Food Fray

Inside the Controversy over Genetically Modified Food

 Food Fray

Author: Lisa H. Weasel
Pub Date: December 2008
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436400
Page Count: 256
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814401781

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FOOD FRAY

Inside the Controversy over Genetically Modified Food

In 2008, 80 percent of all corn and 92 percent of all soybeans grown in the United States were products of genetic engineering. Yet, according to the most recent public survey conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a respected tracker of biotechnology trends, 60 percent of Americans believe they have never eaten a morsel that’s been genetically modified. What’s more, 54 percent of respondents declared that, if given the choice, they would pass on “GM” foods.

Is a diet rich in recombinant DNA really hazardous to our health? Or are biotech seeds the solution to world hunger? As molecular biologist Dr. Lisa H. Weasel discovered, the peril and the promise of GM foods are steeped in misunderstanding, corporate greed, and politics. In FOOD FRAY: Inside the Controversy over Genetically Modified Food (AMACOM 2008), she digs deeply into this debate and brings a global chorus of voices—researchers, policymakers, grassroots activists, farmers, and consumers—to the table. Combining scientific insights with gripping and telling anecdotes, Dr. Weasel sheds light on critical facts about agricultural biotechnology overshadowed by all the hype and hysteria. “The stories presented here represent a starting point, a lens through which some of the more daunting ethical and political consequences of this technology can begin to be grappled with,” the author notes. “Hopefully, they will provide ample ‘food for thought’ on the GM debate, regardless of where one’s food politics may lie.”

Packed with dramatic twists and insider details behind the headlines, FOOD FRAY reveals:

 Why drought-plagued Zambia refused America’s GM food aid in 2002—due to a complex intersection of political and regulatory issues and a belief that GM food afforded more risks than benefits for its hungry population

 How “mad cow disease” fueled the “Frankenfood” frenzy in Europe—and how Europe’s overwhelming opposition to the war in Iraq strengthened the Bush administration’s battle against resistance to GM food;

 The humanitarian mission of a Swiss scientist to create a biotech rice to conquer Vitamin A deficiency—and the patenting and regulatory hurdles that have kept “Golden Rice” sitting on the shelf for nearly a decade;

 Why Greenpeace activists provoked the wrath of farmers in Thailand over their research into cultivating a GM papaya;

 The Monsanto milk scandal that launched the rBST-free movement across the U.S.A.—and how brave whistleblowers and national chains like Chipotle and Starbucks led the way to FDA-approved, hormone-processing disclosure labels on dairy products.

 Advances on the other frontiers of agricultural biotechnology—pharmaceuticals and fuel—including a process for extracting valuable ethanol from the most abundant renewable carbon source on earth, a substance found in every living plant, cellulose.

Eye-opening and informative, FOOD FRAY acknowledges both the potential peril and promise of GM foodstuffs. GM seeds alone may not solve the increasingly dire dilemma of world hunger, as Dr. Weasel argues. However, she holds hope that science can contribute to the quest to help feed millions, if biotechology “is used more as a condiment than as a main course, served up in the name of true public good rather than corporate profit.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa H. Weasel, Ph.D. is a renowned scientist who received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the issue of genetically modified foods. A graduate of Harvard and Cambridge Universities, she is currently a tenured associate Professor of Biology at Portland State University in Oregon and a member of Governor Ted Kulongoski’s task force on developing public policy for bio-pharmaceutical crops in Oregon. She is the winner of the prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, a member of Project Kaleidescope’s Faculty for the 21st Century, and a co-editor of Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation.

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