CATALYST: GM – FRANKENFOOD OR FAMINE BUSTER?
Australia | ABC 1 | 30 minutes | AIRDATE: Thursday 29 September 2011 @ 8.00pm
Definitely worth looking out for is the upcoming Catalyst special on genetically modified food. In this era of just what on earth are we actually eating when we buy food from the supermarket we need all the information we can get to make an informed decision on whether GM is actually a good or bad thing. Will it help to feed the increasing number of hungry mouths into the future? Or is it a genetic time bomb threatening the health of crops, livestock and people?
In the Beginning: Genetically Modified food is a perplexing issue. Most of what we eat is genetically modified in some way – even organic food. Maryanne Demasi explores the history of various conventional techniques of modifying plant DNA, including cross-breeding, mutational breeding and embryo rescue. It’s Genetic Engineering techniques that provide the fastest route to crop diversity – and the techniques that generate the most fear amongst consumers.
The GM tomato: In 1994, the Flavr Savr tomato became the world’s first commercially available genetically engineered food in the USA. Designed to ripen on the vine and retain firmness on the shelf, things didn’t go according to plan.
Sorting Wheat From Chaff: GM crops now cover 10% of the world’s arable land and many would like to see them cover no more until more stringent testing is done. Graham Phillips talks to the scientists responsible for developing GM foods and learns of the stringent regulatory requirements already in place. But, some scientists have their concerns about the long term health implications.
Food Wastage: The amount of food wasted today will be enough to feed the world’s starving people – all one billion of them. Finding ways to minimise the waste could help meet the 70% increase in demand for food that is expected by 2050.
Daily Bread or Dread:The board of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) recently permitted the importation of the 48th GM food to Australia. However, there are only two food crops approved for growing in Australia – canola and cotton – and many would like to see no more grown until rigorous safety testing is carried out. The Greenpeace activists keen to highlight their concerns over the commercial interests in patented genes and the lack of information surrounding testing, recently razed a GM wheat crop under trial by the CSIRO. Mark Horstman seeks out the views of the research scientists and the concerned activists.