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.

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

Tackling tuberculosis (Countryfile)

cowtbBroadcaster: BBC1
Year: 2016
Genre: Magazine

URLs: (full episode) https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/prog/0D9D7D7F
Clip 1 (6:43): https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/23517
Clip2 (6:16): https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/23518

The BBC’s rural affairs programme Countryfile (first broadcast on 9th October 2016) looked at ongoing issues with TB infection cattle populations. The topic was covered in two sections. The first focuses on the current tests for TB infection. The second looks more closely at the science being used to develop new tests and better vaccines against TB. Continue reading

Meat the future?

meat1

Increasing global population and food demands drive the discovery for new food sources and imminent dietary change

Broadcaster: BBC TWO

Year: 2014

Genre: Factual

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/264386

Review by Ella Yabsley

This 4.5-minute clip from BBC Two’s Food & Drink could serve as a useful discussion-starter when considering the ethics of global meat consumption. The clip begins with the introduction of a new type of food source, cultured beef or in vitro meat (IVM). A  team from Maastricht University (Holland) claim that IVM was produced for numerous reasons: IVM is more sustainable compared to traditional animal farming practices; it could solve the current (and future) food crisis; and it could also help to combat climate change. Regardless of your ethical standpoint, this clip highlights some of the ethical, economic and health-related tensions that the ‘Western World’ is facing with regards to animal agriculture. Continue reading

Are we entering a post-antibiotic era?

"Eat your Christmas dinner and don't worry"

“Eat your Christmas dinner and don’t worry”

Broadcaster: BBC News

Year: 2015

Genre: News

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/342114

Review by Emma Sterling

Bacteria resistant to the “last resort” antibiotic colistin have been found in the UK. Public Health England says the threat to human health is low. Clive Myrie speaks to health correspondent James Gallagher in this 2 minute clip.

The colistin-resistant bacteria were first reported on a farm in China in November 2015 and have since been found in Africa and other parts of Europe. Chinese researchers have found the mcr-1 ­gene that is responsible for this resistance.

Gallagher stresses that this does not mean these bacteria are unbeatable or that a bacterial apocalypse is nigh (we hope his “Eat your Christmas dinner and don’t worry” does not become the antibacterial version of Michael Fish’s famous promise that a hurricane was not on the way). Those that are resistant to colistin are currently susceptible to other antibiotics, but the discovery raises the spectre of an entirely resistant infection. If this was to occur then routine surgery and cancer therapies might be rendered unsafe.

For more on the story see the BBC News website, and for more scientific detail this article from Nature.

 

 

Cattle surrogacy (Countryfile)

The specialist "embryo flushing" team can implant up to 1500 surrogates in a year.

The specialist “embryo flushing” team can implant up to 1500 surrogates in a year.

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2014

Genre: Documentary, Magazine

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/264545

A seven-minute clip from the popular BBC rural affairs programme Countryfile, looking at “embryo flushing” a modern IVF-based method that is replacing traditional selective breeding on many farms.

Embryos are removed from a pedigree cow using a saline flush and she is later fertilised by a bull in the traditional manner. The quality of the harvested embryos can be examined at the on-farm laboratory and the best placed into other non-pedigree cows. In this way it becomes possible for the cow with desirable characteristics to be the biological mother of perhaps six calves at one time. As the technique gains in popularity, the specialist can transfer as many as 1500 embryos in a year.

Other applications of this approach include being able to breed using the best genetic stock from around the world, and allowing for deep freezing of embryos as a safeguard against some catastrophic outbreak. The approach was recently used to re-introduce 100 long-horn cattle into Australia.

GM Foods – Cultivating Fear (Panorama)

Genetic modification of aubergine in Bangladesh has dramatically reduced the need to use pesticides

Genetic modification of aubergine in Bangladesh has dramatically reduced the need to use pesticides

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2015

Genre: Documentary

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/299847

Review by Prof John Bryant (University of Exeter)

Fierce opposition to the growth of GM crops, especially in the EU (including the UK),  goes back to the late 1990s, shortly after the first successful commercialism of crops bred by these techniques. One of the most unfortunate casualties of this opposition is Golden Rice™, bred by GM techniques to provide extra vitamin-A. Its use in SE Asia would save the eyesight of tens of thousands of children and the lives of several thousand each year. However, its uptake into agriculture has been opposed by anti-GM activists at every step such that in 2015, 16 years after this development was announced to the world, the variety is still not available to Asian farmers. Nevertheless, GM-bred crops are now grown in 28 countries (the programme says 27, which was the total in 2013) on a total area of 182 million hectares and, as pointed out in the programme, the countries in which these crops are grown have not suffered environmental disasters nor have there been any detrimental effects on human or animal health.

This brief background leads us to the theme of the programme which asks whether two newer GM-bred crops may be ‘game-changers’ in respect of public attitudes. The first is insect-resistant aubergines which are now being grown in Bangladesh (where the local name for aubergine is brinjal). These plants carry the Bt-toxin gene, already widely used across the world in insect-resistant maize and cotton. Farmers growing Bt-brinjal are enthusiastic about it: the development reduces their costs, reduces crop losses and above all reduces the use of insecticides which, because of poor safety measures, cause harm to farmers’ health. Continue reading

Defeating the Superbugs (Horizon)

Research led by Roy Kishony uses a

Research led by Roy Kishony uses a “morbidostat” to deliberately develop antibiotic resistant bacteria

Broadcaster: BBC 2

Year: 2012

Genre: Documentary

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/293666

Review by Josh Sutton

Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is currently one of the largest problems facing modern medicine. The rise in cases of multiple drug resistance tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are only the best-known examples of a wider issue. In this Horizon documentary from 2012, the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance is covered, as well as reflections on the new treatments and drugs that scientists are developing to combat the growing resistance threat.

The importance of antibiotic resistance is immediately highlighted in the programme, with the story of a soldier put into a critical condition after his legs were blown off. His perilous state was actually due to an infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria he went on to develop: MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii. This infection could only be treated with antibiotics of last resort, which were toxic to both the bacteria and the soldier himself. Continue reading

Rothamsted Grain Store (Countryfile)

Rothamsted has grain samples going back more than 100 years

Rothamsted has grain samples going back more than 100 years

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2015

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/294506

A 90 second clip from the BBC’s Countryfile series in which presenter Tom Heap visits the Rothamsted Research Institute and sees how the “heritage varieties” in their grain archive are being used to reintroduce desirable traits into wheat. Includes footage of a camera drone to examine the health of plants in a field trial.

Vaccination: From Jenner to Foot & Mouth Disease (Countryfile)

Edward Jenner made a crucial breakthrough in developing vaccination, though his experiment was unethical by modern standards

Edward Jenner made a crucial breakthrough in developing vaccination, though his experiment was unethical by modern standards

Broadcaster: BBC 1

Year: 2015

Genre: Magazine

URL: http://bobnational.net/record/294432

The role of Edward Jenner in developing vaccination has been told many times on TV. This 6.5 minute clip from a Countryfile “Heroes of farming” special visits Jenner’s house in Gloucestershire to tell the famous story. Drawing on the wisdom of local dairymaids, Jenner took pustules from people infected with cowpox and deliberately introduced material from the pustules into local children. This work would not get through an ethical review today!

Anita Rana then brings the story of vaccination up to date by visiting the Pirbright Institute, where a new vaccine against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is being developed. A vaccine against FMD already exists, but the production involves use of the live virus, with inherent risks. The new vaccine retains the protective element without the infective.