Our irrational unclean food supply

January 2019

The next 'must-have' for our food promises to be 'clean food labels'.

Amidst growing consumer concern about chemical residues in their food, organic and all-natural foods are growing in popularity and more than half of US adults are avoiding artificial ingredients and preservatives. Public awareness of the agrichemicals in their food has been sharpened by the cancer scare surrounding Roundup weedkiller and its active ingredient, glyphosate [1].

Agriculture is one of the worst polluting industries on the planet, and GM crops, all designed for use within, and to expand, the chemical-based agricultural business model, are a continuing pillar of the problem. A huge proportion of GM crops has been transformed specifically to enable spraying with glyphosate, and many now withstand other, more obviously harmful, herbicides, or generate their own artificial insecticides.

GMOs are also a source of 'natural' supplements, food additives and processing aids [2,3,4].

Are consumers right to be wary?

Deliciously pink fish

January 2019

British scientists seem to be heavily into improving farmed fish these days. They might have preferred to feed us GM fish (the patents would be worth a bob or two), but Frankenfish aren't going to feature on consumers' wish-list any time soon so they're settling for GM fish food additives instead [1].

The 'problem' the latest GM venture is trying to solve is that fish in the wild eat all sorts of different things which can end up in, and colour, their flesh all manner of pinks and oranges. Farmed fish have a very boring and unnatural diet, and end up fish-coloured, that is white or pale grey.

GM with the 'wow' factor

January 2019

The next innovations in the fresh food sector promise to have a "wow factor": colour like you've never seen before, taste and smell to die for, a delightful texture, all contributing to a longer, healthier life for the consumer. If this isn't enough, add in enhanced storage and convenience, and even beneficial to the environment.

The health benefits stem from the extra, health-promoting red, blue and orange pigments these new foods will have, plus the wow factor which will make us eat more fresh fruit and veg. The environmental benefit comes from our resulting reduced consumption of environmentally unfriendly animal produce.

Are you impressed? GM Watch call it "shameless hype".

Cleaning-up the genome? Never!

January 2019

Dr. Gurian-Sherman* has made it clear that GM side-effects can never be eliminated.

Unintended effects of artificial DNA modification can arise in many way, for example:
  • The position of the forced change in the genome can disrupt the function of neighbouring DNA, and this in turn can disrupt multiple, interacting biochemical pathways. 
  • Gaps or DNA scrambling may arise in the plant's genome 
  • Extra DNA fragments can be scattered around in the genome 
  • During the transformation procedure, cells are grown in a culture flask outside the stabilising influence of the living whole-plant: they emerge full of genetic errors. 

Patent-unfriendly broccoli

January 2019

After a lot of moaning by food rights activists, the European Patent Office (EPA) reconsidered its ideas on the patenting of life, and in 2017 set new rules.

Following on from this (and a whole lot more moaning by food rights activists) the EPA revoked a patent it had granted five years previously on a new strain of broccoli.