Ending World Hunger


Taylor Nordstrom

Norman Borlaug was one of the most respected men of our time.  He tripled wheat production and increased yeilds in other crops as well by breeding crops together.  He is someone who is credited to have saved the most lives of anyone due to feeding people. 

Borlaug is defending work in crop breeding in this peice and showing that to feed people for years to come we have to keep moving forward with our new breeding techniques.  Borlaug believes that biotechnology is our future, but that right now there is a bad reputation especially with the name GMO.

Borlaug claims through here that genetic crops are going to happen anyways, and that we are just speeding up the process.  I believe this to be true, yes there are some discrepencies with combining things like parts of animals with plants, but I do not see any harm that has resulted.  I did get to meet Norman Borlaug once when he visited the University of Minnesota and I was very impressed with his knowledge and I respected him highly.


Food and an Increasing Population

T. Adam Wichelmann's Blog

As the human population continues to grow, the food shortage problem becomes increasingly more severe.  With our food unit, we have routinely discussed the impacts of a growing population and the subsequent demand for more food, especially from the meat industry.  As I was checking out the seed magazine website I stumbled on an article that directly touches on this issue and the discussion revolved around it.  This particular article was entitled Carnivores Like Us and focused specifically on China's changing appetite.

With a changing world comes a changing demand for food.  As China's population has increased its raw demand for food has subsequently increased.  A further change has been the type of food that China is currently demanding.  As the Chinese culture has developed per capita income has also increased.  Similar to the United States, China has increased meat consumption with increased wealth.  This increase in meat demand has lead to many potential problems becoming increasingly more real, such as a meat/food shortages, an unhealthy society (the article states that China's obese population is increasing), more water contamination from livestock, and controversy surrounding grown animal products.  These problems need solutions, but how do we effectively control the food for our growing population?

The discussion around providing answers to the food shortage problem have almost all been linked to agriculture.  As mentioned in class, I think we really need to improve our means of distributing food because countries like the US and China have more than enough food.  Distribution of food will help curve food shortages.  Developing ways to improve agriculture seem like a prime example of a "technological fix" to a bigger problem.  Almost all of the solutions to a food shortage problem have focused on catering to this increasing population.  Rather I think we need to see the bigger picture and develop ways in which we can address the population problem rather than the food shortage problem which results from too many people.  This planet can only sustain so many and I think we need to really focus efforts on halting the increasing population.  Although I don't have solutions to curbing the increasing population, I think we should put our effort into developing solutions because this will subsequently solve a lot of problems discussed in our class.


A makeover for Food labels


According to New York Times, the congress has passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act that require the Food companies give more detail nutrition facts on the label when packing the food products. For the most part, the label need to list amount of calories, serving size and ingredient, and giving more the food facts label a makeover. Makeover is meaning the highlight important parts of the label because it will prevent unnecessary and misleading words from confusing consumers.

The change to the food label should be include putting calorie and serving size information in the larger type at the top of the label so the customers will know immediately how much they are eating. The labels need to make the ingredient list easier to read by printing it in regular type, not all capital letters. Also using bullets separate ingredients instead of allowing them to all run together. The labels need to list minor ingredients and allergens separately from the main ingredient list and highlight allergy information in red. The labels need to list similar ingredients together and show the percentage by weight, for example sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and grape juice concentrate are all forms of sugar, and those should be listed in parenthesis under the catchall heading "sugars". The companies should use the red labeling and the word "High" when a product has more than 20 % of the daily recommendation for fats, sugars, sodium or cholesterol. The labels need to be clear which sugars are added to the product vs those that occur naturally.

I think that is a good idea to make the Food labels more clearly, so we will know what in the food we buy. I like to see how much calories, sugar, and serving size I can get from the food because that help me to avoid eating unhealthy food or eating much sugar. Some people like to have more sweet or less sweet, they can see better and quickly if the label was highlight in red. As we discuss in class last week about sweeter in corn syrup, label reading is very important to let us know whether it is artificial sugar or natural sugar, we will know exactly how much sugar in the corn syrup so we can make the choice better. More important that you will know how much fat on the food if the label using the word "High" you will know more than 20% fat you will get from this product, you may not want buy this product if you are on diet.


