What you’ll be eating soon

Flu-fighting milk and meat grown in a test tube. You won’t believe what dinner will look like.

Tomorrow’s food

Photo Illustration by Adam Makarenko

It’s the year 2035. Craving a burger and a beer, a hungry traveller wanders into a nondescript gastropub, the type that’s found in almost any city. What’s on the menu? As an appetizer, there’s a salad of blue lettuce sprinkled with elderflowers and cloudberries, or a Zanzibari pizza: Indian-spiced rabbit meat served on a piece of naan. For the main course, the traveller can choose between fish—the “catch of the day” is plucked from a nearby indoor fish farm—or he can order a burger, made of cow, bison, chicken or pork, fresh out of the bioreactor. “We have an excellent meat-grower,” the waitress says.

This is the scenario imagined by Chicago-based writer Josh Schonwald in his new book, The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food. For the past several years, Schonwald has been on a mission to discover what the “salad, meat, seafood and pad Thai of the future” will be. He’s explored everything from genetically engineered foods—like a cherry tomato modified to carry a lemon basil gene, which is said to be delicious—to meat grown in a test tube. Canadian scientists are working on this too, building healthier hot dogs and other processed foods.

In an age of rampant foodie-ism that prizes the traditional, local and organic above all, writer Michael Pollan’s famous advice not to eat anything packaged or anything with more than five ingredients has become a well-known principle. Schonwald disagrees, criticizing what he calls the “rising tide of food-specific neo-Luddism” that insists food and technology shouldn’t mix. If we’re going to feed the planet, solutions won’t just come from farms, but from the lab, too—and if scientists can engineer food that’s tastier, more nutritious and sustainable, all the better.

Idealistic eaters might hope that, by 2035, more people will be growing their own vegetables, shopping at farmers’ markets and hatching eggs in backyard chicken coops, but the methods popular with urban foodies won’t feed everyone. The world population of seven billion is expected to be more than nine billion by 2050; with climate change, limited resources like land and water, and growing wealth in developing countries—where more people are clamouring for a better diet, including more red meat—food prices are bound to go through the roof. “It’s already extremely expensive to eat well,” says Alejandro Marangoni, Canada Research Chair in food, health and aging at the University of Guelph. “When people get on a soapbox and say we have to go back to eating more veggies, I don’t know if everyone can afford it.”

Instead, packaged foods will be engineered to provide more of the nutrients we need. Milena Corredig, Marangoni’s fellow food scientist at Guelph, predicts that “we’ll all have scanning codes on our key chains that we take with us into the grocery store.” Based on our age, activity levels, health condition, and even our genes, these codes could point us toward specific foods. Corredig, who holds the Canada Research Chair in food nanostructure, is developing tiny nanoparticles (a nanometre is one-billionth of a metre) to pack nutrients into dairy products. With this technology, it’s possible to imagine a strawberry-flavoured milk that protects against this season’s strain of the flu, for example.

Supratim Ghosh at the University of Saskatchewan is developing several applications for food nanoparticles, including some that could serve as a fat substitute: made of a naturally indigestible material, they’ll pass through the body without being absorbed.(By comparison, olestra, a zero-calorie fat introduced almost 20 years ago, was “not a natural fat,” Ghosh says, and couldn’t be easily digested: it caused loose bowels and other harrowing side effects.) “Scientists working in this area think that food will be used to prevent disease,” Ghosh says. “Not to cure disease; you need drugs for that. But the future will be food that provides additional health benefits beyond nutrition,” he says, quoting Hippocrates: “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”

Even “unhealthy” foods can be much more nutritious. In his book, Schonwald envisions a future hamburger with the fat profile of salmon or an avocado, supercharged with omega-3 or polyunsaturates instead of saturated fat. At Guelph, Marangoni is working on its precursor: a healthier hot dog that swaps out unhealthy fats for better ones.

The hot dog can contain almost one-third fat, a lot of it saturated. Marangoni and his team have found a way to replace some of that saturated fat with healthier oils, trapping them within solid structures to create what he calls an “oil Jell-O” that can stand in for beef fat. While these healthier hot dogs contain the same total amount of fat, they have more nutritious omega-3s. The challenge was to make a hot dog that’s suitably chewy. “If you replace animal fat with oil, it makes a tough, rubbery frankfurter,” Marangoni says, but his textured oil Jell-O is a good stand-in. At his Guelph lab, he tested the frankfurter for flavour and texture, squishing it between metal plates like a sort of mechanical jaw to get a sense of its mouth feel. The hot dog made with oil Jell-O had the right springy squishiness.

