View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

Fun facts, and what they remind us


Alcoholic beverages make up a greater proportion of the UK food supply than fruit does.

We talk a lot about cutting down on food waste, but what about things we consume that we don’t really need? Growing sugar cane for fizzy drinks has all the environmental impacts of farming foods of nutritional importance, yet simply makes people less healthy. Maybe it’s time we all considered a flexitarian approach to drinks as well as animal products. I’m not planning to completely give up alcohol, though I will definitely keep it below my fruit consumption and remember it is a luxury. Adding the effect of packaging into the equation makes the impact of many drinks even higher, so I personally have a near total ban on drinks in cans.

Scientists in Taiwan are introducing genes from wild relatives into domestic tomato.

They’re doing this through conventional breeding, which is slower than genetic engineering but more acceptable to consumers. Interesting that using wild relatives in breeding programmes is very palatable to most people, yet using genetic engineering to introduce these genes from another species is often not.

The wild relatives used by the Taiwanese scientists are from the Galapagos – a reminder of what we are set to lose if such unique ecosystems are destroyed. Save the Galapagos!

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

2 thoughts on “Fun facts, and what they remind us

  1. Surprisingly, I had never considered the environmental impact of growing unhealthy crops such as sugar cane. I shall be even more careful in my consumption of sugary drinks. I might find it harder to reduce cake consumption, but a move to Korea from the UK should help with that.

  2. I too find cake consumption hard to cut down on, much as it would benefit me! Interesting that different cultures have such different diets. Part of the reason it is so hard in the UK is that we have such easy access to cake, biscuits etc, and often healthier food is harder to come by.

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