Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Genetic Modification/biotechnology

8 October 2018

A new lab-grown meat startup, Meatable, claims that it has overcome a key technical barrier - the use of serum from unborn animals to grow cells. Meatable’s meat-growing process allegedly does not need serum, because it uses pluripotent stem cells (avoided by other startups because they are hard to control). Meatable also claims their process only needs to take one cell from an animal (as opposed to a larger piece of tissue).

Image: Rory MacLeod, 195.365, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

A traditional variety of corn grown by people from Sierra Mixe in southern Mexico can thrive in poor soils without needing much extra fertiliser. A group of researchers have shown that the plant is able to draw nitrogen from the air through mucus-laden aerial roots on its stems. It’s hoped that the trait can eventually be bred into commercial corn strains.

Image: Nick Saltmarsh, Pig, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

Startup New Age Meats has served the world’s first lab-grown pork sausages to journalists. The fat and muscle cells were allegedly grown from pork cells extracted from a live pig - in contrast to the world’s first lab-grown burger, showcased in 2013, where the initial cell samples came from slaughtered cattle.

25 September 2018

This book, by Sheldon Krimsky, will discuss the debate surrounding genetically modified organisms, include the health, safety, environmental, and scientific concerns.

4 September 2018

The Adam Smith Institute, a UK-based free-market think tank, has published a briefing paper in which it argues in favour of lab-grown meat (also known as cultured meat). The authors say that the potentially lower land use of lab-grown meat, compared to conventional meat, could allow some farmland to be rewilded, managed in less intensive ways, or used to build more houses.

Image: Pexels, Bee bloom blossom, Creative Commons CC0
20 August 2018

The Trump administration has reversed a ban on using neonicotinoid pesticides (linked to declining bee populations) and genetically modified crops in over 50 national wildlife refuges (out of 560 total). Limited farming activity is permitted in some of the wildlife refuges. Previously, a blanket ban had prohibited the use of neonicotinoids and genetically modified crops in the wildlife refuges, but now decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

20 August 2018

Animal advocacy organisation Faunalytics has released the report “Messages to overcome naturalness concerns in clean meat acceptance: primary findings”, which studied how people perceive the “naturalness” of cultured meat (also known as laboratory-grown meat) when it is described in different ways. The report found that study participants (based in the US) were more accepting of cultured meat when presented with a message about the “unnatural” conditions in which conventional meat is produced. Messages arguing that cultured meat has a “natural” side or that “naturalness” does not matter did not result in greater acceptance of cultured meat.

21 May 2018

This book, edited by Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett, and Mark Budolfson, provides an overview of the philosophy of food ethics across a range of subject matter. Topics include genetically modified food, animal sentience, vegan and omnivorous diets, body image, global markets and activism.

9 May 2018

Researchers at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland are developing edible plant cell cultures. They hope that cell cultures of plants such as cloudberry, lingonberry and strawberry could provide health benefits when the conventionally-grown berries are out-of-season or expensive to import. The researchers have experimented with blending the cells into a “jam” to release the flavour, and have designed a prototype of a bioreactor that could be used in the home.

Image: World’s Direction, Doughnuts, Flickr, Creative Commons 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
6 February 2018

The Financial Times explores several emerging trends in the global food industry, including eating insects, new retail models in China, sugar taxes, food waste monitoring and genetically modified crops and animals.

Photo: MIKI Yoshihito, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
13 January 2018

This article in the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) journal examines NGOs’ opposition to agricultural biotechnologies. It finds that opposition to genome editing cannot be dismissed as being solely emotional or dogmatic, as is often asserted by the scientific molecular biology community (see for example this 2016 letter by 107 Nobel Laureates calling NGO action against GM a "crime against humanity”). Instead, opposition to genome editing among research participants was rooted in three areas of scepticism around the framing of food security problems and the proposed solutions.

12 December 2017

Scientists from national academies across Europe are calling for urgent action on food and nutrition in a new independent report published by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC). This analysis can be relevant for policy-makers working on food, nutrition, health, the environment, climate change, and agriculture.

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