Seed Magazine: Sweet Obesity article

Sweet Obesity
I picked the article called, Sweet Obesity, on Seed Magazine because it is related to what we have been discussing in class.  The author cites an obesity researcher and health editor of Obesity Panacea that there has been a link between artifical sweeteners and obesity over the past 30 years.  The researcher also suggest that sugar "disrupts the metabolism and makes you hungrier."  In addition, lab rat who were fed artifical sweetener food ate more than rat who consumed sugar-sweetened food.  Therefore, they gain more weight than they would if they ate sugar.  

In our class readings and in some of my research, I have found that letpin and ghrelin levels changes in sucrose, table sugar, and HFCS are similar.  Those hormones are responsible for regulating appetite and hunger.  When I said similar, I don't mean it in a good way.  The researcher cites a report from the American Heart Association (AHA) that excessive sugar is dangerous and should be considered as a toxic substance.  HFCS is much sweeter than sugar but contain less calories, therefore it could be beneficial to dieters.  That is only if dieters can maintain the amount of food intake, then sweeteners can be effective in weight loss.  Nevertheless, HFCS is hard to moderate because everything is made from it, such as soda, canned food, yogurt, etc.  Most of us aren't aware of what we consume and how much we consume.  We don't really ask if HFCS is dangerous until we read about them in class.  There are readings that are for and against HFCS.  I cannot conclude that sugar and HFCS should be considered as toxic ingredients.  I think industries are to blame since they are the ones adding HFCS to a variety of food we eat daily.  However, we, the consumers, are getting what we demand for, that are cheap and convenient foods to suit our lifestyle, like McDonalds.  We should be aware of what food and how much we intake.  We should also maintain a balance between diet and exercise, since lack of them contribute to obesity and other health issues.  We should be responsible for our own actions and do what is necessary.

I have found an interesting video in regard to HFCS and want to share.  I've learned many things about HFCS that I haven't learned before.  I think it is worth watching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yfIMbv_f0Q (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dukOVHLcrk0 (Part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2vARSdg7bw (Part 3)

Poverty Makes You Fat?


By: Michael Lent

This last food unit has been really interesting for me. Food has been a big concern for me personally some time between when I turned 18 and 20. I stopped drinking soda at 18 and swore off fast food around the same time. Weight has never really been an issue for me but I've seen how it affects America. It is such an important issue regarding health care and a not-so-distant energy concern I've come to realize thanks to the readings and class discussion.

Critser's "Let Them Eat Fat" really made me more cognizant of how poverty is such a contributing factor to obesity. In cases of extreme poverty, without access to basic, healthy food and/or a kitchen, fast food quickly can become the only alternative. However, I don't think that is a large percentage of those who are obese in America. Low income cannot just be disregarded, however; it cannot be ignored because education of what is healthy food and eating habits at early ages in life shape what one enjoys eating.

That is the larger problem: one's eating habits. America is a nation of
go-go-go. We need to get to soccer practice; we need to get to school and now; however, what we don't need to do is eat right apparently. Apparently, there is no time for that. This self-imposed need to economize time such an extent has reached unhealthy proportions.

The reason it affects the lower class is because time becomes scarcer for those who make bad choices. Bad choices like not wearing a condom and having a kid out of high school or in college and not being able to either attend or finish college. Then, one has to work multiple minimum wage jobs and has no time to cook. Time becomes economized by not cooking and in turn, not eating right. Ones health declines. It's an all too common occurrence; maybe, not this particular situation but similar bad choices ending up in one having to economize their time leading to poor health in the long-run from eating fast food and such all the time.

America needs to make healthier choices. Should it start at the dinner table or the other choices surrounding it? What about those with parents who make bad choices? I'm not sure.

Bioplastics Man from seedmagazine.com by Justin Schwartz


            The article that I read, Bioplastics Man by Maywa Montenegro on www.seedmagazine.com, ties right in with what we have been talking about all semester and what we are talking about currently. Bioplastics Man dives in to the world of bio plastics and what is happening in the current industry. Oliver Peoples has developed a new bio plastic which he has named Mirel.