Even with healthier hot dogs and burgers on our barbecues, in the future we won’t eat as much meat as we do now—or at least, not the kind we’re familiar with today. The way we get our meat just isn’t sustainable. Livestock production takes up 30 per cent of the land surface on the planet, according to a 2006 United Nations report, and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars and trucks on the road. “Eating one four-ounce hamburger is equivalent to leaving your bathroom faucet running 24 hours a day for a week,” Patrick O. Brown of Stanford University has said. “We can’t go on like this.” Only a small percentage of the North American population is vegetarian, but as meat prices climb, more people will have no choice but to cut back.

Either that, or switch to new proteins that are bound to flood the market. Smaller animals, which are less resource-intensive, could start popping up on the menu, like rabbit, or even edible insects (including crickets, June beetles and caterpillars), which are already consumed in some parts of the world, and at adventurous North American restaurants. Our future seafood, Schonwald predicts, will come from “mega fish warehouses” spread across the country that raise fish in a model similar to the chicken industry. On-land fish farming sounds totally impractical, but Schonwald thinks this is the wave of the future. “It takes a lot of concerns about fish farming off the table,” he says, like pollution and fish escapes that can mess with the natural marine ecology. With the on-land model, faster-growing fish will be favoured, meaning our future grocery stores will probably be stocked with tropical species rather than cod and halibut.

Maybe the meat of the future will actually be made of vegetables. A small group of scientists are working on high-tech, veggie-based meat alternatives, but their goal isn’t to simply create more tofu. They want something even meat lovers will devour. At a February conference in Vancouver, Brown caused a stir by announcing he hoped to have a vegetable-based fake meat on the market within the year—one that’s impossible to tell apart from real meat, he claimed then, “even by hard-core foodies.”

Brown has revealed few details about his product, but Florian Wild, a food engineer working on a rival fake meat, is more forthcoming. Wild is project manager of LikeMeat, a European effort to make “meat” out of soy, wheat gluten, pea protein, or other plant-based ingredients. “It looks very similar to a cooked meat product,” says Wild, who’s based in Germany, which is known for its meat-heavy cuisine. “It comes out of the processing plant in a long strip, and then you can cut it and stamp it in any form you like.” The neutral-tasting strip, which is textured like chicken, is then coloured and flavoured to make it more like beef, pork or chicken; when it’s breaded and fried, or minced and served in a taco, Wild says it’s impossible to tell it apart from the real thing. But LikeMeat doesn’t have to be flavoured like meat: instead, it could be amped up with curry, he suggests, or coconut, creating entirely new types of food products. He hopes to have it on store shelves within a couple of years.

Some people doubt plant-based products will ever replace the taste and texture of a good rare steak, no matter how artfully soy and pea proteins are transformed in the lab. In the Netherlands, Dr. Mark Post is working on a different solution: growing real meat from a cow’s own stem cells. After extracting cells from its muscle tissue, Post’s team can get them to proliferate in a special nutrient bath, using Velcro to anchor them like an artificial tendon. The muscle cells eventually begin to contract on their own, and can be electrically stimulated to help them develop even more.

It sounds a bit like Frankenstein’s lab, but Post, a medical doctor by training, believes in vitro meat could help feed the world. With his method, “you still need donor animals to supply the cells,” he says, “but we think we could reduce the number of livestock worldwide by a factor of one million,” the equivalent of going from 10 billion animals to 10,000. Beyond freeing up land and water, “you could take care of every animal and make sure they didn’t suffer a death fraught with the issues of large-scale slaughter,” he says.

Post is slowly convincing others of the value of his in vitro meat. He received 300,000 euros from an anonymous donor to make one hamburger as proof of concept, which should be ready by November (Post still hasn’t tried eating his lab-grown meat). Schonwald, who met with Post while researching his book, writes about a possible future of “football-field-sized factories supplying chicken, beef and pork,” and in the home, “a toaster-sized appliance that makes meat making as simple as bread making.” Most mind-bendingly, with the right DNA sample, notes Schonwald, it would be possible to grow a hamburger out of virtually anything. “Endangered, taboo animals—zebras, giraffes, giant pandas, California condors.” If the idea of eating a panda burger isn’t exotic enough, keep in mind that if a scientist ever manages to retrieve dinosaur DNA, we could theoretically feast on a slab of T. Rex or brontosaurus meat.

