12 Nov 2008

Food Biotech: Asthetics or Health Benefits?

November 8, 2008

Scientists have identified a gene in cattle, the expression of which is linked to the tenderness of meat. The researchers, at the University of Guelph, Canada, used DNA collected each year from semen of bulls used for breeding, to trace factors such as the weights of fat and bone, and lean muscle, in the animals once they are processed. A test called called the Shear Force Measurement is used to determine the force required to cut through a steak. With knowledge of which genes affect lean muscle mass and resulting tenderness of meat products, breeders can use selective breeding, or possibly other methods of optimizing gene expression, to enhance desirable traits into their herds. While this is great for farmers and consumers, is the asthetic improvement of a quality like meat tenderness really good use of our government funding?

While it's still a bit of a stretch, another research project at Guelph, in which the diets of pigs are being manipulated to enhance the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in pork products, strikes me as having a little more value to taxpayers. Omega-3 fats, found predominantly in fish and certain seeds, are widely accepted as being healthy, contributing significantly to the mental development of children...so much so that they are added to food products geared towards children, such as school lunch-size yogurt packs.

Call me idealistic, but I'd rather see funding for agricultural biotech being used towards products that are going to significantly contribute to improved health and welfare of the masses, not just the ease with which a select few that can afford prime rib can run their steak knives through their dinner.

Source : http://biotech.about.com/b/2008/11/08/food-biotech-asthetics-or-health-benefits.htm

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