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Functional Food

This will soon be on everyone"s lips - it is based on the way science can breed various fruits and vegetables to contain more of some of their inherent chemicals - e.g. broccoli with extra sulphoraphanes which help reduce various cancers. This can be done through natural inter-breeding, and not genetically (in this case by crossing broccoli with a type of wild cabbage) - and so seems a more natural way forward.

Bread that contains added folic acid, which is said to help prevent spina bifida in children, and margarine with added fish oils, which may well prevent heart disease, are already available.

Tomatoes that contain extra lycopene, so helping to reduce heart disease, and prostate cancer, will be one of the first products to appear; and possibly only in ketchup where their work and concentration will be most effective.

In the U.S.A, volunteers have been successfully immunised against E.Coli by eating a type of raw potato. Other potatoes have been developed to protect against hepatitis B; and there are reports of an "anti-cholera" banana.

Margarine manufacturers are also working hard to produce products designed to help our immune systems.

Japan is the market leader, with natural products developed to make your skin glow, help your sexual prowess or cure bad breath. Claims like these might no satisfy British laws.

There are also worries from health campaigners that "miracle" functional foods may just obscure the best health advice of all - to eat a balanced, varied diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables, and take plenty of exercise. Functional foods could simply widen the already gaping inequalities between the diets of the well-off and the poor.

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