Food, Health, and the Environment
A Skeptic's View of Genetically Modified Foods
216 pp., 6 x 9 in, 5 b&w illus.
- Published: March 12, 2019
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: February 15, 2019
- Publisher: The MIT Press
The debate over genetically modified organisms: health and safety concerns, environmental impact, and scientific opinions.
Since they were introduced to the market in the late 1990s, GMOs (genetically modified organisms, including genetically modified crops), have been subject to a barrage of criticism. Agriculture has welcomed this new technology, but public opposition has been loud and scientific opinion mixed. In GMOs Decoded, Sheldon Krimsky examines the controversies over GMOs—health and safety concerns, environmental issues, the implications for world hunger, and the scientific consensus (or lack of one). He explores the viewpoints of a range of GMO skeptics, from public advocacy groups and nongovernmental organizations to scientists with differing views on risk and environmental impact.
Krimsky explains the differences between traditional plant breeding and “molecular breeding” through genetic engineering (GE); describes early GMO products, including the infamous Flavr Savr tomato; and discusses herbicide-, disease-, and insect-resistant GE plants. He considers the different American and European approaches to risk assessment, dueling scientific interpretations of plant genetics, and the controversy over labeling GMO products. He analyzes a key 2016 report from the National Academies of Sciences on GMO health effects and considers the controversy over biofortified rice (Golden Rice)—which some saw as a humanitarian project and others as an exercise in public relations.
Do GMO crops hold promise or peril? By offering an accessible review of the risks and benefits of GMO crops, and a guide to the controversies over them, Krimsky helps readers judge for themselves.
Sheldon Krimsky is a hero; he is one of the few scholars with classical courage. He—and this book—are making the world a safer place.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering, NYU Tandon School of Engineering; author of The Black Swan, Skin in the Game, and Antifragile
Krimsky offers us a helpful, no-nonsense guide to many of the key points of difference in the polarized GMO debate, written with respect for his readers' capacity to grapple with complexity.
Frances Moore Lappé, cofounder, Small Planet Institute; author of Diet for a Small Planet and coauthor of World Hunger: 10 Myths
GMOs Decoded is an authoritative and balanced examination of the scientific and policy debates about GMOs, from the perspective of a scholar who prioritizes public and environmental health over short-term corporate interests. Readers will gain a better perspective from which to make informed judgments on controversial issues while encountering surprising facts that challenge their assumptions.
Erik Millstone, Emeritus Professor of Science Policy, University of Sussex
Marion Nestle's foreword describes Krimsky's work a 'gift to anyone confused' about the subject, an apt description for this fair-minded, informative primer.”