            Mirel is produced from corn, much like other bio plastics, but is leaps a head of all the competition. Current bio plastics do seek to create a cleaner environment, but are only good for certain purposes and can not be used along side water or liquid such as hot coffee. Mirel is the offspring of years of research and development which allows it to live along side liquids. Peoples goes on to explain that Mirel is able to hold things such as shampoo for up to five years because it needs the microbes that are in soil, fresh water, and salt water to break it down. This means no more hot coffee and bio plastics cups melting on your lap while on your way to work.


            The process according to Peoples takes the sugar from corn or ethanol. It is then put through a process much like a brewing process which hardens the sugars. Once the hardening has occurred it is then strained out in to the product known as Mirel.


            Mirel, the "wonder plastic of the near future," promises to be the technological fix. Peoples realizes that initial costs will be high, but just as any other new industry, the costs will decrease and inevitably decrease our footprint on the earth. Sea life would no longer choke or die from our plastics, our land fills will no longer be stacked high with unused plastics, and we will still retain our love for plastics through Mirel the new bio plastic.


            Currently under construction, and in the finishing stages, is the first Mirel plant which is located in Clinton, Iowa. The Clinton plant will almost be a self contained plant. It is located in the heart of the Corn Belt which means long shipping to plant will not be needed, the wet mill is located on site, and all the energy it needs to start and continue to run.  The plant will be producing the first 50000 tons of Mirel soon after the finishing according Peoples.


            Mirel seems to be a promising fix for our current bio plastics which waste away in liquid and will take the place of the environmentally hazardous hard plastic. It is no question that we a people do need a fix. We cannot continue mass produce hard plastics that do not break down in the environment. Peoples has been developing for years now at his Cambridge laboratory and believes whole heartedly he has found the answer and I can't wait for him to be proven right.

Tetyana Navalyana- Blog #5


It is unbelievable how much we have learned in this semester thus far. The food unit is the most interesting unit that I personally learned a lot from. Since we have many farmers in our class, it was also very interesting to see their perspectives as well as how they feel about different arguments posed by the authors. From Pollen's chapters, we learned about corn, and artificial sweeteners. From Taubes' chapters, we learned about obesity in the U.S. and how so many people have illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and cancer. From the "Let Them Eat Fat" article, we learned how traditional diets are being replaced by processed, high-fat diets and so on.

The reading that interested me the most however, was the "Let Them Eat Fat" article that we read recently. It is true that two thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese. Meaning they have a BMI- Body Mass Index between 25-29.9 if they are overweight and BMI of 30 and more if they are obese. Since I am taking a nutrition class as well this semester, it helped me to better see what is going on in this world, and what different food options people are making. In this article, the author mentions that traditional diets are being replaced by processed high-fat diets, and therefore this is leading to obesity, and illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases.

I remember when I lived in Ukraine. We never had obese or overweight people. Of course there were few, but not like here in America. It seems that wherever you go, you see people that can barely move, or need equipment to help them get around. This is a very serious issue! Perhaps the food choices that people make in America have to do something with their health? People are used to fast food, and frozen foods that are microwavable and are ready within ten minutes. What happened to cooking at home? A normal meal takes about an hour to prepare. Yet many people decide to save time, and instead go to fast food chains and have their meal ready within seconds, never realizing how dangerous that food is for their health.

Also when discussing these issues in class, I realized how wasteful Americans are. They throw away leftovers and make poor health choices. They never realize how thankful they must be for what they have, since other countries may not even have bread or clean water to drink. Americans must appreciate things in life, and not waste food.




Protein Power


Biochemistry is undeniably one of the coolest fields of study. Protein engineering is a practical application of biochemical technology that can be used in multiple ways. Michael Eisenstein's article entitled, Protein Power, discusses the usefulness of protein engineering in modern science and the significance of its application in research and development. These techniques allow physical biochemists to generate an increasing appreciation and understanding for the usefulness of biochemical engineering. As mentioned in the paper, these discoveries can be used as a form of cancer treatment

: "synthetic antibodies have been designed to bind tightly to specific targets, such as tumor cells, and then label them or even mark them for destruction". However, proteins are unimaginable complex in nature and numerous steps are crucial in ensuring that artificially manufactured proteins are safe enough for human use.

