Few issues are more divisive within the environmental world than the genetic modification of organisms (GM). For some, they are a threat to the natural world and to people’s livelihoods; to others, they are the key to a secure and equal future. This article will tackle both sides of the argument, focusing on genetic modification for food production.
What are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
Generally, GMOs are defined as organisms that have had their genome modified by humans via genetic engineering techniques. Broadly, GMOs can be split into two categories: cisgenic organisms, which involves the transferral of genetic material between members of the same species; or transgenic organisms, which introduces genetic material from different species. The latter are often more controversial.
Did you know the world produces enough food to feed 9 billion people? Considering there are only 7 billion people on the planet, it seems strange then that there are still 1 billion going hungry… This effect is seen at a national level too: in the UK, the average household bins £470 worth of food yearly, yet 4 million people in the UK are living in food poverty. Those that need food can’t access it, whilst it goes to waste elsewhere.
Cambridge Sustainable Food is, in a very local way, attempting to address this issue, with the launch of our new Community Fridge in September 2017. Funded by Sainsbury’s, this fridge will help to simultaneously reduce food waste whilst also providing a source of food for those who require it – and who knows, maybe it will strengthen the community spirit on the side as well!
How will it work?
Anyone can put good but unwanted food into the fridge, or take it out to take home and eat. The fridge will be monitored to make sure nothing is kept past its use-by date, and to make sure nothing inappropriate gets put in the fridge. Simply weigh the food and record the exchange, and you’re good to go! Tell all your friends – the more people that use it, the more successful it will be.
Alex Collis, known for her invaluable contribution towards FoodCycle Cambridge, has now become FoodCycle’s East of England Regional Manager! After four years’ volunteering in Cambridge (and famed for her banoffee pavlova), she has this to say about her move:
Organic food has been rising in popularity for quite a while now. Objections against applying chemicals to food have been voiced for almost a century, but it is only relatively recently that these have gained commercial traction. These concerns include the effects of conventional farming on health, the environment, or animal welfare. For these reasons and more, organic food has become preferable to many – but not all. Although many feel prohibited by price, there also exist those, even within the environmental movement, who argue that organic food is not the paragon of sustainability that it may claim to be.
Have you heard of Hodmedod’s?
Hodmedod is a local pulse and grain producer and supplier, working with British farmers to bring beans and associated products to the British market. They were founded in 2012 following the innovative ‘Great British Beans’ project, run by Provenance for East Anglia Food Link, which distributed British-grown fava beans via community groups and local shops, along with a call for feedback on the product. Response was ‘overwhelmingly positive’, leading to Hodmedod’s foundation.
And they’ve gone from strength to strength – and are now 2017 BBC Food & Farming Awards finalists in the Best Producer category!