Human sustenance and genetic engineering

Thomas Bjorkman tnb1 at cornell.edu
Wed Aug 14 12:59:30 EST 1996


> |schauf at iastate.edu (Brian J Schaufenbuel) writes:
> |>What I'm getting at is:  couldn't we add DNA to simple bacteria (maybe
> |>cyanobacteria) to produce all the proteins that humans need to be
> |>healthy?  Supplement that with mineral-enriched water, and wouldn't it
> |>be easy to feed billions and billions of people?  Why not engineer
> |>bacteria to utilize the sun's energy to transform earth's nitrogen,
> |>carbon, etc. to food for people as efficiently as possible?
[big chunk deleted] 

> To which ttha at uhura.cc.rochester.edu (Tom Thatcher) wrote:
> |The most practical use for your suggestion would be to feed inhabitants
> |of space colonies or long-haul spaceships, as a way to convert available
> |ship's energy into digestible calories as efficiently as possible.


Food for long-haul space missions has been a subject of research sponsored
by NASA for some time.  One thing that is hard to sell to the engineers
who dominate NASA planning is that people require varied diets.  The
variety is not only to get balanced nutrition, but also psychological. 
Work done on diets with captive audiences (soldiers) has shown that anyone
will lose weight if given a diet with no variety.  That remains true even
if the food is something the person intially likes a great deal, even if
it is relatively high in fat, and even if the person is not overweight and
is trying to maintain the high fitness level of an active soldier.

In other words, if you are given the same thing to eat all the time you
get sick of seeing it and can't bring yourself to eat enough of it to
remain healthy.
-- 
Thomas Björkman    
Dept. of Horticultural Sciences   
Cornell University



More information about the Bioforum mailing list