Tomorrow’s food

Photograph by Cole Garside

On Schonwald’s quest to find the cuisine of the future, he started contemplating salad mix. It wasn’t so long ago that salads were mostly made up of iceberg lettuce; with better packaging and other advances, delicate spring mixes are now in virtually every grocery store, blending baby romaine, endive, oak leaf lettuce and radicchio, greens that weren’t mainstream until recently. It’s happened with other foods too, like broccoli, which was unknown in the U.S. until a Sicilian immigrant started planting it in California after the First World War, according to Schonwald’s book. “Tilapia’s another one,” he says. “It’s not that tilapia didn’t exist before, but 15 years ago not a lot of people knew about it.” Then fish farmers realized how easy it was to raise, and the public discovered its bland, non-fishy taste, and it took off. “Today we’re at the point of tilapia fatigue.” Schonwald got to wondering, “What’s the next tilapia? What’s the next spring mix?”

It could be we’ll discover some delicious new green that’s barely known here, like a blue lettuce from Afghanistan that Schonwald describes, or maybe it will be a weed: dandelion, the scourge of gardeners, is starting to pop up on diners’ plates. One certainty is that, as the temperature warms, what we consume a few decades from now will be different from today. Lenore Newman of the University of the Fraser Valley, who holds the Canada Research Chair in food security and environment, “is going across the country looking at what Canadians are eating,” she says. Canadian cuisine is already adapting to the pressures of climate change.

Even 10 years ago, it would have been hard to define “Canadian cuisine,” Newman says, but now we’ve come into our own. “We’re an oil power, our dollar is higher, and people are moving around a lot more,” she notes. Today, our cuisine is “regional, it’s local, and it involves a lot of fresh seasonal stuff.” In the Fraser Valley, where Newman lives, blueberries are a signature crop. In Niagara, it’s icewine. But as the climate warms, these “signature foods” will start to shift.

The Prairies are known for their wheat farms, but Newman predicts a “thriving lentil industry will grow” as farmers opt to grow more legumes instead (lentils use less water). With less snow cover in the future, our maple-growing regions will likely have to migrate north, and the Vermont industry could eventually dry up altogether. “Here in B.C., salmon is our iconic food,” she says, “but salmon are really sensitive to temperature.” West Coasters might find themselves eating less salmon, and it will take careful management of rivers and forests to protect them.

Meanwhile, the foods we have to import, like coffee and chocolate, will become increasingly expensive. “It’s an interesting time for Canada’s food,” Newman says.

Considering the impact of climate change on what we grow today, Schonwald started to wonder if genetically modified crops—what critics like to call “Frankenfood”—might become more widely accepted. Wondering how GMOs, as they’re commonly known, could change the taste of food we eat in the future, he paid a visit to the Plant Transformation Facility at the University of California at Davis, where molecular biologists mix incompatible species, using tiny gold bullets to fire genes from one to another inside a bombardment chamber. “The Davis lab has given birth to grapes spiked with jellyfish, tomatoes spiked with carp,” and other surprises, he writes.

When Schonwald started out, he was vaguely distrustful of genetically modified crops. But as he learned more about them, he became convinced this technology could actually save lives and protect the planet. Take golden rice, which is augmented with vitamin A. Up to half a million children go blind each year from vitamin A deficiency, and half will die within 12 months, according to a World Health Organization report cited in his book. What a difference this rice can make. Genetically engineered crops can help the environment, too: designed to resist weeds and insects, they need to be treated with less of the toxic chemicals that leach into the environment. (In Canada, genetically modified food crops have been grown for the last 20 years, mainly corn, canola, and soybeans.)

As the climate warms and the population grows, engineered crops could play a more important role than ever. But first, attitudes have to change. The public is still wary of GMOs, maybe because they seem unnatural, or because of their ties to big corporations—often the only ones who can afford the lengthy and expensive regulatory process to get them approved. According to Nina Fedoroff, who was science and technology adviser to the U.S. secretary of state until 2010, the European Union has spent $425 million studying the safety of genetically modified crops over the last 25 years: “It concludes modification by these techniques is no more dangerous than by conventional techniques.”

