The 1970’s sci-fi horror thriller Soylent Green painted a terrifying picture of a world so overpopulated that it has run out of real food; meat is kept under lock and key for sale to the rich at astronomical sums. The rest of us eat Soylent Green, a high-nutrition wafer ostensibly made from sea algae. Until of course, our hero, Charlton Heston decides to follow the body of his buddy Edward G. Robinson to the “cremation” facility, only to discover that it’s going to the Soylent Green factory instead. His final screams as he’s hauled away by the police are: “Soylent Green is people!”.
Few of us back in the ’70’s could envision such a world beyond it’s S.F. origins, much as we had difficulty with Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. A re-reading of the latter two books is a wake-up call; we’re pretty much there on almost all the “crazy” predictions contained therein.
Take this latest story from today’s Montreal Gazette about meat grown from stem-cells in test tubes. It’s promoted as a potential answer to our growing population and the challenges of feeding everyone. We already have GMO foods unlabelled as such because the producers know that people wouldn’t buy them. Can this be far behind?