Rosetta and Foldit are only two of the several computer software systems used to establish protein shape, chemistry, functionality and folding capability. These "computer algorithms are giving scientists the power to redesign proteins", allowing them to test their usefulness in various fields of industry. Computational design techniques are promising a bright future for protein engineers, most particularly in artificially produced enzymes (biological catalysts). Various modifications are likely to be implemented into the public health issues concerned with the study of antibiotics and pathogenic activity.

Eisenstein also mentions the usefulness of protein engineering in environmental preservation - "it may soon be possible to build enzymes that can recognize and destroy environmental pollutants, transform plant matter into energy, synthesize revolutionary biomaterials" - how cool is that!


Despite the significant amount of money, time and energy invested into the study of protein engineering, this article, as well as many other publications, prove that it's worth drawing attention to. Our knowledge of the tie remarkable intervention has provided leeway for aspiring biochemical engineers and biological researchers.


- Lilian Keraka

Blog #5


I thought the Norman Borlaug article "Ending World Hunger" was interesting because he provides ways that we can help potentially feed the world by using genetically modified organisms. To potentially crate new crops that are resistant to pests, more nutritious, environmentally friendly etc.  In many ways it was interesting because GMO may be the only way that we have to create more and more food for a growing population. If don't have any real alternative solutions, we may not have a choice but to use GMOs.

Some the issues I have with Borlaug was that he didn't adequately approach the negatives of GMO's.  He says that no credible science reports have said there is a negative health effects to GMOs.  That may be true as of right now, but we just don't know. For instance, since GMOs are a relatively new technology what happens when we eat genetically modified foods during a full human lifetime?  We just don't know yet. Just because there has not had a negative effect on humans-doesn't mean that there won't be. Even though crossing over genes in organisms may occur in nature, it certainly not at the rate we are doing it.  Since GMO's are relatively new we are in essence being experimented on. Also, what about using the pesticides used kill bugs that are normal predators to the crops. Over time wouldn't these bugs become resistant to the pesticides? Wouldn't we just be creating some sort of super bug?

Even with these negatives, there is a lot of potential in GMOs and it may be part of a solution for countries less fortunate then us who may not have a choice.  Also it's important to look at other important issues with food such as food distribution rather than say the GMO's will solely solve hunger in the world.


Blog Entry 5


Politics of Hunger

            I find it interesting how Collier relates the food crisis to three major issues, the first being the upper class obsession with organic farming methods. I agree that many people have become obsessed with the organic way and the need to only eat organically grown foods rather foods that are made through commercial methods. There really is no way to sustain the world's population without the commercial farming techniques used today. If the population continues to grow exponential and food production keeps on growing linearly, then eventually the population will not be able to be sustained.

            The second issue Collier brings up is the misconception of science in producing genetically modified crops. GMOs are important in agriculture. They have provided away for higher yields and more efficient use of land. Countries, that have banned the use of GMOs, especially in Europe were there is a lot less land, should be utilizing the GMOs instead of worrying about the possible side effects that have yet arise.  I also find it interesting that in the article from Borlaug, that some individuals believe that GM crops should not be given to countries suffering from a famine. I

            The final issue Collier brings up about America trying to cut its dependence on foreign oil is all to true. Ethanol is not the answer for the whole energy crisis. Wind and solar power are often ignored when it comes to sources of new energy. If sugar cane from Brazil would be a better option than ethanol, then the US government should be allowing importing of this and allow American crops to go onto the market as food. If really want our reliance on oil to decrease than we also need to decrease our consumption. Americans are some of the most wasteful people on the planet. It really comes down to whether or not we are willing to make the change as a society. 

Recent Comments

  • Caity Durow: I have never thought as acupuncture as a medical treatment. read more
  • Caity Durow: I agree that the public is unaware of the importance read more
  • Caity Durow: It's weird, my response to the question of why we read more
  • Caity Durow: I think that our government is corrupt and that people read more
  • Caity Durow: The use of gene therapy gives me mixed feelings. I read more
  • Caity Durow: This is kind of a scary topic to even think read more
  • Caity Durow: This article is the first that I have heard of read more
  • Caity Durow: This is a topic I hadn't really though tin depth read more
  • Caity Durow: I agree that processed foods are a convenience factor for read more
  • Caity Durow: I agree that a large issue on society is that read more

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.