If environmental and humanitarian arguments convince enough people to embrace genetically modified crops, and we reach the point where they’re treated like any other, Schonwald predicts it will have a major impact on what we eat. We could see more varieties too delicate to mass produce today, like heirloom tomatoes. We could see “pink lettuce and blue arugula,” or a Caesar salad without the dressing, the flavour bred right into the lettuce leaves. “You could also have a banana that looks like a banana but tastes like an ice cream sundae.”

Not so long ago, it was hard to find Thai food, even in some bigger cities. Today it’s everywhere, from Thai-style chicken wraps to Thai-flavoured buffalo wings, to countless bottled sauces and frozen entrees at the grocery store. Pad Thai, a dish with rice noodles stir fried with vegetables, eggs and fish sauce, is almost as ubiquitous as spaghetti and meatballs. When thinking about the future of food, Schonwald set out to discover what the next pad Thai would be.

In his book, he describes his meeting with Kara Nielsen, a “food trendologist” who tries to pinpoint the next big thing. She explains one theory of how a food trend hits: first, it appears at a handful of ethnic or upscale restaurants, where chefs and diners are willing to experiment. Then it pops up on the Food Network and in specialty shops, before it starts going mainstream, infiltrating chains and retail stores. Then women’s magazines get hold of it, and finally, it’s on the menu at fast food restaurants and on grocery store shelves. There are reasons why some foods, like Swedish meatballs, never make it. “It’s not just novelty for the sake of novelty. It’s a meritocracy,” Schonwald says. “Thai food has a lot of appeal.”

Korean food, Middle Eastern food, and regional flavours from Mexico and India are already mainstream. When asked to identify a cuisine that isn’t upon us yet—one that could be big in 2035—Nielsen suggests African food. “It’s not on the radar screen at all.” Of course, bigger cities in Canada and the U.S. already have a smattering of African restaurants, but their dishes certainly aren’t available on the scale of chicken curry or sushi. Schonwald set out to investigate. Eating Nigerian soups, Zanzibari pizza and lamb yassa at restaurants in Chicago, he became convinced that, by 2035, some dishes from sub-Saharan Africa will be available at fast food places, family restaurants, and as frozen meals at the grocery store, just like pad Thai. “We’re talking about 40 different countries, and a wide range of flavours and flora,” Schonwald says. With economic development and increased immigration to North America over coming decades, “something from sub-Saharan Africa will inevitably become well-known.”

Canada’s multiculturalism is already a huge factor in its culinary landscape, and has led to the creation of some entirely new dishes. “I was at the Richmond night market and ate a butter chicken poutine,” says the University of the Fraser Valley’s Newman. “It’s such a weird, Canadian thing.” Burger Bar in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood has saag poutine, with Indian paneer cheese and spinach, on the menu. Vancouver is known for Japadog, a chain that puts Japanese toppings like daikon, miso sauce and seaweed on its wieners. West Coast sushi “uses salmon in a very Canadian way,” Newman adds. As more immigrants move here, our habit of blending traditional foods into entirely new, delicious creations is bound to continue. Maybe a sub-Saharan African-inspired poutine will crop up on the menu somewhere, if it hasn’t already.

More people than ever are interested in learning where their food comes from, and take extra care to seek out local, organic, sustainable ingredients. They’re guided by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, who advises: “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” Pollan suggests we shouldn’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or that our grandparents wouldn’t recognize. Schonwald thinks Pollan gets it about 75 per cent right. In response, he quotes Nathan Myhrvold, who co-wrote the cookbook Modernist Cuisine: “Somebody had to be the first European to eat a tomato.”

The movement toward local, sustainable ingredients is “an overwhelmingly positive thing,” says Schonwald. But while we might agree with Pollan and his ilk—the “romantic heroes” of food, as Schonwald calls them—he argues that we should also admire scientists trying to grow meat in a lab, or to engineer more nutritious crops. These two, he insists, shouldn’t be at odds. “What’s perceived as ‘unnatural’ can support the ‘natural,’ ” he says. More likely, to feed the growing population in coming decades, it will have to.

What you’ll be eating soon

  1. I myself don’t see why the revival of local, organic, or urban gardening can’t co-exist and be mixed with new GMO techniques and industrial agriculture.  The antagonism from the former towards the latter prevents the sharing of resources, and blinds people to the fact that the latter is often more environmentally friendly than traditional farming techniques.

