Tag Archives | Frankenfood

Google’s Frankenbuger

Burgers (4627873264)“Frankenburger” taste pioneer Josh Schonwald thinks that the $300,000 not-so-great lab grown meat-burger may soon become commercially viable and, perhaps, quite tasty, thanks to funding from Google’s Sergey Brin. He writes at TIME:

They may not taste great yet, but scientists, with the help of Sergey Brin, are ready to change that.

It has been one year since I took part in one of the most surreal and expensive taste tests in human history. No, I didn’t eat a black Périgord truffle seasoned with gold or a bowl of beluga caviar. Last August in London, with 200 journalists and several hulking cameras staring at me, I was one of the two people to taste the so-called Frankenburger: the world’s first lab-grown beef burger, a five-ounce patty grown from cow stem cells that took a Dutch scientist four years of research and $332,000 to create…

The most exciting news I heard last summer was not that a cultured beef burger was actually, finally, being made—nor that I would be the guinea pig flown to London to try it.

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Oregon Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Ban of GE Crops

PIC: USDA (PD)

PIC: USDA (PD)

Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:

In a victory for sustainable food advocates everywhere, two counties in Oregon on Tuesday voted to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Despite an onslaught of spending by agribusiness giants such as DuPont and Monsanto, voters in Jackson County and Josephine County overwhelming took a stand for measures protecting “seed sovereignty and local control” of food systems. The Jackson Measure 15-119 passed 66-34 percent, while the Josephine County Measure 17-58 passed 58-42 percent.

“It’s a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems!” GMO Free Oregon wrote on their Facebook page after receiving the final tally.

“Tonight family farmers stood up for our basic right to farm,” cheered Elise Higley, Jackson County farmer and campaign director for the Our Family Farms Coalition, in a statement following the vote.

Calling the bans a “tremendous victory” for the citizens and farmers of the counties, as well as for the national anti-GMO movement, Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), said the votes are further proof that, when given a voice, citizens will choose a sustainable food system over corporate-dominated agribusiness.

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Monsanto Goes Organic

Yes, you read that right, Monsanto is concocting a line of trademarked organic vegetables. Let’s hope it takes off and they decide to give up on their favorite genetically modified varietals. Report from Wired:

…Changing the agricultural game is what Monsanto does. The company whose name is synonymous with Big Ag has revolutionized the way we grow food—for better or worse. Activists revile it for such mustache-twirling practices as suing farmers who regrow licensed seeds or filling the world with Roundup-resistant super­weeds. Then there’s Monsanto’s reputation—scorned by some, celebrated by others—as the foremost purveyor of genetically modified commodity crops like corn and soybeans with DNA edited in from elsewhere, designed to have qualities nature didn’t quite think of.

seminisSo it’s not particularly surprising that the company is introducing novel strains of familiar food crops, invented at Monsanto and endowed by their creators with powers and abilities far beyond what you usually see in the produce section.

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Golden Rice: A ‘Good’ GMO?

Golden Rice grain compared to white rice grain in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants. (IRRI CC)

Golden Rice grain compared to white rice grain in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants. (IRRI CC)

Could Golden Rice, a genetically modified strain of rice that imbues the grains with beta carotene, be the GMO that proves the exception to the Monsanto-led madness of Roundup Ready crops? Amy Harmon reports for the New York Times:

One bright morning this month, 400 protesters smashed down the high fences surrounding a field in the Bicol region of the Philippines and uprooted the genetically modified rice plants growing inside.

Had the plants survived long enough to flower, they would have betrayed a distinctly yellow tint in the otherwise white part of the grain. That is because the rice is endowed with a gene from corn and another from a bacterium, making it the only variety in existence to produce beta carotene, the source of vitamin A. Its developers call it “Golden Rice.”

The concerns voiced by the participants in the Aug.

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Eating A Stem Cell Burger

Somehow I can’t see carnivores wanting to eat stem cell burgers, and I can’t see vegetarians deciding they are acceptable either! Nonetheless Melissa Hogenboom investigates the taste of these lab grown meat concoctions for BBC News:

The first lab-grown burger has now been cooked in a frying pan and tasted by two food writers. But did it live up to all its hype?

The event certainly did. It had the surreal vibe of a live TV food show rather than a science press conference, with presenter Nina Hossain fielding questions.

Chef Richard McGeown was tasked with frying the patty. He commented on its “fantastic colour” and its “nice inviting aroma”, but from where the media team sat, there was not a whiff of burger reaching our nostrils.

“It’s literally like cooking any other burger I’ve experienced before, a nice and pleasant aroma but very subtle at this stage,” added McGeown.

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Five Ways to Divest From Monsanto (and Other GMO Companies)

fda-monsantoKristen Schmitt writes at Urban Times:

Monsanto, the mistress of the GMO initiative, needs a wake up call. While campaigns to label genetically modified organisms increase and state governments work to bring the legislature into action, many Americans are not aware of just how entrenched Monsanto is within national and global food production.  Whether it is due to the call of convenience or general ignorance of the millions of genetically engineered ingredients masquerading as food, the biggest blow we can deliver to the GMO giant is to convince the general public to divest from Monsanto (and the rest of the biotech food industry) completely.

What does it mean to divest? Let’s take a page from the current college playbook and replicate what activist Bill McKibben has done for fossil fuels and climate change – and apply it to our food. Colleges across the country are stepping up and divesting from the companies that support fossil fuels in a nationwide campaign to illustrate how wrong it is to profit from climate damage.

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FDA: ‘Frankenfish’ Perfectly Safe

Picture: AquaBounty (C)

Hope you’re hungry, America: Another GMO mutant has been cleared for human consumption. The AquaAdvantage salmon grows twice as fast as other fish, and is deemed perfectly safe by your friends at the FDA. Who’s up for croquettes?

Via Christian Science Monitor:

Critics call the modified salmon a “frankenfish.” They worry that it could cause human allergies and the eventual decimation of the natural salmon population if it escapes and breeds in the wild. Others believe breeding engineered animals is an ethical issue.

AquaBounty has maintained that the fish is safe and that there are several safeguards against environmental problems. The fish would be bred female and sterile, though a very small percentage might still be able to breed. The company said the potential for escape is low. The FDA backed these assertions in documents released in 2010.

Since its founding in 1991, Aquabounty has burned through more than $67 million developing the fast-growing fish.

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How California Could Force the Rest of the U.S. to Label GMO Foods

Reports Tom Philpott on Mother Jones:
In November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. The initiative made it to the ballot after almost 1 million Californians signed a petition in favor of it—nearly double the 504,760 signatures needed under the state's proposition rules. The campaign that organized the push to get the measure on the ballot focused on possible health effects of GMO foods. This news will not likely be applauded by my friends over at Croplife America, the main trade group of the GM seed/agrichemical industry. The big GMO crops—corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton—are processed into sweeteners, fats, and additives used widely by the food industry. Everything from high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke to soybean oil-containing Hellman's mayo would have to bear a label reading something like "Contains GMO ingredients."...
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Eating This Could Turn Your Gut into a Living Pesticide Factory

Corn_borerDr. Mercola sounds the alarm on the latest unintended consequence of permitting genetically-modified organisms into the food supply:

A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.

The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence — which would have entailed less of the corn being planted — were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.

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