, 'lab-cultured' meat, 'in-vitro' meat, and oddly 'cultivated' meat (although ploughs and weed-suppression do not feature in its production).

Government public relations drive on gene edited food



Westminster is pulling out all the stops to force gene-edited foods down UK throats. Its tactics are very reminiscent of those employed a quarter-of-a-century ago, when first-generation GM foods were imminent. However, a couple of lessons have been learned from that first PR disaster.

Gene-edited tomatoes

July 2022

According to media headlines, the UK government has declared gene-edited tomatoes could be in our supermarkets in 2023.

Gene-edited mushrooms

July 2022

In 1932, a legal issue which started with a tenacious Scottish single-parent shop-assistant, who took exception to being served up a decomposing snail in her ice-cream float and pursued her complaint all the way to the House of Lords, ended with the creation of a consumer rights law which became established throughout the world.

The significance of this case is that manufacturers of "articles of common household use" have a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of their products for anyone likely to use them.

From a GM food perspective, novel foods have never been comprehensively tested to ensure their safe, life-long, consumption by any likely consumers.

GM sceptics might suggest that the failure to carry out human trials or use up-to-date analytical techniques on GM foods is to make sure the manufacturer doesn't know about any potential problems.

What better way to avoid that pesky duty of care to ensure safety?

Natural gene editing just doesn't happen


Under intense industry lobbying, regulators around the world are being persuaded to by-pass safety testing of gene-edited foods [1]. The main argument for ignoring such a basic safeguard of human health is that the genome changes inflicted "could happen in Nature".

This claim is based on a century-old theory that genetic mutations are 'normal', ongoing, random mistakes arising in the inherited "factors or elements"* in cells during reproduction, leading to natural evolution.

* The 1964 Oxford English Dictionary's definition of a 'gene' is "One of the factors or elements of which a germ cell contains a pair transmitted each from one parent"

Throughout the subsequent discovery of chromosomes, DNA, epigenetic modifications to the expression of DNA, and gene-mobility, -families, -linkages, -duplications and -networks, scientists have been unable to let go of the age-old dogma.

Gene-edited crops: controlling, unjustifiable and unnecessary

July 2022

Governments are being persuasively lobbied by the biotech industry to rubber-stamp gene-edited crops with claims that they are democratising, sustainable and necessary.