    • Your statement proves you know absolutely nothing about true nature of GMOs and the companies that create them.

      - GMOs have never been tested for safety by the governments that have approved them
      - GMOs use more pesticides and more fertilizer than conventional non-organic crops
      - the increased herbicide use associated with GMO mono crops has created super weeds which are no longer affected by regular herbicides, necessitating deadlier versions of herbicide and/or more intensive application
      - Monsanto routinely trespasses on the land of farmers who do not buy their seeds, looking for individual plants that may have gotten there from a seed blowing off a passing truck, then sues the farmer for copyright infringement.  Many farmers have been bankrupted by the court costs alone
      - over 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the last 16 years, as a direct result of the debts incurred by predatory practices of Monsanto.

      I suggest you do some research on the facts of the issue, I can guarantee you that you will change your opinion.

      • Jim, that is just ridiculous.  GMOs are in fact highly regulated – every new transformation event goes through entire batteries of government-prescribed and monitored tests before it can be released into the environment or used to produce food. 

        And, the GMO crops we have now certainly *do not* require more fertilizer and pesticides – in fact exactly the opposite is true in the case of pesticides.  For example, the Bt proteins made by some GMO crops combat insects, making previously used insecticide applications unneccesary.  Also, the herbicides (such as Roundup) used on herbicide-tolerant GMO crops are generally used in smaller amounts and are more environmentally benign than the herbicides they replaced.

        It is true that some weeds have developed resistance to the herbicides used on some GMO crops.  But, those resistances are herbicide-specific – you can still kill those so-called “superweeds” with the old conventional herbicides.  Your claim that these weeds ”are no longer affected by regular herbicides” is simply 100% false.  Where are you getting this stuff?

        I share some of your concerns about a few large corporations controlling so much of the world’s seed supply, but you dilute your credibility on that issue by revealing your complete ignorance on the science side.  I suggest you take the advice you gave to Yanni and do some objective research on the subject (i.e., not just reading the Greenpeace website).  You might start by talking to an actual farmer who grows GMO crops (which is practically every non-organic farmer in Ontario) and ask them what their experience is.  Prepare to get laughed at when you ask them if Roundup Ready, Bt corn needs more fertilizer than a conventional corn hybrid. 

        •  Whatever you say, Dr. Earl.

          “….. the adoption of GM BT corn and cotton had led to a reduction
          in insecticide use, compared to what is likely to have been applied to
          conventional crops, of 64 million pounds between 1996-2008.
          But
          the uptake of other GM crops resistant to herbicides in the same period
          led to an increase in herbicide use of 382 million pounds. That left an
          overall figure of 318 pounds of additional pesticides being used.
          The
          rate of increase in pesticide use is rising too. After falling in the
          early years (1996-1998) by between 1 and 2 per cent, it increased by 20
          per cent in 2007 and 27 per cent in 2008. The report puts this down to
          the emergence of weeds resistant to the pesticides.”

          From: http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/364311/gm_crops_causing_a_rise_in_pesticide_use_in_us.html

          GM crops are strictly regulated eh?  How do you regulate the flow of wind-borne pollen?  Its bad enough in annual crops like corn, canola and soybeans, but the US recently approved GM alfalfa, which is a perennial. 

          And the fact remains, GMO’s have never been tested for human safety.  The Monsanto cronies that have filled the USDA and FDA for the last 30 years successfully lobbied to have them declared “substantially equivalent” to conventional crops, and as such they are not subject to any testing to which a new strain of a conventionally-bred crop food would be.

          “Reasoning about substantial equivalence is widely used by
          national and international agencies – including the Canadian Food
          Inspection Agency, Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare and the U.S.
          Food and Drug Administration, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture
          Organization, the World Health Organization and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (hereafter OECD).[2]
          It has been argued that by invoking the doctrine of substantial
          equivalence the GMO industry has avoided safety testing, and that
          forthcoming novel food production technologies may follow this example.”

          From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substantial_equivalence

          You say yourself “For example, the Bt proteins made by some GMO crops combat insects”.

          Now is that just the insect pests that these proteins combat when ingested?  Or maybe it’s the predatory insects that eat the pests….. or the bees and butterflies that pollinate the crops.  Or the people that eat the crops.  We will never know as long as Monsanto is running the show, and they certainly are.

