Outlets are reporting that Chinese scientists have genetically altered pig embryos (using added genes from mice) to create “skinny pigs” who have a lower percentage of body fat and could be used, one day, to produce what some headlines are deeming “healthy bacon.
Genetically modified (GM) foods continue to be a contentious subject. Proponents believe that it could help feed millions of hungry people amid climate change and population growth. Others balk at the idea of eating science experiments.
The World Health Organization reports that the safety of GM foods depends on how the genes were tweaked, which will ultimately leave each item to be rated on a case-by-case basis. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved genetically engineered salmon. And apples not prone to browning are expected to be available soon.
Whole Foods said it was alerted to a potential breach after it “receiving information about an unauthorized access of payment card information. It appears that Whole Foods did not detect the compromise itself, but was informed by a third party instead.
7Up—now has a troubling eighth ingredient in Mexico: methamphetamine.
Health professionals in Arizona are warning travelers to the Mexicali area to be aware of possibly contaminated sodas there. The warning comes days after medical toxicologists and emergency doctors received reports of soda tampering in the area.
According to the Attorney General of the State of Baja California, seven people were sickened and one died from the spiked soft drinks. Officials requested that merchants there suspend sales of 7Up and clear the product from their shelves. There is currently an investigation in progress to figure out how the illicit stimulant got into the soda.
Chris Barnes, a spokesperson for Dr Pepper Snapple Group, told Arizona news outlet AZCentralthat 7Up products in the US were safe. “None of the 7Up products sold in the US are affected by the issue being reported in Mexico,” Barnes said. “Dr Pepper Snapple owns and licenses the 7Up brand only in the US and its territories. We do not market, sell, or distribute the brand internationally.”
Health professionals recommended travelers stay watchful of the beverages they buy. “It is important to check that the seal for any food and drink consumed is still intact and show no signs of tampering,” Dr. Daniel Brooks, a poison and drug expert with Banner Health, said in a statement. “If you notice any difference in color, taste, or smell, throw it out.”
Symptoms of consuming meth-laced soda include: burning to the esophagus or abdomen, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and fast or irregular heartbeat.
7Up contained a potent drug when the soda was first released in the 1920s. It contained lithium citrate, a mood-stabilizing psychiatric drug that’s used to treat manic states in people with bipolar disorder. Some have theorized that the soda got its name from the atomic mass of lithium, which is roughly seven.
Startup Memphis Meats announced in April that it had for the first time grown chicken meat in a lab, the firm admitted that the achievement came at a cost of $9,000 per pound. Memphis Meats puts living animal cells into bioreactor tanks and feeds them oxygen, sugars, and minerals until they divide and grow. The company said the taste and texture is similar to that of the real thing, just a bit spongier, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although the company has served it’s cultured poultry to taste testers, the meat is still extremely expensive. It currently costs around $9,000 to produce a pound of Memphis Meats’ poultry, compared to a bit over $3 on average for a pound of chicken breast. However, the company hopes to reduce costs drastically as it refines its technology over the next few years. It hopes to launch a commercial product in 2021.
Business leaders like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Kimbal Musk have joined food industry giants like Cargill and venture capital firms in backing the startup with $17 million in a Series A round of funding. In total Memphis Meats has raised $22 million.
Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. A consumer-ready product does not yet exist and its progress is heavily shrouded by intellectual property claims and sensationalist press. Today, cultured meat is a lot of hype and no consumer product.
Mark Post unveiled a $330,000 cultured burger in 2013, startup Memphis Meats has produced cultured meatballs and poultry last and this year, and Hampton Creek plans to have a product reveal dinner by the end of the year. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered a one million dollar prize for whoever could “produce commercially viable quantities of in vitro (lab-grown) chicken meat” in 2008.
The meat is made by growing animal-derived cells in the lab and harvesting the meat after a month or so. Part of that scale-up includes developing industrial bioreactors for growing the meat—eventually, cultured meat producers hope the process will look a lot like the beer brewing, where cells grow in big tanks. (Bioreactors as large as 20,000 liters exist for other purposes, but would need to be designed specifically for growing cow, chicken or pig cells.)
Chinese scientists have genetically engineered purple rice, which is rich in antioxidants(Credit: Qinlong Zhu/South China Agricultural University)
Chinese scientists genetically engineered purple rice that is rich in antioxidants and may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
The added health benefits of the new rice are due to the increased levels of anthocyanins. Not only do these compounds boost antioxidant activity, which is linked to reduced risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, they also give foods like blueberries and red grapes their eye-catching coloration. As a result, the new rice breed has a rich purple pigment.
The next phase for the team involves studying how safe the new purple rice is to eat, and whether the technique can be applied to other cereals. Eventually, the researchers say the technique could be used to increase the levels of other nutrients and chemicals in plants.