GM Crops save lives

A long time ago FTR was what is nowadays called the media sponsor of the First International Food Science and Technology Congress at Imperial College in London, whose President was Lord Rank, the leading figure of the food industry in the UK at the time. This became known as the first IUFOST Congress. As a young man I was introduced by my father Raymond Binsted, Editor & Proprietor of FTR to Dr, now Professor M S Swaminathan. Years later I was to be greeted by Dr Swaminathan as Director General of the International Rice Institute in the Philippines when I was visiting the country with a small group of experts advising President Marcos on what food products could be manufactured in the Philippines and exported to Europe to help replace the income from the giant American Airbase which was already being reduced in size.

Dr Swaminathan reminded me of our meeting all those years before and took our small group on an excellent visit of all the facilities and the rice growing fields before lunching together. In 1986 the research facility was still working hard to improve the harvests of rice across the ASEAN countries to fend off famine. Countless millions of humankind owe their lives to this work to this day. The continuous efforts to improve GM crops are what will feed nine billion people in the coming years.

Adrian Binsted, Editor & Proprietor, Food Trade Review

Advertisements
Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

PAFA

PAFA has come out fighting on the side of sense and the packaging industry.

Plastic bags, lightweight plastic bags, recycled plastic bags and so-called lifetime carrier bags are all in the news again.

I have said before that the idea of charging for plastics bags in the shops so that you and I can safely separate our food shopping is ridiculous. We should not put our health at risk for the benefit of some ill thought-out legislation to make us pay for the privilege of putting our shopping in a bag. Perhaps we should ask the shop to carry our ‘loose’ fruit and vegetables to our homes. So really it is just a tax after all!

At last PAFA has come out fighting on the side of sense and the packaging industry. We are already in danger, as I have said many times, of reducing packaging too far; its strength, its usefulness as a guard against the migration of harmful materials into the foods that we buy at the shops.

At the moment we have bags that are so thin that the bag breaks with just a couple of groceries inside, requiring a second bag to contain our shopping – what a great idea to reduce the use of bags! What we need are bags that are strong enough to carry as much grocery as we can hold; then, that saves bags.

I have been against the so-called lifetime bag for a long time on the basis of hygiene. We now have microbiologists and bacteriologists suggesting that the uncleaned, unwashed bags, kept in the broom cupboard can harbour germs and bacteria.

What we need is some sensible thinking from the quangos and the government advisers. As I have said many times, scientists and technologists have designed food packaging for a reason; so that we have less tummy bugs and we live longer!

Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

The topic of the moment is food sustainability, which by any other name, is how to feed an expanding world population. Part of the challenge is to improve the nutritional composition, the quality and the quantity of food from agricultural sources and to prevent the enormous post harvest losses in so many countries due to pests and to lack of transport infrastructure.

What is being discussed at the moment are the breeding technologies for grains and oil seeds; how to create new crops using traditional grafting and cross pollination techniques. Let us explore the future of genetically-modified crops which can give such huge increases at harvest; their safety in the food chain; How the wider use of these foods can be properly explained to consumers, is currently entertaining the minds of those much more knowledgeable than myself.

We do not want another fiasco as we had with irradiated foods when certain forms of food poisoning could have been wiped out at a stroke. except for the appalling publicity put out by misinformed people in the 1960s, and propagated by the mass media at the time: The ramifications are still with us today.

We have to continue with the steps being undertaken by the scientific community to create new test methods for the authentication of foodstuffs and their ingredients in the whole supply chain. We must find new analytical methods to prove provenance beyond doubt to assuage the curiosity of people encouraged by the mass media and by TV cooks.

We must find new methods to stamp out locusts, and to eradicate weeds and bacteria in our universal agricultural crops today, so that people can eat tomorrow. I go back to my mantra: Let the scientists get on with expanding out harvests, take the politicians, the quangos and the do-gooders out of the equation, so that our industry, the largest industry and the largest industrial employer in the UK, can help to provide good, nutritious food to feed the world in the coming years.

Adrian Binsted, Editor

Message from the Editor

Spooner

Our poor old food industry has been battered by every conceivable problem in recent months. Fair criticism is one thing, inaccurate, head-line grabbing comments are another, written by people who do not understand our industry, neither do they seek to find the answers. This attitude of whole parts of our broadcast and news media has damaged our industry in the eyes of the consumer.

Sorting out the urgent problem of origin marking will take time because National, European and International politicians need to make decisions. Sorting out the proliferation of what is required on labels, currently too complex and little understood by all but the most dedicated of shoppers, will take time. Simplification of wording to what is necessary will take more legislation, hopefully drawn together carefully across many countries and without political bias.

We, in the food industry, our subscribers, advertisers and those providing us with technical news must start thinking positively about our achievements and project those thoughts on our customers, our Nation. This great country of ours invented much of food technology and gave it to the world. Canning started here, quick-freezing, although developed for the US Army during the first world war, burgeoned and grew here in the UK, our biscuits are exported throughout the world, and thanks to great companies like Baker Perkins and Vicars (who invented ‘hard-tack’ for the Navy out of their Liverpool bakery in the 1820s) and Spooner, British biscuits are baked on British machines throughout the world. The examples are too numerous to mention here, but let us start the ball rolling to project the safety of the food we produce.