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Food Fray: Inside the Controversy Over Genetically Modified Foodby Lisa H. Weasel
Synopses & Reviews
It started with little fanfare over a decade ago, when genetically modified foods quietly appeared on American grocery shelves. But in the years since, GM foods have sparked a global controversy and sounded alarms here at home, triggered by a multitude of unanswered questions and dubious practices, such as highly publicized cases of "biopharm" crops contaminating the food supply...runaway commodity prices and worldwide food shortages triggered, in part, by the biofuel movement...Europe's open hostility to GM foods and Africa's outright refusal to accept food aid containing genetically modified crops.
Combining solid scientific knowledge with a gripping narrative, esteemed molecular biologist Dr. Lisa H. Weasel helps readers make sense of this complex, contentious issue. Positioning itself directly at the intersection of food, politics, and technology, Food Fray captures the real-life experiences and wide-ranging perspectives of the scientists, farmers, policymakers, and grassroots activists on the front lines of this fierce debate, teasing out the hype from the reality and uncovering the very real pros and cons of genetically modified foods.
Insightful and even-handed, Food Fray:
Genetically modified foods are ubiquitous in the American diet — 80 percent of all corn and 92 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are now GM varieties. But it's a science with the potential to bring both good and harm, and an issue with no easy answers. Food Fray looks at every aspect of the debate from multiple perspectives, giving you the information you need to make up your own mind.
Book News Annotation:
Author Weasel, scientist and educator (biology, Portland State U.) cuts through the hype regarding genetically modified food and related ethical and political issues. The author notes that 80 percent of all corn and 92 percent of all soybeans grown in the United States are products of genetic engineering and that more than half of Americans surveyed believe they have never eaten a genetically modified product and wouldn't if they were given a choice. The well-written and well- researched book combines interviews with scientists, activists, farmers, and consumers with scientific insights into this contemporary controversy. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
More than ten years ago, the first genetically modified foods took their place on the shelves of American supermarkets. But while American consumers remained blissfully unconcerned with the new products that suddenly filled their kitchens, Europeans were much more wary of these "Frankenfoods." When famine struck Africa in 2002, several nations refused shipments of genetically modified foods, fueling a controversy that put the issue on the world's political agenda for good.
In Food Fray, esteemed molecular biologist Dr. Lisa H. Weasel brings readers into the center of this debate, capturing the real-life experiences of the scientists, farmers, policymakers and grassroots activists on the front lines. Here she combines solid scientific knowledge and a gripping narrative to tell the real story behind the headlines and the hype. Seminal and cutting-edge, Food Fray enlightens and informs and will allow readers to make up their own minds about one of the most important issues facing us today.
Heralded as both the quick, painless solution to solving world hunger and the scourge of modern science—a dangerous tampering with nature and the decimation of traditional crops and communities—genetically modified foods have triggered volatile debates and deeply contradictory dialogues the world over.
Food Fray cuts through the complex science, boiling passions, and ethical dilemmas to provide an impressive history of every significant development in the GM food story, as well as an even-handed assessment of both its potential benefits and negative consequences. Meticulously researched, yet lively and entertaining, the author travels the globe to gather the perspectives of scientists, activists, consumers, government officials, and others, as she uncovers possible answers to difficult questions:
• Do GM crops encourage a dangerous dependence on bioengineered seeds, chemical fertilizers, and toxic pesticides? Or can they solve the food scarcity problems that plague mankind?
• Will the world’s major staple crops be controlled by a handful of countries and corporations? Or could the increased income that GM yields bring to small farmers provide the key to the prosperity of poor nations?
• Will this promising science, played out against a landscape of growing consumer fear, shoddy corporate practices, and loose government regulation, ultimately be squashed? Or will biotechnology continue to develop in ways that ensure the health and prosperity of many—not just the profits of a few?
Advance Praise for Food Fray
“In a book brimming with insight, Lisa Weasel brings a truly global perspective, informed by on-the-ground research, to one of the most crucial ethical and environmental issues of our time. For anyone concerned about food security, global justice, and human health, Food Fray is indispensable.”
– Dr. Gregory Hill, President, Institute for Culture and Ecology
“In Food Fray, Lisa Weasel offers a compelling and balanced account of the battles over genetically modified food. It arrives just as the world is refocusing on the issue of hunger. Questioning the role of GM food as a silver bullet, she offers a nuanced and cautionary tale that should be heeded as this agricultural technology roars ahead.”
– Samuel Fromartz, author of Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew
About the Author
Lisa H. Weasel, Ph.D., is a molecular biologist and the recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the issue of genetically modified foods. She is currently a tenured 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 lives in Portland.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 — Food Fight: The Historical Roots of the GM
Chapter 2 — Out of the Swamps and Up from the Soil: DNA
at the Dinner Table
Chapter 3 — Of Politics and Precaution: ‘‘Frankenfood’’
Frenzy in Europe
Chapter 4 — A Kinder, Gentler GM: Will Biotech Seeds Save
Chapter 5 — Feast or Famine? The Politics of GM Food Aid
Chapter 6—‘‘Our Seeds Know Our Soil’’: Knowledge, Power,
and Resistance to GM Food in India
Chapter 7 — The Scent of GM Papaya: The Rough Road to
Chapter 8 — Got Hormones? Engineering the Nation’s Milk
Chapter 9 — From Pharm to Fuel: The Future of GM Food
Conclusion: The Ongoing Battle Over GM Food
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