Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday 24 January 2014


An application to conduct field trials of a genetically modified crop containing Omega-3 fatty acids normally found in oily fish has been submitted.
By substituting synthetic versions of up to seven genes from marine algae, the researchers have engineered Camelina plants to produce two key Omega-3 fatty acids normally obtained from oily fish, EPA and DHA. 
"By the end of this decade, there's a possibility that people will be able to obtain a GM plant-based source of fish oils," Prof Napier said.
Ring any bells? How about this, from a novel written in 1951?

     His first appearance as a possibly disruptive spanner on the neat machinery of the edible oil interests occurred when he walked into the offices of the Arctic and European Fish-Oil company and produced a bottle of pale pink oil in which he proposed to interest them. 
     The first thing they discovered about it was that it was not a fish-oil, anyway: it was vegetable, though they could not identify the source. The second revelation was that it made most of their best fish-oils look like grease-box fillers. 

     'Do you mean that it is some new species? Because if it merely some improved strain more easily processed...'
     'I understand that it is a new species - something quite new.'
     'Then you haven't actually seen it yourself? It may, in fact, be some modified kind of sunflower?'
     'I have seen a picture, senhor. I do not say there is no sunflower there at all. I do not say there is no turnip there. I do not say there is no nettle, or even no orchid there. But I do say that if they were all fathers to it they would none of them know their child. I do not think it would please them greatly either.'
(John Wyndham: The Day of the Triffids)


  1. I think this is also the starting point for pretty much all of the SyFy Channel's recent output...

    Anyway, I for one welcome our new CereaPiscine Overlords!

  2. You've just reminded me that I've never read The Day of The Triffids, so I visited ebay and bought a copy.


  3. We can all imagine where this kind of research could go.

    Plant-based meat proteins so no need for animal meat. Plant-based milk - no more cows. Plant-based wool - no more sheep.

  4. " Plant-based wool.."

  5. Julia, there is undoubtedly a profound satisfaction to be derived from tales of hubris and Nemesis - as long as it's someone else's Nemesis, of course.

    Michael Crichton catches the essence of the plotline in 'Jurassic Park':
    "...your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should."

    Bucko, hope you enjoy it; let me know what you think! (BTW, how did you get on with 'Extraterrestrial Civilizations'?)

    Demetrius, if the medieval church could count a beaver as fish and thus serve it up on a Friday, I suppose anything fed on a plant-based 'fish' oil would fit the bill.

    Odd, isn't it, that among all the healthy eating messages, the idea of fish on Fridays has never been suggested by government-backed food campaigners as an easily-remembered mantra that would surely improve some people's diets.

    AKH, we're already well on the way to that particular Brave New World with Quorn mycoprotein (OK, so that's fungi) and tofu, the nut milks currently being heavily promoted and, as Rightwinggit points out, cotton (or tree-wool, as the Germans call it), yet the demand for meat and milk, at least, continues to rise; the tipping point will presumably come when the new products become significantly cheaper.

  6. Macheath - It was fascinating from start to finish. Thanks


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