Truth is stranger than fiction: after horsemeat scandal will Soylent Green science fiction plot be next? (Updated)

by | Feb 8, 2013 | History, Science | 0 comments

While the disclosure by the first taikonaut (Chinese astronaut) Yang Liwei that he had eaten dog while on China’s first manned orbital spaceflight mission Shenzhou 5 in 2003, made some dog lovers in the West wince, many in the Anglo-Saxon culture hold a similar revulsion for the eating of horsemeat.  Thus, in the worse food scandal since the “mad-cow prion” contamination of British beef during the late 1980s, there has been collective shock at the disclosure that minced horsemeat is now in the British (and European) food supply.  The scandal came to light as DNA tests found that some “minced beef” products had a 100%.horsemeat content leading some to worry if there may now be worse to come. 

For while the stoic Brits did take the news with some humour, and even made jokes about missing racehorses being in the said burgers and lasagnes, there remains concern that some potentially dangerous vetinary drugs (bute – phenylbutazone, ketamine etc) may have entered the human food chain.  

Meanwhile some conspiracy theorists fearfully cite the horror science fiction film Soylent Green (1973).   That movie, starring Charlton Heston, updated the human-eating Sweeney Todd plot, (the barber, a fictional character and no relation to the author by the way, who infamously made meat pies out of his clients) by having human population unwittingly eat human derived protein “Soylent Green”.  And before you say that such cannibalistic horors could never happen in this modern era, already in famine-ridden North Korea there have been reports of executions carried out on those trying to pass off human flesh as animal meat as they tried to sell it.

It is not known if there have been any DNA tests yet for human protein in the United Kingdom’s food chain.   Then again, even if there had been, perhaps it might be better for us not to know anyway.  

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