          The entire argument for GMO crops is based on the assumption that organic crops cannot feed the world, but this is simply not true.  Sure, organic crops have lower yields, but THEY ARE SUSTAINABLE.  GMO crops, which deplete the soil, use millions of tons of petroleum-based fertilizers, millions of tons of toxic pesticides and herbicides, are not sustainable by any sane reasoning, and once you account for the inputs, are less efficient at converting dollars and/or labour into food than organics.

          • Oh for Heaven’s sake, why not find the courage to read some of the intelligent material from people who *don’t* already agree with you?  You are citing such biased and one-sided reports. 

            The Bt pollen / monarch butterflies issue is a great example.  The anti-GMO crowd jumped all over *one* high-profile study that showed that you could do monarch larvae some harm if you force-fed them milkweed leaves dusted with extremely high levels of Bt corn pollen.  Driven by the passion of GMO opponents, that story went around the world in what seemed like seconds.  To this day, I still meet Europeans who think that we have killed off all the monarch butterflies in North America.

            Problem is…it just wasn’t true.  In the real world, Bt pollen wasn’t doing the butterflies any harm at all, and there is plenty of research proving it.   Here is a nice summary:

            http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/plaveg/bio/pub/monarce.shtml

            But how many of us heard about that?  Not many, unless we looked for it.  It just isn’t that sensational to report that some GMO crop is perfectly safe.  And the proponents of these technologies will never have the unbridled passion of opponents like yourself, who are completely unconstrained by the actual facts and simply disregard any information that doesn’t support their preconceived notions.  It really isn’t a fair fight, is it? 

            Sorry, you are acting like an American conservative watching Fox News, completely content in your little echo chamber, forever unchallenged by disenting opinions.

            Do your research more broadly, and don’t just stop once you find what you were hoping to find.  Be objective.
             
             

          •  I am being objective.  Here’s how I see it.

            On one side, we have Monsanto, and a few other minor biotech players.  The sole reason they are into the biotech sector is for profit – any argument there?  When you can alter the DNA of a crop by haphazardly combining it with non-plant DNA, you can patent it, which makes it illegal for anyone to save seeds from GM plants.  So they have to buy new ones from Monsanto every year.  It also is illegal for anyone to have a GM plant in their field unless they bought the seed from the patent holder, which is why Monsanto has a staff of 75 with a budget of $10 million devoted entirely to investigating, antagonizing and prosecuting the unwitting patent infringers who were so unlucky as to have a Monsanto plant end up in their field.  Whether it got there without your knowledge or intent is irrelevant to Monsanto, they will sue you into oblivion just the same.

            On the other side, we have millions of consumers, small family farmers, and environmentalists.  They see what government-advocated industrialized agriculture has brought us: inhumane living conditions for millions of animals, a complete disconnect between grower and eater, an extreme reliance on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers, dead soil, and a generation of sick, obese people.

            It would be one thing if GMO crops used less pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer as promised, but that hasn’t been the case.  Why do you think an Indian farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes, because they were ashamed of their increased production?  No, its because they went bankrupt because Monsanto understated all of their operational costs and overstated their yields, and they can’t afford to buy another year’s worth seeds after their crop fails or sells for less than they expected.  At least under their original system you could eat some of your crop and save enough seed to get you going the next year, but since Monsanto promised them the moon and convinced them to abandon their mixed crops for monocrop commodities like cotton they are screwed.

            Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a philosophical or religious objection to genetic modification, but there is no way GM plants should be allowed to be planted at will in the environment.  If they want to make goats produce spider silk, great – goats don’t tend to randomly escape and cross-breed with non-GMO goat populations, and they won’t drive regular goats out of the market.

            We are in extreme need of the precautionary principle here, and its being thrown out the window.

      •  ”over 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the last 16 years, as a direct result of the debts incurred by predatory practices of Monsanto.”

        Can you substantiate this incredible “fact.”?

      • There are a great many myths about GMO technology. Have a look at my website to learn the real science and real world expert opinion. Oh the critics can be linked there as well. http://web.viu.ca/wager

        cheers

        • This is a really poorly put together website.

