Development, Environment, Food Politics, Gastronomy, Genetics, Health, Politics, Science, Sugar, Uncategorized, Veganism, Vegetarianism

Reforming Our Food Culture

Steven Poole declares that ‘Western culture is eating itself stupid’. His book You Aren’t What You Eat (2012) pokes fun at the snobbery, fads and celebrity culture that attend ‘foodie’ culture. The term ‘foodie’ emerged in the 1980s, but the idea of discussing the enjoyment of food is much older. In France it goes back to the start of the …


Book Review, Genetics, Philosophy, Science, Uncategorized

It’s all in the mind

(published in the London Magazine, June/July 2012) The ultimate achievement of reason … is to recognise that there are an infinity of things that surpass it. (Blaise Pascal 1623-62)  After reading Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene I was a convert to Neo-Darwinian genetics. In that best-selling work life is traced to individual genes each seeking to confer advantage on the …


Medieval Lessons on the perils of Genetic Modification

(Published in the Sunday Times, September 2015) Dante Algheiri (d.1321) as the pilgrim in his Divine Comedy encounters a soul who warns him: “the vision granted to your world / can no more fathom Justice Everlasting / than eyes can see down to the ocean floor: / while you can see the bottom near the shore, / you cannot out …

Say hello to the Frankenstein-potato

(Published in Village Magazine May, 2012) In 1935 Scientists from Queenland’s Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations released into the wild what became known as the Cane Toad, a species native to South America. They were attempting to introduce a predator for the native Cane Beetle which was reducing sugar cane yields. The toad has since multiplied, evolving long legs to …