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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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:

• Exposes the ruthless business practices of biotech giants such as Monsanto, which demands that new GM seeds be purchased each year and aggressively pursues violators.

• Examines the romantic, pre-scientific mentality that inflames anti-GMF passions in Europe and stirs a deep-rooted fear of “Frankenfoods.”

• Looks at the troubling question of whether a corporation can own proprietary rights to something as essential to survival as seeds.

• Uncovers hypocritical elements of the

Bush Administration’s push for GMF as a humanitarian measure for starving Third World nations.

• Reveals the benefits of high-yield Green Revolution varieties of rice in providing crucial calories to the chronically hungry—while inadvertently reducing dietary variety and causing malnutrition.

• Explains the complicated science behind GM foods, and the sound reasons that pro-GMF sentiments prevail in the scientific community.

• Explores the future potential of GM crops to provide global food security—and the need to put the public good above the profit motives that drive the biotech industry.

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.


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 PortlandStateUniversity 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.


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