A speculative exercise of the possible future through the world's most easily accessible knowledge source, Wikipedia.
Guz® (\gUEz\) is one of many popular brands of artificially flavour-enhanced nutrient replacements. It contains mostly protein from microorganisms as well as essential microvitamins and trace minerals. Guz® is available in a variety of packaging (drink, solid ‘snack bar,’ soluble powder) and flavours (mixed fruit, chocolate, and chicken to name a few). The manufacturer of Guz®, AgriGreen, selects new flavours based upon user feedback via social networking sites. As of last quarter, Guz® has climbed twelve points on the Global Consumption Index, outstripping MightyWheat® and Rice+® ; Guz® now makes up 57% of the average consumer’s diet worldwide.
Meal replacements (often for the purpose of weight loss) were the early twenty-first century forerunners to nutrient replacements like Guz®. These did not achieve high sales due to their inability to replace non-GM grains and vegetables as a reliable long-term nutrient source.
Development of true nutrient replacements was begun by the agribusiness corporation AgriGreen. It and other agribusinesses had already achieved commercial success with GM (genetically modified) versions of staple crops like wheat, rice, and soy; since the GM seeds were sterile the corporations were able to form a monopoly on food staple production by selling new generations of seed every year. However, spreading out their holdings had inadvertently created a ceiling to growth as McDonalds and Starbucks had done before. Therefore AgriGreen began searching for other methods of food production.
A research team hit upon the idea of using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a common form of yeast that has been used in baking and brewing since Antiquity. Utilizing the bioengineering techniques perfected through GM crops, the team was able to create a strain which reproduced faster, metabolized more efficiently, and contained more protein than typical baker’s yeast. After presenting their results, the team received further funding and the directive to scale up production. Within five years AgriGreen had patented a stable line of nutritious yeast (which produced microvitamins in addition to protein) that could be grown in factory-scale incubators.
Production and Sales
Today, production of Guz® is concentrated in developing countries and areas with minimal arable land; the ease of setting up a production centre and ready availability of microloans via the IMF makes nutrient replacement production a viable investment option in areas that were historically net food importers. The Sub-Saharan African and the Indian subcontinent economic zones are now net food exporters and leaders in the global agribusiness market.
Effects on Health
The inclusion of micronutrient production in the yeast’s metabolism drastically reduced the occurrence of malnutrition worldwide. The People’s Republic of China is often cited as a case study: Vitamin A deficiency was once a widespread problem due to low-income worker’s reliance on rice, which is very nutrient-deficient. However, once rice was replaced with Guz® due to the latter’s lower cost, Vitamin A deficiency all but disappeared within a generation. The prevalence of child malnutrition and mental retardation also saw a marked decrease.
Recalls and Health Warnings
Unfortunately, the high growth rate of GM yeast also increases the occurrence of random genetic mutations, some of which result in an organism that is toxic to humans. Although engineers apply stringent safety procedures and sample batches before shipment, the odd mistake does occur. A batch recall is immediately issued as soon as the problem becomes apparent, but the fact that one factory often supplies dozens if not hundreds of markets and franchises makes tracking down each and every shipment nigh impossible. Thus health officials must ultimately rely on public service announcements and the adroitness of consumers to prevent food poisoning.
Those who have consumed tainted product have reported a range of symptoms, from those commonly associated with food poisoning (cramps, nausea, diarrhea), to persistent gastro-intestinal infections, and even to death in a limited number of cases (typically those with existing health problems). In the case of immediate ingestion of a recalled product, the WHO advises one to induce vomiting. If more than a few hours have passed since ingestion, one should seek medical attention only if symptoms persist for more than five days or become severe; minor symptoms can be alleviated with over-the-counter medication.
Nutrient replacement ; Agrigreen ; microvitamins