Inside Columbia Magazine August 2009 : Page 105
You’ll Be What You’ll Eat FOOD IN 2025 BY LAUREN KILBERG industry is no exception. “It’s changing, no doubt T about it,” says Michael Collins, director of the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri. “Especially if you consider the broader state of Missouri, the region or even the country.” Predictions for the food industry in 2025 elicit sev- eral buzzwords among local experts; “health” and “modi- fication” are the two the most commonly used terms. “There is a tremendous amount of research to improve the quality of food and the nutri- tional value of food,” Collins says. “The tools that we have available to address some of those needs have expanded exponentially in the last few years.” With an increasing empha- sis on healthier food comes a growing interest in locally produced food as well. “People are very interested in knowing he times they are a- changin’ and more rapidly than ever, it seems. The food where their food is grown and who produced it,” says Collins, who ex- pects this trend to con- tinue well into 2025. Similar predictions are offered in animal science. “As people are becoming much more health conscious, so will we in producing quality food,” says Rodney Geisert, director of the Division of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri. “We are currently looking for animals that are producing the best quality and best taste,” he says. The possibility for provid- ing healthier food depends largely on the ability to modify it, specifically the selection and manipulation of genes through transgenetics. “We have the capacity to change the quality of our food both on the plant and animal side, but the issue is when we’ll be able to do that,” Geisert says. The prevalence of food modification is likely to be a much greater reality by 2025. “In 15 years, we’ll see much more transgenetic plant and animal products out there that will be healthier and of higher quality,” Geisert predicts. Researchers at the University of Missouri are already planning to make their predictions a reality. “Our people are currently doing a lot of work to improve the nutritional characteristics of soybeans,” Collins says. Soybeans are the most widely grown crop in Missouri, covering more than 5 million acres. Researchers are inter- ested in developing methods to improve the concentration of protein in soybeans. PERSON-TO-PERSON: 5 COMMUNITY LEADERS SHARE THEIR VISIONS OF THE FUTURE Susan Bartel ON WOMEN IN COLUMBIA IN 2025 “When I think about the students I teach, 16 years from now they’ll be in their 40s. I am hopeful by that time women can really have more balanced lives. We give a lot of lip ser- vice to that right now. But in the majority of households, the business of running the home falls on the woman. I wish for more balance and more understanding on the part of busi- ness, and recognizing that health and produc- tivity go together. For example, having a child care center or health club or a liberal vacation policy can make it so parents can spend time with kids without their time being taken away from their own sick time or vacation time. “I am hopeful there is more equal represen- tation of women in leadership roles in busi- ness, government and education. We’ve made strides but it still does not reflect the demo- graphic picture of our community. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that while I embrace the growth of Columbia, I long for time where women can feel safe walking around down- town, not feeling they have to look over their shoulder. “I really hope women can embrace being both a dreamer and a realist without being labeled as something they’re not. So many times people who have dreams tend to be dismissed or seen as childlike. We’re losing something by not em- bracing the playful side as well. “Columbia is a volunteer community and I’m so proud of nonprofits in this town. In 2025, I am hopeful we are all giving ourselves back to the community. I see in the students I teach that they are much more interested in community service and activism than the previous generation. What i personal and professional lives? Can you imagine if in your 40-hour workweek, you could integrate six hours of volunteer work? It would contribute to the quality of life on this planet.” Susan Bartel is the department chair of Business Programs, Stephens College Division of Graduate & Continuing Studies, and an assistant professor of business and marketing. will decrease, according to the World Health Organization, as the average number of babies per child-bearing woman will drop to 2.3 in 2025, down from an average of 5 in 1955. Modification as a means to improve food is already a real- ity in the plant sciences. “The University of Missouri has had a tremendous part in the area of plant breeders — scientists who work to de- velop new varieties of food and other crops that have some improved characteristics that make them have greater nutri- tional value, or in some cases greater improved storage char- acteristics,” Collins says. Whether it’s protein- packed soybeans or tastier meat, changes are coming to the food industry. If the ex- perts are right and you really are what you eat, things might be looking up in 2025.