References_Notes - The story of how genetic engineering...

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The story of how genetic engineering came to enter the arena of plant development, and how the matter is  influencing food production, is expertly told by an author with a wide-ranging knowledge of the subject. The book is  not a polemic--the author endeavored to find his way to truth among a cacophony of voices--but it has within it plenty  of information that will be useful in consideration of the topic. Says the author, who describes himself as a storyteller,  "I've tried in this book to liberate agricultural biotechnology from the seductive clutches of myth, to give it its own  space in our mental world, carved exactly to fit." Charles's researches brought him to an understanding of the science  of bioengineering, how it all got started and by whom, and how an intricate web of interrelated issues has entered a  heated (often overheated) public debate. He reveals an excellent grasp of corporations' drive for profit, the ego  involvement of the scientists who probe the natural world to achieve specific genetic goal s, farmers' need to control  pests, and activists' inclination to sound an alarm when unfamiliar elements enter the food supply. His book is replete  with an incredible chain of one-upmanship, hunches that led to breakthroughs, fights for monopolies, competition  between companies, and clashing philosophies. He is aware of the ramifications of patenting genes and treating  seeds as commodities. He has a global perspective and considers how interrelated the world's food supply has  become. A surprising element is the extent to which genetic engineering has focused on resistance to commercial  pesticides such as Roundup and Liberty (Basta in Europe). Charles depicts the genetic engineers and the corporations who employ them as being insensitive to farming itself  and sometimes alarmingly ignorant of its processes. This could also be said of Charles himself. Though he grew up  on a farm, he tends to view the farmer as a shadowy figure with arcane skills. The science is a volatile enterprise in  more ways than one, and it will be some time before we know if it has given rise to Frankenfoods or a new age of  bounty. The book is very well written and expertly organized; it has good flow, and the author makes good use of  anecdotes. It will inform the debate for the many readers interested in genetic engineering. Edna M. Boardman,  Bismark, ND -------------------------------------- There are two central questions about biotechnology that Lords of the Harvest attempts to untangle: how exactly can you compare the risks of scientifically-altered plants to the organic
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tinkering that we've been doing since Mendel began crossbreeding garden peas in 1856? And
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This note was uploaded on 02/20/2009 for the course AEM 1220 taught by Professor Lesser,w. during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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References_Notes - The story of how genetic engineering...

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