Magazine article Newsweek

What's for Dinner?

Magazine article Newsweek

What's for Dinner?

Article excerpt

Genetically engineered, nutrient-enhanced--and probably not cooked at home. Let's eat!

Family dinner has been on the endangered list for so long, even the families who eat it think they're the last of a breed. But surveys consistently show that on most nights, most kids really do eat with their families, even if it's just a pizza-with-everything served between soccer practice and "Jeopardy." If the yen to sit down together over a meal has survived the do-your-own-thing '60s, the rebel-mom '70s, the two-career

'80s and the exhausted '90s, chances are it's here for another millennium. What's likely to change is the food.

Pull up a chair to the spaghetti dinner that Mom or her moral equivalent is setting down before the hungry family of the future. The pasta, the tomato sauce and the salad all look the way they did back in 1998, but inside they've been transformed. This is power food--it leaves nature in the dust. Thanks to genetic engineering, which enables scientists to mix and match the gene structures of living organisms, the lettuce is packed with beef protein and the green peppers have 10 times their usual amount of vitamin C. The garlic tastes of garlic, onions and oregano--a threefer that makes Italian cook-ing a snap. The olive oil is fat-free, and the balsamic vinegar aged 30 years after just 30 seconds in a petri dish.

Or at least, these are the kinds of foods that biotechnology enthusiasts love to predict. Candy bars loaded with all the nutrients of broccoli? Technically it's possible, but right now most products on the way are far less picturesque. Monsanto, the chemical giant at the forefront of genetically engineered food, is concentrating on such commodities as corn, wheat, sugar beets and rice, engineering them to resist Monsanto's best-selling herbicide, Roundup. The idea is for farmers to plant Monsanto's resistant seeds, then pummel their fields with Monsanto's weed killer while keeping the cash crop unscathed. …

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