The making of Quorn (Tomorrow’s Food)

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2016

Genre: Documentary

URLs:
Part 1 – https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/86966 (3.32 mins)
Part 2 – https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/86968 (3:10 mins)

Original programme URL:  https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/95311 (60 mins)

Review by June Adams

Around one third of UK households already buy meat alternatives, and the market is still rising as meat becomes more expensive. Being a versatile, nutritional, and super efficient meat alternative, could Quorn be the food of the future?

In two short sections from the third episode of his series Tomorrow’s Food, comedian turned science presenter Dara Ó Briain walks us through the process.

Production of Quorn starts with a single speck of freeze-dried fungus (Fusarium venenatum), reawakened and grown in a sugar-nutrient solution. In less than a week, it will grow to fill two ten-storey towers with 45 thousand tonnes of mycoprotein. Producing Quorn is ten times more efficient than rearing animals for meat, and contains less than half the calories and fat of beef mince and 78 times less cholesterol.

Turning the raw protein into edible products means further processing to give it the flavour and texture of meat. Freezing changes texture from a dough-like consistency to fibrous, as the ice crystals create fibrous bundles. Ingredients mixed in with Quorn before it is frozen creates the different flavours, and recipes can be tailored to suit the tastes of different countries, making Quorn incredibly versatile.

This clip might be of interest to microbiology or food technology students.

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Intervention at any cost? The Charlie Gard case

cgardBroadcaster: Channel 4

Genre: News

Length: 3:16 mins

URL: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/95288

When an infant has an illness that will, in all probabilities, prove fatal their parents face an agonising choice. Do you follow all possible interventions, or do you reach a point where you recognise that it is in the best interests of the child to withdraw treatment?

This dilemma is brought into stark relief by Charlie Gard who, at the time of writing, is the subject of a High Court case at the Royal Courts of Justice. There are several aspects that make this case particularly tricky, and particularly interesting from a medical ethics standpoint.

Charlie was born in August 2016 with a rare mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. He is deaf and blind, it is tricky to know how much pain he is aware of at present. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital want to move to a regime of palliative care only. A crowdfunding project has raised over a million pounds parents and his parents want to take Charlie to the USA where a doctor is willing to enrol him on a trial of nucleoside bypass therapy, an experimental treatment which has an extremely low probability of alleviating some of his symptoms. He will almost certainly still die.

The case shines a spotlight on different medical culture in the UK and the USA. In the UK doctors tend to take a more cautious approach whereas doctors in America are more willing to try experimental procedures if the patient (or in this case, their parents) want to try and have the money to do so.

For further coverage of the case see: The Guardian and ITV News and a later report from the BBC.

 

GM tomatoes and goats: breakthroughs and setbacks (Tomorrow’s Food)

Year: 2016

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Genre: Documentary

Length: 6:53 mins

URL: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/86972

URL full original programme (60 mins):  https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/prog/0B9E458F

Review by June Adams

At the John Innes Centre in Norwich, a genetically modified “supertomato” has been produced which could help make us all healthier. Using genes from snapdragons, Professor Cathie Martin has genetically modified tomatoes to produce anthocyanins, making them appear bright purple. Anthocyanins are pigment compounds naturally produced in many plants, and in our diets are thought to help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even cancer. Tomatoes were chosen to host these genes because they are the most consumed fruit in the word, are added as an ingredient to many other foods, and are accessible to people on a low income. Continue reading

A History of the Brain

radioBroadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Year: Originally broadcast 2011 (repeated periodically)
Genre: Radio, Documentary, History of Science
URLs: See below for each episode

Review by Eunice Muruako
Dr Geoff Bunn (Manchester Metropolitan University) presents a series of ten 15-minute programmes spanning 5000 years of cultural and scientific progress in understanding how the brain works.

Episode 1: A Hole in the Head (https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/90227)
The series begins with an introduction to one of the earliest forms of brain surgery, trepanation (3.00). Trepanation was the process by which a small piece of skull was cut away to relieve pressure believed to be caused by the build-up of fluid. Bunn explains that, even in the ancient world, connections were being made with how particular areas of the brain affected certain functions. We learn that Egyptian physician, Imhotep, understood that injury to one side of the brain could paralyse limbs on the opposite side (10.38).

Episode 2: The Blood of Gladiators
(https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/90228)
Various philosophers had conflicting ideas about the role of the brain and its connection to the location of the soul. Aristotle, for example, considered the heart to have primacy over the brain because it was centrally located and developed first in the embryo (9.09). Whereas Galen agreed with Hippocrates that the body was ruled by the brain (12.37). Ailments which were previously attributed to the gods could instead be understood in terms of natural causes affecting the brain. Continue reading