Synopses & Reviews
Few topics have inspired as much international furor and misinformation as the development and distribution of genetically altered foods. For thousands of years, farmers have bred crops for their resistance to disease, productivity, and nutritional value; and over the past century, scientists have used increasingly more sophisticated methods for modifying them at the genetic level. But only since the 1970s have advances in biotechnology (or gene-splicing to be more precise) upped the ante, with the promise of dramatically improved agricultural products—and public resistance far out of synch with the potential risks.
In this provocative and meticulously researched book, Henry Miller and Gregory Conko trace the origins of gene-splicing, its applications, and the backlash from consumer groups and government agencies against so-called Frankenfoods—from America to Zimbabwe. They explain how a happy conspiracy of anti-technology activism, bureaucratic over-reach, and business lobbying has resulted in a regulatory framework in which there is an inverse relationship between the degree of product risk and degree of regulatory scrutiny. The net result, they argue, is a combination of public confusion, political manipulation, ill-conceived regulation (from such agencies as the USDA, EPA, and FDA), and ultimately, the obstruction of one of the safest and most promising technologies ever developed—with profoundly negative consequences for the environment and starving people around the world. The authors go on to suggest a way to emerge from this morass, proposing a variety of business and policy reforms that can unlock the potential of this cutting-edge science, while ensuring appropriate safeguards and moving environmentally friendly products into the hands of farmers and consumers. This book is guaranteed to fuel the ongoing debate over the future of biotech and its cultural, economic, and political implications.
Describes how misguided activism and government policies are squandering potential advances in biotechnology.
About the Author
HENRY I. MILLER, M.D., is a Research Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, where, since 1994, he has focused on the relationship between science and regulation, models for regulatory reform, and federal and international oversight of new advances in biotechnology. A physician and molecular biologist, he served for 17 years at the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He is the author or editor of six books, including To America's Health and Public Controversy in Biotechnology, as well as hundreds of articles in such publications as Forbes, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Policy Review, and Nature Biotechnology.GREGORY CONKO is Director of Food Safety Policy with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an interest group based in Washington, D.C. He is also co-founder and Vice President of the AgBioWorld Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides information to teachers, journalists, policymakers, and the general public about developments in plant science, biotechnology, and sustainable agriculture. His writings have appeared in scholarly journals, newspapers, and magazines, and he frequently participates in international conferences on food safety and trade.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Norman E. Borlaug
Prologue by John H. Moore
A Brave New World of Biotechnology? More Like a Brave Old World!
Myths, Mistakes, Misconceptions, and Mendacity
Science, Common Sense, and Nonsense
Caution, Precaution, and the Precautionary Principle
The Vagaries of U.S. Regulation
Legal Liability Issues
The Vagaries of Foreign and International Regulation
European Resistance to Biotechnology
Climbing Out of the Quagmire