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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
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Listen to 8 December
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 8 December 2005
Fish & Chips
How Safe is Your Food?

Explore The Material World with the Open University During December and January, Material World is broadcasting a series of audience debates that have been recorded all over the United Kingdom. The series is co-produced with the Open University and is designed to support the OU's Science in Context course, S250. The second debate was recorded at the Glasgow Science Centre and is about the food we eat. The outbreak of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly referred to as 'mad cow disease', changed the way we think about food.

In an effort to increase the efficiency of animal production, animals were fed animal protein derived from infected meat and bone-meal. This resulted in cows being infected with BSE.

In March 1996, the British government banned the feeding of mammalian meat and bone-meal to all farmed livestock. In December 2000, the EU imposed a Europe-wide ban on feeding processed animal protein to animals.

Concerns about food safety have led many consumers to pay extra for organically-produced meat and vegetables. However, food scientists say that if we are going to feed the world's growing population, some form of intensive farming is inevitable.

In the future, we might have to rely more on genetic modification, so that animals and vegetables can be adapted for different climatic conditions. It has also been suggested that GM crops could be specially designed to combat food allergies.

Joining Quentin to discuss points raised by the audience are Professor Howard Davies from the Scottish Crop Research Institute; Dr Jane Scott , a Public Health Nutritionist from Glasgow University; and Professor Willie Donachie , Deputy Director of the Moredun Research Institute.

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