      • Sorry Jim it is you that do not know of what you speak. GM crops are the most tested food ever. If you go to my website (sorry can not give a link as the moderators keep removing them, you can read about the real science of GMO’s including the massive amounts of testing that has occurred over the years.

      • All your statements are not true
        -ALL the GMO approved in EUrope have been throughfully evaluated
        -Roudup soy uses by far less herbicide than other cultivars, and of a kind that is less toxic for animals. BT corn uses les pesticides because the plant produces its own. ANd it is the same product that is used in organic agiculture.
        -Monsanto has sued some farmers. But not everywere, in Argentina Monsanto decreased its sells in seeds while the amount of GMO soy produced in the country increased. Simply the farmers kept their seeds for next season. Nobody was sued.
        -Except for subsistence agriculture all farmers buy their seed. They do to have higher yields. Sometimes the pests didn’t appear and the extra cost of selected seeds is not compensated. But is a bet that all farmers do. GMO seed producers are no more (nor less) predatory than any other seed producer. Hybrid corn has to be purchased year after year, as the seeds obtained from the crop do not give, by far, the same yield.

        And, by the way, GMO will not solve world famine. It is not a technologycal problem now. It is only a matter ofuneven distribution and unfair trade agreements.

    • GMO is more environmentally friendly?  Who are you trying to kid?  Industrial farming is completely destoying once productive farmland.  You not only have a huge impact from pesticide use being washed into our streams and rivers, the land where these crops are grown are completely dead.  (You may need to look up what dead soil is).  Then you have the added benefit of new highly invasive species, not to mention who knows what the effect on our health will be.

      The earth doesn’t need GMO to feed the world, we need to stop destoying our farmers and our crop lands and put people before profits.

  2. It’s about shooting the
    DNA of an invasive species into a food cells natural defenses on the back of e-coli and
    other bacteria to get it to “take”. It’s the grotesque lab results of rats and hamsters on
    GMO. It’s about the ecocide it’s causing with GMO plants only able grow with heavy pesticides. It’s about the collapse of our bee populations. It’s about survival.

  3. We are messing things up big time.

    • strongly agree.

  4. I don’t believe there is a food shortage crisis. North Americans alone, probably overeat and throw out enough food to feed the world. There is an incredible amount of over consumption and waste worldwide. The food we know today has evolved over several thousand years, the heartiest surviving to present day, giving us an abundant supply of nutritious food. The thought of genetically altering our food over a few decades is unnatural and frankly frightening.

    This seems to be be more about marketing and greed. Companies, like Monsanto, are more interested in owning the patents to their creations like round up ready corn, soy and BT cotton, so they can monopolize and charge a premium for their product, not feed the world. Do a quick google search to see the damaged they’ve caused do to high cost seed, litigation over cross contamination seed ownership, and soil damage due to their herb and pesticides.

    Feeding the world is an economical and political problem. Persons living on a $1 a day, under corrupt governments, unfortunately will always be undernourished, and no amount of laboratory created/altered food will change that. 

  5. Our pets eat better than people in some other countries.  I don’t think we’re facing a crisis so much as facing our inner spoiled child.  We need to say no to gluttony and eat whole food.  Our current eating habits are as bad for our health as they are for the food supply. We’re not meant to eat this way and we don’t need to eat this way.

  6. GMO’s will and are DIS-EASING humans as I write. THis is a propaganda article to see if the sheeple will fight back or be okay with the destruction of mother nature. GMO’s are dangerous to humanity and this will play out as humans will die in the hundreds of thousands and be seen more clearly as time goes by. Mother Nature will not sit back without biting back at the silly humans deviants.

  7. Factory anything is killing everything good for humans. Mono-culture farming is a complete waste. Have you tasted the food produced by this method? There is no taste because the soil is dead, the rivers are dirty, the land is dirty and poisoned. Mother Nature doesn’t work in a mono-culture or isolated chemistry. These idiots are playing with something they have no clue of and testing it on the guinea pigs called humans lol. The result is exploding obesity, exploding sickness, exploding psychological and mental issues. Good thing profits are up for only the 1 percent. lol wake fools or you will be done in. 

  8. I was really looking to read this article, but it’s too long. I don’t have time to read it. so going by the picture. . . food is taking a turn for weird?

  9. This is going way too far..

  10. “Food Fraud” will be the norm.

