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Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto--The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest

by Peter Pringle (Author)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Imagine a world where yellow beans are patented, aromatic basmati rice has lost
its fragrance because of genetic tinkering and Canadian farmers are sued by
multinational behemoths because pollen from GM (genetically modified) crops
somehow got into their fields and fertilized their plants. You don't have to
imagine it: this, says Pringle, is the world we live in today. A widely
published journalist, Pringle (Those Are Real Bullets) paints a troubling
picture of the world's food supply. Multinational corporations are able to
patent genes from crops that have been cultivated by farmers for centuries;
governments of starving African nations refuse GM food they fear is poisonous;
scientists hastily publish research that is blown out of proportion by the news
media; and "green" activists vandalize greenhouses and fields where scientists
are conducting GM research. Pringle roundly castigates all sides. Scientists, he
says, have been remarkably inventive in their endeavors to improve the food we
eat, using a gene from daffodils, for example, in growing golden rice with high
levels of vitamin A that can help prevent blindness in the undernourished. But
large corporations, he asserts, have squandered the public's good will toward GM
products as they rushed so-called "Frankenfoods" into stores without adequate
testing or disclosure of what makes it different. Pringle gives some glimmer of
hope for the future through time-honored methods of cross-pollination, but his
main story is of an industry with great potential for feeding starving millions
and reducing our reliance on chemical pesticides, but that has instead created a
global mess.

From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Biotechnology inspires hope in some and horror in others. A
complex topic, it invokes many contemporary concerns-third world famine,
biodiversity, corporate responsibility, the ethics of corporate ownership of the
processes of life itself-and involves a bewildering array of interrelated
national and international legal, political, scientific, and economic forces.
Public discourse is polarized with scaremongering on one side and arrogance on
the other, and it is difficult for the nonspecialist to arrive at an informed
opinion. Here, in readable, journalistic fashion, Pringle provides what has been
missing: facts and explanations, reasoned argument, and common ground. He
reveals many dimensions of several controversies that will be familiar to most
readers from media coverage, yet remain poorly understood: Is the monarch
butterfly endangered by pesticide-laced corn? Are we throwing away our heritage
of biodiversity? Are plant hunters cultural pirates? As the title indicates,
Pringle points out the danger of a few large and poorly regulated corporations
owning and controlling so much of the world's agriculture and genetic
technology, but he doesn't demonize. Rather than simplifying a complicated
subject, he accomplishes the more difficult task of presenting the complexities
of genetic science, academic politics, corporate strategies, or international
treaties in such a clear and interesting manner that readers come to appreciate
and understand them. This is a book to satisfy curiosity and engender concern,
and any of its chapters would provide an excellent subject for discussion groups.

Product Details

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 8, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0641695764



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