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Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food
Synopses & Reviews
Any farmer you talk to could tell you that we've been playing with the genetic makeup of our food for millennia, carefully coaxing nature to do our bidding. The practice officially dates back to Gregor Mendel--who was not a renowned scientist, but a 19th-century Augustinian monk. Mendel spent many hours toiling in his garden, testing and cultivating more than 28,000 pea plants, selectively determining very specific characteristics of the peas that were produced, ultimately giving birth to the idea of heredity--and the now very common practice of artificially modifying our food. But as science takes the helm, steering common field practices into the laboratory, the world is now keenly aware of how adept we have become at tinkering with nature--which in turn has produced a variety of questions. Are genetically modified foods really safe? Will the foods ultimately make us sick, perhaps in ways we can't even imagine? Isn't it dangerous to change the nature of nature itself? Nina V. Fedoroff, a leading geneticist and recognized expert in biotechnology, answers these questions, and more. Addressing the fear and mistrust that is rapidly spreading, Fedoroff and her co-author, science writer Nancy Marie Brown, weave a narrative rich in history, technology, and science to dispel the many myths and misunderstandings. In the end, Fedoroff argues, plant biotechnology can help us to become better stewards of the earth while permitting us to feed ourselves and generations of children to come. Indeed, this new approach to agriculture holds the promise of being the most environmentally conservative way to increase our food supply.
Book News Annotation:
Together with a science writer, Fedoroff (Pennsylvania State U.), a plant molecular biologist/geneticist, addresses the controversies raised by techniques for producing genetically modified (GM) foods--"Frankenfoods" to its critics. Noting that agriculture altered the genetic makeup of food crops long before the 19th-century monk Mendel ushered in the modern age of genetics, she discusses misinterpretations of scientific data and defends GM foods as actually a conservative approach to increasing the global food supply.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Addressing the fear and mistrust of genetically modified foods, Fedoroff--a leading geneticist and recognized expert in biotechnology--and science writer Brown, weave a narrative rich in history, technology, and science to dispel the many myths and misunderstandings.
Written by one of the world's leading scientists on the topic of genetically modified food, Cooking in Mendel's Kitchen argues that the careful use of genetic engineering and plant biotechnology can genuinely help us to become better stewards of the earth.
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