  11. Yanni said “ The antagonism from the former (non GMO) towards the latter (GMO)prevents the sharing of resources, and blinds people to the fact that the latter is often more environmentally friendly than traditional farming techniques.” 

    Wow, so the traditional methods that have nourished our planet and people groups around the world for centuries are not as environmentally friendly?  Do you not read the news?  We in our so-called scientific wisdom have done more damage to our food supply, the land, and people, since WWII than all of history to date!

    Don’t believe everything you hear about GMO being beautiful and the “next wave of sustainable food” for mankind.  It will indeed bring unnatural sickness, disease and death – as unnatural as the methods used to create the GMO foods themselves.  We will face more devastating human suffering in the next generations than in all of history past, if we embrace these ”food-like” foods of the “future”.  Our bodies are not made to process these concoctions that are already birthed through unnatural means.  Next thing you know, they will try to convice us to alter our own selves to somehow be able to accept this adulterated “food”!

  12. that is hoorribel i probily willl never eat again if thats the case

  13. amazing article

  14. “BBC reported that feral GM plants are expected. The plants that survive are called volunteers and they are known to reproduce. In spite of this fact, scientists think the only problem posed by the wild GM canola is weed control, because the wild canola will spread resistance to Roundup, a problem that has meant increased work and expenses for farmers.” Quote from article titled Genetically modified canola found growing wild in Dakota
    Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/295612#ixzz1sztk3wvX

    Playing God with mother nature will create more problems then solve them. Crossing different species is a science that lacks wisdom! People thought it wise to add ground up meat to cow feed. Going against the natural way of herbivores. Created a disease that crossed over to humans. It is inevitable that more disease cross overs can result by this nonsense, or create more invasive species, choking out what was good and natural in the first place. The whole business of this foolishness is for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Greed always destroys what is good and does not appreciate the natural resources we’ve got now!

  15. if you want to learn about the real science of GMO’s, have a look at my website. http://web.viu.ca/wager

    cheers

  16. What is wrong with allowing the farmer to do his job. Science is not supposed to be a part of the food chain. This is all wrong and is not necessary. We have plenty of land to grow sustainable, natural and organic food for our kids.

    What makes no sense tome is kids are starving halfway around the world and we are making ours sick here with this nonsense.

    Common sense says “eat local”, in-season and sustainable foods from farms in your community. Think about your kids and their future around food.

    Leave the science for NASA.

  17. Leave my food alone.

    Haven’t you asshats messed this planet up enough already?

  18. It is incredible to me, the ignorance with which people have. If you truly believe there is a food shortage, start by learning (with an open mind) the production practices that food producers adhere to day in and day out to put food on ungrateful peoples plates.

  19. Blindly trusting “big brother” to look out for our best interests – this is something I cannot do. How many times in history has blind faith in a government, corporation, leader, come back to bite society as a whole on the rump? Sorry, cigarettes ARE bad for you! Sorry, feeding cows, other cows DOES make them sick and us in turn. Someone in power along the lines was able to justify all these things to be ok at some time. Why these things were thought to be acceptable at the time could have been ignorance, it could have been driven by greed for money, power…I cannot begin to know the intentions of others. The majority of people go through life, perfectly content being led by others. What I find myself being most jaded about is the difficulty of finding any unbiased facts.

    fact |fakt|noun – a thing that is indisputably the case.

    Who can one trust to get unbiased facts from? Who doesn’t have a hidden agenda? I try to look out for #1, to eat as many whole foods as possible – because it seems like the most natural thing to do. I for one, would never just assume that something is safe or good for me just because someone else tells me it is.

  20. I do believe their is a red-line shortage of food in the world – proper food, not processed foods, due to overpopulation in the world. But if we made a connection to each growing our own food and educating ourselves on the most important and fundamental wellness asset to our survival, rather than blindly following the large corporations that make money off foods like this, the environment, our society, and our individual selves would be way more in balance and healthy.

    This article is staggering and disgusting. Europe many Asian countries, all close their doors on GMO, but why does Canada and the US follow blindly with no accountable labelling? Because the consumers allow it to happen, never mind educate themselves on what is necessary to make an informed choice on what is right for them.

    We should be spending the money it takes to research and develop all of that crap on rebuilding our environment and learning what it takes to keep a healthy balance. Wiping out millions of insects (bees) by monocrop, GMO farming is not a healthy balance and we will suffer for it in the end.

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